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BOOK REVIEW:

White bicycles : making music in the 1960s

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Call Number: 
788.99092 B789

Joe Boyd is an iconic American music producer and executive who has been involved in the recording industry for five decades. His interest in music production began when he watched the pre-Dick Clark Bandstand on television in Princeton, New Jersey. On his first production gig, Boyd brought the blues artist Lonnie Johnson to Princeton. He subsequently enrolled in Harvard, where he became part of the bohemian folk scene in Cambridge.

In Cambridge, Boyd became acquainted with folksingers Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Maria D'Amato. He developed a relationship with George Wein, the producer of the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals. In the mid-60's, Boyd brought Muddy Waters to London, and worked with Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz and other important jazz and blues artists.

Boyd struck out on his own as a record producer, A&R man, manager and club owner in London. He owned the acid rock UFO club, where Pink Floyd held court in early 1967. Boyd was instrumental in developing British folk-rock, and his Witchseason Productions signed the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, and Nick Drake.

Boyd returned to the United States to work in film production for Warner Music. He produced A Clockwork Orange soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick and the Deliverance soundtrack for John Boorman. Boyd remained an in-demand producer and founded a small label, Hannibal Records, to record international artists.

White Bicycles is the work of an impresario who has scorned mainstream popular music tastes throughout his career, and has created a unique music legacy. Boyd has profound insights about the development of Anglo-American popular music, the important role of managers in the music industry, and the decline of quality music production. For a non-musician, Boyd has a remarkable awareness of what it takes to produce quality recordings.

Of course, White Bicycles is also a fly-on-the-wall portrait of the Sixties musical generation which was affected by its interest in drugs, politics, new religious movements and free love. The passages in which he discusses his relationships with Nick Drake and Sandy Denny (of Fairport Convention), who both died at tragically young ages, are particularly poignant. While Boyd's approach to his personal history is highly analytical, he does display traces of deep affection for his musical peers.
 

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