ON Friday I have a New York Times review of an interesting if imperfect new book called Fire and Rain, which looks at the year 1970 and the making of four hugely popular records -- The Beatles' Let it Be, CSNY's Deja Vu, James Taylor's Sweet Baby James and Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water.
If you love all these artists, by all means pick up David Browne's book. Otherwise -- as I get into in the review -- it's a mixed success.
Browne's key records sold like crazy at the time -- but even then there were people who considered them insubstantial. "I consider his soft sound a cop out," Ellen Willis wrote of Paul Simon in the New Yorker. "And I hate most of his lyrics; his alienation, like the word itself, is an old-fashioned, sentimental, West-Side-liberal bore." (My guess is that she was rocking out to CCR at the time.)
(This BBC video of James Taylor from 1970 is better than almost anything on his albums, by the way.)
More on all this later. What's your favorite record from 1970?
Media and book notes for a summer weekend
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