This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones’s first gig, at the Marquee Club in London. Journalist Hanspeter Kuenzler and Bavarian e-book publishers The eBook People GmbH celebrate the occasion with a massive illustrated two-volume biographical anthology in English on the band. Counting the pages in an e-book is of course difficult. But suffice to say that the first volume, that Aard has received for review, extends to 694 pages on my smartphone, where I read it.
Kuenzler provides the year-by-year narrative backbone of the story and, in a nice touch, for each year lists important new albums. His style is effortless and attractive, and he does a good job of covering the musical, social, world-contextual and gossipy aspects of the story without losing track of where he’s going. It’s an anthology because Kuenzler has also dug up a plethora of contemporary press items on the Stones and certain important people in their circle, both descriptive articles and interviews. After reading what Kuenzler thinks about the Stones’ activities in 1965, for instance, we also learn what the Daily Express, the Daily Mirror and NME had to say about them at the time.
Oddly, this period coverage does not extend to reviews of Stones albums or concerts. We learn what journalists of the past thought about the Rolling Stones – but sadly not what they thought about their records. Instead Kuenzler diligently reviews the albums himself from a 21st century perspective. And in these reviews we encounter the book’s only important editorial weakness.
When read immediately after one of Kuenzler’s narrative chapters, the reviews turn out to be full of repetitions, including entire phrases, suggesting that he wrote the reviews first (for an unrelated project?), then the narrative chapters, and then he never returned to re-edit the album reviews. Copy editing and proof-reading are good, though. The book does suffer from a common e-book glitch, namely that there are occasional gratuitous page breaks when I read the .epub file on Aldiko for Android (a lovely piece of software).
All in all congratulations are due all around: to the Stones who have survived for so long and made their many fans so happy, to Hanspeter Kuenzler who has written a good book, and to my fellow music fans who have a good read and many musical discoveries ahead.
50 Years: The Rolling Stones. Views From The Inside, Views From The Outside. Part 1 is available in .mobi, .epub and .epub format and costs $15. Buy it here!