5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Less Hotel California, more Doctor - my eyes...,
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This review is from: Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 (Paperback)
The late 60s and early 70s were the halcyon days for the singer-songwriter in LA.
David Geffen hadn't revealed himself to be the money grabbing businessman we know and love today, drugs were fresh and exciting and record labels allowed their artists time to develop and grow (for our younger readers, this was known as a 'career' - something that was meant to last longer than one series of X Factor).
It should be a fascinating time in music history, making for a fascinating read.
But it doesn't.
Instead, what Hoskyns serves up is a superficial overview of what was supposed to be a time of deep introspection and artistic exploration. The irony, I fear, would be lost on him.
Names flash by in the blink of an eye, the Troubador and it's Cheers-like cast of regulars is lauded before being pitied, the time line spins about like the Tardis on the blink and the reader finishes the book knowing not much more than when he/she started.
Which is a shame.
For a scene so rich in characters and events, how does Hoskyns manage to make it all sound so perfunctory? Well, in part, by not actually speaking to the main players. Simply re-hashing other people's quotes from interviews of old doesn't provide you with any real insight.
Maybe Hoskyns couldn't gain access to the stars (he focuses a lot on famously reluctant interviewees Neil Young and Joni Mitchell), but there are enough other Troubadour survivors to fill several books, many no doubt only too keen to spill the dirt on those who made it when they didn't. So why not track them down?
Or the widows and ex-girlfriends? Hell, there are plenty of them still knocking about. Wouldn't have been too hard to get a couple to recall days in the pool blitzed on coke and tequila.
Instead we get conjecture passed off as fact, a glossy overview of gritty incidents, all put together by a writer who singularly fails to engage with his subject.
A cynic might suggest he stuck to the big names just to sell books...
I could almost forgive all of that, though. I was about to just put it down to me not being in the right frame of mind, when I finally made it to the final few pages - pages which feature the story of David Geffen suing Neil Young.
Not only does Hoskyns not get the story right (completely failing to mention the actual album that was the cause of the dispute), but he fails to put it into any wider context as to Young's personality and career.
At which point you begin to question the accuracy of everything else you've trudged through and you begin to wish you'd never heard any of the albums Hoskyns glosses over.