"Money changes everything." - Cyndi Lauper
I've been a fan of the Rolling Stones for a long time. My appreciation for them peaked a few years back when I spent about 8 months building a collection of every US and UK release in the original mono versions. In the US that ends with Satanic Majesties, in the UK it ends with Let It Bleed, after which everything is in stereo only. There are some interesting differences; for example, the UK mono debut LP (on the Decca label) sounds unmixed. When you listen to it cranked up pretty high you have the impression of standing on the other side of the studio glass with the band recording a few yards away. The US mono pressing (on the London Label) sounds fantastic - like a great vinyl LP. The low end is much fuller, meatier; the record has balls to spare.
But I digress.
Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with The Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It) is a brand new memoir by Bill German. A 16 year-old kid in Brooklyn in 1978, German started the Stones fanzine Beggars Banquet from his bedroom, selling copies for a few cents at local record shops.
It was a matter of perfect timing. The Stones took up residence in New York in the early 1980s and German's network of fellow Stones fans would tip him to the clubs and parties where the band members were likely to show. Eventually German became friends with Keith Richards and Ron Wood, visiting their homes and hotel rooms and always following the one rule of Stones etiquette: Never be the last one to leave.
One review of German's book in The Washington Post takes it to task for spending all of its time on what may well be the least interesting period of the band's history. And, while that may be true, it is also the least documented period, and living it through the eyes of a "super fan" who still manages to maintain a small distance between himself and the object of his obsession makes for a thoroughly unique and enjoyable read.
There's precious little trash talk here, but if you're a fan of the Stones and are looking for some Summer reading this is a good choice.