Clinton Heylin - Babylon Is Burning: From Punk to Grunge C/D

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As a researcher, he's the best (but not infallible) in a crowded field. There's no shortage of writing on Dylan's best years, but if you want to know, say, Street-Legal, the misbegotten 1978 tours or the '80s in microscopic detail, Heylin's definitely your man. NOBODY will bring the same level of scholarship as him.

However the guy's mental - he lashes out at his peers in all of his books, and it seems to have gotten exponentially worse. What was a minor oddity then a grating annoyance has become intolerably off-putting.

birdistheword, Friday, 11 June 2021 15:17 (one month ago) link

I agree about his thoroughness, what I hated about his Dylan books was his complete certainty that he knew what songs/takes/sessions Bob should have put out, and criticizing him for his weakness or cowardice for not issuing them at the time.

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 11 June 2021 15:21 (one month ago) link

I'm curious, but I just don't know that I have the patience for another round of Heylin disparaging everyone else's research. From what I've heard, this new one is apparently even worse on that count.

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Friday, 11 June 2021 16:02 (one month ago) link

Ha, the first few pages are full of that stuff. I couldn't stomach it.

AP Chemirocha (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 June 2021 16:55 (one month ago) link

By the Fairport book, do you mean the Sandy Denny bio?

AP Chemirocha (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 June 2021 16:55 (one month ago) link

I agree about his thoroughness, what I hated about his Dylan books was his complete certainty that he knew what songs/takes/sessions Bob should have put out, and criticizing him for his weakness or cowardice for not issuing them at the time.

That was certainly what I took away from his Bruce book; not just the criticism/certainty but also a nasty sense of contempt for the artist, like Bruce's failure to put this or that song on this or that record completely erased any credit he got for writing the songs in the first place.

Lily Dale, Friday, 11 June 2021 17:30 (one month ago) link

But I kept reading it because he'd dug up so many great quotes from Bruce interviews that I'd never seen anywhere else.

Lily Dale, Friday, 11 June 2021 17:33 (one month ago) link

Wonder if he was the first one to record Kinky Friedman saying “it’s a short step from the limo to the gutter.”

AP Chemirocha (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 June 2021 18:23 (one month ago) link

I actually agree with his criticisms when it comes to albums like Infidels (at least in terms of the worst songs and the three outtake that should've made it), Oh Mercy and his argument that the original all-NY version of Blood on the Tracks was even better. So many others have made similar arguments so his criticisms of those three LP's never seemed unusual. But he gets really presumptuous about why certain choices were made, and more often than not he makes his arguments with a lot of bile and arrogance. And he can greatly exaggerate the differences - like, an alternate take can seem better, but that doesn't necessarily mean every other one (including the chosen master) is a garbage track.

birdistheword, Friday, 11 June 2021 18:28 (one month ago) link

my first encounter with clinton heylin was his dylan recording sessions book, where he begins by explaining that his book is not dissimilar to mark lewisohn's book on the beatles except that he, heylin, is far superior to lewisohn and his subject is far superior to lewisohn's subject.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 11 June 2021 23:02 (one month ago) link

I like his Dylan book, dislike -- disliked at the time-- his contempt for women

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 12 June 2021 00:42 (one month ago) link


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