Tag Archives: music

Review: In the Studio with Michael Jackson

81goiajvzasRecap: He’s a Grammy Award winner. He’s worked with Quincy Jones. And you’ve probably never heard of it. Bruce Swedien is an audio engineer who’s worked in the music business for almost 60 years, and he was the primary sound engineer on Michael Jackson’s records from 1978 to 2001. When I found this book inside a more arts-oriented local bookstore, I thought Oh my God, I MUST read this. As a big Michael Jackson fan, I knew I would appreciate it. And appreciate it, I did. From the anecdotes about the star (they recorded him on a dance floor so MJ could dance while singing and the sound of his feet would remain on the record to make it feel more “Michael) to the photos (handwritten thank you notes and editing suggestions from the icon himself!), this book is chock full of fun information that would entertain any Michael Jackson fan.

The second half of the book focuses more closely on audio engineering and therefore would likely be most appreciated by those who work in that field. For anyone else — myself included — it was too technical for me to understand and not explained well enough in layman’s terms. That’s not to say the book got worse as I continued to read it, but it certainly became more textbook-like in its approach.

Anaylsis: As I already mentioned, I loved the little anecdotes about Michael Jackson and everything that went into making his big albums, including “Thriller.” I made it a point to listen to the tracks as I read the sections of the book that discussed them in detail. It heightened my awareness of the layering and production of the music and proved how complex and highly-skilled Michael Jackson and his team really were.

The book, however, was terribly written. It didn’t seem as though it was ever formally edited. There were grammatical errors as well as whole sections copied and pasted directly — appearing word for word in several different parts of the book. It was clear that Swedien wrote most of it himself, which is fine, but he is certainly more geared to audio engineering than writing. Parts of it were hard to get through for these reasons and because of the engineering jargon used that was above my head and never fully or well explained.

Get In the Studio with Michael Jackson in paperback for $16.97. 

Or get it on your Kindle for $19.99.

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Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ Memoir: Seven Years in the Making

rs-227987-btr-700x1057Set to be released next Tuesday, September 27th, Bruce Springsteen’s memoir, Born to Run, is expected to run right off the shelves.

The iconic singer has been secretly penning the book for seven years — a task he took on himself without even contacting a publisher, according to The Wall Street Journal

Springsteen got the bug to write something other than a song after writing a first-person account on his web site about his experience playing the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2009. Shortly after that, he started writing Born to Run, which includes details about his childhood growing up in New Jersey and the start of The E Street Band. Then back in 2014, he published Outlaw Pete, an illustrated book for adults based on one of his songs.

In a video released on his Facebook page this week, he said “Writing prose has its own set of rules. You’ve got to create the music without the music.”

Speaking of music, Springsteen will also be releasing retrospective companion album called “Chapter and Vers” on September 23. The album includes five previously unreleased tracks.

Born to Run is already a bestseller on Amazon, and considering the book will be released in 22 countries, and considering “The Boss” is “The Boss,” it’s sure to be a bestseller on just about every other list out there.

 

Born to Run in hardcover is now available for pre-order for $19.50. 

Or for your Kindle for $14.99.

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Review: I’m Glad I Did

Recap: JJ Green comes from a family of lawyers, and she’s expected to become one as well. But as a 16-year-old growing up in New York City in the 1960s, she doesn’t want to be a lawyer; she wants to be a songwriter. She lucks out when she nails an interview and lands herself an internship at one of the biggest music publishing offices in the city. That’s when she makes a deal with her parents: if she writes and sells a song to be published by the end of her summer internship, her parents will have to let her continue on the songwriting path.

As her internship begins, JJ is quickly thrown into the real world and adult life — meeting Luke, a cute, older boy on the elevator and running into her estranged Uncle Bernie, who’s said to be involved in some illegal side activities. But things get real, real fast when she learns that one of her friends has died, and it just happens to be the same woman who recorded an amazing demo for JJ’s new song. The police rule it a suicide, but she knows there’s more to the story. Suddenly her songwriting summer is swirling with love and the mystery of murder. She wants to help solve it, but she also has to sell her song — big goals for one young girl in one short, crazy summer.

Analysis: “I’m Glad I Did” isn’t only the title of the book. It’s also the title of JJ’s original song. It’s also how I felt after having read the book. Yes, I am aware that those three sentences were a little hokey. To be fair, the book is a little hokey as well. But as a YA novel, it should be exactly that, and a lot of fun. The book had some dark undertones, dealing with interracial relationship in the 1960s, gambling, alcoholism, drug addiction, and death. But ultimately it was fun. This girl is living the dream — writing songs with a dreamy boy in New York City and solving a murder mystery. Is it a little far-fetched? Yes. But I put myself into the mind of a 14-year-old girl reading this book, and I couldn’t help but think JJ was awesome and living a pretty fabulous life.

