Review: ‘Vinyl Dialogues II’ a great read for music fans

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Mike Morsch pens another love note to the soundtrack of his life with ‘Vinyl Dialogues II’

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Did you know that George Harrison played on a Hall & Oates record?
Or that Barry McGuire did something besides “Eve of Destruction?”
Or that the members of The Cars didn’t care for the cover art of their classic first album?
“The Vinyl Dialogues Volume II: Dropping the Needle … on More Albums of the 1970s” by author and former Montgomery Media editor Mike Morsch could’ve been a textbook in the classroom of Jack Black’s character Dewey Finn in the movie “School of Rock” … that is, had Finn believed in using a textbook to teach.
Vinyl was still the primary personal music listening format at that time, and “Dropping the Needle,” the sequel to Morsch’s 2014 book “The Vinyl Dialogues: Stories Behind Memorable Albums of the 1970s as Told by the Artists,” captures what a super wild mixed bag of music genres the ‘70s was.
“Dropping the Needle,” illustrated by a close-up of a Victrola-era needle on the cover, takes you inside some other important recordings of the decade — such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Nuthin’ Fancy,” Blondie’s “Parallel Lines” and “Point of Know Return” by Kansas — by interviewing the talent involved in making them. There’s Don Felder of The Eagles dishing on what those messages scrawled in the end-of-side grooves on “One of These Nights” meant. There’s the story behind the stuttered vocal on the Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Morsch even sneaks in a slice of the ‘80s with singer Mike Reno looking back at the late 1979 recording sessions for the first Loverboy album.

The cover of "Vinyl Dialogues II." File photo

The cover of “Vinyl Dialogues II.”
File photo

LPs that you may have only heard a song or two from (Gallery and The DeFranco Family, anyone?), or even ones you don’t know at all, now sound like you need to hear them simply because of the stories that Morsch coaxes from his interview subjects, cuss words and all. There’s Lou Christie yearning to shed his teen idol image with “Paint America Love.” There’s the artistic frustration of Maureen McGovern, a folk singer at heart that kept getting pigeon-holed with the slickly produced pop of “The Morning After.” There’s the embarrassing shock Sheila Ferguson of The Three Degrees got when her mother opened up the group’s debut record to discover a centerfold image of Ferguson’s trio wearing nothing but sheer see-through outfits. There’s Mark Hudson of The Hudson Brothers, who were so well-liked for their TV antics that people forgot they also made music. And one can’t help but wonder, after hearing from Greg Errico and Jerry Martini of Sly & The Family Stone, how much more successful Sly Stone could’ve been had he not been so drug addled.
The photos are an interesting combination of recent concert images shot by the author and spectacular archival photos by Phil McAuliffe. It’s a shame that, with the exception of Ricci Martin’s photo that graced the cover of The Beach Boys’ 1970 long-player “Sunflower,” we don’t get to see any of the cover art of the other albums. You have to go to www.vinyldialogues.com for that, but they’re postage-stamp-size there.
The chapter-ending pages with their respective song track order and length times are a nice touch. And although they direct you to the Discographies link at the Vinyl Dialogues site to hear song samples via iTunes or allmusic.com, it’s probably easier to get more of what you’re after by directly seeking these albums out on Spotify.
Could a third volume in store? Hopefully yes.

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