Sonic Bond Publishing
The ‘On Track’ series is a new one to me, but glancing at GRTR!’s recent book reviews it seems to be a rapidly growing collection. While more critically acclaimed artists such as the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen have always been well covered in print by song-by-song analysis, it is good to see heavier rock acts given this treatment, not least this pair of influential bands who were a big part of my musical youth and whose works continue to grace my CD racks.
The premise is a simple one, to review every recorded song in strict chronological order, album by album. Each chapter opens with basic factual info and the context in which the album was made, followed by an analysis of the sleeve designs – in this case focusing on the artwork of Jim Fitzpatrick and Derek Riggs – then each track described in order. This approach has the merit of focusing entirely on the music and complements more conventional storytelling biographies.
While both authors are clearly fans, they do not shy away from being critical in their analysis of weaker albums and songs, and the balance of fact and opinion is exemplary. The old reviewer’s trick of trying to spot errors did not yield any obvious ones, other than Stroud being a little hazy on the recent chronology of Black Star Riders.
Though the format is similar, there are a few differences between the two books – Stroud, as befitting a musician, is perhaps more technical in his descriptions though occasionally lapsing into jargon. He also boasts the only original source material, periodically quoting from an interview with Brian Downey.
Pilkington’s analysis has a touch more flair, with flourishes of sardonic humour and lengthier descriptions of the literary and historical inspirations in the lyrics of Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson, who he is an unashamed fan of.
Allied to their longer career, that makes the Maiden book a lengthier read. On the other hand, Lizzy seem to have left a greater legacy of B sides and other unreleased material and both their live albums are reviewed in equal depth, whereas the Maiden work sums up their many live recordings on a single page.
Where I would take issue with the jacket blurb is that these books serve as an introduction for the more casual fan. The strict format prohibits any signposting to their best works, or separating the wheat from the chaff, even though Pilkington ends with a 30-song playlist. They would though be a good reference companion as said fan digs deeper into the catalogue.
But as a more committed follower, reading the track descriptions had me mentally singing along to much loved albums I grew up on or in the case of Maiden’s more recent ones, wanting to dig them out for a rare play. And as a music reviewer, I was left marvelling at the sheer level of detail they brought to the task. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was streamed on Sunday 22 November.
More about Josh: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/?s=%22Josh+Taerk%22
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Featured Albums w/c 23 November (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 JEFF SCOTT SOTO Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 LAZARUS DREAM Alive (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 RONAN FURLONG The King Of Leaves (Thoroughbred Music)
Power Plays w/c 23 November (Mon-Fri)
L.A. GUNS All That You Are (Golden Robot Records)
THE DUST CODA Limbo Man (Earache)
EBBA BERGKVIST & THE FLAT TIRE BAND 68 Twin (indie)
IRON SAVIOR Souleater (AFM Records)
IVY GOLD This Is My Time (indie)
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