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Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers [Revised & Expanded Ebook Edition]: Overlooked Innovators & Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock

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"Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators & Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock" documents twenty cult rockers from the 1960s. The book features extremely detailed investigation of the careers of greats like the Pretty Things, Arthur Brown, Richard & Mimi Faria, and Tim Buckley. Also featured are the Bonzo Dog Band, the Electric Prunes, Bobby Fuller, the "Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators & Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock" documents twenty cult rockers from the 1960s. The book features extremely detailed investigation of the careers of greats like the Pretty Things, Arthur Brown, Richard & Mimi Faria, and Tim Buckley. Also featured are the Bonzo Dog Band, the Electric Prunes, Bobby Fuller, the Fugs, Kaleidoscope, Fred Neil, the Beau Brummels, Thee Midniters, Dino Valenti, Mike Brown of the Left Banke, and others, including producers Shel Talmy (the Who, the Kinks, Pentangle) and Giorgio Gomelsky (the Yardbirds, Julie Driscoll, the Soft Machine). In all cases, the extensive chapters include first-hand interview material with the artists themselves and/or their close associates. Lost British Invaders, psychedelic pioneers, rock funnymen, blue-eyed soulsters, overlooked folk-rockers, behind-the-scenes producers -- all find a home as part of "Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers," with a foreword by Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane.The ebook version of Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers is significantly expanded, revised, and updated from the print version, adding 20,000 words of new material. The text is accompanied by illustrations and reviews of the most essential recordings by each artist. From reviews of Urban Spacemen: "[He] brings to this volume a true fan's love of music combined with a writer's smarts and skills. He seamlessly combines researched material with new interviews...Not only did Unterberger choose well musically, but he found the momentum and heart of each of their stories." -- David Greenberger (essayist on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered"), Pulse! "These fascinating tales will make you want to rush out to the record store -- a hallmark of all great music writing." -- Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times "In each fascinating case study the author tracks down one or more former group members and/or principals in the story, which gives his work both authority and freshness...his overall handling of the material is exemplary. "Urban Spacemen" forms a compelling mosaic of the hopes and dreams -- not to mention sharp business practices -- of the decade." -- Mike Barnes (author of the biography "Captain Beefheart"), The Wire


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"Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators & Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock" documents twenty cult rockers from the 1960s. The book features extremely detailed investigation of the careers of greats like the Pretty Things, Arthur Brown, Richard & Mimi Faria, and Tim Buckley. Also featured are the Bonzo Dog Band, the Electric Prunes, Bobby Fuller, the "Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators & Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock" documents twenty cult rockers from the 1960s. The book features extremely detailed investigation of the careers of greats like the Pretty Things, Arthur Brown, Richard & Mimi Faria, and Tim Buckley. Also featured are the Bonzo Dog Band, the Electric Prunes, Bobby Fuller, the Fugs, Kaleidoscope, Fred Neil, the Beau Brummels, Thee Midniters, Dino Valenti, Mike Brown of the Left Banke, and others, including producers Shel Talmy (the Who, the Kinks, Pentangle) and Giorgio Gomelsky (the Yardbirds, Julie Driscoll, the Soft Machine). In all cases, the extensive chapters include first-hand interview material with the artists themselves and/or their close associates. Lost British Invaders, psychedelic pioneers, rock funnymen, blue-eyed soulsters, overlooked folk-rockers, behind-the-scenes producers -- all find a home as part of "Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers," with a foreword by Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane.The ebook version of Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers is significantly expanded, revised, and updated from the print version, adding 20,000 words of new material. The text is accompanied by illustrations and reviews of the most essential recordings by each artist. From reviews of Urban Spacemen: "[He] brings to this volume a true fan's love of music combined with a writer's smarts and skills. He seamlessly combines researched material with new interviews...Not only did Unterberger choose well musically, but he found the momentum and heart of each of their stories." -- David Greenberger (essayist on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered"), Pulse! "These fascinating tales will make you want to rush out to the record store -- a hallmark of all great music writing." -- Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times "In each fascinating case study the author tracks down one or more former group members and/or principals in the story, which gives his work both authority and freshness...his overall handling of the material is exemplary. "Urban Spacemen" forms a compelling mosaic of the hopes and dreams -- not to mention sharp business practices -- of the decade." -- Mike Barnes (author of the biography "Captain Beefheart"), The Wire

