White Bicycles

I dived into this without any prior knowledge of  Joe Boyd. I quickly learnt that he variously promoted and produced an intersting mix of music, managed bands and ran a popular club in London during the 60s and 70s. The book itself is his account of his movements throughout that period. It is written in a sort of quick fire, matter of fact style reminiscent of Jack Carouac. I have found that sort of thing hard to get into in the past. It isn’t helped in this case by an avalanche of name drops, most of whom I have never heard of. This did make things a little confusing and at times it felt as if he just started to refer random individuals who he had not previously mentioned, as if that person and the reader were old mates.

While paragraphs could often be open-ended and not necessarily flowing from one to the next, the prose within is clearly written by an intelligent individual. His wisdom and experience shine through and more to the point, by the end, he was able to paint a picture of an era long before my time that gives me perspective on music as a whole. It was an era that really was revolutionary and although the Beatles are not front and centre in this book, it does make me realise more and more just how important their influence was.

But it is the smaller artists surrounding the main stream that shine through here and give the reader an insight into the old guard of deep southern blues and jazz and their influence on the cultural and musical changes that began to emerge around that time. In doing so, it makes one thing about how different our current music is changing and evolving – for better or for worse.

A book that would be an absolute gem for someone that lived through that era and the hippy scene of the 60s. For others, an interesting read that gets better as it goes on.


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