my review of paul williams’ “outlaw blues” for goodreads

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

WHILE I HAVE USED GOODREADS AS A SOURCE on my web­sites, I have not ac­tu­ally par­tic­i­pated in the com­mu­nity of readers and re­viewers. Until now: I just posted my first re­view for Paul Williams’s book Outlaw Blues for Goodreads. Oddly, it is only the second re­view of this im­por­tant book (and the first was lukewarm).

Here it is in its en­tirety: it’s brief be­cause most re­views should be ei­ther en­thu­si­astic teasers or ven­omous put-downs. Nei­ther re­quires a lot of words . . .

“Paul Williams’ Outlaw Blues col­lects ar­ti­cles, in­ter­views, and re­views from Williams’ Craw­daddy mag­a­zine, where he was pub­lisher, ed­itor, and con­trib­utor. This pa­per­back edition—one of the first se­rious books on rock music—helped Williams reach a larger au­di­ence in a semi-permanent form.

Un­like many rock-writers, Williams wrote about the music he loved rather than knock the stuff he didn’t listen to. Con­se­quently, Outlaw Blues is good vi­bra­tions from cover to cover as he shares and ex­plains why the music mat­ters to him.

High­lights in­clude his won­drous re­view of THE BYRDS’ GREATEST HITS—a format usu­ally ig­nored by ‘se­rious’ critics—and an in­ter­view with pro­ducer Paul Rothchild on recording the Doors’ first album.

Williams wrote about the music he loved rather than knock the stuff he didn’t listen to.

The cen­ter­piece of the book is his lengthy in­ter­view with David An­derle, former head of the Beach Boys’ aborted Brother Records. This in­ter­view is more than fifty pages long and was es­sen­tial to building the mys­tique sur­rounding Brian Wilson’s un­fin­ished mas­ter­piece, SMILE.

My fa­vorite line in the book is Paul’s de­scrip­tion of Dy­lan’s single I Want You: “Dylan has a re­mark­ably healthy at­ti­tude to­wards sex, and he makes our so­ciety look sick by com­par­ison (it is).”

Reading this book forty-five years ago ex­panded my mu­sical hori­zons; rereading it pe­ri­od­i­cally since then has helped me main­tain focus in my own writing. I con­sider this the best book avail­able on what Six­ties rock music was about THEN.

If you have a 16-year old family member or friend who is fas­ci­nated by the Six­ties, give him/her a copy of Outlaw Blues as a primer to the music of that era . . .”




Top: Both the first hard­cover edi­tion and the orig­inal pa­per­back edi­tion of Outlaw Blues from E. P. Dutton & Co.were pub­lished in 1969 with this same homely cover art. For some reason, both books were dif­fi­cult to find in 1969-70. Bottom: This pa­per­back edi­tion of Outlaw Blues from Pocket Books was the second pa­per­back edi­tion and fea­tures great cover art! The artists are The Who, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Frank Zappa, David Crosby (?), and the Doors.

Find a copy for sale

That’s my re­view of Outlaw Blues for Goodreads. I also awarded the book five (5) stars! Need­less to say, if you’re reading this re­view and you haven’t read this book, get thee hence to Amazon, find a copy for sale.

Then buy it

Then read it.

You can thank me later . . .


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