30 review for Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers [Revised & Expanded Ebook Edition]: Overlooked Innovators & Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    When my Goodreads friend David put Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of 60s Rock by Richie Unterberger onto his to-read list, the title alone was enough to sway me into adding it too. I'll admit, though, that I was misled to begin with—at first I thought this book would be about the many musicians who have also been inventors, like the late Eddie Van Halen with his celebrated patent for a wearable guitar rest. Instead, Urban Spacemen is someth When my Goodreads friend David put Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of 60s Rock by Richie Unterberger onto his to-read list, the title alone was enough to sway me into adding it too. I'll admit, though, that I was misled to begin with—at first I thought this book would be about the many musicians who have also been inventors, like the late Eddie Van Halen with his celebrated patent for a wearable guitar rest. Instead, Urban Spacemen is something else entirely: a deep and intensely personal dive into a few relatively obscure musical careers from that most-scrutinized decade of rock-and-roll, The Sixties™. Such attempts to universalize individual taste are doomed from the start, of course—de gustibus non disputandum is a cliché for a reason—but they can still be entertaining. And, since I have my own all-time favorite Sixties obscurity to obsess about—The Family Tree's one LP, a musical biography entitled "Miss Butters"—I really dig that. Although The Family Tree doesn't appear in Urban Spacemen, I know Unterberger's aware of the band, from his liner notes for a couple of Bob Segarini's later bands (including Roxy and The Wackers). Unterberger does devote quite a bit of space in Urban Spacemen to another of my own favorite 60s obscurities, though: The Fugs. I was first introduced to The Fugs through a reference in Lillian Roxon's amazing Rock Encyclopedia, which I read back in 1985. Unterberger cites Roxon at least twice as well, on pages 113 and 232. Actually, Unterberger's interests seem to parallel mine in lots of ways—he's just one year older than I, so he and I were both unable to experience The 60s™ while they were happening, a bit of bad timing which led to an abiding fascination later on. * Unterberger's focus here is rather narrow, I must admit. The photos tell the story: almost all of his "urban spacemen" really are men, and they're almost all white men at that. There's exactly one woman pictured, and you could be forgiven for thinking her name is "and Mimi" (Mimi Fariña, that is, who is almost always mentioned in the same breath with her husband Richard). Urban Spacemen begins with a 10-page Introduction justifying the project, which seems redundant—you either understand his interest, or you probably aren't interested yourself. The book is also, without a doubt, repetitive and verbose, with awkward prose throughout—like, for just one example, the phrase "highway-to-doom-tempoed" (on p.72)—but these are sins of enthusiasm, after all, and they are ones I know intimately as well. What always shines through Unterberger's prose is that he is a man deeply in love with his subject—and, by and large, Unterberger's self-indulgent obsession delivers on its promise. Eventually. Plus, the book includes a companion CD, something I didn't even notice until I actually had the book in my hands. It's short, to be sure—only 17 minutes long, containing six songs selected from the many referenced in Unterberger's essays—but provides a nice audio addition to the text. * I didn't think Portland Oregon's music scene was quite as well-known in the 1960s as it has become later on, so I was pleased and a little surprised to see a reference to a local landmark in my adoptive hometown, the Crystal Ballroom (although Unterberger calls this venue the "Crystal Dog," which I had to find out elsewhere was its nickname when Chet Helms' Family Dog was presenting shows there in 1968): "The place had been a roller-skating rink. It was on the second floor, and it had a couple-feet thick ball bearings in the floor. Don't ask me why. They were going to repossess {the organ}. David had a succession of managers that he picked, were just fabulously bad. This particular batch had really soaked us, so I decided I'd throw it off the stage and destroy it, 'cause it was like an eight-, nine-foot stage. I tossed it, it hit the floor, and it bounced, I don't know, eight feet in the air. It was a Hammond M-3. It went down, across the floor, and people scattered like this fucking train was coming through. It must have got about twenty, thirty feet out onto the floor, and it didn't destroy the fucking thing! So I did it again the next night, and when it hit the floor, it separated in two halves, and they flipped off in different directions. It was very spectacular." —Chester Crill of Kaleidoscope, pp.87-88Those ball-bearings, by the way, make the ballroom floor springier, "like dancing on air." The Crystal Ballroom was restored in 2014 and is a popular dance venue again—or at least it was, before 2020 and a global pandemic. I think Unterberger would understand the wistfulness I felt while writing this. His essays often lament what might have been, if only, had the world not been as it was. In that way, Urban Spacemen also put me in mind of Lewis Shiner's fabulous novel Glimpses, in which an audio engineer gets to hear some of those roads not taken. * Despite its nostalgic focus and often elegaic tone, Urban Spacemen reminded me that the Sixties themselves were forward-looking, a decade of turmoil but also, for many who were young then, a decade of hope. Tuli Kupferberg of The Fugs died in 2010... but if anything his message, as Unterberger relays it, seems even more urgent today:We haven't retreated from 1968. Almost everything we believed in is correct. We're biding our time, and still keeping in shape. The world is going to hell in a computer; we need radical changes. The problem is no one knows quite what to do, since the old theories of Marxism and anarchism are rather inadequate. So we need a lot of new ideas and ways of putting them into reality. And everybody who is reading this better get to work. That's my message. —Tuli Kupferberg, p.107

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cooper Renner

    Ten to fifteen page essays on nineteen somewhat underappreciated 60s artists. Arthur Brown, the Electric Prunes, Tim Buckley, etc.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Slim OysterHiatus

    This took me a long time to get through because I kept having to put the book down to go listen to the various artists and songs, comparing versions, finding incredible connections to things I knew and discovering things unknown to me, and generally getting lost in Wikipedia digs. A very informative volume that introduced to me to so much and I'm thankful that it will get me out of my music funk. I'm off to find a copy of Unterberger's "Unknown Legends.." This took me a long time to get through because I kept having to put the book down to go listen to the various artists and songs, comparing versions, finding incredible connections to things I knew and discovering things unknown to me, and generally getting lost in Wikipedia digs. A very informative volume that introduced to me to so much and I'm thankful that it will get me out of my music funk. I'm off to find a copy of Unterberger's "Unknown Legends.."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Reichenbaugh

    Sort of Unknown Legends Part II, again for fans of psych, garage and obscure folk. CD included.

  5. 5 out of 5

    ROBERT PASCALE

    absorbing and inspiring. not for everyone, other than the few of us that can't get enough of deciphering the process. absorbing and inspiring. not for everyone, other than the few of us that can't get enough of deciphering the process.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Terrell

  7. 5 out of 5

    Martin

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Bumiller

  9. 4 out of 5

    Terrell

  10. 5 out of 5

    ryan d wart

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mariann Watt

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liz Zimmer

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rca0013

  15. 4 out of 5

    Fred Burwell

  16. 5 out of 5

    Henry

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Patricia Stewart

  18. 4 out of 5

    Greg Lindstrom

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erik

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  21. 5 out of 5

    Luke Anthony

  22. 4 out of 5

    Seth

  23. 4 out of 5

    Frode Skjold

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tony Paglia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick Schneider

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sandor

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert Rabinowitz

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe Ehrbar

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather

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