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In his entry in the "Legendary Sessions" series, music journalist Irwin (In Search of the Craic: One Man's Pub Crawl Through Irish Music) deftly sets the stage for Bob Dylan's seminal album Highway 61 Revisited, describing the songwriter's move from socially conscious protest songs to introspective, Beat-inspired lyrics and discussing Dylan's affiliation with manager Albert Grossman and his burnout after a 1965 European tour. Irwin delves into the genesis of the groundbreaking "Like a Rolling Stone" and provides a riveting chapter about the tumultuous and polarizing Newport Folk Festival where Dylan unveiled his electric sound. He then details the recording of the album, which was characterized by bitter, angry songs filled with symbolic references. Irwin also includes short biographies of the many characters involved with the album. Not just a book about a record, this work offers a lively, interesting, and informative look at Dylan during the pivotal period 1963-65.
Unfortunately, experienced music journalist and musician Clayson (The Beatles Box) begins his series entry on the Rolling Stones with a rambling account of their many influences, including blues, soul, folk, Jimi Hendrix, Dr. John, and Dylan, leaving the reader in bewilderment about the primary impetus behind the band's music. He follows with brief, sensationalist profiles of each member: sex-crazed Bill Wyman; serious Charlie Watts; troubled, talented, and marginalized Brian Jones; financially astute Mick Jagger; and quiet yet boisterous Keith Richards. Clayson covers the business moguls behind the band (Andrew Loog Oldham and Allen Klein) and the recording of the 1968 Beggars Banquet.In a scattershot, hodgepodge finish, Clayson outlines Brian Jones's split from the group and his untimely death, the Hyde Park and Altamont concerts, and various events up to 2007. Written in a conversational, disjointed style, this volume offers little new information about the Stones or their music. Not recommended.