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White Bicycles

Making Music in the 1960s
By: Joe Boyd
Narrated by: Joe Boyd
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)

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Summary

Joe Boyd tells of his journey through Sixties music, from tour managing Muddy Waters and Coleman Hawkins, to plugging in Bob Dylan's electric guitar while working as production manager at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, to becoming a leading record producer. His first session was Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood's "Crossroads" followed by Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny and many more. He moved to Hollywood at the end of the decade where he produced the documentary "Jimi Hendrix" for Warner Brothers.

©2006 Joseph Walker Boyd (P)2013 Joseph Walker Boyd

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  • Colin
  • WATFORD, United Kingdom
  • 02-05-13

A Truly Excellent Book

This is easily one of the best audiobooks I’ve heard since joining Audible over 5 years ago, made all the more delightful a find as I’ll admit I bought this on impulse.

It deals with author Joe Boyd’s experiences working as club owner, gig promoter, road manager and record producer during the heady days of the 60s, and the many talented and potentially ill-fated people he met along the way. From the early pre-pop days of jazz quartets and endless one-night stands through The Beatles, Woodstock, Altamont and beyond the book never flags and manages to convey the sights, sounds and mood of probably the most important decade in pop music history. And it’s not all name-dropping and tales of expensive parties (although there is some of that of course). Whilst some of the acts Boyd deals with go on to worldwide fame and acclaim (Pink Floyd and Fairport Convention most notably) many more never quite achieved their potential as with The Incredible String Band or, worse, only found fame posthumously as with Nick Drake.

Joe Boyd also narrates his tale brilliantly, and is both engaging and entertaining so that you can feel his excitement at a pending opportunity, his anger when he is being lead a dance by record labels, and his sadness and regret at the many vulnerable souls (Syd Barrett, Sandy Denny, Jimi Hendrix, Nick Drake) who fell along the way. The final chapter is possibly the finest piece I’ve heard on the music business and how it, and life in general, has altered since the heydays of the 60s.

Joe Boyd disproves that oft-quoted saying, as he does remember the 60s, and he WAS there. Highly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A great book on music on the 60's

Well read by the author himself, detailing alot of the well known- and more on the not so well known- artists of the 60's. Not so much the clichéd recycling of a vision passed between people who weren't there, as often seen on film or TV, but a very real insight into the cultural explosion and the approach of recording albums, touring, setting up club nights and being young in the 1960s.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing journey poorly produced

Joe Boyd was at the very centre of some of the most pivotal moments of late 20th century music and the 60s/70s counter-culture. His was an almost what seems scripted journey through the jazz, folk, rock and pop cultures of the sixties and seventies. One of those personalities that seem to be affected by a strange sense of destiny.

He's an erudite, educated intelligent guy but most of all his insights into music and music production are fascinating to me. His, superbly analogue, ear was certainly super tuned in to music that had value, even if that value didn't always translate into the financial kind.

Joe, you got me to finally sit down and properly listen to Nick Drake. Your description of Drake gave him life and the extra dimension to lift him out of the "Q" magazine listen before you die type lists that I willfully ignore.

Joe has a very easy voice to listen to and you fully engage with his narration. My only real problem was the editing. It's crap. Chapters end abruptly, on one occasion in mid sentence and that's not really acceptable given how easy it is to produce an audio book.

All in all though Joe Boyd has produced an essential work of music history that anyone with an interest in music and music history should read before they due ;o)

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He remembers the 60s ... and he was there!

Wow. I knew Boyd's name quite well, as I'd seen it on countless records in my life. Also I have a subscription to MOJO. But I really didn't have a clue that he was involved in so much! You name a major movement in 50s or 60s American or British music, and there's a good chance Boyd had at least a connection to it. In the case of the Newport Folk Festivals, Island Records, the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, the UFO Club - more than just a connection. Much more. If you have any interest in 60s music, give this a listen, as it really is one of the very best books of its kind. And he provides a brilliant analytic summary in the final chapter, of why the brilliance of those times faded, and why modern life - theoretically liberated by increased incomes and leisure time - has led to a non-stop whirligig where little is valued unlike the idealistic 60s.

I've marked the performance down a bit. Boyd has a pleasant but slightly soporific voice, and I think someone like Johnny Depp (who read the first part of Keith Richards' "Life") might have been more lively. He also has the incredibly annoying habit of not leaving a brief pause between chapters - even 2 seconds would be enough. As it is, each new chapter is simply like a new sentence in the previous one.

