As musical scenes go, it would be hard to come up with a less dramatic one than that of the singer/songwriters who dominated Southern California from the mid-1960s through the mid-'70s. Nevertheless, British music journalist Hoskyns gamely tries to make the ""denim navel-gazers and cheesecloth millionaires of the Los Angeles canyons"" exciting in his no-nonsense account of those musicians' rise and fall. Jumping right in with little introduction, Hoskyns relays the particulars of the burgeoning scene that drew sensitive musicians west from Greenwich Village, limning the differences between those who lived in Topanga and Laurel Canyons and detailing the explosive shocks to their insular world (like the Monterey Pop festival and the Manson murders), all leading up to the cash-register mentality that formed the Eagles. The cast is robust-ranging from the intense Joni Mitchell and mercenary David Geffen to neo-beatnik Tom Waits-but not deeply examined. Hoskyns has a better ear for the music, letting his record-critic side take over with adjective-riddled prose. Still, Hoskyns's account shows how the ""back-porch folkies"" of the scene's early days eventually morphed into ""Lear-jet superstars.""
Reviewed on: 05/29/2006 Release date: 06/01/2006 Genre: Nonfiction