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Everything posted by JoleBlonAlba

  1. Jonathan Stroud: "The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne". I've enjoyed his first series, the Bartimaeus books, as well as the next set of stories, Lockwood & Co. All YA and very good to read. This latest was a page-turner, gripping and concerning, but I do miss the humour that was present in the Bartimaeus books.
  2. The best live version of Backstreets for me will be the one that's finally played when I'm in the audience at the one show I go to on the next E Street tour! There's always hope:-)
  3. Steve's Birthday today so I thought this thread might have been revived to wish him many happy returns - Many Happy Returns to Steve, Stevie, Little Steven, Miami Steve :-)
  4. I came to a similar conclusion back in March 2020 - even in early lockdown I lost the will to carry on with it. Other John Banville books are better reads.
  5. Ben Aaronovitch 'False Value', the most recent of the Rivers of London series of novels - always a good read with some laughs and some surprises.
  6. "Rotherweird" by Andrew Caldecott - an intriguing page-turning story that mixes history, mystery and fantasy. Very original and it seemed just right in terms of 'mood' for Hallowe'en, by coincidence, so I raced through it. There are 2 further books to be enjoyed too. Reading it called to mind the 'town and gown' divisions familiar from "Inspector Morse", with additional, new and more extreme twists. The author is a QC.
  7. So happy to see the band in performance, with Danny bopping away at his keyboard and Clarence in fine fettle, and the whole band propelling the song along so gloriously. It's pretty weird seeing such a sedate audience, of course, but that is what it was like to go to a concert then.
  8. Trudi Canavan's "Maker's Curse" book, the fourth and last of the Millennium's Rule series. Given the author's health problems - she could only write for an hour a day - it is a testament to her resolve that she brought the series to a conclusion at all.
  9. That takes me back - and I was amused to see Max's 'Beatles' hair too!
  10. The English translation of Michel Barnier's book, which bears the unfortunate title "My Secret Brexit Diary". A fascinating and dispassionate account which confirms what the poor man and his teams had to contend with.
  11. To say SVZ was "starting his career because of Bruce's success" after he left the E Street Band glosses over all the work SVZ did before and during his time with Bruce and the E Street Band, including touring with The Dovells, working with and recording Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Gary 'US' Bonds. SVZ's career up to the point when he left Bruce comprised more than E Street alone and he did more than simply play guitar too. It seems odd to give the guy a hard time for growing up and working and learning alongside Bruce during the very lean years and then leaving when things were about to be hugely successful, after working on the album that would be a hit! He couldn't magic away his history so as to avoid any suggestion that doors only opened for SVZ because of Bruce, any more than anyone can who has any association with Bruce. (See Patti Scialfa's career.) How could SVZ have avoided such criticism, other than by quitting playing and making music entirely? I wonder whether he set himself a goal of recording themed albums in different musical styles to counter the "Bruce's coat-tails" criticisms. He's clear in his book that his solo work increasingly asked a lot of his audience, due to the enthusiasm he felt about what he was learning and wanted to share, and that this wasn't a good way to build an audience. Also, it was (and is) expensive to tour with a large band when you couldn't get much exposure to attract an audience. It seems to me that the way the US music industry fragmented into ever-more discrete radio stations with curated playlists meant that SVZ's own music coincided with less air-time availability due to it not being an easy fit, whilst it could be argued that Bruce's music benefitted from AOR stations championing his cause during those earlier lean years. Bruce had good fortune in that, in having experienced, dedicated band members and being able to broadcast live shows and be confident of how great they would sound, and in the sheer persistence and superb music press connections of his early and later managers, Appel and Landau. Luck played a huge role in Bruce's success at a critical time, with the Sigelstein lad telling his Columbia label dad to sort things out, which coincided with Landau's show review: these gave Bruce's recording career a lifeline. (p202, BtR). Some may argue that SVZ had all the luck he needed coming out of the band but he had the additional difficulty of trying to escape from Bruce's gravitational pull! (Eg music journalists asking about Bruce instead of keeping on topic about 'Little Steven'.)
  12. "Sun City - Seemed like Steve using the Bob Geldof strategy trying to catapult himself from a sort-of-famous musician into the world spotlight. I thought it was calculated and insincere. " Trying to raise money and awareness to help oppressed and starving people - do-gooders, eh?
  13. At the time Southside and the Jukes were signed, "BTR" the single may have been passed to local radio djs but "BTR" the album was still to come. It looks like the live shows at The Stone Pony were what won Steve Popovich over to signing The Jukes. SVZ's touring with Bruce at Bruce's request on the BTR gigs "didn't exactly make Southside or Popovich happy", because it took momentum from the Jukes. And that's why it is difficult to say what might have been. Concerning SVZ's albums. Part of the difficulty for all bands is how the US music business, US radio business, and tastes in US popular music splintered into separate niche areas. The difficulty for SVZ's work (and not just his, of course) was finding a way of getting it heard at all, pre-internet. It isn't just that his work was political, though that was not delivering the kiss of life to his US career, clearly, but he was uncategorisable. That his own choices made his work hard to pigeonhole and thus lessened his US exposure, which lead to diminishing returns, which inevitably further reduced his US exposure, is something he frankly acknowledges. In conclusion, I think SVZ is very candid when acknowledging that leaving the E Street Band before the BitUSA tour was a crazy thing to do; he says it multiple ways in the Prologue and throughout the book, unambiguously. It may have cost him a lot but I enjoy his own work: he has talent to burn.
