Category Archives: Book Review

White Light/White Heat:: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day

It’s widely known the impact The Velvet Underground had on modern music – a band well ahead of its time – not surprising, the influence continues to grow with each new decade. In the last couple of years alone, The Velvets have been subject to a slew of new releases: Sundazed Records’ cool 7” (The Singles 1966-1969) box set and reissues of the band’s LPs on 180 Gram Vinyl. Also in the mix are a few new books: “The Velvet Underground: New York Art”; “The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side”; “The Rough Guide to the Velvet Underground (Rough Guide Reference)” and just recently released “White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day”.

In recent years there have been published day-by-day accounts on The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Monkees, and a host of others. White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day by Richie Unterberger (who also wrote a fantastic two part history of 60’s folk rock: “Turn! Turn! Turn!: The ’60s Folk-Rock Revolution” and “Eight Miles High: Folk-Rock’s Flight from Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock”) is an instantly essential book for your collection that covers the Velvets activities from 1958-2007. Through the course of 300 plus pages, Unterberger compiles a plethora of interesting tidbits on everything VU. Beginning with pre band events – including information about Nico’s first forays as a recording artist. The most notable is with the Serge Gainsbourg produced demo track “Strip-Tease” and her “I’m Not Saying” single release on Immediate Records. In between are cool facts scattered throughout the book – Lou Reed’s first single with The Shades – John Cale’s rare September 16, 1963 TV appearance on CBS’s live game show “I’ve Got A Little Secret” and even Sterling Morrison’s English Literature education at City College of New York.

In each section there are detailed notes/timelines of recording sessions and live show dates. The Velvet Underground didn’t tour in the traditional sense until 1968, so it’s a real treat to get audience accounts of the various early gigs. The first “definite” Velvet Underground concert was at Sunset High School auditorium in Summit, NJ on December 11, 1965 (opening for garage rockers The Myddle Class) – “where the band just emptied that auditorium”. Another detailed account was their first West Coast performance – a scheduled three night stand (which only made it to two nights – with the police closing things down) at the Trip on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, where Frank Zappa reportedly stated he hated the Velvet Underground. The book even recalls the final documented 1971 Netherlands performance of the last Velvet Underground line-up that included at Maureen Tucker (by that time the band also featured Doug Yule, Willie Alexander, and Walter Powers).

Along with countless VU history, you are treated to reproductions of various handbills, news clippings, concert posters, promotional ads, rare/unseen photos of the band and great trivia. One interesting section was about a group of U.S. Vietnam War soldiers who put together a band called The Electrical Banana. They recorded “There She Goes Again”, the first known Velvet Underground cover. The recording was later reissued and made available on a 2001 Norfolk, Virginia compilation “Aliens, Pychos & Wild Things, Vol. 1”.

“White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day” claims the tag: “the most comprehensive, immensely detailed work about one of the most influential bands in the history of rock” – it indeed lives up to that statement. It’s well done, providing insight into one of the foremost bands of the last century.

I’m Waiting For The Man

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The Impossible Dream:: The Story Of Scott Walker And The Walker Brothers by Anthony Reynolds

I found The Impossible Dream:: The Story Of Scott Walker And The Walker Brothers to be an entertaining read. The book details the groups’ own invasion of Britain, while the more well known mid-sixties British Invasion was transpiring in America. Anthony Reynolds offers good insight into the group consisting of John (Maus), Gary (Leeds) and Scott (Engel), detailing their unique personalities and respected roles, the jazz influence in their records, and their falling in and out of the spotlight. There’s also the reforming in the mid-seventies for one more nice single in “Regrets.” Particularly interesting is the movement through Scott’s solo recordings, including an outlaw country phase at a time when it couldn’t have been less fashionable. Then again, that’s Scott, a man who would become more and more determined to make music his way.

No doubt, it was a cold English winter in 1965 for the three Southern Californians overseas. Gary was the only one who believed The Walker Brothers would be something.  He would soon be right as by the fall of ’65 the crowds became downright dangerous in their obsession for the boys, particulary Scott. With a voice described appropriately as “intimate yet titantic,” I can’t deny that what drew me to The Impossible Dream was less about the group and more about Scott.  The book balances the tale of an artist who made records for art’s sake yet kept his once quite popular group together for as long as he did, “cause a guy’s got to eat.”

http://www.jawbonepress.com/2009/02/impossible-dream-story-of-scott-walker.html

This Book Is Broken:: Broken Social Scene Story

This Book Is Broken: A Broken Social Scene Story is a narrative told by the participants and progenitors of the collective who in the words of Torquil Campbell, “made Toronto sound beautiful.” This Book Is Broken features a forward by Broken Social Scene co-founders Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew, compiled and written by Toronto journalist and Eye Weekly editor, Stuart Berman.