What’s impressive about I’m Glad I Did is that it was written by Cynthia Weil, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriter. She helped write classics such as “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” and “On Broadway.” Knowing that, I trusted her take on what happens behind the scenes of the songwriting business in the 1960s. I had to imagine that at least some of the story came from real-life experience, and that only made the story more intriguing and exciting.

MVP: JJ. She’s a teenage badass. She stands up to her parents and works toward the career she wants. She stands up to police, insisting they continue to investigate the murder. For a girl who considers herself to be unconfident, she sure is ballsy. And it’s fun and empowering to see her succeed time and time again.

Get I’m Glad I Did in hardcover for $14.24.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

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Beyonce Biography Coming in 2015

In case you haven’t had enough of Beyonce, there’s more to come. The “first unauthorized biography” on the music powerhouse is due to be released next year.

 According to Vulture, Grand Central Publishing will release the Beyonce bio, written by J. Randy Taraborrelli. Taraborrelli has written biographies on Madonna, Michael Jackson, and the Hiltons. But keep in mind — this is an unauthorized biography, meaning there will be no sit-down with or access to Beyonce. All the information and interviews will be with secondary sources. So the real big Bey bio is still yet to come.

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Review: 27

Recap: When pop music sensation Amy Winehouse died of an overdose a little more than three years ago, the world was stunned — and then it wasn’t. Yes, the British singer was a 27-year-old, whose music was just starting to gain popularity in the United States. But ultimately, it was clear that Winehouse had been down a destructive, drug-consuming and alcohol-consuming path for years. Her singing voice had gotten worse. Her body had become visibly weak. She was in the media often for doing crazy and bizarre things, and her substance abuse problem was no secret.

But it resulted in an outcome that could either be considered morbid or legendary: she entered “The 27 Club.” That is to say, she “joined the club” of other famous rock stars and musicians who have also died at 27. The other big names in the club include Brian Jones, of The Rolling Stones, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. 27 explores the “club,” putting into perspective whether famous musicians are more likely to die at that age for some reason, and if so, why, or if it’s just coincidence.

The author’s point of view? Mostly coincidence. But he researched the backgrounds of each of these six most notable members of the “club,” examining their relationships with their parents, with drugs and alcohol, with sexuality, and with fame and success at a young age. He more or less explains that anyone who achieves such success so early in life may be more inclined to die young — especially when issues with confidence, substance abuse and family are at play.

Analysis: The research done for this nonfiction book is extensive, as one would expect from acclaimed biographer Howard Sounes, and that research proves how many things these celebrities had in common — aside from their innate musical talent.

As Sounes points out the similarities between these musicians, it’s less surprising their lives would lead to same ultimate outcome. Many of them had terrible relationships with their parents. All dabbled in drugs and alcohol at a young age, and were equally as experimental sexually. Most of that stemmed from self-esteem and confidence issues — not thinking they were good enough, scared to be alone, stage fright. Some even suffered from mental health problems, like Brian Jones, who was said to be bipolar. Most of them had already peaked professionally and had been kicked out of their bands, given horrible performances, and been arrested several times.

The book explores their deaths as much as it explores their lives. Brian Jones drowned in a pool after a night of drinking and drugs. Jim Morrison, after taking heroin and laying in a bathtub. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, overdoses. Amy Winehouse, alcohol. Kurt Cobain, the only suicide. But there are dozens of theories about how each of these people died  — murder, being the primary suggestion.

The author suggests it’s no surprise they died so young because by 27, most of them had lived full lives, accomplishing and going through more than what most people achieve in a lifetime. Whether you’re a big music fan or not, 27 is more than worth a read, with its six true tales of life, success and death.

Get 27 in hardcover for $18.74.

Or get it on your Kindle for $12.99.

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‘What Does the Fox Say?’ Children’s Book On the Way

foxIf you ever wanted to know what the fox says, you’ll soon have the opportunity to read about it.

That’s right. According to Entertainment Weekly, the viral video of the song, “What Does the Fox Say?” by Norwegian comedy group Ylvis is getting published as a children’s book. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing has acquired a picture book version of the song/video, which has gotten more than 230 million view on YouTube.

The book is due to be released on December 10 — a quick turnaround, and just in time for the holiday season.

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Billy Joel to Publish Previously Cancelled Memoir

It took a couple years, but now it’s finally happening. A Billy Joel biography is due to be released next year. A memoir/biography was originally set to be released in 2011.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the drama started when HarperCollins paid Joel $3 million to publish a memoir, entitled The Book of Joel, with co-writer Fred Schruers. But Joel cancelled the book at the last minute, placing the blame on HarperCollins, as Tim Appelo explains.

