I will attempt short 'n' sweet here today. Lord knows, verbosity is just a paragraph away.
I did not start my column here at The Huff (that's what I call it around the orifice... no, I don't) to review books.
I just wanted to tell the world of my gorgeously pointless life as a musician cum rock star fantasist. Ego the size of Senator Tom Cotton's... maybe just as stupid.
But, nice people started sending me books (for free!). I started reading them. Made me wanna tell all ya'll about 'em. Yeah, I'm from north Brooklyn.
Ken Sharp, who I met through this column, has sent me something like five books. I've dug them all enough to write 'em up. What can I tell you, oy, he's done it again. Hey, if a guy makes YOU two separate chapters in his book on the early days of KISS ("Nothin' To Lose"), you're gonna be predisposed, nomesane. Thank you for the infamy, Mr. Sharp. It is simple fact that every Ken Sharp oral history/interview book I've read has been one huge bag of potato chips.
Play On! Power Pop Heroes: Volume Two is available exclusively from http://www.ken-sharp.com/power-pop-v2/index.html
Back in October 2014, I wrote up Volume One.
It sold out. It. Sold. Out.
Look at this (partial) just-psycho line up of acts featured in Volume Two: Cheap Trick, Flamin' Groovies, XTC, Bay City Rollers, Squeeze, Rick Springfield, The Ramones, The Sweet, The Hudson Brothers, Dwight Twilley, The Rubinoos, The Babys, Todd Rundgren's Utopia...
Dig that off-the-chart diversity!
Dayummm! On point, Ken! Oh! Do I sound like Guy Fieri? Yuck.
Hey, wanna see Ken's all-officlal-like bio? Sure you do... It is impressive.
"Ken Sharp is a New York Times best-selling author who has penned more than 18 music books, contributes to a variety of national music magazines, works on music documentaries and has done liner notes for releases by Elvis Presley, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Small Faces, Santana, Cheap Trick, Raspberries, Eric Carmen, KISS, Hall and Oates, Jellyfish, Heart and others. In addition to the Play On! Power Pop Heroes series, his books include Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy, Elvis: Vegas '69, Nothin' to Lose: the Making of KISS (1972-1975), Elvis Presley: Writing for the King, Sound Explosion: Inside LA's Studio Factory with the Wrecking Crew, Overnight Sensation: The Story of the Raspberries, Play on!: Power Pop Heroes, Reputation is a Fragile Thing: The Story of Cheap Trick, Kooks, Queen Bitches and Andy Warhol: The Making of David Bowie's Hunky Dory."
I'm not sure where the lines between 'interview' and 'oral history' and 'societal history' are drawn, but, Ken doesn't give a fuck.
Virtually every interview in Play On! Power Pop Heroes Vol. I & II really borders on pure Time Capsule. You relive these guys' lives with them... and all that was around them. Power(Pop)fully evocative.
It's hard to detect Ken's magic, other than being prepared on what you'd call a scholarly level. He approaches a Flamin' Groovy the way Doris Kearns Goodwin would prep of POTUS Barry O.
Ken WANTS TO KNOW... and we all benefit.
Whether it's an act's linear 'and then, and then...' history, their songwriting process, their gear, their gigs, their recordings, their break up, their reformation, whatever... Ken gets around to asking. It helps enormously that Ken is a guitarist who sings and writes and records songs he wrote. He comes to these rock 'n' roll musicians from the inside, one of them. I know from my own little forays into interviewing... I have, among others,interviews with Ian McLagan (RIP, you swine), Kenney Jones, and Paul Rodgers up here @ Huff Post. I know firsthand that musicians open up to other musicians in a different way. Much more 'you get it' relaxed and forthcoming. And you're damn right I used Ken's work as my blueprint for every interview I've done.
For me, personally, in Volume Two, as in One, I find the unexpected subject (Rick Springfield?!) or the barely known (Blue Ash, anyone?) even more fun than a Cheap Trick (their interview is exhaustive!) or an XTC.
Whoa! I almost missed this...
Buyers will receive over 90 tracks of incredible bonus music (over a $90 retail value) of rare, unreleased and live music from Rick Springfield, Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), Chris Difford (Squeeze), The Babys, Dwight Twilley, The Flamin' Groovies, Shoes, Artful Dodger, Blue Ash, Piper, The Rubinoos, The Records, The Hudson Brothers, Duncan Faure (Bay City Rollers), Kasim Sulton (Utopia), The A's, Ian Lloyd (Stories), The Toms, The Flashcubes and Richie Fontana (Piper). In addition to those artists, there will be out of print and rare tracks from Jellyfish, The Posies, Tommy Keene, Hawks and many, many more...
So, I promised not to yammer... I'm off to read the Bay City Rollers chapter (saw 'em live in 1976... brought my Tartan scarf... they rocked!).
Two words... Sold out!