The classic account of the LA Canyons scene between 1967 and 1976, featuring Joni Mitchell; Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; The Eagles; James Taylor; and Jackson Browne. Ambition, betrayal, drugs and genius all combine with great music making.
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No matter what your personal musical tastes are, it’s hard to discount the massive changes that happened between 1967-1976 as the focus of the popular music world shifted from London to Los Angeles, and in particular, the singer/songwriter boom of Laurel Canyon. Over a period of just a few years a seemingly endless stream of fresh new sounds and new voices continued to pour out of the bohemian LA suburb to dominate the pop charts across the world. Names like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, America, Rickie Lee Jones and, of course, The Eagles, all of whom went on to have long, successful careers in the music industry.
This really is an excellent book and a real joy to listen to, and special mention must go to the narrator Nick Landrum, who does a first class job of keeping the listener engaged and interested. I would definitely listen to another title read by Nick.
From the early days at The Troubadour, where you could see Crosby, Ronstadt and Jackson Browne sharing a beer or three, to the cocaine-fuelled excesses their worldwide fame later provided, this book leaves no stone unturned (no pun intended) and follows the story right up to the beginning of the end, where younger, fresher acts like Springsteen and Steely Dan start to make inroads to the charts, and the old school can feel the end of their road is near.
But this is no ‘fluff’ piece; the book takes a long, hard look at the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing, especially involving the record producer David Geffen, and pulls no punches when discussing the inevitable tensions that can arise when large egos are placed in close confinement to each other.
Some time ago I wrote a less-than-positive review of a Neil Young book, astounded how he could write such a large tome and not mention Buffalo Springfield or CSN&Y, the two bands for which he is largely known. On reading ‘Hotel California’ I feel I owe Mr Young an apology, as it seems these years were far from happy ones for him, largely due to the incessant bullying, both mental and physical, by his band-mate Stephen Stills, who I have to say does not come out of this book very well.
It’s been said that every generation believe they had the best pop music, and this book really helps make the case for the acoustic strumming minstrels from the summer of ’69.