Bernard Purdie/Jack Hoban
Pretty Media LLC
What a giant disappointment this was. Here I was looking forward to some great stories about one of the world’s very best drummers, instead I was bored silly with stories of him growing up a paperboy, his tall mother who birthed too many children to an underpaid and overworked father and then lip-service, just, to some of his key recordings.
His solo albums are barely discussed – in fact hardly any of his key drumming achievements are mentioned.
But what hurts the most is the writing – the style. In a hackneyed approach we are to believe this is autobiography yet the “editor” (ghost-writer/writer) makes no effort to create a voice for Purdie and writes, continually, about Purdie – using his name. It’s an awkward third-person battle where it becomes completely unbelievable as anything other than a thinly-researched bio, cobbled together over a few interviews perhaps.
Purdie’s playing is great – so huge, dynamic, exciting. And yet, through the pages of this book all we hear is that he spent a lot of time playing. There’s no insight, no feeling of magic, no eureka moment/s and his time spent with the likes of King Curtis and Aretha Franklin is trotted out over just a few pages.
We hear that Purdie is something of an anomaly for being so in demand as a session player/fixer across R’n’B and soul and that he can also play jazz – and has continued to. But that’s it. That’s about all we hear. The writer then circles around the point that Purdie is the best. Then he circles around it again. And then again.
You’ll learn nothing – you’ll feel infuriated by this. What should have been exciting, humorous and fascinating feels like a 300-page Wikipedia entry, a very poorly constructed and edited one with far too much in the way of repetition and no soul, no groove, no heart – all of the things Purdie’s playing possesses.
Head straight (back) to the records. Find out about them anywhere else.