In Classic Albums, prolific author and pop culture obsessive Alan J Whiticker comprehensively delves into the history behind a dozen albums that were part of the sound track of his youth, uncovering obscure factoids that will spin the perception of your favourite works or inspire you to discover for the first time what all the hype was about.
In 1968, a year after the summer of love, a ten-year-old Alan J Whiticker was introduced to the transformative rock and roll of the era when he happened upon his older brother’s vinyl collection.
Classic Albums is an immersive reflection upon the twelve albums that left the most indelible mark upon the author in the five years following his initial musical awakening.
From the outset, Whiticker clearly states that Classic Albums is a personal memoir, a love letter to the music that shaped his youth; it is not a definitive and objective Top 12 albums list.
Whitaker is a Beatles man, not a Stones man and, as such, he devotes a third of his list to works by members of the Fab Four. Monoliths of the era, like Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan are simply given honourable mentions.
While Classic Albums is coloured by Whiticker’s subjective tastes, it is also meticulously researched. He leaves no stage of the recording process untouched, chronicling the history of each artist prior to and following the release of the album, the inspirations behind each composition and how they were recorded; he even devotes a significant portion of each chapter to the minutiae behind the detail and design of each album’s artwork, which does occasionally get tiresome.
This is, though, a book inspired by Whiticker’s passion to understand precisely why the songs and sounds of his youth inspired and moved him so. Once Whiticker conveys the answers that he has found, you will never quite listen to songs like John Lennon’s Imagine or Don McLean’s American Pie quite the same way ever again.
Classic Albums, with its surprising revelations and intricate analysis, miraculously makes the old seem new again.
Reviewed by James Murphy
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: New Holland Publishers
Released: October 2018
RRP: $29.99 paperback