``Will you still love me when I'm 64?'' wrote Beatle Paul on the Sgt Pepper album (1967). ``Perhaps not,'' readers of this thoughtful biography may reply, especially if the McCartney (now 51) whom British journalist Benson presents doesn't soon loosen up a bit. Benson is no icon-smasher like Albert Goldman, but neither is he a hagiographer like McCartney's other recent biographer, Geoffrey Giuliano (Blackbird, 1991). Instead, he offers a well- informed (myriad interviews, including with McCartney), balanced portrait of the artist as a control-freak, though one with the courage of his convictions. The author traces McCartney's career from his working-class Liverpool upbringing through the Beatles and Wings years and into the present; given the publicity that's always surrounded McCartney, much of this is necessarily familiar fare— but Benson's psychological insights aren't: ``Paul McCartney's relationship with his father lies at the core of his personality and he has never perceived himself as anything less than a dutiful son.'' Benson's discussion of McCartney's recent life as a re- creation of his childhood backs up that statement: Though fabulously wealthy, the musician takes a public train and bus to his London office each day, then returns home to his children and wife Linda—who, upon his insistence, does all the family's cooking, laundering, and ironing. But the same ``need to control'' that's allowed McCartney to carve out a relatively normal life in the midst of pop-stardom has also, Benson says, led to his recent musical failures: ``McCartney shows no...willingness to surrender himself to outside musical direction....But without Lennon's cynicism on hand to define the parameters, his songs all too often drift into slushy sentimentality.'' Solid Beatleiana, to be set on the shelf alongside Alan Clayson's Ringo Starr (p. 823). (Forty b&w photographs.)
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)