"[He] brings to this volume a true fan's love of music combined with a writer's smarts and skills. He seamlessly combines researched material with new interviews...Not only did Unterberger choose well musically, but he found the momentum and heart of each of their stories." -- David Greenberger (essayist on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered"), Pulse!
"These fascinating tales will make you want to rush out to the record store -- a hallmark of all great music writing." -- Jim DeRogatis (author of Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs), Chicago Sun-Times
"In each fascinating case study the author tracks down one or more former group members and/or principals in the story, which gives his work both authority and freshness...his overall handling of the material is exemplary. Urban Spacemen forms a compelling mosaic of the hopes and dreams -- not to mention sharp business practices -- of the decade." -- Mike Barnes (author of the biography Captain Beefheart ), The Wire
"A good read, admirably researched and rich in fascinating detail." -- Record Collector
Paul Kantner's foreword to Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock:
When I read some of my own words in the Fred Neil section of this book, a genuine tear came to my eyes, as I remembered back to my own musical childhood and just what a force Fred was for us 1950s middle-class kids. A sweetly nostalgic tear, for the child I was, and for the paths that Freddie set me on.
As with many of the musicians chronicled in this book, Freddie set me, personally, on a pathway that was to be forever changed and from which there could be no retreat. That was Freddie's value to me and, I imagine, the value of the other strange creatures revealed here: their paths to heaven, hell, and everything in between.
The path less traveled.
The people in this book had their own particular place "beyond the pale." From Shel Talmy with the Kinks, to Arthur Brown and the Pretty Things in Britain, to the Fugs, the Beau Brummels and Tim Buckley here in America, the eclectic, world-absorbing nature of these artists and the turbulent times around them reflected a world exploding with possibility and impossible dreams. But they were dreams that often came true beyond the original intentions of any of us. Achieving some degree of success, as some of us did, my own Jefferson Airplane and the like made the path more confusing— no less fascinating.
Freddie just led us to places that normal folksingers didn't go. His albums became as important to me as the Weavers' albums, who were also part of my prime influence. Between the two of them, it set me off on a really good path.
The path less traveled.
This is invariably true about all the artists here, in relation to the people they eventually influenced.
Freddie imprinted me with a vital, genuine reality that served me well— way the blues did for others of my kind. As Jorma absorbed Reverend Gary Davis, and Jagger and Richards absorbed Howlin' Wolf, I absorbed Fred Neil. He was a tangible connection to the world of unconventional emotion. He set me on a trail, not to be like him, or to copy him, but to try and establish something as real to my own experience as Freddie was to his.
urban spacemen and wayfaring strangers in this book contributed a
"something" that was priceless as well as precious—then, and now. Like
Freddie, these musicians always existed beyond a certain pale...beyond
beyond the pale, if you catch my drift. Their value is not necessarily
so much in their individual works,
as it is in their very existence.
against all odds
into the wind
"the path less traveled"
-- Paul Kantner
April , 2000
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