By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Released: June 28, 2021
New Haven Publishing Ltd
Available to purchase on Amazon USA
Canada’s best known rock critic Jeffrey Morgan has a secret. Not everything he’s written or published in the past can be retrieved. He’s been in the business of covering the music scene since 1964, and he has a style that many people, musicians included, like. He’s made a name for himself and has a way of getting his interviewees to open up. It’s funny to think his first career goal was to write for comics (more on this later).
Rock Critic Confidential is a salacious tell-all lands as a hardcover coffee-table book and reading it is a wonderful trip through memory lane—especially when those big names were just getting their start. The distinguishing feature in the book is how readers get to learn something they may not have known. Was it hearsay or from someone in the know? Within this book are his “interrogations” with Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Meatloaf, Nash The Slash and many more.
We also read about how Stan Lee shot him down (Morgan wanted to write and draw comics). The balance between text and image is fairly even, and my only query is why did he not include an interview with Suzi Quatro? Yes, I’m a fan of this classic rock n roller, and to just have an image of her in this book is not enough. There’s very little online information about her career outside of her appearance in Happy Days and what she’s done post. All I’ve found is that she has a loyal following in Europe and her career didn’t gain any new ground since her television appearance.
Sometimes a book can’t offer all the details needed. I’m the type who likes additional notes or captions to accompany the images. This publication has a lot of terrific information which ranges from how to deal with interviews for new journalists to learn from and in what makes that concert photograph stand out. His dialogue is to the point.
In this book, we read about Morgan’s meeting with the founding members of KISS. Gene Simmons is very truly that comic book nerd when he lets his guard down. We all know about his business ventures in this world, but to see that passion is rarely perfectly articulated. Morgan’s sort of interview with him and Paul Stanley at Victory Theatre, better known as a strip club in Toronto, back in 74, makes for a different read than recent ones published in a magazine.
We also hear from Freddie Mercury asking why Morgan gives him the short shrift. Is it because of his teeth? A lot of fans are aware of how this singer attributes his ability to his displaced teeth, but to read about him candidly asking that to this writer speaks volumes. This author explains why he does what he does but also ironically dodges giving a proper reason about his writing style himself.
But to know this man means reading his autobiography, which makes up part of this book. One detail I greatly appreciated is the index featuring a list of the musicians he’s photographed on stage. I’m sure he has more unpublished images and half written pieces in his filing cabinet. All I can hope for is volume two to answer my lingering question if he also interviewed modern talents like Lady GaGa or has an opinion on J-pop.
4 Stars out of 5