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the most thoughtful memoir you could hope to hear

this book would make an excellent degree course in popular music and/or youth culture. essential reading!

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Possibly the best book on music I've ever read

Utterly fascinating book, both funny and moving in places.

Many books on music can be dry and opinionated, however Joe Boyd's reflection on this era through his own experiences and career are heartfelt and genuine without falling victim to glowing nostalgia, for this book also shares insight into the darker parts of the decade.

A must read for any musician, the conclusions drawn in closing chapter are worth the purchase alone.

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  • p
  • 17-09-16

An inside story of 60's music and counterculture

A thoughtful and interesting account of the music and culture of the 60's. Anyone interested in the music Boyd produced and was involved in will enjoy this very well produced and performed audio book. plenty of anecdotes for the general music fan. overall an enjoyable few hours.

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It gets better towards the end

This one drags a bit at the beginning. It just seems like a useless list of names being dropped on you and a couple of funny anecdotes which seem to amount to nothing, the author doesn't really tell us anything about himself so we don't really care; I was about to just drop the book completely, but I decided it to give a last go, and I'm glad I did because it gets more and more interesting as Boyd makes his way into the sixties.

The Newport Festival is narrated in a truly beautiful way, and you get the feeling that the stakes were really high, at least for those involved. And after that, the stories start to get interesting, you learn all about UFO and Syd Barret, scientology and the underground scene in England which is pretty cool.

We then get Nick Drake's sad story, which made all the useless namedropping of the first hours worthwhile. The Drake that Boyd describes is fragile and intense, and you get the vision of this shy long-fingered poet which completely concurs with the music that comes from the records.

So I'd say there is definitely some cool stuff in this audiobook, but it's by no means a light listen, specially the first chapters.

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This one wont dissapoint!

I recently wrote a review on another 60's/70's music producers biography; Dave Courtney's 'The Truth Behind the Music', which i gave 3 stars, after reading this I'm tempted to go back and reduce it to 1 star.
In short, this is how it's done.
As a music business practitioner and lecturer, I've read countless books on the music business and cultural critiques, OK maybe not countless, as I can actually count them on the bookshelf in front of me as I type this (there's 57 but even more on the bookshelves upstairs). This is one of the best I have read, granted if you like Nick Drake you might get a little more of thrill than those that don't, but there's plenty here for everyone, you name it Joe was there - Pink Floyd, Abba, Fairport Convention, Dylan et al. Not to mention a veritable whose who of Jazz and Blues legends.
Boyd had a unique experience jetting between the UK and USA rock music scenes as they formed out of the late 50's Jazz and folk scenes, literally in front of his eyes and often through his direct intervention. Boyd is like Forrest Gump on um... Acid (literally!), actually he makes Gump's adventures seem unremarkable and dull in comparison.
What lifts this from the usual, rock n roll, drugs fugue meanderings is Boyd's thoughtful and intelligent comparative analysis of the era in which he was active and his ability to bring it all back to life. There are plenty of rock historians who should be using this book to revise their ill informed perspectives of how various 60's music scenes started. Boyd actually takes the trouble to correct a couple of these ill informed perspectives.

I enjoyed Boyd's reading of his book and usually I cant stick American readers for too long.

It's a keeper, which I will come back to and listen to again. Buy it.

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  • Carl Howard
  • 09-07-19

Fascinating story, monotone reading

Anyone interested in the development of British Invasion music from its genesis in American Blues and R&B will find this book engrossing. But while it's always a treat to hear a book read in the author's own voice, Joe Boyd's is unfortunately lacking in inflection or emotion. This matters because emotion is exactly what continues to bind tens of thousands of fans to the music of those critical years. This is also the only audio title I have ever listened to which has not even a single second pause between chapters, which is a bit maddening - the listener is given no opportunity to absorb the conclusion of the story they've just heard.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Jan Christian Mollestad
  • Jan Christian Mollestad
  • 06-09-18

Cultural history by one who created it

Unique inside glimpses from the musical backstage of the blues & jazz legends - and from the intensely creative period 66-73 when all started anew. Winderful portraits of a lot of the girls & guys we have listened to all our lives by a great storyteller & analyst

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Bond James Bond
  • Bond James Bond
  • 01-09-16

see below

The author knew a lot of music people, worked with them and around others, but not closely with any that I'm a big fan of. I would have liked it better if he had been with bands I liked better. The story is well written. Narrator is kind of flat.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful