Sound Man by Glyn Johns (Blue Rider Press)


If you grew up listening to music before the digital age made packaging obsolete, you’ve probably seen the name Glyn Johns on the back of some of your favorite records. He’s recorded, mixed or produced just about all the big names in rock like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and The Eagles, to name a few from his 50 year career behind the boards. Based on his accomplishments and the characters he’s crossed paths with, Johns’ autobiography should be an indispensable treasure trove of great stories and anecdotes from rock’s most vital period. Instead I find it dull. Yes he was there, and yes, he played an important role in shaping the sound of classic rock; but his way of recounting events is so dry and emotionless that it’s hard to care. Johns wrote Sound Man – the title perhaps a play on his “normalcy” in a field dominated by insane characters – by himself, which was probably a mistake. It won’t take readers long to figure out he’s not a professional and that a co-writer could have added some crucial spice to an otherwise bland read. They also could have recommended a normal-sized font instead of the squint-inducing one we’re stuck with. Johns also errs by only focusing on his best known musical activities, condensing the last 35 years down to just 40 pages. True, his output from that time was weak compared to the albums he worked on in the ’60s and ’70s, but this is supposed to be a biography, not a ‘greatest hits’. It might have been interesting to hear what it was like for him, given his extraordinary resume, to work on albums by forgotten C-level bands like Summerhill, Jackopierce and The Warm Jets. Unfortunately he doesn’t let us in on that…or much else.

Advertisements