Sunday, February 9, 2014

FLASHBACK BOOK REVIEW: Genya Ravan "Lollipop Lounge"

BOOK REVIEW
Lollipop Lounge:
Memoirs of a Rock
and Roll Refugee 
- Genya Ravan -
Bootanah Music (2013 Kindle Edition)
Billboard Books (2004 First Print Edition)
_________________________

A decade after its 2004
release, I'm finally able
to review one of my all-
time favorite memoirs.
Yep, you can't keep
a good book down.
_________________________

I originally devoured Lollipop Lounge when it first was published a decade ago. And I was proud  of the review of the riveting tell-all that I submitted to the magazine for which I was writing at the time. But imagine my shock, confusion, disappointment and embarrassment when the editor pulled  my story at the last minute — especially given that I'd already contacted Ms. Ravan personally to apprise her of the upcoming article. Awkward! Many years flew by, and as I recently was digging through some boxes in my garage, I made a wonderful discovery. Buried beneath a dusty pile of vinyl LPs was my long-lost copy of Ravan's book. I immediately said to myself, "Wow, I really need to share this with my Internet audience." I hope that it's a case of, better late than never.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll confess that I wasn't familiar with rock and roll trailblazer Genya Ravan when I received an advance copy of her book in 2004. However, that soon changed, as I quickly was drawn into her fascinating life story. From personal and compelling accounts of escaping the Hitler-led Nazi Holocaust with her family during World War II in the early '40s to fronting Goldie & the Gingerbreads, the first all-girl rock band to sign with a major record label in the early '60s, Ravan hooked me, in short order.

Simply put, Lollipop Lounge delivers. Big on "story," it also serves as a mighty sex and drugs saga, as Ravan reveals the nitty gritty details of her private relationships with the likes of Lou ReedMick JaggerVan Morrison and Janis Joplin.

But despite the A-list of rockers with whom she's been connected over the years, what I found most rewarding about reading Ravan's story was discovering her incredible body of work. Through the book's 300+ pages, I not only was turned on to her late '60s jazz / rock fusion band, Ten Wheel Drive, but also her '70s solo records. And her 1978 album, Urban Desire, now ranks among my all-time favorites.


But wait, there's more! As a music producer, Ravan also chronicles behind-the-scenes studio dish of overseeing the 1977 record from the pioneering punk combo, Dead Boys, as well as Siren, the 1982 comeback album by Ronnie Spector. And apparently, Ms. Spector's ex-husband, legendary producer Phil Spector, was a lunatic even back then.

The funny thing is, I didn't have to revisit Lollipop Lounge in order to re-write this review. Ravan's story was so engaging that it's stayed with me for all these years. That's a pretty telling endorsement of a tremendous book, particularly since I can't even remember where I put my car keys!.

-Christopher Long
(February 2014)



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1 comment:

  1. Genya's Bio "Lollipop Lounge" sits next to BETTYE LaVETTE'S "A Woman Like Me" on my shelf..... Two amazing women, two AMAZING lives.

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