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Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues

By Joel Selvin

Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues

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Started reading:
18 July 2014
Finished reading:
26 July 2014

Review

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once declared: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” No better illustration of this statement exists than this stunning — and stunningly detailed — biography of a man who lived fast through slow songs, set against the lawless, but never loveless, background of the record industry. If Bert Berns had had, instead of dozens of song credits, only one — co-writing (with Phil Medley) “Twist and Shout,” a song which mutated from vague mambo to soul boilerplate to Lennonesque primal scream — he’d be worth remembering. But Berns’ story is so vivid, and so much a part of that cruel and shallow money trench, that the extra effort Joel Selvin expends to bring you all of the background, however unrelated it may seem to be, turns out to be more than justified as the big picture opens up and all the connections are revealed. If you ever loved a record from before the British Invasion, or from just afterward, you’ll want to read Here Comes the Night.