BOOK: LONDON LIVE by Tony Bacon
Miller Freeman Books, 1999
BOOK: LIVE AT THE FILLMORE EAST by Amalie R. Rothschild
Thunder's Mouth Press, 1999
Reviewed by Shaun Dale
Music is, in the final analysis, a lot more than sound. It can be a
physical sensation, like the pulse of a bass run vibrating your inner
organs or the sweet exhaustion of over-danced muscle. It can be the
visual exhilaration inspired by a great stage act or the sight of a
packed audience. It can be the smell of stale beer in a dingy club or
sweet smoke drifting through an open-air arena.
For many of us, it's a place, or a set of places, that creep into our
memories when we think of great nights with great music. For me, that
means the faded glory of Seattle's Eagle's Auditorium during the sixties
and the Hollywood club scene of the seventies. For the authors of these
two new books, the places are separated by both time and distance, but
united in their evocations of special sounds at special times.
London Live has the broadest sweep, focusing on the London at large,
from the jazz days of the 1930s through the pub and punk days of the
1970s. Many of the venues lasted through the entire period, though some
operated under the same name in different locations while others were
locations with revolving names. What they offered throughout, though,
was the chance to hear something new first. That's ultimately the
strength of any vital club scene - there are places that are small
enough to take chances and places that are large enough to pay the
bills. And there's an act to fit each place, every night. There are
over 80 clubs listed, from the Ad Lib on Leicester Place to Greek
Street's Zebra. Among them are some genuine rock and roll legends,
including The Crawdaddy, Blaises and the 100 Club. Above them all
reigns the Marquee. An indication of the importance of the Marquee Club
in rock history is found in the 43 page database listing every act that
appeared on the fabled stage from an April 1962 session with Alexis
Korner and Cyril Davies' Blues Incorporated through The Stickers'
December 1979 engagement. Hundreds of now famous and long forgotten
names fill in the gap. Tony Banks does a fine job of setting the mood,
and the volume is filled with valuable photographs as well as a
Live At The Fillmore East is subtitled "A Photographic Memoir," and it's
the photography of Amalie R. Rothschild that provides the focus here.
Rothschild, who went on to become a noted filmmaker, insinuated herself
as the unofficial house photographer at the former movie house in 1969
and was on hand until the Allman Brother's closing gig in 1971 (an
evening that also featured J. Geils, Albert King, the Beach Boys,
Country Joe, Edgar Winter and Mountain. Bill Graham knew how to close a
venue as well as he knew how to run one, and he was the best.) The
Fillmore East was the east coast outpost for the San Francisco music
scene of the sixties, and for much more as well. Rothschild captured
some amazing moments. All of the closing night acts are here, along
with The Band, James Brown, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker, B.B.
King, Richie Havens, The Nice, John Sebastian, Frank Zappa and many,
many more. Of course, being the Fillmore, there's a heaping helping of
the Grateful Dead, and an introduction by Dead drummer Mickey Hart.
Rothschild also documented the Fillmore staff and crew, including the
Joshua Light Show (which morphed into Joe's Lights) and their work at
other venues including Woodstock, the Isle of Wight and Madison Square
Garden. The accompanying text gives a vivid backstage look at the
technical and business operations of one of the best known and best run
music operations ever to open its doors.
If music, for you, is at least in part important because of the places
it is played, there's a great deal of pleasure to be found in each of
these books. If you've never actually cared or noticed where you were
when the band was on, these books just might make you notice next time.
(C) 1999 - Shaun Dale
BOOK: BRIGHT MOMENTS - The Life And
Legacy Of Rahsaan Roland Kirk
by John Kruth, Welcome Rain (2000)
Reviewed by Shaun Dale
I first caught wind of this book from the booklet accompanying the 3
disc Rahsaan Roland Kirk set, Dog Years In The Fourth Ring (32 Jazz).
Author John Kruth co-produced the set with Joel Dorn, and several
excerpts from the then upcoming book were included in the booklet.
Enough, in fact, to get me very excited about the prosepect of reading
the book when it finally came out. A comprehensive biography of this
great American musical treasure is long overdue, and my hopes were very
Those hopes have been largely fulfilled by the book itself, but it's not
quite a comprehensive biography. It would still be nice to see Kirk get
the kind of treatment afforded to Sun Ra in John Gwzed's Space Is The
Place, which offered a serious study both of a life and of a body of
music. Bright Moments, though, offers just what the title promises.
Moments, a series of vignettes, largely from colleagues, admirers and
other contemporaries of Rahsaan. Taken separately, each anecdote is
indeed a bright moment, and taken together it's the best resource we
have for understanding this most misunderstood of performers, other than
the music itself, which is indispensible.
I still hope there's yet another Rahsaan Roland Kirk book to come, but
I'd hate to be without this one. John Kruth has set the bar pretty high
for anyone with the courage to follow.
(C) 1999 - Shaun Dale