Though he looks like some messianic hippie transplant from a different era, Rick Rubin has navigated his way through the often dangerous waters of shifting musical styles. The book deals with Rubin's beginnings back in the 1980s, when he was running Def Jam Records with partner Russell Simmons (a college buddy from NYU).
He went on to discover hip hop acts like the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. Then there was the shift in the early 1990s from label chief to producer guru, when he signed and worked with everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Slayer to Johnny Cash.
Rubin was somehow able to get at the heart of the music he produced. "My production style involves being in tune with everything," he commented in the book. "You can't do it by listening to music. Pro-wrestling is really important. Movies. You know, everything. You have to make records the way you live your life."
Brown takes us inside the making of some of those very important records including
Cash, Californication. Echo (Tom Petty), Weezer, and
Death Magnetic (Metallica).
It's all here in the only biography available. The author has done an admirable job of assessing Rubin's career without muddying it up with too much sideline rah-rahing.