Five more book recommendations about the history of music recording and the record business, etc.

Hello, all.

Since I last posted about this 12-part series, another five books have gone up. To keep this post more compact, I am not including images of the covers. Those can be found at the links.

[Note, there was a slip or a skip in putting the books up in sequence on Tracking Angle, compared to the original list. No harm done.]

No. 6: Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947-1977
by James Miller

Flowers in the Dustbin (the title comes from a Sex Pistols song) comprises about 45 short chapters, each dedicated to a particular event that was a step in the process by which, over the course of 30 years, rock music evolved from an outsider’s enthusiasm to a cultural norm.

No. 7: Temples of Sound: Inside the Great Recording Studios
by Jim Cogan and William Clark; Foreword by Quincy Jones

This book is organized into 15 principal chapters, each dedicated to a particular recording studio and the artists most closely identified with it. The authors’ approach is to blend business history, technical information, musical history and analysis, and social commentary. That approach works very well in avoiding the disconnected dryness that a single-minded focus on glorified equipment lists would bring. The authors are more concerned with how each studio as a whole—especially taking into account the human factor—contributed to the making of the records.

No. 8: Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album
by Ken Caillat with Steve Steifel

It should not be forgotten that the later, tremendously successful pop group Fleetwood Mac in a sense descended from (or devolved from) the original British Blues group Fleetwood Mac. The original Fleetwood Mac was inspired by young British musicians’ encounters with original US Blues artists, by means of LP reissue compilations of the original Blues 78rpms, as described in Do Not Sell at Any Price, (previously covered).

My favorite story from Making Rumours is, during the recording of Rumours, the two remaining original members from the older group adjourned to the parking lot… perhaps to get away from all the drama.

One original member fumed at the other, “You know, we used to be a Blues band.”

To which the other placidly replied, “Yeah. But now, we are rich.”

No. 9: Backstory in Blue: Ellington at Newport ‘56
by John Fass Morton; Foreword by Jonathan Yardley

Backstory in Blue challenges us with the idea that, after World War II, Duke Ellington’s career was in a death spiral. Nearly all the touring big bands had folded, eight in 1946 alone. Individual singers such as Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney had almost entirely supplanted large, finely honed instrumental ensembles as the peoples’ musical choice. […]

The unlikely happenstance that saved Ellington’s career—and, not incidentally, brought jazz an entirely new audience—was that a rich married couple hit upon the idea of trying to pull Newport, R.I. out of its own post-WWII death spiral by organizing an outdoor public jazz festival. As they say, the rest is history—but it was never inevitable.

No. 10: Goodnight, L.A.: The Rise and Fall of Classic Rock-- The Untold Story from inside the Legendary Recording Studios

by Kent Hartman

This compelling book kicks off with a vignette from the time (in early 1969) when future mass murderer Charles Manson was trying to break into the music business, with support from the remarkably naïve Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys). Wilson told Manson that he would pay for some demo recordings, but either there was some glitch, or Wilson changed his mind. Therefore, to encourage the studio to release the tapes to him, Manson pulled out his handgun and shot one of the studio’s metal cabinets.

Author Kent Hartman identifies 1969 as the point at which 45rpm singles and AM radio entered their irreversible declines, while “concept albums” and FM radio came into their ascendancies. Those major changes were fueled by the desire of recording artists to use their art to address social and personal issues in much more depth than songs like “Sugar, Sugar” and “I Think I Love You” would allow for.

Therefore, while Goodnight, L.A. does of necessity deal with both The Cowsills and Helen Reddy, the focus is on enduring Classic Rock legends such as Foreigner, Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar, Boston, the Eagles, the Grateful Dead, Chicago, Linda Ronstadt, Santana, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Loggins and Messina, and REO Speedwagon.

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I'll have to read some of these, especially Making Rumors and Goodbye LA. There's actually some overlap with this book that I read years ago:
Voices In The Purple Haze
It's on "Underground FM" also called "Progressive FM" (distinct from Progressive Rock music, though much of the music played was indeed progressive rock), stations that played music that wasn't quite in the top 40. A significant amount of the book is about WPLO-FM in Atlanta, 1968-1975 which I listened to starting at age 10, and yes it had a big influence on my musical taste. It contains an interview with station manager Ed Shane, who was often an announcer giving news about the station and such. One thing he said in the book was they always played the long or "album" version of a song if it was available. I often heard Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" with the classical-sounding instrumental that followed it. At least three albums had EVERY TRACK on the playlist at one time or another (I learned this from getting the albums many years later and I recognized all the songs from WPLO):

"It's A Beautiful Day" self-titled first album
King Crimson "In The Court of The Crimson King"
Tubular Bells

Another song I recall is "Pretty Ballerina" by The Left Banke, the B side of their hit "Walk Away Renee." I wish I had all the playlists, I'm sure there's much good music they played that I don't remember. It was a unique time, "commercial" radio that was more like college radio than the top 40 AM stations.

Every once in a while, WPLO-FM would have an interview - I happen to have found one: