Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – H is for Hardcovers

CamWhen it comes to reading most of my books deal with music. I will read almost any music biography. Regular readers will know that “Diary Of A Rock’n’Roll Star” by Ian Hunter and Bob Greene’s great book about touring with Alice Cooper, “Billion Dollar Baby”, are both at the top of my list. Here are ten, mostly recent, rock’n’roll books that I have read this year.

The Soundtrack Of My Life – Clive Davis

In my 30 odd years in the music business I learned that one of the biggest differences between record companies in Canada and the Clive DavisUnited States was the ego of their upper-level executives. For the most part Canadian execs are without ego and their U.S. counterparts absolutely overflowing with it. When it comes to ego you will be hard pressed to find a larger one than the one that belongs to Clive Davis. Sure his track record is solid but he tries to take credit for every great record made over the last four decades. I met Clive a couple of times and had to endear his Arista presentations at world-wide record conventions. He was known to go on for seven or eight hours at a time, and once, after enduring about five hours of things that he considered future hits, I slipped out of the presentation room at the Marriott Marquis and planted myself in the lobby bar. I could only take so much. Much like his presentations his book is a chore to read, and, if you have ever heard his voice, you hear it in every written word. Long, windy, guarded and far from essential reading.

Editor’s Note: Here’s proof of Clive’s annoying voice. I would have never made it past 60 seconds listening to him. If I were there, and I had a ham, I would have thrown the ham at him…and I LOVE ham. I would have felt bad about the ham for days….

Who I Am – Pete Townshend

I have always been a fan of the articulate Mr. Townshend and I found this a very enjoyable read. The man has been through a lot and he is pretty open about spilling his personal mistakes as well as his life with The Who. Not a crazy as the many books about band mate Keith Moon, this is an intelligent look at the life of extraordinary rocker.

“Rough Boys” – Pete Townshend

Me, The Mob, And The Music – One Helluva Ride With Tommy James & The Shondells – Tommy James

Man, Tommy could write the hits “Crimson and Clover”, “Hanky Panky”, “Draggin’ The Line” , “Mony Mony”, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and “I Think We’re Alone Now” were monsters for him and when they were covered (Billy Idol – “Mony”, Joan Jett “Crimson” and Tiffany “Alone Now”) they became monsters for those artists as well. Unfortunately Tommy signed with known mob-connected Morris Levy and Roulette Records and was screwed out of millions in royalties. I was hoping the book would be a little darker but I guess you need to be careful when writing about the mob. Rumour has it Martin Scorsese is interested in adapting the book for the screen. It could be “Gangs Of New York – The Flip Side”. A fun read about an often overlooked artist.

“Mony Mony” – Tommy James And The Shondells  

This Is A Call – The Life And Times Of Dave Grohl – Paul Brannigan

I was very happily surprised at how well written and thorough this book was. I have spent many an hour with Dave and this book captures his spirit and endless energy. From his early days in the van criss-crossing North America in a host of punk bands to his big break in Nirvana and success with The Foo Fighters this is a compelling and educational read. When you’re done have a look at the documentary “Sound City”.

“Learn To Fly” – The Foo Fighters 

HitmakerHitmaker – The Man And His Music – Tommy Mottola

Another example of American label ego. Tommy is known to the general public as the former husband of Mariah Carey and to those in the industry as the former leader of Sony Music. To his credit at least Tommy was a musician and had a feel for playing music as opposed to Clive.  This was a tad more interesting than Clive’s book but still far from required reading. I found his upbringing more interesting than his record company exploits.

Rod The Autobiography – Rod Stewart

I have always been a fan of Rod’s and really enjoyed his autobiography. I adored The Faces and since have gone back to the Jeff Beck band. His early solo albums are fantastic and I wasn’t really that offended by most of his “Songbook” albums (although I think Clive may have milked the franchise a couple of times too many). Rod is also a massive football fan and I loved the parts of the book that dealt with the “beautiful game”. A good little time waster this one.

“People Get Ready” – Rod Stewart/Jeff Beck

True-North-CoverTrue North – A Life In The Music Business – Bernie Finkelstein

One of the truly nice guys in the Canadian business and a fascinating tale from the streets of Yorkville and The Riverboat to the formation of one of Canada’s greatest independent labels True North. A label owner, club owner, manager and one of the founders of MuchFact Bernie is one of the true legends of the Canadian business and never too busy not to return a call. Glad he shared his story.

