'Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll'
By: Michael Walker
(Hardcover / 304 pages / Faber & Faber / ISBN: 0571211496 / $25.00)
Description: Beginning in the mid-1960s, a string of successful rock bands emerged out of Laurel Canyon, a neighborhood of Los Angeles tucked away in the hills north of Sunset Boulevard. From the success of bands like the Byrds and the Mamas and the Papas, and singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Jimmy Webb, Walker proposes Laurel Canyon as rock's answer to Jazz Age Paris.
Verdict: 'Laurel Canyon' captures all the magic and lyricism of an almost mythological geographical spot in the history of pop music. The book lovingly relates the story of a more melodious time in rock and roll where the great talents of the 60s and 70s cloistered together in a sort of enchanted valley populated by an all-star cast of characters, including Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Mama Cass and Brian Wilson. Sure he pads aplenty about tangential issues hardly unique to Laurel Canyon, such as, besides cocaine, those somewhat forgotten but then integral figures on the pop music scene, groupies. Nevertheless, he is pretty comprehensive about a pivotal place and time in American rock. If not quite essential to the rock shelves, the book valuably accounts for how, with the rise of the Eagles and their bland, strictly commercial ilk, the term mellow lost its luster as a pop-music -descriptor. Michael Walker has written extensively about popular culture for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and other publications. He currently lives in Laurel Canyon.
Reviewed by Mike Stevens
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