Tag Archives: music

Book Review: Roger Waters: The Man Behind the Wall

Roger Waters by Dave Thompson

Roger Waters: The Man Behind the Wall by Dave Thompson is a history of Pink Floyd centered on bass player and song writer Roger Waters. Thompson is no stranger to the music industry. He has written over one hundred books, mostly covering rock and pop music. Most notably his has written on U2, Depeche Mode, Phish, ZZ Top, Bowie, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Also included in his work is one of my favorites Dancing Barefoot, a Patti Smith Biography. Thompson is well versed on the topic of Rock and Roll and to his credit he presents an honest view on his subjects and avoids the sensationalism usually associated with Rock and celebrity biographies.

Roger Waters is basically a two part book. The first part is a Waters-centric biography of Pink Floyd starting with The Walland ending with the the band breaking apart after The Final Cut. Rogers is tired of the “Space Rock” tag, guitar solos, extravagant keyboard work, and fans who preferred to get stoned and watch the light show and listen to the music rather than rising to his lyrics. The book then regresses back to his childhood and brings the reader to the beginnings of Pink Floyd.

Rogers can’t seem to catch a break musically. He puts togetherThe Wall and with it Pink Floyd releases a single, something they had not done before. “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” was a commercial success, but the stand out song was not originally intended for the album. David Gilmour’s Comfortably Numb was added for need of an extra song and turned out to be “the king of the castle.” This happens again to Rogers on The Final Cut; Gilmour performs vocals on only a single song (Not Now John) and that turns out to be the most memorable song on the album.

The second part starts with the birth of Pink Floyd. It covers the problems and the eccentricities of Syd Barrett and the making of all the Pink Floyd albums. Thompson provides a detailed history and account of the band. This section reverts back to Rogers after covering Barrett. Rogers is certainly a complex person and artist. I took a particular interest in reading about my favorite Pink Floyd album — Animals. Thompson describes the album in a way that I never saw before, and perhaps the explains the reason it remains my favorite Pink Floyd album. The album came out at the beginning of the British punk movement. Animals has the Pigs (war mongers), Dogs (corporate greed), and Sheep (people blindly lead to slaughter). The album was well received by the American punk community and may have had something to do with Johnny Rotten losing his “I Hate Pink Floyd” shirt. A comparison is made of the reception of using the 23rd Psalm in “Sheep” by Pink Floyd and the controversy around Patti Smith using it in “Privilege”… of course, Smith does follow up the Psalm with repeatedly “taking the Lord’s name in vain”.

Roger Waters gives a detailed history of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters role in the band as well as touching on Water’s solo ventures (Gilmour’s solo work is practically ignored). This is an excellent book for anyone wanting to learn more about one of the greatest bands in Rock and Roll. There is no muckraking or sensationalism in the book. If anything, the author may have believed David Gilmour’s famous quote. “…Some people think of us as a very drug orientated group. ‘Course we’re not. You can trust us.” All in all an excellent read.

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Patti Smith Declaration of Independence

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July 4, 2013 · 12:56

Patti Smith 4th of July

Patti Smith 4th of July

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July 4, 2013 · 12:50

Book Review: Rocking the Wall: Bruce Springsteen: The Berlin Concert that Changed the World

Rocking the Wall: Bruce Springsteen: The Berlin Concert that Changed the World by Eric Kirschbaum is a look back a at 1988 and the improbable concert that took place in East Germany. For those of us who are old enugh to remember a place called East Germany, it will take you back. Kirschbaum got the idea for the book in a taxi cab coming back from the 2002 Springsteen concert in Berlin. The cabby told him about the most incredible concert in Berlin that shook up the entire country.

Growing up in Cleveland, Bruce Springsteen was the patron saint of the city, so said WMMS. Every Friday at 5:00pm Born to Run would play as part of the weekend kick off. Long before Born in the USA, Springsteen sang of the blue collar life and trying to get ahead that really struck home. Well into adulthood and back at a blue collar job, Springsteen never left my music library. I remember him ranting against Reagan who wanted to use Born in the USA as a campaign song because it sounded patriotic, rather than a story of a veteran abandoned by his country.

In 1987, West German concerts at the Reichstag caused concern in East Germany as the building stood near the wall. Crowds of East Germans gathered at the wall to listen to the concerts which lead to confrontations with the East German Police. After attempts to negotiate with West Berlin to prevent the overflow of concert music from the isolated city of West Berlin failed, East Germany decided to hold their own concerts to appease the young and prevent violence.

The Free German Youth came up with a plan to get Springsteen to play East Berlin. Springsteen, not a Reagan supporter, seemed like a good choice. A liberal singer who wrote about the failure of the American dream would be the perfect person to appease the youth without harming the government’s authority. It was said that he also donated a printing press to Nicaragua. That printing press was used to sell the concert to the East German hierarchy and the Nicaragua connection almost ruined the concert the day before it started.

American music had a political voice and in my generation it was Bruce Springsteen and to some extent Patti Smith. takes you behind the scenes to the largest concert ever in East Germany. It is intriguing look back into the final days of the Cold War and the down fall of an entire political system. The system was cracking by the late 1980s, Glasnost, perestroika, and the general feeling of discontent by the youth of Eastern Europe became an unstoppable wave. Many people claim the have a role in bring down The Wall from Al Gore to David Hasselhoff, but only one was in East Germany in front of 300,000 people with a message of Rock and Roll and a message to take down the barriers separating people. A worthwhile read and look at a time that seems so far away.

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Book Review: Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness

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I read about The Stones, Janis, NY punk underground and all the drug problems… you think at some point people would say “Heroin, it not really a good idea to start.” I am glad she found her way, but the whole bad trip could have been prevented.

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Book Review: Life by Keith Richards

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I have no idea how Keith Richards has such a vivid memory. I barely remember high school and have done no where the amount of drugs he did. It may be better suited for musicians because he does go into quite a bit detail about his guitar playing. Much tamer/cleaner history than books written about The Stones in the past.

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