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on 4 August 2014
If this book was made into a movie it would seem too far-fetched. Could one man have been present at so many pivotal points of the birth of modern (folk) rock?

He was instrumental in Dylan’s electric 1965 Newport appearance at the Newport. He founded London’s UFO club and hence, arguably, the late 60s British underground/freak scene. He discovers the Incredible String Band in Scotland. He’s connected with Fairport Convention and Nick Drake.

If that all seems too good to be true then there’s more. He was born into a wealthy family and attended Harvard. He’s tall and handsome. Right out of college he’s drafted as a manager for more than one European tour by various jazz and blues legends. He seems to go from one fantastic situation to another.

It was the Nick Drake connection that made me buy this book some years ago – it was published in 2007. I just never got around to reading it until this year.

If you like any of the artists mentioned above, you’ll find something of interest here. If you have anything more than a passing interesting in the British music scene of the late 60s and early 70s you’ll be similarly entertained.

Boyd writes well, with an impressive combination of confidence of self-deprecation.

There’s almost nothing in the book about his life after the mid 70s. Perhaps there’s more to come. Or perhaps, like a lot of us, his late teens and twenties were when a lot of the interesting stuff happened, before he got bogged down in the realities of middle age and beyond.

The over-riding impression on finishing the book was that an evening of conversation and anecdote with Joe Boyd would be an evening not quickly forgotten.

Highly recommended.

8/10
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on 22 April 2009
This is a terrific read, the sixties remembered and recounted from the inside looking out. For all it is the story of Joe Boyd, musical entrepreneur, it is also the story of musicians who taught us that the music mattered.

The story of the sixties is also the story of how music broke free from the bonds of Tin Pan Alley, transcending the purely entertainment media for the masses into a sociology and histiography all of it's own. The music of the sixties yearned for earlier years and lifetimes when music reflected harshness, and suffering, of lost love and other emotions, traditions of bygones and also music passed down through generations and from different cultures. At the same time the music of the past transformed the present. What would the Grateful Dead have been like if the mainstays of the band had not searched into the past and brought it into the light of day? Where would we be without the music and development of Bob Dyland.

Boyd can be credited with discovering the hidden talents of British artists who came to be known and loved in Britain and the world over. having been fortunate enough to see Fairport Convention (in many incarnations) John Martyn, the Incredible String band, Robin Williamson and others besides, it is interesting to see another facet of these people who happen to perform for their livliehood. The stories that filled the pages of the New Musical Express, Melody Maker and others besides take on a different perspective in the light of Boyd's expose.

Yet, to be fair, the author details some of their exploits but he does not assassinate their characters. Clearly these were people who he loved and lost yet who carved niches in his heart. This is not a work of triumphalism but a sad refrain reflecting many of the songs the artists wrote and performed. I could hardly put this book down but it has a degree of authenticity unmatched by many of the ghosted accounts of others. It reminds me a lot of Geoff Doherty's book, A Promoters Tale: Rock at the Sharp Endin that regard.

Whether Brian Eno's resounding endorsement of the book is accurate or not is debateable, but for myself, I must admit, it has resonated deeply within me and I unreservedly recommend it to anyone interested in the music of the time.
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To quote the eponymous song, "moving fast everything looks great", but how does it look long after the ride has stopped?

A fascinating and inspiring book. In far too many cases, someone who was a Sixties icon (or believes they were) has produced an autobiography which makes it clear that they, and they alone, were the focal point without which hippiedom, underground music, etc would never have happened. (No names, you know who you are. In hindsight, it's probably no accident that Sixties love and peace led so easily into the "Me Decade".)

Joe Boyd is obviously one of nature's high achievers, and is entitled to be proud of his track record, but he comes across in this book as a genuinely nice guy. This impression was reinforced recently by an interview in a documentary on the Floyd, where he was talking about Syd Barrett. Boyd has a soft spot for the tragic genius, as shown in his book by his memories of Sandy Denny and (especially) Nick Drake. He has hardly a bad word to say for anyone, and a strong sense of fairness (see his praise for Caroline Coon's victory in the court case, decades after the event, about defamation of character of her Release staff).

The book fills in several gaps for me. In particular, this is the most impressive and lucid account I have read of the Newport Festival when Dylan went electric, in terms of both the events and their interpretation. There are too many other items to mention: one is why Dick Clark took over American Bandstand, and how much, according to Boyd, this influenced American pop music between the mid 1950s and the the "British Invasion". Boyd expresses many perceptive views, for example his contention that the old-fashioned British pop managers were far more gimmick-oriented than their American contemporaries (so much for British reserve).

Most important, however, is his love of music and respect for musicians.

There is also a lot of interesting trivia. For example, e.g. Maria Muldaur used to be Boyd's sister-in-law (check the photo on the front cover).

Well worth a read.
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on 22 January 2011
Joe Boyd closes his excellent memoire observing that he dispelled at least one myth about the 1960s: he was there and he remembered it. The book sparkles with fond recollections of his association with an impressive gallery of blues and folk musicians throughout that decade; the music of Muddy Waters and other early blues masters, Bob Dylan, early Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake and many others truly comes alive in these pages. Boyd seems to have met or dealt with the main movers and shakers of the period as he progressed from odd job man, to tour manager to album producer and became a big wheel in the thriving late 60s folk rock movement. I was especially interested in his stories about the UK blues rock invasion and his recollections about Bob Dylan going electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Here he elegantly sums up the significance of that night: "the old guard hung their heads in defeat while the young, far from being triumphant, were chastened. They realised that in their victory lay the death of something wonderful. The rebels were like children who had been looking for something to break and realised, as they looked at the pieces, what a beautiful thing it had been......anyone wishing to portray the history of the sixties as a journey from idealism to hedonism could place the hinge at around the 9.30 on the night of 25 July 1965."
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on 3 December 2014
Brilliant! Knew nothing of Joe Boyd prior to the book, other than he produced both Syd Barrett and Nick Drake! He is a far better writer than you would expect given that he has been an incredibly busy man. He is an Anglophile who understands the British nuances, and indeed his comparisons of American and British (musical) culture are revealing. Essential reading if you have any interest in history of the 60's/70's music scene.

Joe Boyd's style is very concise and informative, there is a huge amount of information in the book and he doesn't dwell on any of it really, e.g. he goes to Sweden and meets with a music publisher, they agree that they will swap clients for their respective territories, in Sweden the publisher will get the songs of Fairport Convention and in Europe and America Joe Boyd will get the songs from a folk singing duo Benny and Bjorn, he gets the contract sorted but is too busy and doesn't get round to signing it! Recounting this maybe takes a page or so and then it's on to the next interesting story.
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on 29 September 2015
Here is a record of the sixties by an insider, who there and remembers. This Harvard graduate writes lucidly, with affinity, as committed now to the ideals as he harboured then, level-headed, without the often seen disillusionment. A tour manager, scout, producer, movie producer, now writer. He managed to see Pink Floyd pass through his hands, Steve Winwood, the Cream, Anderson/ Alvaeus of ABBA, so did not get filthy rich, but did give us Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny, the Incredible String Band, Norma Waterson and a score of others. The evolution of popular music was never as swift and great as it was in those days and here is man that was involved. Old enough to have tour managed Rev Gary Davis, Rosetta Tharpe and Muddy Waters, to have made things happen in the analogue world of recording, with its soul intact. His own movements and loves feature well, with humour and conviction.
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on 28 September 2006
Apart from being a beautifully written and extremely witty record of a life intersecting with so many iconic players in the music business - Dylan going electric at Newport, Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, all those early blues artists at the start of the 60s, Fairport Convention and so many more - this is also a noble attempt to examine what really happened during the Sixties: all the hopes and dreams we took for granted at the time and now look back on as a distant receding wave which has beached us in a much colder time.

Joe, I loved your book.
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on 19 September 2013
Really enjoyable autobiography from Joe Boyd. I bought this as I've attended a few of Joe's talks over the years and never managed to get a copy as it had always been sold out before I got to the head of the queue. Before attending these talks I had only been aware of Joe's production involvement with the first Pink Floyd single (Arnold Layne). He has had a wide and very interesting involvement with the music industry and is a really good speaker. Unfortunately there is only so much he can talk about in an hour and a half. So this book is a good way to fill in any remaining gaps. Using the names mentioned in the book I intend to U tube to find out what the other artists he has work with sound like. This should be an interesting journey as I've already checked out Nick Drake and Fairport Convention, and am very impressed.
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on 23 July 2014
Joe Boyd was the legendary discoverer, producer and guide of some of the great artists and bands during the finest era of popular music.
That this book is elegantly well written and full of love and awe for those musicians will come as no surprise to anybody familiar with the man or his work.
For somebody born at the end of that era it adds even more colour to the rainbow that was created by Nick Drake, Fairport Convention and the myriad of other talent he can claim to have been responsible for.
Always insightful, always humble and always honest...you cannot fail to be moved the rarest of things - a writer who tells you not just what happened but how it made him feel.
If you only ever read one book about those heady days you would be hard pushed to pick any better!
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on 25 April 2013
Can't add much more than others have already said but there are some
insights that I was pleased to see Joe write about. The entertaining lives
of sixties rock stars he sees as similar to the
French 19th century when;

" Adventurous sons left the safety of the middle class
hearth,lived in sin with seamstresses in garrets, took to drink and
drugs and espoused radical philosophies. They would then create a daring
novel/play/painting/poem/opera to provide vicarious thrills for those
still working at their respectable jobs, earning enough as a result to resume the trappings
of bourgeois life in their old age."

Shame that many did not make it back to middle aged respectability eg Nick Drake
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