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Book Reviews
Hollywood Eden
By: Joel Selvin - House of Anansi Press, $25.20

Description: From the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean to the Byrds and the Mamas & the Papas, here in Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise, acclaimed music journalist Joel Selvin tells the story of a group of young artists and musicians who came together at the dawn of the 1960s to create the lasting myth of the California dream.

Verdict: Wow! Simply wow! In what is, for all intents and purposes, a detailed and storied look at an influential California music scene prior to the arrival of folk rock and psychedelic music, Joel Selvin has meticulously, and seamlessly threaded together months upon years of personal recounting and garnered colorful flashbacks within history of everything from surf music to sunny day pop, to the lush vibes of the Beach Boys through to the vocal pop folk of the Mamas & the Papas here in the thoroughly captivating Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise.

Lovingly managing to capture the early seeds sown that would eventually flower into becoming a new, young generation whose early 60s metamorphosis would fast become the welcome blanket for the whole concept of a California Paradise, what is undeniably true is that from the mid-60s to the early 70s some of the most melodic, atmospheric, and subtly political American popular music was written by residents of, or those associated with, Laurel Canyon.

Inclusive of names such as, but not restricted to, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn, J. D. Souther, Judee Sill, the Mamas and the Papas, Carole King, the Eagles, Richie Furay (in Buffalo Springfield and Poco), and such, the earlier models included such notables as Jan & Dean, Nancy Sinatra, and future members of the Beach Boys ― who came of age in Los Angeles at the dawn of a new golden era when anything seemed possible.

Inclusive of notes on those behind the artists and their recorded hits, such as Phil Spector, Herb Alpert, Lou Adler, an entire department at Columbia Records, and many, many more, Selvin manages to colorize those black and white images for us quite superbly with enticingly vibrant tales of glorious highs (reaching number one in the charts) and lows (band break ups and death) amongst the new In-Crowd.

Showcasing a generation that wholly created the magnificently colorful, and always sunny ideal of a modern California, with endless releases of joyous and uplifting music fit for all people, and with a high percentage of these dream makers having all gone to the same cluster of schools and universities at the time, from the Beach Boys California Girls to the Mamas & the Papas California Dreamin, their combined idyllic West Coast music craft was blossoming live for the entire world to see on a weekly basis.

A rock n roll opera loaded with violence, deceit, intrigue, low comedy, and high drama, Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise tells the story of a group of young artists and musicians who bumped heads, crashed cars, and ultimately flew too close to the sun - all whilst the music played on.

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