I Was There: Gigs That Changed the World

Mark Paytress, Author
Mark Paytress, Author Cassell Illustrated $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-84403-342-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-84403-512-0
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7537-2457-6
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According to Paytress, this book ""lifts the lid on a century's worth of classic performances... included here for their historical significance,"" But Paytress' ""journey"" begins in July, 1938, with the death of bluesman Robert Johnson, and ""gig"" means either one concert, an extended stay at a venue (Frank Sinatra's weeks at The Sands, 1966; The Beatles' stint at the Cavern Club, 1961-3), or a tour (Lollapalooza, 1992). The book lacks analysis of why most of the events are ""historically significant,"" and many intriguing photos need explanations. Paytress' adolescent vision gleams in his description of the WOMAD Festival (July 1982), where he writes of ""Echo and the Bunnymen's Ian McCullough bringing some monochrome, post-punk normality"" to the event. The British Paytress' bias is toward UK gigs, perhaps explaining his choice of Bob Dylan's May 1966 show in Manchester over his famous electric debut in Newport nearly a year earlier. (And gear geeks will quickly notice that Dylan is pictured playing a Telecaster, not the Stratocaster Paytress describes.) The book is primarily an excuse for assembling hundreds of pictures, dozens of anecdotes and some of Paytress' questionable assertions of cause and effect, such as ""the deaths of Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison at the turn of the '60s had prompted a mass flight into fanciful glam rock and progressive virtuosity."" Colorful and beautifully printed, the volume puts style before substance, but, then again, the same can be said about most rock bands.
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