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White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s Paperback – April 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852429100
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852429102
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,495,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"'Don't read this book on a train. I did, then missed my stop. This is the best book about music I've read in years, and a gripping piece of social history' Brian Eno 'It is a wonderful book, full of interesting and quirky detail, funny and wise, and elegantly written' Zoe Heller 'Fascinating, captivating and enthralling - what a life, and what a way to write it!' Charlie Gillett"

About the Author

Record and film producer Joe Boyd was born in Boston in 1942, and was the producer of Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, REM and many others. He produced the documentary 'Jimi Hendrix' and the film 'Scandal'. In 1980 he started Hannibal Records and ran it for 20 years. Boyd lives in London.

More About the Author

Record and film producer Joe Boyd was born in Boston in 1942 and graduated from Harvard in 1964. He went on to produce Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, REM and many others. He produced the documentary Jimi Hendrix' and the film Scandal'. In 1980 he started Hannibal Records and ran it for 20 years. Boyd lives in London where he writes for the Guardian and Independent.

Customer Reviews

A great read if you're a music history buff.
John P. Gelinas
He takes us into the heart of the English music scene during a time when its influence was at a peak.
Robin Frederick
This is a well-written and incredibly informative book.
A. Burtch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By J. R. P. Wigman on December 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Written by a man who has produced so many classic albums and who has encouraged and brought to the limelight many artists I love, I simply had to get this book. It certainly delivers, too. Many, many interesting facts, dates, anecdotes about as many artists are crammed into the pages, so it makes for avid reading, especially if you're a music fan interested in the music in the past century (for we can not only read about obvious artists and groups like Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, but about jazz artists like Duke Ellington and Sonny Rollins as well).

The downside of this book for me is the fact that it stays a bit on the surface. Both the artists as indeed the writer himself stay a bit distant, so that I didn't feel as involved as I could be. It might well be that Joe Boyd just wants to keep it factual and concise, but I think that he could have written a better book had he chosen to go a little deeper into (some of) the artists whose records he has produced.

Nevertheless, this is a fine book and you'll love all he has to write. Like I said, for me not buying and reading it immediately was not an option.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sylvia Majka on March 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
White Bicycles, by Joe Boyd, is a "pick up and don't put down all weekend" type book. Boyd has great storytelling style, here telling us about his career and where it took him with various recording artists, his escapades and participation in London in the "60's", and his professional development as a producer. I got the book primarily because I am a Nick Drake fan. The two existing Nick biographies, while diligently researched, and containing info based on many interviews, still have that degree of detachment that necessarily exists when the authors have never personally met their subject.I certainly wasn't disappointed-as Boyd's few chapters on Nick brought this departed artist to life for me more than the two existing bios. He conveys his interactions with the shy artist, and writes about him in a way that lets us see the person as well as the artist. Yes, it is very funny to read as Boyd describes how Nick answered his telephone (as if it had never rung before) and his first meeting with him after the intro by Ashley of Fairport Convention, then moving in to the production of Five Leaves and Bryter Layter, and Nick's decision to take a new direction w/Pink Moon, which Boyd did not produce.

But there are also so many other artists! The book is a fascinating journey through the emerging rock/pop/folk scenes of the 60's early 70's on both sides of the Atlantic, with some gigantic names, and some not so well known on one shore or another. My feeling upon finishing the book was a Question: I wonder what he'll publish next? I want to be there.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Schuman on December 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Joe Boyd's "White Bicycles" is an easy-to-read and fun memoir. It likely will appeal exclusively to fans of British folk and psychedelic music, but it's really about Joe Boyd more than anything else. And Joe Boyd is a man with a fascinating life and great skills as a writer. He also happened to have experienced some key moments in the '60s, and, if he doesn't quite make us feel like we were there (which is really impossible) he certainly makes us feel like we remember it along with him.

Since several reviewers have commented on the book's lack of scenes in the recording studio, I feel that I must address that point. First, I think he did an excellent job of describing what it was like to be in the studio with Nick Drake, and the sections of the book concerning Nick Drake are generally quite strong. But he devotes considerably less time to Fairport Convention, the ISB, and others, and readers expecting a book of tales in the recording studio will be disappointed.

But the book is about more than just music: it's about the '60s, and its about the cast of characters who came into Joe Boyd's life. It is rife with observations about the society of the time and how it has changed. It's nostalgic and really does give you the impression that Boyd's life has probably never been quite as fun as it was then, but it is all tempered by an acceptance that the '60s are over and a knowledge that the decade really wasn't so perfect. In fact, the title "white bicycles" alludes to just that: white bicycles were communal bicycles that the city of Amsterdam produced for its citizens to share, but people ended up stealing them and painting them different colors. The white bicycle was a "failed experiment," a description that many use to describe the decade itself.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robin Frederick on September 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You know that saying about the flower-powered era of the 1960's - "If you can remember it, you weren't there." Well, Joe Boyd was there AND he remembers it. This book is a journey through the American Jazz, Folk, Blues and British Folk/Rock scene at a time when the music business was rapidly changing and anything was possible. Boyd has had a career that spans the old and new, the traditional and the cutting edge on both sides of the Atlantic. He tells the tale with honesty, humor, and insight. It is an entertaining read from first page to last. Highlights: Joe Boyd was production manager of the Newport Folk Festival when Dylan unveiled his new electric sound. Boyd tells the story of this sea-change in American music with an even hand and from the inside, painting a rich portrait of both the folk purists and those who wished to transform the genre and make it their own. Boyd produced legends of British folk/rock, Fairport Convention and Nick Drake as well as co-founding the seminal psychedelic London music venue, the UFO club. He takes us into the heart of the English music scene during a time when its influence was at a peak.
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