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London Rock: The Unseen Archive Hardcover – 7 Dec 2017
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"A thing of rare beauty" (Classic Rock)
About the Author
Alec Byrne started his career as a photographer on the NME in 1966, and he instantly found himself in the middle of a rock revolution. Popular and talented, and was given informal access to everybody from the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who and The Faces to the Bee Gees and Black Sabbath, and visiting Americans from Bob Dylan to Jim Morrison. As photographers began to get less access in the mid-seventies, he decamped to LA where he became a set photographer. His London archive was stored in his garage, until now.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
London Rock is a beautifully executed rogue’s gallery of rock, a who's who of young men (mostly) early on their journey to becoming internationally-recognized icons who would collectively reshape the music world. Viewing the soulful, incisive, sometimes heartstopping images one after another, I got the sensation one gets watching fireworks turn a black sky into a blaze of light, color and brilliance.
Byrne’s photographs manage to convey -- effortlessly -- both the weight and ephemera of a golden moment in music. Perhaps only an artist with an eye so young and searching -- the earliest images here were snapped when Byrne was 16 -- could have managed these iconic images of trailblazing musicians beginning to morph from their early years on the club scene into the full flower of greatness. Byrne’s shots from these halcyon London days and nights are lush, rapturous, playful, and raw. Oh yeah, and again, seriously sexy.
Even London Rock’s presentation is clever, starting with the heavy box it arrives in, meant to evoke a carton of 11-by-14 Kodak paper. The large-format book is imaginatively curated and impressively printed -- every image is fully saturated on rich, thick stock. The care and quality that have gone into producing this volume are evident on every page.
Especially smart was the decision not to clutter the pages with words. Aside from the book's foreword, a lovely, retrospective introduction by Byrne, and a succinct index tied to thumbnails of the photos, there’s no text at all to distract from the power of the images. And no need for it. The faces, especially the eyes, are telling so many stories on their own. Byrne gives us Bowie at his most ethereal and angelic, Iggy Pop at his most unholy. There’s a John Lennon in a moment of perfect peace with his young son Julian, and a stunning shot of Hendrix and Jagger moments after meeting that somehow manages to capture professional admiration, jealousy and wariness in equal parts.
I could go on, but I want to go back and savor the book again. And I’ll have time now, because I need to go Christmas shopping. I’ve just found the perfect gift for everyone on my list. London Rock is a real triumph, the find of the year as far as I'm concerned.
The images are of people we all have seen before, but somehow these photos have the capability to bring us a bit closer somehow. In this day and age there are few photo books that collect rock 'n' roll subjects that bring something new to the table. For me this is one of those books. Besides the large reproductions, there's a few pages throughout the book that fold out for an even larger size print, as well as reproductions of Byrne's contact sheets. The printing is well done, the book itself is sturdy and well made, and it comes inside a substantial lidded cardboard box, itself something nice to see and hold.
Yes, it's pretty expensive, but (at least for me) this is one of those books that's worth the money. Do yourself a favor and check it out.