Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Manufacturing Sunshine

How did Mae West “influence a Motown hit? What theme song earned millions and millions for the writer? Who was the drummer on the hit song, “Dancin’ in the Streets”? Why learning Eartha Kitt’s personal history means you will never hear her music in the same way. Readers will find plenty of surprises and information in these pages.

“The Saturday Morning Song Chronicles: Memoirs, Motown, and Music” is more than a book. Paul Allen III has written a musical encyclopedia, with artist biographies, a primer on how the music business works and a video catalog all in one. It is full of fresh, funny, informative facts, opinions and video links; plus he shares personal knowledge that he acquired during his fifty years in the music business.

Allen provides a feast for music lovers of jazz, R&B, soul, Motown, pop, disco and more. This book is a treasure trove of stories about great artists such as Nancy Wilson, Otis Redding, James Brown, Luther Vandross, Hazel Scott, Peaches and Herb, Paul Anka, Berry Gordy, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Burt Bacharach and many others. He paints nuanced pictures of the artists as people with all their faults, foibles, kindnesses, personalities and histories.

He explains the business side of the music business as only an insider can. He corrects the pejorative, “One-Hit Wonders” by noting “to hit the Top 40 charts even once is to breathe rarified air. That one-time event can be life-changing, financially speaking.”

Allen offers insights into how music is made, musical statistics, how connections are formed, what makes a song or a singer great, what goes into producing a record, providing a road map leading you up to today’s music.

The chapters start with the stories, the insights, the lists of hits introducing the art and the artist. But Allen isn’t through. After offering musical information and personal backgrounds he cleverly provides the links to videos so you can experience the 'live' performance with the benefit of your newfound knowledge and insights.

Allen describes himself as, “…a happy guy…I have always manufactured my sunshine”. Lucky for us, he shares his sunshine and his vast musical and insider knowledge in this fascinating book.

*Originally published on Reedsy/Discovery