Again our apologies for a rather quiet spell at Easy On The Eye Books, with yet more illness affecting senior staff. I guess the clue is in the word senior! As a result we’ve rejigged plans a little, and our next planned release now we’re running with the baton again will be the fabulous blues photograph book. This is not far from final proofing, but got held up again when photographer Brian Smith found yet more negatives while clearing out his garage a while ago. We have now scanned and cleaned this new batch of material and are sorting through, as some of the photographs deserve to go in the book. Brian had a few old prints of some of these but naturally we’ll be able to get much better reproduction from the negatives. Here is one of the new found frames (BEFORE being cleaned!), which was actually taken by one of Brian’s friends, and shows him with Bo Diddley backstage at (I think) the Twisted Wheel Club in Manchester. Bo is holding his trademark Gretsch ‘Jupiter Thunderbird’.
We have added a Flipbook preview of Boom Boom, The Blues Photographs of Brian Smith. This can be flicked through at :
It gives an idea of how the final book looks, although there may be text changes before this goes to press.
Here’s another great (albeit it pre-restoration) shot from the upcoming book of Brian Smith’s blue photographs: Big Mama Thornton, who he photographed backstage in Manchester on a Blues package tour in 1965. We’ve been able to scan this from the original negative. I assumed the others were lost but no; “I only took the one photo, film was expensive as a young lad!” You can read more about the book on the site, and the photo also appears on the book designer’s own site with a sideways look at the outfit!
Nice to see some of Brian Smith’s photographs used properly and with permission on a new Blues CD. The disc in question is a compilation put together by Wilko Johnson from the Chess label archives, and is designed to present his fans with the sort of material which inspired him as a young guitarist. Titled The First Time I Met The Blues, it is out now on Chess – SPECXX2114. Looking at the cover (below), I can see at least three of Brian’s photographs in there! If you’re not up to speed, the material is from our upcoming book “Boom Boom Boom Boom : The Photographs of Brian Smith. American Rhythm & Blues in England 1962-1966“. And there isn’t a time I type all that when I don’t wonder a] how we ended up with such a long title and b] how on earth I can fit it all on the spine…
Talking of “Boom Boom” I managed to screw up the newsletter subscription form for this title, so prior to the date of this posting, if you thought you had subscribed, the software did not capture your details. I have corrected this and retested it, so if you go the the main page about the book, and hit the new button, it will all function properly. That way we can keep you fully up to date on the project and any special editions, etc.
I am meeting up with Brian in a few days to sort out the last of the hi-res scans for the book and caption them up properly.
Vintage Rock magazine is one of those fascinating niche music monthlies which make choosing at Smiths so hard these days. They cover the 50s and 60s in detail, with plenty of emphasis on the UK scene back then and so when they heard about Brian Smith’s Blues photo book were keen to interview him and show some of his photographs. The magazine is out now, Issue 25 (April / June) and well worth a look, although it tends to be stocked only by the bigger magazine outlets (though you can buy it direct from the publishers.) Thanks to Rik and Jack at Vintage Rock for permission to reproduce a couple of pages from the article. The shot here is one of a series Brian took from the side of the stage during a Rolling Stones concert… what an experience!
The book of Brian Smith’s fabulous Sixties Blues photographs – Boom Boom Boom Boom – is pushing along nicely, albeit a little behind schedule! But we’re pleased to be able to show the first page visuals at last. Brian has also had some of his photographs selected for a really interesting new documentary on some of the Blues sidemen who perhaps never got the recognition of some of their peers. Titled Sidemen : The Long Road To Glory, you can see an exclusive trailer for the project at the producer’s official Vimeo site. Universal have also requested a dozen of his images for an upcoming Chess blues box set. If you haven’t yet checked the book out, you can read the full details on the site.
Happy to say the job of scanning Brian Smith’s negatives for the Boom Boom Blues photo book is at last complete. Brian has had most of his images scanned in the past but generally by high-street operators who didn’t really appreciate what they were doing. During work on the book, Brian collected together ALL his surviving negatives. We decided rather than just scan those earmarked for the book, we would do the LOT, and then they would be saved for posterity. The job was done in-house using a high-end Nikon negative scanner. Amazingly Nikon stopped making this expensive bit of kit a few years ago (apparently all the professionals who needed one had bought it, and sales stalled after that. We were lucky to get ours off a studio who had finished doing their own archives), and had stopped supporting the software for it even before that. For this reason the machine has to be hooked up to a vintage Macintosh which can still run this old software and is now being kept largely just for this task. Normally you pop in a strip of negatives, and leave it to work away. But Brian’s negatives were all done individually because of the poor light levels he had to work with back in the early Sixties which left some real underexposure problems on some. In a couple of cases really difficult negatives have been scanned twice at differing settings so we can combine elements. All this has taken a lot longer than anticipated and delayed the launch, but we can now crack on and finish the layout. And return the precious originals to Brian of course!
You can read more about the book, and sign up for newsletters, on the site. The really atmospheric photo above was taken by Brian of Willie Dixon during a show at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. The bit of kit on the left is the hulking great ABC TV camera. Copyright Brian Smith / Easy On The Eye Books