The read is a brisk and capturing tale of some exceptional folk living amidst the dreary and seemingly hopeless backdrop of the Canadian music scene at the end of the nineties (certainly the states weren’t in much better shape – several years post-Cobain and still enduring talk of Nirvana’s bloated greatness with MTV’s absurd tag lines such as “spokesperson for a generation”); it was this same wasted environment which directed Metric to England, Stars to NYC, and Peaches to Berlin. In 2000, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning play their first show together. The first Broken Social Scene album Feel Good Lost, comes out and creates a spreading excitement for the band. Another early key marking of the band was that they never repeated the same set twice as they worked out their sound in front of the audience. By the end of 2002, Broken Social Scene were no longer a Toronto phenomenon, releasing You Forgot It In People in October of the same year. As the success grew their expanding appeal made casualty of several inner-relationships; though, it would be the platinum sales of Feist’s Let It Die whcih allowed Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts label to expand outside the realm of BSS. By 2006, many members of the rotating cast had developed their own fertile music careers apart from Broken Social Scene. Core members Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew have since made solo albums and as of current group status, Stuart Berman states in the epilogue that Broken Social Scene are in a “permanent temporary” state.

Going through the book while listening to the music is a required joy. Hearing the end result supported with the work of This Book Is Broken adds a new perspective to the music. Moreover, the book details the creation of a great local music scene, with several bands building audiences that extended to international recognition. For me, the thing I enjoy about BSS is the distance the listener is compelled, if not forced to travel within the scope of a record; the varied songs exhibit potentials that bombard diverse levels of consciousness. When the mood has been right for me to throw on one of their albums, they have been equal to the task, transporting me on some exquisite journeys. There is always some point where I’ve become so immersed in their music I’ve forgotten they were even on the player. BSS call it their ‘inspired randomness,” which I suppose is why no matter how gone you get during one of their albums, there is an inevitable point where you will be shattered from the fog by the psychic stirrings of a “Bandwitch,” or a “Lover’s Spit.” This Book Is Broken will certainly appeal to fans. In reality, anyone with a fascination with how ideas are exchanged, extracted, and then made in to vibrant and viable art should find this of interest.

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So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day 1965-1973

One way to tell a music hipster from a legitimate Byrds fan is to ask them their favorite Byrds’ album. If they say Sweetheart of the Radio, you can be well assured that’s all Gram hype related and not the words of a Byrds obsessive; after all, The Byrds were sonic travellers with musical accomplishments far richer than a one-off country record. Read all about Gram Parson’s time with The Byrds, performance reviews, the South Africa debacle, forgotten interviews and other commentary in So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day 1965-1973.This is a pretty excellent and also exhaustive account of the near day-to-day activities of The Byrds through the years 1965-1973. This work is made for the Byrds fan whose experience has succeeded “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “Turn Turn Turn.” In essence, this is a perfect encyclopedia to go along with Johnny Rogan’s own extensive Byrds breakdown – Timeless Flight Revisited.

I’m not sure how many times, or from how many sixties’ rockstars I’ve heard reference David Crosby as the man with the best grass, hottest girls, and best music collection. In this book there are such indulgent dates as when Crosby and The Byrds were feeling ill; when Crosby’s patented hats and the cape came about; television appearances, days spent with The Beatles up in the canyon, and how Clarence White’s Telecaster twang was initially received by fans. With So You Wanna Be A Rock and Roll Star, you can follow The Byrds on their journey involving stylistic changes varying from folk ‘n’ roll, raga-rock, to hippie long hairs, with stops inbetween featuring some nice photographs. I went through this book listening to the albums from the corresponding eras as I read it in entirety.

By the end of So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star, I was once again well assured that The Byrds are not only one of the greatest groups ever, but more precisely, the most resilient band in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. I’m well aware of many bands and their history. I can’t think of one that went through as many personel changes, as well as philosophical reincarnations, while still managing to create timeless valid enjoyable art. I can think of a few bands that kept going that should’ve stopped; including, one super huge band from the sixties who haven’t made a decent record in near thirty years. I’d rather have my Byrds on the desert isle anyway. This book is a fabulous good time.

