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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shadow Morton (1941-2013)

According to The New York Times obituary, Shadow Morton died--somewhat fittingly, given some of the songs he produced--on Valentine's Day.

This is what Paul Nelson had to say about Morton, who produced the New York Dolls' second LP, Too Much Too Soon, and the debut album by David Barretto:

"Shadow was a man who’d seen too many Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and James Dean movies. He was an excellent producer—he taught the Dolls a lot—and an absolute spellbinder with a personal life so secretive and mysterious that it only added to his aura."

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Monday, February 18, 2013

E Street Shuffle

You might not agree with some of my friend Clinton Heylin's reassessments of the first fifteen or so years of songs and LPs by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (I certainly didn't), but you have to give him his due when it comes to documenting Bruce's musical evolution up through the mid- to late Eighties: album by album, song by song, sometimes line by line. The amount of research that must have gone into E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band boggles the mind. The chapters dealing with The River and Nebraska and the mysterious gravity that kept pulling Bruce and his subject matter further into the dark are absolutely compelling. And throughout, Clinton respectfully references the writings of "the late, great Paul Nelson," to whom Springsteen owes so much of his early critical credibility and identity.

Caveat emptor: the US version of the book is missing 100 or so pages of song-by-song commentary, as well as a color photo section, that appears in the UK version. More importantly, last week it came to my attention that the website is offering the UK version with an exclusive limited edition bonus interview CD: a previously unreleased early interview with Springsteen by Paul Nelson. The interview, just shy of an hour, was conducted in December 1972, making it presumably Bruce's first interview with a national rock critic. The CD is being made available thanks to a deal struck by Clinton with Paul Nelson's son Mark. I've heard the interview and it's well worth adding to your collection.

The above photo of Elliott Murphy and Bruce Springsteen was taken in early 1973, shortly after Paul Nelson introduced the two men to one another. 

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Phil Ashworth

Last night I happened across illustrator Phil Ashworth's website (who am I kidding? I Googled myself), where he wrote:

I recently read Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson by Kevin Avery and instantly became enamored with Paul Nelson. His writing on the importance of certain musicians and pushing music criticism to an art form is inspirational. Growing up with Rolling Stone magazine and numerous other music mags, I'm used to seeing albums quickly reviewed, so it's pretty intense to read about the break with him and RS magazine when they moved to the way we're now used to seeing the music review section, compared to how he had worked on it, and believed the way it should be. In one way you could tell the magazine knew what it took to survive but you also felt that what Paul Nelson was fighting for was the more admirable route. Paul Nelson is basically a reminder that we should take time to appreciate and think about what we are experiencing.

Some tight and loose sketches of Paul.

Phil also posted some sketches of one of Paul's heroes, Chet Baker. Be sure to check them out.