DOCS THAT ROCK, MUSIC THAT MATTERS
Otherworld Cottage (Paperback)
4 Stars out of 5
Harvey Kubernik is renowned and respected as a leading light in the world of music journalism, so it ought to come as little surprise that his latest tome, Docs That Rock, Music That Matters should offer such a rich reservoir of scholarly essays, interviews and observations. A belated follow-up of sorts to his earlier treatise, Hollywood Shack Job: Rock Music in Film and On Your Screen (yes, Kubernik seems to favor lengthy book titles), it finds the author spanning a broad swath of contemporary entertainment spawned from the intertwined world of music and film. It's an expansive work, owing primarily to Kubernik’s experience and expertise and the volumes of information shared by his subjects.
That does make this patchwork of prose appear somewhat overwhelming at times, not only due to the vast amount of material — some 45 years of articles, narratives, and other content, all culled from Kubernik’s archives, including several that have never been published previously — but also owing to the disparity of his subjects, which range from performers like the Doors, Otis Redding, Bob Marley, and Jimi Hendrix, to essential filmmakers such as Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Quentin Tarantino, Colin Hanks, and D.A. Pennebaker. Naturally, there’s a lot of ground covered in-between, and the fact that the chapters roll out in chronological order — theoretically at least — helps a great deal. Still, there’s so much history to absorb that at more than 500 pages over the course of approximately 40 chapters, it can prove intimidating, at least at first glance.
Then again, with a planned project cancelled at the last minute due to the crippling effects of the pandemic, Kubernik admits in his foreword that he was forced to come up with a change of plan, one that found him going back through his extensive archives and culling and compiling the content that would go into this alternate effort. The fact that he was forced to regroup and sequester simultaneously obviously gave him plenty of time to ponder the amount of work that could be packed in. Still, if Kubernik was a bit too ambitious, he could hardly be blamed. Given his 48 years as a music writer, the 18 crucially acclaimed journals he’s authored along the way, and a rich resume that includes his efforts as an editor, lecturer, producer, and major label talent rep, it’s clear that he had plenty of material to mine.
Then again, no one knows how long this pandemic will remain as pervasive as it is now. We may be in for a very long haul, and if that’s indeed the case, this book will be of benefit as far as passing the time and, in turn, absorbing the insights and education it provides all along the way.
— Lee Zimmerman