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Million Dollar Bash:: Bob Dylan, The Band, And The Basement Tapes

In 1967, the man referred to as spokesperson for a generation and no doubt, the leader of the predominant folk movement, dropped out, had a motorcycle accident and took the necessary steps to assimilate himself as a family man. Without any public knowledge Dylan got together with The Hawks(later to become The Band), his backing back from his 66′ European Tour, and moved forward with new musical ideas. The result would be the most prolific period in the career of Dylan, which would result in more classics such as “I Shall Be Released,” “Tears of Rage,” “Nothing Was Delivered,” “Sign on the Cross,” and much more. In “Sign on the Cross,” we see one of Dylan’s greatest songs ever, showing as much as anything that Dylan was marching down a new path while the mainstream counter culture had reached a creative drought. Driven by Dylan’s patented strong coffee, jazz cigarettes and spirits, the boys proceeded to have quite a year in upstate New York, while the public wondered and mused around the lack of details concerning Bob’s motorcycle accident and the effect it would have on his future. This period is one of music’s most prized possessions, showing Bob’s true genius on the Basement Tape Recordings, as he constantly discards material that other artists would have died to come up with. During this fabled period where the atmosphere was history, family, friends, mankind, community and home, Garth Hudson’s famous recordings come across at least half the time as a bunch of guys just having fun; Robbie Robertson makes mention several times throughout Million Dollar Bash, that he never thought anyone would ever hear these recordings. The Basement Tape Sessions changed the state of recording, while Bob Dylan changed songwriting. Million Dollar Bash doesn’t center around clearing up the mysteries of the accident and such, but certainly is an enticing read and valuable asset for any Dylan fan. Having said that, I took a while with this book, going through each song and its entry, while listening to the track from the original sessions. Having said that, the best way to enjoy this book is to go and find a good version of The Basement Tapes and dive in yourself.

http://www.jawbonepress.com/

Bowie In Berlin:: A New Career In A New Town: by Thomas Jerome Seabrook

I just finished up the excellent Bowie In Berlin: A New Career In A New Town, documenting Bowie’s most intriguing period between the years of 1976-1979, when he left the excesses of L.A., and a diet of cocaine and milk to root out a new land and new sound in Berlin. This is the period of Bowie’s work with sonic alchemist extraordinaire Brian Eno and Tony Visconti on the highly acclaimed Low album; its’ follow-up Heroes, which in anti-Bowie fashion works the same ideas as Low and ultimately could be argued is a better album considering its’ added musicality; and finally the third of the triptych, Lodger, the highly ambitious, while relatively disappointing work of two men with distinctively different visions yielding to the destructive malaise of compromise. Moreover, during this time frame Bowie returns Iggy Pop to the spotlight with his writing, playing and recording of the guinea pig work for the Berlin period – The Idiot. These aforementioned albums changed music, making synthesizer based rock/pop possible, and as a result shaped so much of the coming eighties’ sound that one might posit had Bowie never existed much of the music that came later wouldn’t have either. It is pretty easy to argue that no artist ruled the seventies like Bowie. He was incredibly prolific and always ahead of the times. No mainstream artist went from such commercial success to sacrifice it all for art’s sake and the pursuit of new sonic avenues; nor, did any mainstream artist manage to circumvent the destruction of Punk’s supposed year zero – 1977, and maintain relevancy like David Bowie. Those famous drum sounds and icy productions we hear on Low, are the predecessors of the same wonderful world that Stephen Morris and company would occupy in a couple of different bands. Not to mention, folks like Gary Numan were influenced so much they aped the sound to the point of insult, leaving Bowie to once comment that “cloning” was never part of the plan. The book has some fantastic photos and is laid out wonderfully with the subject matter sticking for the most part to details of the inner workings of the music, and what was influencing the sound. Finally, a month or so ago, a current mainstream artist – – John Mayer, made a defense on his blog of that guy in Fall Out Girl who goes out with one of those Simpson sisters, claiming the dude was a visionary like Bowie. For that comment I would offer that there are no similarities, and perhaps Mr. Mayer should spend less time hanging out with the “here today, irrelevant tomorrow” famous set, and actually listen to Bowie and read Bowie In Berlin. All the running mascara and perfectly disheveled hair in the world will never make that guy anything like Bowie.

