New York Times Sunday Book Review of Rocks Off

Anthony DeCurtis writes:

That historical context is an important aspect of the book’s great appeal. In the section on “Sway,” a lesser-known song on “Sticky Fingers” that is a favorite among Stones aficionados, Janovitz makes reference to the deaths of Brian Jones, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, as well as the drug problems of Keith Richards and Jagger’s then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull, all to demonstrate Jagger’s tough-minded conviction that “if you live that ‘demon life,’ you have to expect such outcomes.” The entry is both smart and feeling, and it deepens our comprehension of the song. Janovitz has a touching, and entirely uncritical, fondness for Richards’s rickety ballads, and he often finds a rough-hewed poetry when writing about them. Discussing Nicky Hopkins’s lovely piano part on “Coming Down Again,” for example, he describes how the “guitars hang and flutter around it like a tattered cape on a scarecrow skeleton.”

Finally, the measure of “Rocks Off” is not how unassailable Janovitz’s song choices are. They’re not. His 50 differ from mine and very likely will from yours. But he is consistently illuminating, not only defending his songs well, but inspiring you to think more strenuously about the selections you would add or delete. His tone is neither truculent nor condescending; he just wants to expand your appreciation of a band and music that he loves. The ability to inspire such thought and feeling is why so many people still care about the Stones — and the Beatles — even after 50 years and counting.

Read whole review here.

New York Times Book Review copy

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