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White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s Paperback – 4 Oct 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (4 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852424893
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852424893
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

An excellent memoir (Sunday Express)

[Boyd] was at the heart of the action... But there's much to interest non-music fans as well (Mail on Sunday)

Drake's suicide provides the memoir with its most poignant episode, but there are plenty of colourful anecdotes (Sunday Telegraph)

Gloriously entertaining... even those unfamiliar with back catalogues and B-sides will be intrigued by Boyd's ability to dish the dirt (Observer)

From Dylan to Pink Floyd, Boyd was there and luckily for us, he can remember it all (Daily Express)

The simple brilliance of "White Bicycles" is that its author never overstates his own importance or exaggerates his failings, and still ends up telling an irresistible tale. (New York Times 2007-09-09)

A brisk, wised-up and highly entertaining consideration of a crucial musical epoch's many facets. (Kirkus 2005-01-01)

One of the most entertaining and insightful rock 'n' roll books I've read (Noel Mengel Courier Mail, Brisbane Australia 2010-06-17)

About the Author

Record and film producer Joe Boyd was born in Boston in 1942 and graduated from Harvard in 1964. He went on to produce Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, REM and many others. He produced the documentary 'Jimi Hendrix' and the film 'Scandal'. In 1980 he started Hannibal Records and ran it for 20 years. Boyd lives in London where he writes for the Guardian and Independent. His next book is about World Music.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Heath on 7 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
I've long thought the statement, 'If you remember the 60's you couldn't been there', to be a nonsense.

As a weekend hippy who got high on very good music, cheap Canadian Clubs and ginger (and no stronger chemicals), I remember the times pretty well. This meant having the ability to slip into the action at weekends and then do a day job to pay for the records, the gigs..... and then through the drag of the working week, eventually slip into next weekend's action. It was improved most Wednesday evenings by making the trip to Tolworth's Toby Jug off the A3, to see the likes of Timebox (soon to become Patto, and with Ollie Hassell doing a Keith Moon destruction job on his vibraphone), Fleetwood Mac (a half crown for this, and 'Albatross' had just left the No. 1 singles spot), King Crimson (first UK tour - but this was a terrible venue for the band), Led Zeppelin (1st tour and the audience only warming to them in the second hour of playing), Edgar Broughton Band (audience only just in double figures, but still a great show), a classic line-up with Jeff Beck (Nicky Hopkins, Ron Wood, Tony Newman and Rod Stewart), or the Groundhogs backing John Lee Hooker. Then get rather disillusioned about the hippy ethos at the end of Traffic's Oz Benefit concert at Central Middlesex Poly one summer's evening, when I discovered I'd been sit on the floor (of that canteen, which Traffic welcome us to), immediately in front of Oz-man-in-chief Richard Neville. I stood up and accidently trod on his cloak; he mouthed f*** off' retrieving a portable cassette recorder concealed there, on which it seemed he was making a bootleg recording - of a band who were doing him a huge favour.

This is not the first book to describe this period of radical musical change and social "revolution".
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful By S. Holland on 19 May 2006
Format: Paperback
I'd feared Joe Boyd's White Bicycles would be lightweight--not sure why, except that so many books are, nowadays--and thought I might only be interested in the section about the Witchseason artists and their time period (a favorite of mine). To my delight, Boyd's accounts of earlier adventures in the States and the UK, and of the many musicians he worked with then, are just as fascinating. He writes well, and his knack for remembering and expressing detail makes all the people he encountered seem very real, and gives depth to the book.

As reviewers elsewhere have pointed out, this isn't an autobiography of Boyd himself, but a memoir of his role in a specific timeline. There isn't much reference to his childhood, or to personal relationships; those aren't what Boyd is concerned with. For instance, of all the photos of musicians and moguls in the book, only two snapshots include him. You might expect him to be egotistical, considering the influential career he's had, but he really doesn't sound that way. While he does come across as quite confident--and if he hadn't been, he wouldn't have been able to work with so many people in so many different situations--he doesn't cast himself as the central figure. He portrays himself simply as one of the players in an amazing part of musical history, and gives the impression of trying to be fair as he looks back on everything. A few times I found myself reading between the lines, as he talked about a person or situation with which I was already familiar, and I suspected he was being careful not to say what he really thought. But this was obviously in deference to the feelings of others, not from a desire to lie or be secretive.

Throughout the book, you're impressed by the fact that no one else has had quite Boyd's point of view.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. R. P. Wigman on 6 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
Written by a man who has produced so many classic albums and who has encouraged and brought to the limelight many artists I love, I simply had to get this book. And it certainly delivers. Many, many interesting facts, dates, anecdotes about as many artists are crammed into the pages, so it makes for avid reading, especially if you're a music fan interested in the music in the past century (for we can not only read about obvious artists and groups like Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, but about jazz artists like Duke Ellington and Sonny Rollins as well).

The downside of this book for me is the fact that it stays on the surface too much. Both the artists as indeed the writer himself stay a bit distant, so that I didn't feel as involved as I wanted to. It might well be that Joe Boyd just wants to keep it factual and concise, but I think that he could have written a better book had he chosen to go a little deeper into (some of) the artists whose records he has produced.

Nevertheless, this is a fine book and you'll love all he has to write. Like I said, for me not buying and reading it immediately was not an option.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nixon McVicar on 1 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
I had, since reading Fred Goodman's extraordinary "Mansion on the Hill" in 2004, wondered if an equally well written counterpart would appear which would map the development of music of the sixties and early seventies in the UK rather than the US... reading Boyd's memoir I was delighted and moved to find such an erudite and bewilderingly knowledgable book. It is razor sharp in analysis of the constantly evolving nexus between the artists, producers, management and audience, which easily equals Goodman's tome, subtitled "Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce". It is also heartbreakingly on the money when it comes to the industrialisation of the (counter)culture which proceded almost as soon as artists could establish themselves outside the confines of Tin Pan Alley. A brief period in the development of music which can be readily seen as a golden era, accounted for with great humility and wit. A must buy for any serious music fan.
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