http://www.jawbonepress.com/



book review:: Who Killed Martin Hannett? The Story of Factory Records’ Musical Magician

Moving like a steady train heading for imminent disaster, Colin Sharp’s Who Killed Martin Hannett? The Story of Factory Records’ Musical Magician fills in the grey area of Martin’s slow collapse. Hannett is of course the genius alchemist behind those great Joy Division records, The Buzzcocks’ “Spiral Scratch EP,” Happy Monday’s “Bummed,” John Cooper Clarke, and many more. His productions inspired many over the years, including those grunge guys from Seattle, and a number of this decade’s forgettable acts such as The Killers. The manner in which he captured the drums made them sound as if they were from a different planet, or recorded in another atmosphere, as I believe Martin was really seeking. His icy productions on those Joy Division records are such marvels, presenting the music in stark frame, that in all reality one has to wonder whether that band would have ever achieved such notoriety without the services of Martin “Zero” Hannett. The author Colin Sharp was his best friend, and through the recollections of those around Martin “Zero” in the dark years leading to his death, Sharp has pieced a tale together to fill in the blanks. Who Killed Martin Hannett? has a pacing similar to Hunter S. Thompson’s works, only without the esoteric details. The book is set up as an episodic tale centered predominantly around heroin scenes, laid out with a finesse that brings about the feeling you’re experiencing the narcotic ramblings first hand. Sharp’s scene depictions are so picturesquely dour, that the waves of warmth and hum of the drugs kicking in, can almost be felt through his connection of sentences. In the early years, the drugs allowed Martin to delve deep into his work in the studio with his mind’s powerful microscope. After his glory days, the drugs stopped working and took him further away from his true joy; with that separation being what most likely killed him in the end. Perhaps it is the natural fate of the obsessive pursuing the elusive goal of perfection of a vision, that self-destruction is the only possible finale. Who Killed Martin Hannett? is a fun read that can be sucked down in no time at all.

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book review::My First Time: A Collection Of First Punk Show Stories

For many, their first punk show changed their life trajectory, acting as a catalyst for a coming of age that equated to personal revolution. The experience is no doubt like crossing into the hinterlands from your parent’s rule, leaving a place of control and security for the adventure of the unknown world. At one point in time, the punk show essentially equated to a new land where nervous energy and alienation were left unbridled to fester into a new and much more engaging sore. Meanwhile, the status quo was stomped all over and ground out by music that created new personal politics, and more importantly – a new consciousness. My First Time – A Collection Of First Punk Show Stories, is a new book that takes personal testimonies that recall experiences at shows that are viewed as life changing episodes. Most of the stories revolve more around the background of the situation at hand where revelatory moments took place, more so than detailing the actual shows. What resonates the loudest with these stories is that after so many years these shows still hold prime real estate in the authors’ minds.

For anyone who is a true music lover, there will always be certain live experiences that can’t be forgotten. I have them and you have them, and it is great to establish the common bond with others who have been changed by punk rock. The Dwarves’ Blag Dahlia tells a funny story about “the scowling girl and her retarded boyfriend,” that doubles as a social commentary on the punk scene in general. Being a former Chapel Hillian, I really enjoyed reading Harrison Haynes of Les Savy Fav detailing the mid-eighties Chapel Hill scene and the nearly forgotten Sparkle Car Wash. Scott Bourne also adds his own experiences of triangle lore and his coming to realize just how punk Kenny Rogers really was in the end. My First Time: A Collection Of First Punk Show Stories is full of interesting recollections of great punk moments by a mixture of writers. If you think this is your sort of thing, then rest assured you’ll want to pick this one up.

http://www.akpress.org/


book review::The Rough Guide to Led Zeppelin

I have read many books on artists and musicians over the years and I almost always feel like it never gets interesting until you get to the point where something is actually starting to happen. I really don’t care too much about pre-fame years unless it is extremely relevant and find that a basic overview of place of birth, basic upbringing, and coming of age is more than sufficient. Moreover, as if a moth to a flame, most authors cannot avoid the spell of trying to psychoanalyze an artists “early years” so as to draw often grandiose conclusions from the most tenuous of details, for the ultimate purpose of implying some deeper understanding of said artist. It isn’t to say that there aren’t exceptions to what I’m saying, but for the most part I usually can’t wait to get through those early chapters, and if i’m lucky they are really short.

