[Reviewer's note: I want to mention from the outset that I have a distant relationship with this book. As a music journalist, I wrote a book on Jeff Beck back in 1977. Additionally, I have written dozens of features on the guitarist. I have been cited many times in various reference/history books regarding my Beck stories. So, please keep that in mind as you read the review. (S.R.)]
Dave Thompson's book on Jeff Beck, the most profoundly gifted guitarist to ever place pick against strings, skims the surface of the Englishman's earliest history. The author has connected some genealogical dots and provided a bit of framework against which we might place some of the key players of the day.
But there's really a dearth of any sort of truly revealing insights to the artist's makeup. Mostly, it's a retelling of tales already told. Like any competent journalist, you gather research, carefully cite your sources, and then interpret the facts in your own literary voice. A Thompson stock-in-trade, however, is to gather in information - mainly in the form of quotes - and then to pass himself off as the person to whom these words were initially spoken. That is, he takes credit for quotes that were told to other authors.
In this book, he has purloined several quotes that I generated in interviews I personally conducted with Jeff Beck. There is also at least one quote from Ron Wood that he takes credit for.
This is not meant as a personal criticism. But Thompson needs to be called on this unbelievably unprofessional conduct.
At the end of the book, he has a Further Reading/Bibliography page. He mentions several books worth reading. The last paragraph includes the line, "Back issues of the following magazines and periodicals were similarly invaluable." He goes on list magazines from which he culled information. What he doesn't mention are the various publications that included my quotes, periodicals like
Guitar Player, Record Review, and others.
This is not the first time the author has been redressed for these types of literary robberies. In an earlier book he wrote on Cream, he used another one of my quotes from Frank Zappa and pretended it was his own.
Other authors have called him to task for the same thing.
Beyond all this, the book is poorly written. The style is anemic and sentence structure amateurish.
But, as was mentioned at the outset, the author has managed to assemble some of the pieces of the puzzle. You do have a better sense of what these creative days were like and what transpired.