We’re going song by song with two books by two legendary bands while Paul Rigby also looks at an updated tome
Queen, Album by Album & Rush, Album by Album
Author: Martin Popoff (for both books)
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Price: £19.99 (Queen) & £26 (Rush)
Pages: 218 (Queen) & 192 (Rush)
I was interested in this approach to an album-by-album survey. It’s not a new idea. In fact, it’s been done to death, of late. It can even look tired and worn. Popoff (a heavy-metal journalist) does freshen things up though, after siting the album title and listing the tracks and basic credit information.
What Popoff has done is to get into a huddle with other people and generate, if not a consensus, then a group discussion and underlying themes.
Let’s begin with the Rush book.
The introduction to the album is given a sense of place. What was the backdrop to the album? What else was going on in music and what was the state of band going into the album?
AND YOU ARE?
Then, for the band’s debut album, as an example, we go straight into a series of Q&A sequences with the likes of Gilbert, Grandy, Irwin and Hammett.
Of course, you know these figures, don’t you? You don’t? Hmmm. Actually, neither do I. So, let’s just rewind a moment.
So there was I. Reading lots of quotes, from people seemingly well informed about the band and I had no clue who they actually where.
The book’s design has an issue right there. The biographies for all of these quoted figures appear – after I stopped to do a bit of searching – at the end of the book but there’s no sign posting to tell me that. There’s no indication at all in the introduction. There’s no, ‘How to use this book’ section. Nothing.
In fact, these figures are musicians, roadies and the like so the insight they bring to the album is excellent and of great use but the book’s design is found wanting.
Once the information is to hand though, the book settles down into an enjoyable read. There’s a discussion about Rush’s early comparisons with Led Zeppelin (an ‘issue’ when the Rush debut hit the streets), how Neil Peart settled onto the drum stool by the third album and so on.
ON TO QUEEN
This style is followed within the physically smaller yet longer book on Queen and many contributors to talk to (both books have around 18 or 19 commentators each, the book offers a similar layout the Rush tome above).
There’s some considered and thoughtful comments here. The interviewees have obviously thought long and hard about this music and how it fits into the wider musical world and their own.
Jeb Wright, founder of the website, Classic Rock Revisited even talks at length about why it was important that the track and hit single, We Are The Champions directly followed the song, We Will Rock You on the LP, News of the World. So there’s plenty of detail here.
Both books adopt a fresh and lively take on the Album by Album approach. They are informative, they are considered, they provide insight and understanding. I look forward to seeing more from this series.
A quick, cobweb-strewn update for some of you. If you have a copy of Pink Floyd’s exhaustive biography, Pigs Might Fly, first published by Aurum in 2007 and written by Mark Blake, be aware that the 2013 edition adds extra information.
Yes, yes, I realise I’m a tad late on this one but I was browsing the publisher’s catalogue (it was still there), saw it and wondered if everyone knew about this – you never know! I didn’t see too many published Internet pages noting the fact at the time.
In case you need to know, the latest edition has a pink spine, includes the Revised label at the base of the cover and adds an extra chapter.
The above might also be of worth if you decide to pick up this tome second hand.