Having said all that, The Rough Guide Series has released their guide to Led Zeppelin, which reads more like an encylopedia than a book, and is broken up so you can skip around with relative ease. The Rough Guide Series are really great, because they include all the important information, going into depth in terms of highlights through the important Zeppelin years, detailing albums, bootlegs, and the post band era. Another thing I really appreciate are the featured inset articles on manager Peter Grant, Jimmy Page’s Bow, Jimmy’s work on the soundtrack to Lucifer Rising, and so many others. Overall, this book is perfect for lifelong fans and newcomers alike, as it holds something for everyone, and it is all condensed into one book. For giants of music like Led Zeppelin, who have been tirelessly written on to the point of exhaustion, this series takes that all into account and gives the fan everything he or she needs.

http://www.roughguides.com/website/shop/products/Led-Zeppelin.aspx

book review::The Source:The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and the Source Family by Isis Aquarian with Electricity Aquarian

When you think of the term cult it probably evokes horrific images of the Manson Family or Jim Jones & the People’s Temple. The term “cult” certainly has a negative connotation and in the nineties we saw the culmination of those reactions with the Janet Reno Branch Davidian disaster. Recently, I finished up The Source:The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and the Source Family, and don’t remember the last time a book changed the way I looked at something, but this book has. Prior to reading I knew nothing about The Source, except some vague knowledge of their house band “Ya Ho Wa 13” and their impossibly hard to find music.

The Source is the story of Jim Baker, aka Father Yod, aka Ya Ho Wa, and his family of “sons” and daughters which numbered around 150 and really lived it up in Los Angeles between 1970 and 1974. Throw out any notions of serious abuse and tales of brainwashing horror, because The Source family existed like no other you have probably heard about. Jim Baker, was among other things, a judo and archery expert who had a prosperous health food restaurant on the Sunset Strip that afforded him and his family a luxurious lifestyle. They lived in a Hollywood mansion, had their own recording studio, he drove a Rolls Royce and had a fleet of red and white VW buses, and Baker became “Father.” These were men and women “commited to life that centered around spirit and family, health, well-being, and the attainment of consciousness.”

The book follows their misadventures around Hollywood and elsewhere, and includes some great anecdotes. My favorite being the tale of Yod taking some of his family to a chic LA restaurant and bribing the maitre d to sit them in their fancy far out garb next to then governor Ronald Reagan. Throughout the book it is evident that Jim Baker was charismatic, intelligent, extremely savvy, and very generous. While family members did donate their belongings when they joined, it was Baker’s restaurant and ingenuity that financed the bulk of the family’s high style activities. There is one story after another of future family members meeting Father Yod for the first time and having a transcendent experience.

What is truly touching is how much to this day the experience has maintained its’ meaning for many of the family members. There are countless commentaries by members who describe their time with Ya Ho Wa as the pinnacle of their lives. One member even states that sixty percent of his present memories come from the one year he spent with the family. Having said all that, this book is not all cheery eyed adulation for the family. There are some detractors, but even most of the dissenting views still show appreciation for this special time. In finale, I have to say that this book was not only eye opening, but the first book in a long time that I was a sad to see done. Father Yod and his family are great characters who carved out a world of their own amidst the fabric of early seventies’ new age California.

http://processmediainc.com/
http://www.Yahowa.org
http//progressive.homestead.com/YAHOWA.html




Book Review:: “Riot On Sunset Strip – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s last stand in Hollywood”

“Riot On Sunset Strip – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s last stand in Hollywood”
Domenic Priore
Jawbone Press, Published 2007

Imagine what it must have been like to be hanging out in Los Angeles – The Sunset Strip during the mid 1960’s. Forget about the movie stars, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood – L.A. was a hot bed for pop music, art, and culture. The scene appeared in an almost over night fashion. The landing of The Beatles, The Stones and the British Invasion certainly made all of this a reality. But as quickly as it appeared it soon vanished with the riots of 1966 and the gravitating of the scene to San Francisco and the “Summer of Love.”

