- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Ebury Press; New Reduced Edition edition (3 Jan. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0091880920
- ISBN-13: 978-0091880927
- Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 280,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Black Vinyl White Powder Paperback – 3 Jan 2007
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The lowly third position of musical pursuits in the familiar cry of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" suggests what Simon Napier-Bell's book Black Vinyl White Powder makes all too clear: from it's mid-1950s beginnings: pop music has always been intrinsically linked not only with sex, but with all manner of illegal substances. Indeed, it is an often-repeated fact that success in the music business will frequently be accompanied by more than mere musical activity. "Drugs are sometimes as important as talent," explains Napier-Bell in this entertaining and often compelling read, and it is from this angle that he presents his gripping 50-year history of pop.
The author's previous memoir, the often-hilarious You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, detailed his career in the pop industry from his esteemed position as joint-roller for the Johnny Dankworth Orchestra to his later role as manager of huge acts such as Japan and Wham! With such a career behind him, his range of contacts and experiences result in an often breathtaking sprint through the history of pop, incorporating major icons such as Elvis and the Beatles to leading figures from numerous late 90s dance movements. In Black Vinyl he diligently notes the particular pharmaceuticals used in order to satisfy the creative and, more often, hedonistic needs of the artists in question. Fascinating anecdotes abound, from the amusing, (such as the report of keyboard player Graham Bond's frequently heard airport custom's cry, "If you want the drugs I've got them up my arse"), to the tragic, (as figures from Syd Barrett to Kurt Cobain fall by the wayside, their drug habits supported, if not actively encouraged by an industry where such behaviour is the norm).
If a fault can be aimed at this mostly enjoyable read, it is that Napier-Bell's insistence on maintaining the link between drug-taking and the music it frequently accompanies often results in a sensationalist tabloid feel which steers him away from the more revealing anecdotal style that proved so enjoyable in his earlier book. However, his droll approach is always entertaining and Black Vinyl White Powder is recommended to anyone interested in an industry where, according to one interviewee, half of those involved are left with "scrambled eggs for brains". --Steve Price --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"'Breathtakingly brilliant' - Julie Burchill"
"'The definitive history of British pop" (Observer Music Monthly)
""one of the most fascinating, revealing and enjoyable journeys through 50 years of the UK record business"" (Music Week)
"`Here you get a great autobiography of a very experienced man (he famously managed Wham!), who describes in great detail the advent of the pop industry and, of course, all the pitfalls that have become associated with it." (Mousse T, singer Sunday Times)
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Top Customer Reviews
The way in which Napier-Bell links the sounds of each era with the most popular drug could have been a bit of a cheap gimmick, but it works beautifully and is never less than totally convincing.
Anyone who's interested in popular music should read it.
Napier- Bell has a simple thesis which is that UK pop owes it all to drugs and gay culture from the 1950s to date and certainly tells enough scurrilous but amusing anecdotes to support the proposition. His own predelictions (being gay but not into drugs) allow a writing style that seems to match Kenneth Anger and Hunter Thompson in sparing no blushes but also making telling points that this was sadly how it all was.
The most incisive aspects of the book and that justify it being a great read are on the wheeling and dealing by artiste's managers and the record companies and the tricks played along the way to maintain their control, with "rip off" being the only term applicable. With his own involvment with the Yardbirds and Wham being honestly told, the story has a level of depth and range that is rare in other pop books and avoids the researcher/avid fan tomes that litter this area of writing.
An excellent airplane or beach read - gripping but enjoyable.
He briefly mentions the time they made the Tin Drum album but doesn't even mention the Gentlemen Take Polaroids album - so either he wasn't their manager then or he isn't interested in telling us much about the Band.
Its not a bad read but I found myself skim reading bits towards the end.
I want to know about Japan and George Michael but he doesn't really tell us very much about them.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have now read 4 of Simons books now love his honest account of his time in the music businessPublished 9 months ago by mark lester
Interesting account and focussed on the management side.Published 11 months ago by Stuart Mcculloch
Possibly the best book I have ever read on the UK music business history of the 20th century.Published 15 months ago by alleyd
If Simon Napier Bell doesn't know the music industry no one does.
This book is a real insight into the Rock and pop music business.
A very interesting read.
Fascinating. Very fascinating. For musicians and music fans alike, this is ace. Very well researched and written by a man that has lived it.Published 24 months ago by Nick Langley
brought as a present
Friend is looking forward to reading it
i used to know a few of these people in the book so was interesting to see the literal characterPublished on 14 Aug. 2014 by SammiLou
Brilliant book on the British (and to a great extent American) music scene of the last 60 years or so. Written by someone on the inside with no axe to grind and very frank. Read morePublished on 19 Jun. 2014 by Moldgeier