A memoir from the co-founder of Rhino Records.
Readers may find it hard to understand the purpose of this book or some of the editorial decisions that went into it. Bronson (The Rhino Records Story, 2013) is clearly a passionate rock fan and a veteran music journalist who has made a significant contribution to the musical archives through Rhino. Having told the story of the label that set high standards for packaging and annotation in his previous book, the author mentions Rhino only in passing as he recounts his encounters and impressions at the time with some of his favorite British Invasion groups. There are individual chapters on Herman’s Hermits, Manfred Mann, the Hollies, and others, based on interviews he conducted at the time. There is also more than anyone would want to know about Bronson’s college dating life (“Susan and I saw a lot of each other. After dates we would make out in my car”), his band and its songs, and his trips to England in the 1970s, when “I was well aware that I’d missed the zenith of British rock culture.” The first chapter is the longest, a month-by-month recounting of his senior year at UCLA. Bronson was serving as a campus representative for CBS Records, writing reviews for his college paper (and occasionally designing ads for album releases), promoting shows, and trying to promote his band, Mogan David and His Winos. “I thought Dylan had an unappealing, whiney voice, and I wasn’t interested,” writes the author—though, he admits, “along with Bob Dylan, the lyrics of The Moody Blues and Procol Harum sparked my interest in poetry.” At the end of the year, Bronson hoped to work for a label and targeted publicity as his best chance: “As I visited the publicists on a regular basis, I felt like they were my friends, but none helped me get a job.”
Occasional nuggets of revelation amid a whole lot of dross.