Monday, January 23, 2006

Brought to book No.1

Two tomes finally dispatched and leaving me much to chew over.

1) The Recording Angel by Evan Eisenberg (Yale 1987, updated second edn 2005) - Crikey this is a book which I'll be coming back to again, and again and again...The series of essays examine the experience and philosophy behind recorded music and is simply marvellous. Thanks to the Very Clever Dan Hill (VCDH) for this one. My favourite chapter addresses the idea that in using records for the purpose of, ahem, seduction, we give the music the role of substitute Cyrano De Bergerac. It pulls off the clever trick of being gritty and yet deeply funny at the same time.

2) Hotel California by Barney Hoskyns (2005) - Hoskyns' Waiting For The Sun was a masterful study of the babylonian world of the LA music scene and this focusses in on the canyon community and its rise and fall under the likes of 'Free Man In Paris' David Geffen and his ilk. Hoskyns (who, I feel certain I read somewhere, was himself once in the grip of marching powder) again pulls off a trick; this time that of repelling you from the egotistical mania of a peer group lost in a snow blizzard, while still making you gasp for a line or two. Careful with that mirror, Eugene...It confirms everything you ever thought about the Eagles and weighs in with yet more evidence that Neil Young isn't the lovely old hippy you always thought he was. Far be it for me to blow my own trumpet (oh hell, this is a BLOG for God's sake) but my review of Jimmy McDonough's book touches on this...

But it also finally got me to buy some Randy fucking Newman (incidentally, after reading Waiting...I discovered the mighty Nilsson), and thank goodness. His (Newman's) intelligent cynicism (cf: Steely Dan) is like the freshest air across my blanded out synapses. The only downside (as with Harry N) is his rather TOO American reliance on the ragtime format. But still moving...

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