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 were very lucky to arrange an interview with bassist Roger Glover to pick his brains for our upcoming book on Deep Purple’s Machine Head album recently (Fire In The Sky.) The band played a handful of British concerts during November, so me and Stephen Clare spoke to Roger at length at his hotel in Manchester (once we’d got past security – which was not for the group, but Manchester United, who use it as a staging post to collect players together prior to matches apparently!).
We did warn Roger that this was likely to be a fairly tightly focused chat, and for two hours he did his best to recall tiny details of the albums sessions for us under a John Humphrey style questioning. This has given us a lot of new information and will help add extra details to the narrative.
I took along a little digital voice recorder which seemed to work fine, but when I opened the audio files on my computer was horrified to see they were all dated 2009, and assumed the worst. Then I realised I didn’t have the recorder in 2009, and had just neglected to set the machine’s auto file dating option! The interview had come out OK, and while it won’t win any Sony Radio awards, is perfectly fine for what we need. We are working for a publication date in early 2018.
In the usual tradition of such meetings, I would post at least one photo of the interview, but were so wrapped up in it we neglected to take any, so I’ll add a shot of Roger during the show instead, courtesy of Vince Chong (the background is from the back projections used during the evening.) We did remember to get Roger to sign our copies of the previous Deep Purple book…
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
An early heads up on a work in progress, this visually fascinating collection of rare blues photographs taken in Manchester and area in the early sixties, capturing many visiting American Blues giants on stage and in more candid moments. Boom Boom Boom Boom is due later in 2014, and you can read more on the site.