Author, Domenic Priore – (who also wrote “Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile!”) takes a detailed look at the quick rise of an influential period in Rock history. “Riot On Sunset Strip – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s last stand in Hollywood” is the essential encyclopedia for LA MUSIC from 1965-1966 and it’s influence beyond. The book features all the familiar names: The Byrds, The Doors, The Beach Boys, Love, The Monkees, The Mamas And Papas, The Mothers Of Invention, The Turtles, The Buffalo Springfield along with slew of some of the more underground garage punk bands that suddenly found fame – The Leaves, The Seeds, The Standells, The Music Machine, and a surplus of others that even time may have forgotten.

The nightlife on the strip was just as important as the bands that graced its’ stages. The book not only details some of the legendary bands of the period, but also it’s now legendary venues. The Whisky a Go Go, The Troubadour, Ciro’s (Where the Byrds & Dylan brought it all together), Ben Franks (the hip happening place to be), The Trip (where even The Velvets made a rare West Coast appearance), Pandora’s Box, and more! Even folks like Jerry Lewis (Jerry Lewis Club) and Dean Martin (Dino’s Lodge) had clubs on the strip.

In between the book spotlights chapters on Pop Art in LA during this period – and it’s widespread influence which could be found from diverse media as gig posters, t-shirts, restaurant menus – even the 1965 World Series programs – between the Minnesota Twins &. The Los Angeles Dodgers. As you would also expect, a chapter is also dedicated to the Folk-Rock movement and all it’s important players. The last chapters also include a nice listing of the periods clubs (most of which are long gone) and the author’s growing collection of live LP’s recorded in Los Angeles by the likes of Rick Nelson, Neil Diamond, The Dillards, The Standells and lots more.

If you’re a fan of mid 60’s pop music “Riot On Sunset Strip – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s last stand in Hollywood” is clearly an essential add to your library of rock music books…lots of new stories to read and discover – ace indeed!

Videos::

The Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man” (Live 1965, “The Big TNT Show”)

The Turtles “It Ain’t Me Babe”

The Standells “Riot On The Sunset Strip”

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book review::Guitar Army

Recently I finished up Guitar Army, published by Process Media, and written by artist, poet, musician, radio dj, and activist John Sinclair. In the 1960’s John Sinclair spearheaded a movement using the power of what was a new and extreme version of Rock n Roll, to spread a cultural revolution. Sinclair was the manager of Detroit legends the MC5, and also the main force behind the leftist White Panther Party. Sinclair created quite a storm in his time with his revolutionary ideas combined with the explosive power of the White Panther Party band MC5. In 1970, John Sinclair was sentenced to close to 10 years in prison for giving an undercover officer two joints. On the 10th of December 1971, The John Sinclair Freedom rally was put on, where John Lennon famously performed The Ballad Of John Sinclair and three other numbers with Yoko. John Lennon had so much cultural capital that as a result of the concert, three days later Sinclair was freed from prison.

Among other things, Guitar Army chronicles the MC5’s battles with local Michigan authorities. Moreover, Sinclair goes into some detail about the government antagonism of Sinclair and his cohorts, which served as validation of just how afraid the power strata were of Sinclair’s ideas. In Sinclair’s column Rock n Roll Dope, Sinclair directly and indirectly gives a good sense of how passionate the fans of the MC5 were and how there really was this magnetism that was drawing people together who were seriously looking to make change. It is also really interesting to read Sinclair’s section on Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, and how by his own admission there was 60’s culture before the record and then there was the 60’s culture that was transformed by the drug infused imagery and music of the incredibly rich, famous and powerful Beatles. During this section, Sinclair goes on to muse about the real power the Beatles offered for change, if they only had proper direction and a message.
Guitar Army offers much in the form of getting the reader to understand and relate to the cultural environment of a time when rock n roll was not only taking over the U.S., but was also evolving at such a rapid rate that the potential was seemingly endless. Throughout the book, there are many quotes from Mao and Lenin on the power of mass consciousness and the power of ideas with respect to making change reality. The book is a great product of the sixties and includes over eighty concert flyers, illustrations, and photographs, and some will surely be inspired with a new belief in the power of words and ideas. Sinclair’s writings serve as a valuable resourse with respect to the cultural cogs and wheels that were turning during a time which seemed to hold so much potential for positive change. What I found even more compelling than the writings was just how apparent it is that these folks truly believed they could change things. In the end, all sorts of changes occurred, but it doesn’t bare much of a resemblance to Sinclair’s utopia.
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