Joel told The New York Times that HarperCollins editors caused him to kill the previous book.

“They said to Fred, ‘We need more of the sex and the wives and the girlfriends and drinking and divorce and the depression.’ I covered it all. But I didn’t go into detail about my personal life. If they want to poke Fred with red-hot needles to get him to make up salacious details, go ahead, but I’m not going to do it. I’m not a psychoanalyst. I don’t know why I drank so much.”

So why now? Well, back in 2011, he had a spat with Elton John over cancelled tour dates because of hip pain. And now, it seems that Billy Joel is on a roll. He recently performed at the Hurricane Sandy benefit concert, and this year was selected as one of the Kennedy Center honorees.  Not to mention, many classic rockers like himself are having success with recently published books — Keith Richards, Bruce Springstein, Paul McCartney.

Crown, a division of Random House, is now publishing the book, which is due in the spring of 2014.

After waiting for the longest time (see what I did there?), there’s a good chance a Billy Joel bio (especially one with as good a name as The Book of Joel) is bound for greatness.

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Memoirs Coming from Questlove, Jesse Jackson Jr.

Two big names in the world of pop culture and news are set to publish books.

According to The Huffington Post, Questlove, the drummer and producer of hip hop group The Roots, is set to publish a memoir this summer. Due out on June 18, Questlove’s book will include tales of his brushes with celebrities and other artists, like Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, and KISS. Grand Central Publishing is publishing the memoir.

But he’s not the only big name coming out with a memoir. According to The Huffington Post, the Reverend’s son Jesse Jackson Jr. will also publish a memoir. The ex-Congressman recently made headlines when he pleaded guilty to planning to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. Sources say he’s planning to use this book as an opportunity to clear his name.

The book is still in the early stages and isn’t even being shopped around yet. But there’s a good chance someone would pick it up. After all, Jesse Jackson Jr. has written several books already, and he’s got quite the story to tell.

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Teen To Publish One Direction Fan Fiction Book

When you’re 16 years old, writing fanfiction about your favorite boy band on a web site, a few comments and “likes” is probably all you expect to get out of it. But that’s not the case for U.K. teen Emily Baker, who just got a book deal for her fan fiction about the band One Direction.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Penguin offered her the deal after reading her story about a teenage girl caught in a love triangle with two members of the British boy band One Direction. Baker had posted it on Movellas.com. Because of the book deal, the story has since been removed from the Internet, and due to copyright infringment, the story has been generalized to be about a girl who gets involved with two guys from her favorite boy band.

The book, called Loving the Band, was one Penguin said fit perfectly into their niche for romantic YA novels because of its unique, but smart idea to incorporate pop culture.

It makes sense to me. I mean, who wouldn’t offer her a deal? After all, isn’t this every teenage girl’s dream?

The book will be available as an e-book on November 1.

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‘Fifty Shades’ Classical Album Available for Download This Week

For those who have read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, you know the role classical music plays in the story. Christian often puts on classical music while he and Ana have their “alone time.” But it’s much more than that.

For Christian, classical music is a coping mechanism. He often plays pieces on the piano when he wakes up from nightmares. He also puts it on in his car while he drives Ana around town.

Now according to Entertainment Weekly, bestselling author E.L. James is a releasing an album of classical music that inspired her while she wrote the trilogy. James selected the pieces, which were mentioned throughout the books as well. The album is available for download Tuesday. The CD will be released in September.

The 15-track album includes music by Bach, Chopin, and Verdi. EW‘s Ray Rahman reveals the track list:

1. Lakmé (Act I): Flower Duet (Mady Mesplé, Danielle Millet)

2. Bach: Adagio from Concerto #3 BWV 974 (Alexandre Tharaud)

3. Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasilerias #5 — Cantilena (Barbara Hendricks)

4. Verdi: La Traviata Prelude (Riccardo Muti / Philharmonia Orchestra)

5. Pachelbel: Canon in D (Sir Neville Marriner/ Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields)

6. Tallis: Spem in Alium (The Tallis Scholars)

7. Chopin: Prelude #4 in E minor, Largo (Samson François)

8. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #2 — Adagio Sostenuto(Cecile Ousset, Sir Simon Rattle / CBSO)

9. Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (Sir Adrian Boult / LPO)

10. Canteloube: Chants d’auvergne, Bailero (Arleen Auger)

11. Chopin: Nocturne #1 in B-flat minor (Samson François)

12. Faure: Requiem — In Paradisum (Choir of King’s College, Cambridge / Stephen Cleobury)

13. Bach: Goldberg Variation — Aria (Maria Tipo)

14. Debussy: La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin (Moura Lympany)

15. Bach: Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (Alexis Weissenberg)

 

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