This Weeks' Reading List: 6th August
Reading wise I spent a bit of time finishing off half and 3/4 read books, just to get them out of the way. This involved a speed read of what came before to refresh my memory and then a normal (normal for me) read to the finish line.
What did I finish this week?
S.P. Mackenzie: The Colditz Myth. See last week's entry for the general thoughts. It seems life in WWII POW camps was less like Stalag 13 and more like Stalag 17 - and even that's downplaying it. The best bit, in my view, was learning that even while banged up the officers managed to send anti-Hitler propaganda into the neighbouring towns by tying messages onto wasps and bees and letting them loose. Brilliant! The whole 'Tally Ho!' myth of Allied soldiers in these camps is dismissed by this read. If you have an interest then seek it out. Be warned, it's not an easy book to read.
Peter Wilmoth: Glad All Over - The Countdown Years 1974-1987. Americans rave about American Bandstand and Soul Train. The English rave about Top of The Pops. The French, well;, who cares? What people aren't aware is that Australia had a TV music show that was easily the equal, if not superior to all of those shows (based upon the amount of the formers that I've seen) in Countdown. For easily a decade Countdown dominated the music industry in Australia and looking back it's easy to see the reasons why - it appealed to all people. Where a show like Sounds appealed to young adults, Music Express appealed to the kid and Rock Arena appealed to the alternate crowd, Countdown managed to get all of those crowds and keep them. Countdown showed Australia the glory of Skyhooks, the madness of Iggy Pop, the brutality of a pissed off Cold Chisel and much more. Despite some factual and name errors (Kiss didn't tour Australia in 1976, or 1981 - the author gets it wrong twice and some names are mis-spelt) this book is a stunning overview of an era in Australian music that will probably not be replicated. Molly Meldrum should be knighted for his services to the Australian music scene - imagine his speech! I'm sure he'd love to meet Prince Charles' mum.
Ross Coulthart & Duncan McNabb: Dead Man Running - An Insiders Story On One Of The World's Most Feared Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs...The Bandidos. What can you say? I take a lot of these books with a grain of the proverbial. I got through this in one two hour sitting, it's lightweight and as you'd expect the subject manages to maintain his innocence. The standard story, "I was in the gang but I got out and they did nasty stuff but I didn't inhale." Basically the subject of the story, one Steve Utah, arranged security for the gang and decided to get further involved and *shock and horror* discovered that the Bandidos like to have sex with young women (around 17-18 years old), take drugs and commit crime. And, even more amazing, once he turned against them and gave evidence to the police, they told him they'd kill him. Who'd have thunk it, other than Utah who seems genuinely surprised at the latter turn of events. A better read, for this stuff, is the brilliant Angels Of Death by William Marsden and Julian Sher. Find that, read it and prepare to be amazed.
Bill Graham & Robert Greenfield: Bill Graham Presents - My Life Inside Rock & Out. Stunningly good book. Through the use of first hand comments, vintage interviews and observations Greenfield creates a vivid picture of the life that was Bill Graham. Great sections on the legendary Led Zeppelin Oakland concert (you know the one), Live Aid, the Rolling Stones and more. He wasn't always happy, was our Bill, but he was fair. Sometimes.
Michael Streissguth: Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison - The Making Of A Masterpiece. A slim volume but packed the gills with great information. Streissguth has stripped away the fat to present the meat of events leading up to, during and after the concerts that resulted in the landmark album, Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison. The book manages to dispel a few myths along the way, but the even result is a picture that'll only increase anyone's admiration for Cash. I could care less if he didn't shoot a man in Reno, just to watch him die. When he sang it, you believed it. It was the singer, not the song...
ON THE READING LIST THIS WEEK
Lee Hale & Richard D Neely: Behind The Scenes Of The Dean Martin Show
Mike Coleman & Ken Edwards: Eddie Gilbert
Maxine Marx: Growing Up With Chico
Bruce Beresford: Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants To Do This...
Kevin Brownlow: Behind The Mask Of Innocence - Sex, Violence, Prejudice, Crime: Films Of Social Conscience In The Silent Era
Paul Buhle & Dave Wagner: Hide In Plain Sight - The Hollywood Blacklistees In Film & Television 1950 - 2002