A full-length bio of the man in black is long overdue and this effort is worthy for the attempt but ultimately disappoints. RB is largely absent here except in the images painted by others from which we learn that he runs a tight ship, tends to play lots of rough but childish pranks on some new band members, learned to drive a car very late, has been known to exploit people and has at times been extremely rude. You didn't know this? The early chapters offer the most insights on his development as a player and a person, placing RB in the context of the emerging UK music scene but by the time we get to the DP and Rainbow days the text falls into the album-tour-album-personnel change-album-tour cycle that we all know so well without adding anything new.
Yes RB and co worked at a ridiculous pace in the early 70s, seemingly driven by a management determined to milk as much out of them as possible. That their work has stood the test of time so well is remarkable, but it's not clear why - there is no real critical analysis of the work offered here. The text relies very heavily on well-known interviews from magazines and in part on lengthy ramblng quotes from some of the less important sidemen in his career (Turner, White, etc.) when we really need the Gillan, Lord, Dio views. What makes the man the musician he is we shall not learn here. How do other guitarists of his stature and time view his contribution? How does RB view his own and various others' contributions? How does he create and write music? RB's relationship with his son is minimal, apparently, and he has had several wives and serious partners, though only one of them seems to have spoken to the author. The book is called the RB Story and that is what you get - a story more than a serious biography, pieced together from existing stock and presented too uncritically to offer fresh insight. The author makes it clear more than once that he knows or has met RB but little seems to have been gained from these meetings. It's difficult to get a real impression of the man from this, despite it's length, though I came away from the text with less interest now in RB than I had - he comes across mostly as a bit of a jerk who obsesses about success while feigning no interest in the industry. That he has made some of the greatest rock music ever is easily forgotten here, and why his work and solos went down the tubes in the late 1980s is not discussed though it's widely considered to be the case by fans and critics. In sum, this work needs to be significantly edited with a view to producing a more considered perspective on the music and the man who has lived the life, which after all is what it's all about. Yes, if you're a fan you'll buy it but if you yearn for serious critical analysis of rock music and it's place in our cultural heritage, then the wait continues.
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