Monday, October 07, 2002

Wayne Wadhams' Inside The Hits: The Seduction of a Rock and Roll Generation is an interesting book about the production and studio magic that went into many rock classics and pop hits, but it ultimately proves that a person's reaction to a song is personal and unique. Chances are that any reader will find a few tracks to which their reaction is completely different than Wadhams' -- unlike him, I certainly wouldn't consider Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" to be "a dark, creepy record from the get-go," for example. But then, he says Paul Young's "Every Time You Go Away" has "the power to bring me close to tears on every listening," where to me it was just a tolerable-but-bland pop song. To each his own.

A bigger problem comes from the contradicting "facts" given -- for example, the list of signature elements for the Pointer Sisters' "Automatic" ends with "Ruth's incredible studio-altered vocal," but on the next page it says "it's hard to believe, but she actually did the vocal straight, with no processing." Well, which is it? The Beatles section particularly got on my nerves (since I've read a stack of Beatles bios at least a yard high). On three or four occasions, he refers to the song "I'm Only Sleeping" as "I'm Only Dreaming," and in discussing the 1965 song "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" says that John Lennon's "mother had recently died." (Recently being, in real life, 1958.) Sloppy fact-checking at best, and there are enough of these mistakes to ruin the book's credibility for me at least, despite the truly interesting view into the recording studios of so many songs.