  14. Ch 47 of "Born to Run", 'Buona Fortuna, Fratello Mio' gives Bruce's 2 and a half page summary of SVZ's decision to leave. For those who don't have the book to hand: p319-20: "Steve had given himself completely to his role at my side and had long been an ambivalent front man. ... Since we were young, I'd watched Steve masterfully front his own bands. That evening, he said it just wasn't completely "him", and a big and wonderful part of Steve's personality (and my good fortune) was his vision of himself in a premier but supportive role as my musical lieutenant. "But now, Steve's move to the center mike would be complicated further by those very years he's spent at my side in the E Street Band. It's hard for an audience to accept you in a new role, to hear you without the veil of the established popular image that comes with being a part of a successful group. I understood Steve's position. He wanted more influence in our work. But I'd gently played him and Jon off each other for a purpose. It was why they were both there. I wanted the tension of two complementarily conflicting points of view. ... But this, along with the intentional gray area I kept the band in, created a purgatory I was happy with ... I said that despite where we were headed, I was still the best friend he had, we were still each other's great friends, and I hoped we would not let that go. We didn't." This is the Unrequited Infatuation at the core: Steven being more devoted to Bruce and his career than to his own prospects. It seems unfair to me to equate the lack of being heard/seen/noticed with lack of sales alone. One project launched on the very day of 9/11 so, as he notes, unsurprisingly, it went nowhere. He didn't have a manager or agent to rely upon to promote his work, and there are amusing mentions of how efforts to get management or an agent failed to work out. Equally, his eclectic musical styles on each album were never going to endear him to the business part of the Music Business. Throughout the book SVZ notes that he didn't want to be a front man and have all attention on him, he wanted to be a member of a band. That's why he worked with Bruce and Southside and was happy for each of them to be the named front-man. SVZ's friendly, out-going nature helped him to make and/or maintain many useful business connections himself; that'll be part of why Iovine recorded Southside's first album at night as a favour! When it was still early days for Bruce, building a reputation based on live performances with the E Street Band, SVZ's work with Southside and the Jukes was building in the same way. SVZ put Bruce's work first but that was an act of faith and encouragement since there were no guarantees of music business success then, especially given the enforced recording hiatus between "Born to Run" and "Darkness". Hindsight may suggest that SVZ only got lucky thanks to Bruce but, as friends, each helped the other when things didn't look too promising. The book provides examples of SVZ making a positive difference to Bruce's prospects. I must say that I go to see SVZ live because I really like his work - the 'Men Without Women' Disciples of Soul show I saw in the early 1980s was astonishingly good (a tour de force, energetic and loud!) and the 'Summer of Sorcery' one I saw was equal to it. He got and gets extraordinary band members and contributors to work with him: that isn't an accident or mere 'greatness by association with Bruce': SVZ is good at his craft in his own right.
  15. It may be the difference between reading the printed book and hearing it read, but my take on Steve's book appears to be rather different. It read to me as someone providing his perspective on his life and noting his lack of success, with wry humour and rueful resignation, rather than boosting himself. Time and again he notes that no-one saw or heard or paid any attention to what he worked on, but he kept going, doing what seemed worthwhile to him, because that's his mentality. Interestingly, he notes that he could have used a manager throughout. Concerning errors, he does advise anyone getting into The Business to keep a diary, noting "This book is only the 10% I still remember!" (p 150).
  16. On a dreich day, "Smokey Robinson and the Miracles" followed by "Summer of Sorcery" again - mood-enhancing:-)
  17. That's why I said it would be interesting - I'm sure SVZ is on very firm ground:-)
  18. I hope for their sakes there are some more cheerful songs to come too:-) It was a nice touch in the video to have the toy plane launched up high into the sky but that visual uplift wasn't echoed in the lyrics, sadly.
  19. That photo-op is dealt with in the book - and it certainly shows the photo in a very different light. (It'll be interesting to see if any claims in the book are considered actionable.)
  20. When he did and redid "Springsteen on Broadway" and brought our focus onto the lyric "you'll know me" in The Wish, I welled up both at the heart-breaking situation with his mother and the courage he has to expose such pain so openly.
  21. (I can't post anything easily so I usually resort to posting a little part and then editing the post to elaborate - apologies for the haphazard nature of this.) The tone of the prologue isn't 'self-entitlement' so much as 'self-deprecating', as I read it. He doesn't spare himself in questioning what on Earth has he done to arrive at the place he's at now in the prologue.
  22. Those 5 pages that comprise the prologue aren't indicative of the rest of the book, and SVZ returns to the subject covered in the prologue in context later in the book - do keep listening, I urge you.
  23. Finished "A History of Protest Songs - 33 Revolutions Per Minute" by Dorian Lynskey, published in 2010. A hefty, readable and comprehensive tome that has left me feeling pretty gloomy. So much passionate engagement in various good causes over years and see how things are now!
  24. "Summer of Sorcery" by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul - 'Communion' is such a massive and magnificent opening song, and the whole album unfolds like a gift to the need to dance and sing and move in a crowd. I'd absolutely love to see the whole band in performance again!
  25. As I noted in the other thread on SVZ's book, I finished reading it and I thoroughly recommend it as a good read; he has an easy writing style that makes it feel like he is simply talking to you and sharing his story like a raconteur. Since I only read cover notes after finishing a book, I now find I'm in tune with Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Bruce in cheering this book on:-)
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