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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holy Magick, 28 May 2006
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This review is from: Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow (Perfect Paperback)
If you bark the name Graham Bond at me, I will instantly think of the large, bearded man whose eye-catching photograph and article captured my attention when I opened my copy of the International Times ("IT") magazine in September 1969.

Clad in flowing robes, beads around his neck, this man cut a striking figure as he beamed out from the lead article that set forth his confidently-articulated personal philosophies of breathing, life, death, destiny, the law of the universe, and the Age of Aquarius.

This seemed fair enough, for IT was the bible of the late 1960s hippie or underground scene, a movement that had its pretty adornments of flower-power, kaftans and bells but also had a deeper - and sometimes darker - involvement in mind-expanding drugs, mysticism and alternative religions.

But could we accept a beached-up R&B musician suddenly inserting himself so flamboyantly into our midst? "Look at me, I'm a guru," he was saying. "Graham who?" we were silently responding.

Oh, we knew the name all right. In the mid-1960s the four-man Graham Bond Organisation had achieved some minor visibility with appearances on television (Ready Steady Go) and radio (Saturday Club, etc). They had toured the country as a support act to big stars such as Chuck Berry, and had gigged at numerous small clubs and halls in their own right. But, talented jazz and blues players though they were, their recordings of R&B standards like 'Hoochie Coochie Man', 'High Heeled Sneakers' and 'Long Tall Sally' had made no impact in the UK charts, and had never led them to fame and riches under the Graham Bond flag.

As is recounted in Harry Shapiro's riveting biography 'The Mighty Shadow', Bond's gatecrashing of the psychedelic music scene in 1969 was an audacious stroke that was aimed at relaunching his solo career after an unproductive sojourn in the USA. Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, ex-members of the Organisation, had made the big time after joining Eric Clapton to form Cream. Bond had fallen into the wilderness meanwhile.

Harry Shapiro begins the Graham Bond story by tracking down his subject's troubled childhood in late 1940s Romford. After that, the author develops the tale most informatively and enthrallingly as the youthful Bond's enthusiastic and accomplished playing of the saxophone leads into a fringe pop and blues musical career that had very few highlights and was in large part a saga of self-indulgence and self-destruction.

As an exercise in 1960s R&B nostalgia this book is a delight, rolling back the years to remind us of performers such as John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, John Coltrane, Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation, Harold McNair and Zoot Money.

Unable to make it in the industry as a front-name after his 1969 new band Incarnation failed to last the pace, Bond became a bit-player in other bands such as Ginger Baker's Airforce. He assembled his own band Holy Magick in 1971, but his life and career were slowly collapsing into oblivion.

Bond's tragic death in 1974 - an apparent suicide - gave rise to rumours and theories that some say were never properly examined and explained at the time. Bond was obsessively interested in the occult. Inevitably, word went around that the circumstances of his death were suspicious.

To learn the final truth of the life and death of 'The Mighty Shadow' you need to read Harry Shapiro's engaging and meticulously-researched book. I recommend this book very highly, and I'm thrilled to hear that it is recently back in print (contact the author) after having been published originally in 1992.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The mighty shapiro, 4 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow (Perfect Paperback)
Graham Bonds life, was one from the pen of a novelist. that doesn't mean it can easily be turned into a good read, Harry Shapiro has done this. He takes the life of an important, influential musician and chronicles the ups and downs , one would expect from a magician, heroin addicted hustler musician.As with Shapiro's other highly recommended story of an important musician, ' Jack Bruce composing himself' , you find your self closer to the subject. Well researched( " Is this THE Pete Brown" ?) well documented with lots of great photos, if you know of Graham Bond, you will appreciate the telling of his story. If you don't, this is a great place to start! Mr Shapiro was also kind enough to inscribe my copy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography Of A Wasted Talent, 9 April 2007
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Classic Gibbon (Over the Rainbow) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow (Perfect Paperback)
In telling the life story of the almost forgotten British virtuoso jazz/R'n'B/rock musician, Graham Bond, author Harry Shapiro gives a masterclass in writing rock biographies. Well written, thoroughly researched and objective throughout, he charts the highs (too few) and lows (too many) of the life of a musician's musician. Without Graham Bond there would have been no Cream, no Colosseum and no jazz rock. His recorded legacy can only hint at the excitement, innovation and forward thinking nature of the music. Harry Shapiro does a first rate job at explaining what could have been - and what went wrong.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading about a talented and tragic musician, 9 April 2010
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D. Caldwell (Melbourne,Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow (Perfect Paperback)
I first heard of Graham Bond when I read the PR blurb on the back of the sleeve of my original vinyl LP of Fresh Cream in 1967. It briefly detailed the cv's of Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. Cream was such a brilliant band that I never felt the need or curiousity as a 16 year old to check out the music of Graham Bond. If I had done at the time I wouldnt have had the appreciation of it that I have today after recently listening to it for the first time ever!
This book is a great account of the short life of Graham Bond.It seems such a pity that his personality was so damaged and yet I think in all likelihood if he had had a more trouble free youth he may never have been the musician that he turned out to be.Its very sad that a guy who was responsible in particular for enabling Ginger and Jack to spend formative years developing their musicianship should have ended up never seeing any comparitive significant success. In the end though he can only be considered to be responsible for his own sad and apparently perverted downfall.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bond is back!, 14 July 2008
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J. HOLMES (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow (Perfect Paperback)
This is a hugely enjoyable book by Harry, who has picked a worthy subject, sadly overlooked for too long. His influence on British blues/R&B/rock and psychedelia was immense, but too few people know his name. This should help to give him his true place in music. He may have been a chaotic person, but his music was intense, inspired and individual. The musicians he worked with over the years are virtually a who's who of British blues and R&B, but as a player he could hold his own with any of them.

I thoroughly recommend this book, and also check out Harry's biography of Alexis Korner; another terrific read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine, Revelatory Insight to the late Graham Bond, 25 Feb 2013
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Og Oggilby "Og Oggilby" (North London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow (Perfect Paperback)
The late Graham Bond was posessed of a talent larger than his considerable girth. Probably recalled, nearly four decades after his death, for the manner of his (apparent) suicide and the lurid tales of occult dabblings as much as for his music, Harry Shapiro's biography is a stimulating read. Shapiro is a commendably unsensational writer - it would be easy to inflate some of the stories of Bond's life into something overblown, but his approach simultaneously highlights Bond's undoubted, and considerable musical gifts whilst not stinting on the subject's many character defects - amongst them, the revelation that Bond sexually abused his step-daughter. It features interviews with most of the musicians of note who played with Bond, and the overall feeling is that Bond's career and squalid later years signify an utter waste of talent and abuse of his gifts. His drug addiction could have been handled better, and the lack of really strong, authoritative management left Bond rudderless.

If you put this book alongside Repertoire Records superb 'Wade In The Water' Wade In The Water Classics,Origins & Oddities (Deluxe 4CD Hardback Digi-Book)4CD box set, you get perhaps the fullest picture of this enigmatic but immensely gifted musician.
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Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow
Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow by Harry Shapiro (Perfect Paperback - 1 July 2004)
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