Back in 2006 Serpents Tail published Joe Boyd’s universally acclaimed  ‘White Bicyles’ . Its title was inspired by the Dutch Provos communal bicyles in 60s  Amsterdam and the 1967 underground hit by Tomorrow, and if a recall correctly Maximus Reinhardt reviewed it for Straight No Chaser.  Now, Joe Boyd is a most affable fellow and something of a don and despite Max’s massive big up, to my eternal, shame I’d only dipped in and out the book savouring the odd, most excellent story.

However, as I packed my bag for the epic journey to New Zealand I thought suddenly thought White Bicycles would make an excellent traveling companion. I was so-o-o-o right. Wonderfully written this book is a mind blowing journey through music making in the Sixties. What a life the man has led.  Joe Boyd rode the wave of a cultural revolution and loved every minute.

From tour managing iconic blues and jazz musicians to musicians to stage managing Dylan’s fiercely controversial amplified and electric gig at the Newport Folk Festival (what a story!) to recording the Pink Floyd’s first single, ‘Arnold Lane’ (a song about a knicker sniffer!) to running the legendary UFO – London’s first psychedelic all nighter from the Blarney Club in Tottenham Court Road. to his Witchseason imprint which was the launch pad the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and Nick Drake… it’s a tremendous journey.

Joe’s  book paralleled my own formative teenage years, growing up in the north of England, when I ordered blues LPs and singles like ‘Arnold Lane’ from the guy on the local market,  hassled my old man to let me stay up and watch an acoustic Bob Dylan and berated mates for idolising the Incredible String band but still bought the Fairport’s ‘Unhalfbricking’. Reading White Bicycles reaffirmed the energy and the elusive magic of  that time. If  you’d like a genuine taste of music making combined with Sixties counter culture this book is the lick.

About Paul Brad

Freelance journalist / Publisher / Editor - Straight No Chaser magazine / Editor - L FM : Broadcasting In A Pandemic - Gilles Peterson (Worldwide FM) / Publisher: From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid Jazz: A History Of The UK Jazz Dance Scene by Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove / Music Fan: Interplanetary Sounds: Ancient to Future / Cultural Event Consultant & Activist / Nei Jia practitioner
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  1. Jane Cornwell says:

    bit bored by White Bikes. Sorry Brad. Please give me some other suggestions. Loved your Cuban/Haitian authors.. You know the sort of thing..

  2. Hi Jane… No problemo … you were undoubtedly on it back in the day… did you check Zeitoun – David Eggers? Top read! The Dervish House – Ian Macdondald (nearfuture sci-fi set in Turkey)? Bought Sach a book called Twelve Minutes Of Love – A Tango Story by Kapka LKassabova – but she’s not read it yet! See ya… Paul Brad

    • Jane Cornwell says:

      ha! not that on it since i am far too young to remember.. plus it all feels a bit remote, with me still being in aus, and about two years old, or maybe still a twinkle… but yes, needed that Eggars reminder.. on it.. ask Sach to let me know re Tango Sotry.. onwards and keep up the great blog x

  3. Whoah… easy girl…” back in the day” meant 1996 when the book came out… jus’ thought you’d be bored with it all cos you know Joe ‘n’ all that… anyway, what’s new… lilke the Criolo? Jody passed that on to me … nice! Wanna hear Neneh Cherry with Death Jazz combo The Thing! Laterrrs, PB x

    • Jane Cornwell says:

      oh okay.. are the 90s back in the day? it really cant be that long ago. i interviewed him at his place. must be 2006?? check out ravi coltrane, loving the new stuff. been tipped re neneh, will check. latersss to you too, keep me informed re dalston doings.. x

      • 1996.. what am I like … its got to be the jet lag or encroaching senility brought on by memories of the Sixties… yesss… 2006 is when the book came out and right now even that feels like back in the day! Put the 21st June (solstice) in the diary… the premiere of our Sacred Music Sacred Spaces project which features a re-envisioning of A Love Supreme. The performance will be at the Chapel Kings College on the Strand. I’ll send you some info this week… you may want to write about it,,,, if you can get anyone interested! Bell me for a chat about it.
        PB x

  4. Jane Cornwell says:

    am at the Gnawa festival then, Brad – my annual sojourn.. sounds great though x

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