3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2012
After recently reading this splendid author's excellent book about Graham Bond ,I was certainly more than interested to seek out and become more knowledgeable about another hero of mine in the shape of the great bluesman and blues historian Alexis Korner.As usual with Harry Shapiro's biography's the story line is impeccably researched and which makes the whole process such a satisfying read.This book could not be more comprehensive,from Alexis's childhood to his premature death and what came in between ( including his time with Cyril Davies,his radio work and his take on Graham Bond ),is a most fascinating musical journey.Although I never had the chance to meet Alexis Korner,by the time I had finished this book I felt as though I knew him so well and had almost lost a good friend .
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2002
I first came across the name of Alexis Korner in the late 70s. I was in my teens, and I had already been turned onto the blues by the likes of Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones. When I stumbled across Alexis Korner's Blues & Soul Show one saturday afternoon, the blues was not exactly a revelation. What was a revelation was the richness of the blues; how it was not just a guitar based music from Chicago, but that this music had a history in which it embraced many different varieties of the form: The Delta Blues singers, boogie-woogie, free-form jazz, folk blues,work and prison songs. Rock was just one variant. Included amongst all this was gospel, soul and modern funk music. The programme was an eye-opener. It was Korner who first introduced me to the music of Charles Mingus and Muddy Waters, who first made me see a direct connection between the traditional music of Burundi and the avant-garde jazz of Oliver Lake. The richness and diversity of the blues, and black music generally, was opened to me by listening to this show. The man's knowledge of his subject was inexhaustable, and it was presented in such a warm rich voice that, as a listener, I felt drawn to him, curious to know who he was. I had no idea he was a musician until I came across a re-released EP he recorded with Davy Graham called 3/4 AD.(This is on a CD called 'The Guitar Player...plus' by Davy Graham, currently available from Amazon.)This remains Korner's most satisfying piece. He was not a great recording artist and a limited musician. His importance lies in his knowledge and love of the blues that he disseminated through his broadcasts, journalism and playing. He was a generous man, always ready to give someone a helping hand and encouragement, and never became jealous of their success.
This highly readable book captures the essence of this interesting man.If I have any criticisms of the book, I would say that we never find out what Korner though of how rock music was developing, and it was afterall developed from the blues which he pioneered in Britain from the 50s onwards. Ofcourse, Harry Shapiro may simply not know what Korner thought, but it is a question that should have been asked. Korner's importance to the British blues boom is well documented here, along with the people he encouraged and helped, including Plant, Eric Burden, the Stones, and many more too numerous to mention. Whenever I remember Alexis Korner, it is always as a great broadcaster, opening the ears of his listeners to the rich variety of sounds that form the basis of so much modern music. We need him today. Afterall this time, a replacement has not been found - not by a long shot.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2008
This is another book by Shapiro which honours a name that is not as well known as it should be. Korner was not a great musician, but he had the knack of spotting emerging talent and putting it together into a series of great bands (a bit like John Mayall has done). He was passionate about blues and R&B, of which he became a scholar, and was able to pass on this love, not only via his music, but also via his radio shows, which I well remember.
As with Shapiro's Graham Bond book, I found it very hard to put down, and thoroughly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the British blues and R&B scene.