A caustic, gossipy, refreshingly idiosyncratic history of the music business in Los Angeles. Having interviewed many of the major players, British author Hoskyns (Across the Great Divide: The Band and America, 1993) ambitiously aims to make sense of the careers of every notable musician ever to spend time in L.A., in the context of the city's ethnic and geographical cultures, the L.A.-based record companies' differing sensibilities, the cultural currents their records both spawned and reflected, and especially the pattern of monstrous self-indulgence that seemingly few L.A. musicians have evaded. The pre-rock era is covered fairly perfunctorily, but Hoskyns begins to shine with early '60s tales of hack songwriters, calculating record companies, and motley unaffiliated hustlers all angling to produce a Top 40 hit. Hoskyns notes that there's as much image manipulation in pop as in the movies. The Beach Boys created the myth of southern California as endless beach party, but, in Hoskyns's typically pithy characterization, leader Brian Wilson was ``an all-American misfit . . . a gawky, introspective geek'' who'd never surfed. The all-white Hollywood hit-makers could afford to be oblivious to the Watts riots, even as they came to represent the ``counterculture.'' A countrified pop mafia (David Crosby, Cass Elliott, Neil Young, etc.) based in L.A.'s outer canyons grew up in the late '60s, but the hippie idealism of life away from Hollywood had a dark flip side, exemplified by the Manson Family and a series of self-destructions from drugs. Hoskyns acerbically registers the irony that the staggeringly successful mellow L.A. pop of the '70s—by such artists as the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Fleetwood Mac—was created in a milieu ruled by two supremely unmellow forces: cocaine and workaholic mogul David Geffen. Though occasionally marred by mean spirits, this is an unusually lively, provocative study. (180 photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14444-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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