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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Folk > History > Industry > Political > Laurel Canyon Ė The Inside Story Of Rock & Rollís Legendary Neighborhood (Book)

Laurel Canyon Ė The Inside Story Of Rock & Rollís Legendary Neighborhood (Faber & Faber, Inc.)

By Michael Walker


Book: B



It is very hard to do a great book about Rock music because you have to capture the history and energy of the music, and we all know that this has been botched many times.Michael Walker has attempted to cover the rise and fall of Laurel Canyon as the U.S. Rock locale that followed The Brill Building as an unbelievable center of dozens of legendary, innovative talents coming together to change the course of music history.Laurel Canyon Ė The Inside Story Of Rock & Rollís Legendary Neighborhood (2006) is a well-researched and nicely written account of how the Canyon slowly changed from a locale where many actors of the late Classical Hollywood era (mid-to-late-1950s) gave way to key musicians of the California Rock movement.


After a useful preface, the book begins with in 1964, as The Beatles are about to arrive in the U.S. and change world music forever.The Byrds become the early focus of the book because their commercial success foreshadowed the surprising commercial possibilities of Folk Rock and the synergy of counterculture music with the record industry, more able to make the adjustment than Hollywood itself.


The story continues with the fellow residences that would become legends, like Frank Zappa, Dave Crosby, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Graham Nash, The Mamas & Papas, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, members of The Beach Boys, future members of The Doors, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and so many others.Mama Cass became one of the unspoken matriarchs of the community that formed and it was not long before massive amounts of vital music, art and pop culture came out of this locale that was the capitol of Pop and Rock music for years.


Even members of The Monkees were hip enough to be a part of the happenings.Brill Building ace Carole King even found her solo-performing persona there when her album Tapestry went through the roof.The success continued for years after Charles Mansion and Altamont soured the 1960s and the rise of Led Zeppelin crosses into the success.We read about the drugs, wild parties, groupies, unsung heroes who made the music happen and how the Canyon eventually faded away as this phenomenally creative center of the music world.


Running 248 pages before footnotes and index, cramming much information between the covers.My only major complaint is that though Walkerís descriptions of the drugs and basic explanations are key and useful in bringing home the impact of all this, he assumes the reader understands the significance of all the music and especially in an era where the Rock genre is in such trouble and has lost its dominance to Dance & Hip-Hop, that is a big problem.If you are lucky enough to know the music like this critic, than it reads fine, but this could have been done at the sacrifice of more drug information than we needed to know.Otherwise, this is a good read and is one of the better books of its kind.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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