Off the record : an oral history of popular music / [stories told to] Joe Smith ; edited by Mitchell Fink Hardcover – 1988
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Fine cloth copy in an equally fine dw. Particularly and surprisingly well-preserved; tight, bright, clean and especially sharp-cornered.; 429 pages; Description: xiv, 429 p., 64 p. of plates : ports. ; 24 cm. Subjects: Popular music --History and criticism --Musicians --United States --Interviews. Summary: The legends of popular music tell their stories, in their own words, from the Big Band era's Artie Shaw to today's stars Paul Simon and Phil Collins. With 200 photos.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The interviewees may be legendary or obscure ... musicians or songwriters ....producers or managers .... studio heads or studio engineers. Like me, you may start by I started by cherrypicking cherrypick the McCartneys and Dylans and Bonos. Like me, you'll eventually devour every interviewee, even the prehistoric big-band names you may or may not recognize.
By the way, Smith donated the audio tapes of every full interview to the Library of Congress. Many of these are now posted on line. Besides getting more info than the snippets in the book, you get to second-guess what Smith chose to use and leave out. And it's a treat to hear the back and forth between Smith and his subjects.
Two complaints that are really compliments: 1. The book was published in 1988. Too bad Smith didn't produce Part 2 covering the last 30 years. 2. I wish Smith had put more of his own eventful career on paper, either here or in a separate autobiography.
For now, Off the Record remains the book of record in my personal pop music library.
The time-span covered by the book includes the 1930s through the mid-1980s, published in 1988, starting with Artie Shaw and ending with David Lee Roth. I started reading it cover-to-cover, but later found myself skipping to those artists I'm most familiar with. Sometimes I'd scan the sections on artists I had only heard of, but didn't really "know", to see if they mentioned people I was more aware of. There are no real revelations here (did you know that some of them used drugs in the 60s and 70s?), but I still was entertained by what each of them had to say.
Two things that I disliked about this book:
First and foremost, the printing quality was awful. The type was thick, dark and splotchy, as if someone had put too much ink on the press. This also carried-over into the many photos (all black and white), which in some cases were so dark that I couldn't distinguish who or what was in the picture.
Second, it sure would've been nice if the book had an index so you could look up the names of artists you wanted to read about. Instead, the best you could do to find a particular person is to flip through the entire book of more than 200 artists (in mostly chronological order) or scan the three-column table of contents (again, in mostly chronological order).
All in all, it was an entertaining read for those who enjoy the music and music scene of the eras, but who aren't looking for in-depth details about any artist in particular.
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