Perfect Youth – The Birth of Canadian Punk – Sam Sutherland

A very interesting and well-written account of the early days of Canadian punk rock. Although Sam wasn’t born when most of these bands started he has captured their spirit and struggle. It reads like a Perfect Youth_002love letter to the bands he loved. Well worth a read and a nice companion piece to Liz Worth’s “Treat Me Like Dirt”. I’m happy that a new generation has decided to document our rich past.

I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp – Richard Hell

I mentioned this one a couple of weeks ago. A great tale from the streets of New York and the formation of Television, The Voidoids and The Heartbreakers. For a time Richard was the face of punk in North America and influenced a whole generation in Britain.

“(I Belong To The) Blank Generation” – Richard Hell  

A Memoir – Cyndi Lauper

Light and funny and much like Cyndi herself I assume. For a while she had the world at her feet and her recent success on Broadway with “Kinky Boots” adds yet another chapter to her history. Not an essential read but more like a cottage time waster for the dock.

“Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper   

In the coming weeks I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg – Behind The Ramones” by Marky Ramone (who once drummed with Richard Hell), “Trouble Boys – The True Story Of The Replacements, The Last Rock’n’Roll Band” and “What You Want Is In The Limo – On the road with Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, and The Who in 173, the year the sixties died and the modern rock star was born. Let’s get in the mood, hit it Marky!

“Rock’n’Roll High School” – The Ramones   

“I’ll Be You” – The Replacements  

“Dazed And Confused” – Led Zeppelin

“Baba O’Riley” – The Who 

“Welcome To My Nightmare” – Alice Cooper


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Cam’s column appears every Thursday

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar. The bar and BBQ opens daily at 4 PM and the BBQ rocks until 10 PM. Cocktails available after 10. Time is running out to hit the patio so the sooner the better. If it is cold or rainy plant yourself at The Rock Lobster Food Co. in the former home of the late great Shanghai Cowgirl.

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DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.



5 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – H is for Hardcovers”

  1. Daved Kohls Says:

    The Replacements book should be very interesting. I am looking forward to reading it as I was the guitar tech on their last 7 week Euro/UK tour in March and April of 1991. Even though they were “cleaned up”… man, do I have stories!

    I currently work as Gregg Allman’s equipment manager and have been taking care of his gear for 9 years now.
    His auto biography, “My Cross To Bear”, came out last year and is a great read. He’s been working on it for years and is quite open about the roller coaster ride his life and career has been. Recommended reading.

    I believe it is in the process of being turned into a motion picture.

    • Daved Kohls Says:

      And, as along as we’re on this subject, Gregg filmed a segment of “Abbey Road Live” a couple of years ago (a major personal highpoint in my life/career) in Studio 2, where the fab four recorded most of their catalogue. With my newly found first hand knowledge, I was inspired to pick up and read Geoff Emerick’s, “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles”. Another excellent read.
      This, then, led me to George Martin’s “All You Need Is Ears: The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles “, published in 1994. Out of print, I have been seeking it out for a couple years now. I recently bought it on Amazon and my wife told me on the phone that it arrived yesterday. I can hardly wait to get home from this GA & Friend’s tour to get my hands on it.

  2. Cameron Carpenter Says:

    Thanks for the tip and comments Daved. Will have a look for it. Did you see “Color Me Obsessed” the doc that Gorman Bechard did on The Replacements?

    • Daved Kohls Says:

      No, I was unaware. Thanx for pointing it out, Cameron. I’ll have to check it out. My seven weeks with them could easily have been a mini doc unto itself…. and this was after they had ‘mellowed’. LOL

  3. Cameron Carpenter Says:

    I read the Emerick book a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it even though I have no formal studio training. You might also like “Behind The Glass – Top Producers Tell How They Craft Their Hits” by Howard Massey and “Are We Still Rolling” by Phil Brown. Both offer a lot of insight to recording techniques by some of the world’s best producers. Phil’s book is his story, much like Emerick’s, about growing up in a studio and learning to be a producer.

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