Category Archives: Music

Deconstructing Sammy: Music, Money, and Madness by Matt Birkbeck

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Deconstructing SammyQuite a book if you are or are not a music fan but especially if you are a Sammy Davis fan. No, the book doesn’t show the best side of Sammy but if you loved him for his music and his fantastic style you can put aside the other part of the picture that the book paints.

First off he was black at a time when blacks were not accepted very well. Yet when he was a child he performed on stage in the Will Mastin Trio (Mastin was his uncle and Sammy Sr. and Jr performed with him). At age seven he played the starring role in Rufus Jones for President with Ethel Waters. He served in the army in WWII and really began his big time show business career shortly after. He had a terrible automobile accident in 1954 and lost his left eye which was replaced by an artificial one.

Most of this is somewhat glossed over in the book as Birkdeck primarily looks at what happened in Sammy’s life from a financial side and seems to paint the dark side of everything. No doubt that much of what is written is true as he explains about Sammy’s marital and sex life.

How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond by John Powell

How Music Works by John PowellReviewed by Teri Davis

Not everyone in the world has been trained to be a musician. Most people realize that musicians hear and respond to life differently. Their connection with the music makes them see the world through eyes that hear and feel from the soul. How can other people gain that connection?

How Music Works explains to the average person what techniques musicians use. It teaches us what to listen for in others to make music a special experience and a form of communication.

To begin, Powell explains music in scientific terms from the mathematics, physics, engineering, and history and the affect on musical compositions. Terms such as rhythm, timbre, pitch, frequency, harmony, and decibel are thoroughly discussed in
humorous everyday terms. He also spends considerable time on the actual instruments themselves and the how and why they are individually and collaboratively used.

Corn Flakes with John Lennon & Other Tales from a Rock ‘N’ Roll Life by Robert Hilburn

cornReviewed by Joanne Reynolds

Robert Hilburn grew up with an absolute passion for music. He took that passion to fruition in becoming a rock reviewer for newspapers & magazines. In so becoming such a reviewer, he has had the chance to meet a lot of his “idols” i the music business. This book is full of stories about those encounters.

The only thing that I thought was a little too much to take about the book was: He obviously has good foresight about who is going to be big. He obviously has his favorites and those that he doesn’t consider to be all that great. I personally think that people have to make their own choices about who they believe to be good and want to listen to. There are obvious “Gods” when it comes to music, but I think that there probably could have been more individuals included in this writing.

A review copy of this book was supplied to the reviewer by the publisher.