4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
still waiting for the biography Rory deserves...., 9 Jan 2014
I have been a big fan of Rory since the early 70's. I saw him live around 18 times [he was, almost always, superb] and I have a large collection of his music and various articles, books etc about him. Ok - so I have now got my Rory credentials out of the way... the point is that I have long thought there was still plenty room for a definitive book about the man and his music. Much of the stuff written about Rory recycles the same worn out stories and clichés - he got his first guitar at the age of 5, got into Ledbelly etc via skiffle, Lonnie Donnigan records and listening to the radio, learned his trade in the Irish showbands, bought the first stratocaster in Ireland, wore the paint off it through constant gigging and having very acidic sweat [complete nonsense apparently], wore checked shirts a lot, was a lovely charming quiet man off stage and a fantastic dynamic performer on it, probably drank too much .... etc, etc. Fair enough but there was rarely anything really substantial and insightful about his music, his influences, his rapport with the fans who loved him, his musical genius, the context of his life and the way he blended the blues, rock and even a bit of jazz and folk to produce his unique body of work. Not to mention the missed opportunities, some fairly uninspired music [sorry fellow Rory fans, but it wasn't all great..] and the struggles that this very sensitive man had with his anxieties and demons. And all the while there was that majestic screaming soaring guitar!!! Rory packed a lot into his all too brief 47 years and there is a great story to tell. Sadly, that story has still to be told. This book has some nice touches and is filled with lots of great pictures, many of which I have never seen before, and it is certainly impossible for Rory fans like me not to buy it, but it is ultimately very disappointing. I would not question for a moment the author's deep affection for Rory but this cannot sustain a book. There is very little by way of insight or analysis, almost nothing is brought to light that we already didn't know - aside from a few dates and other minor biographical details. The book feels very padded out with pointless elaborations on some of Rory's influences and long quotes cut and pasted from other published articles. One chapter is largely based around a reproduction of the cover notes from a Live in Europe reissue. The book has the feel of a school project rather than a well-researched piece of writing worthy of the man. It plods along from one uninspiring discussion of an album to another. For me the best writing on Rory remains the smattering of work by Irish journalist Colin Harper - check out the excellent chapter on Rory in his book 'Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret History'. If only he could be persuaded to write a full length book about Rory..... There is nothing in this book that contains the accuracy and insight of this single sentence by Harper, written in an obituary for Rory; `In terms of the crushing intensity and the voice/guitar chemistry of his finest heavy blues recordings - Sinner Boy and Whole Lot of People among them -- he was a one man Led Zeppelin'. I couldn't agree more and I am afraid that the definitive book about this one man Led Zep still waits to be written. Buy this one for the nice pictures.