Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Follow The Music" by Jac Holzman

Follow the Music: The Life and High Times of Elektra Records in the Great Years of American Pop CultureFollow the Music: The Life and High Times of Elektra Records in the Great Years of American Pop Culture by Jac Holzman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jac Holzman, the founder and guiding light of Elektra Records started a good thing. It's a fascinating book on many levels. I m a huge fan of record labels that have a strong identity - and Elektra was such a company. Right now I am not even sure if there is an Elektra any more. Nevertheless its a fascinating history that started in the Village NYC to LaCienga Blvd in Los Angeles.

Holzman had taste and a good nose for business. There wasn't anything eccentric about him (therefore not on the Joe Meek genius level for instance) but he was a product and personality of the times. In the 50's he was a border-line beatnik folk lovin' capitalist. In the 60's he believed in the artist (that's consistent with him) but also into alternative life style things, like communes, etc. But he never lost the eye to have something unique on his label.

He big time with the Doors and for sure took part in Punk Rock before that even really started with The Stooges and the Nuggets series. He listened to good people and he was always looking forward and not backwards. And at least in this book, most say good things about him. And I have to point out that this book is put together by Holzman, but is basically an oral history of the label. The only one who comes off as an asshole is David Geffen towards the end of the book.

One of the good things about reading this book is that it made me curious to hear some of the folk recordings he put out in the late 50's and early 60's. For a record label heard he put out really weird music of his time. Incredible String Band, David Peel, Stooges (at the time), and various odd and strange folk/rock songwriters as well as Bread! It's a classic music business book and a rock n' roll book as well. Highly recommended.

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