A little over 30 years ago, England gave the world the Kinks— a band founded by two brothers who couldn't stand each other. Now England has given us Oasis, led by Noel and Liam Gallagher, who are equally belligerent if not slightly more complex. Hewitt tracks the band's history from the Gallaghers' childhood in Manchester with a sadistic father (he begrudged them even Christmas gifts, according to his wife), countless soccer matches, and petty crime, to overnight success, the downside of fame, and mounds of cocaine and oceans of alcohol. While Hewitt's treatment of Oasis is innovatively nonlinear, bouncing back and forth between 1960s Manchester and 1990s London and concerts (Hewitt accompanied the band on tour), and he writes in the colorful vernacular of the Gallaghers' hometown, his preference for Noel is obvious. The reader gets the impression that the guitarist/songwriter is a reborn Coleridge—equal parts Romantic poet and drug devotee—while his brother, singer Liam, is unwashed and downright simian. But as Hewitt demonstrates, the two found each other indispensable—they alternately stormed out of the band only to return. Hewitt has a very strong sense of Oasis's roots- -probably from having written Beat Concerto: The Story of the Jam (not reviewed), on one of Noel's primary influences. And Getting High is at its best when recounting such serendipitous events as Noel meeting the only displaced Irishman from northern England more famous than himself—Paul McCartney. However, his lax treatment of Oasis's drug use smacks of tacit approval; Hewitt could have been equally descriptive without glamorizing the Gallaghers' lapses. Still, Hewitt finally proves his thesis that ``if Oasis was just Liam, they would never have been signed, they would have threatened to self destruct. If Oasis was just Noel, they would have never reached the heights they have.'' (16 pages photos, not seen)
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").
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)