American Troubadours

Mark Brend

This handsome trade paperback, from the publisher formerly known as Miller Freeman (Guitar Player magazine), is subtitled Groundbreaking Singer Songwriters of the 60s. Brend profiles nine men—David Ackles, David Blue, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, Phil Ochs, Pearls Before Swine’s Tom Rapp, Tim Rose and Tom Rush—whose common denominator is that they were trumpeted as “new Dylans” back when record companies were looking for such a thing. The layout is attractive and looks somewhat English, but the text penned by Brend (an Englishman himself) is dry; it’s informative, but it seems like it was sourced from old magazine and newspaper accounts—a better writer’s prose wouldn’t leave that aftertaste. And the chapter on Buckley only mentions his tragic singer-son Jeff as an infant. Still, this is a decent primer if you want to explore 1960s singer-songwriters, and a discography is provided.