Many of you will be aware of "The Black Strat: A History Of David Gilmour's Black Fender Stratocaster", the superb book written by Phil Taylor, David's long-term guitar technician, studio manager, production director and much more [earlier review here]. It takes a careful and detailed look at one of rock's most iconic instruments, very ably written by the only man to know Pink Floyd's equipment better than the band. Rather than a dry, technical manual, suited only to those who already know guitars inside and out, it is a rewarding and accessible book that Pink Floyd fans the world over will thoroughly enjoy, packed with truly rare pictures that you won't have seen before.
Now expanded to 208 pages, a fully revised third edition has recently been published (September 15th in North America and October 1st in the UK and Europe). It contains plenty of new information as well as many more unpublished photographs, recently come to light, that further chart the Black Strat's illustrious history. Amending and elaborating on the previous edition, it also continues the story where the last one left off with David's recent live appearances, information, and photographs.
We are naturally aware that a number of you will already have the first or second edition, so we have taken a good look at the book with a particular emphasis on how this edition differs from those earlier ones, as we're sure some of you will be wondering if it is worth supplementing your Floydian bookshelves with this new edition...
The focus of this review therefore will be how it differs from the second edition (itself with an additional 36 pages over the first edition). If you have neither, check out our original review for a more general overview.
First, this edition has another 48 pages, bringing the difference between the first and this new third edition to 84 extra pages. The cover features a different shot from Storm Thorgerson's photo session in Arizona, including the Black Strat itself larger in the picture, and more prominent. The cover has also reverted to softback.
Phil has also enlisted the services of Gerald Scarfe, who has done the lettering on the cover - fitting in quite nicely with the general focus at the moment on all things Wall!
Some initial picture rearrangement leads to the first chapter, and immediately one is struck by some improvement to the existing pictures, being lighter in tone with better clarity. This might be in part to the better paper stock used, which has helped the printing.
The first main additions are some new shots from Japan 1971, alongside some revised and expanded text. This is followed by a whole new section with some newly discovered pictures from Randwick Racecourse, Sydney, Australia 1971, and a new look at Meddle, from the same year.
The Dark Side Of The Moon section which follows is also expanded, and leads to a wonderful spread of freshly unearthed pictures from the Obscured By Clouds/Chateau d'Herouville sessions in early 1972. Superb stuff, and we sincerely hope some of the other pictures that no doubt exist from these sessions get published or seen in some way soon.
As the book progresses to the mid-1970s, Gerald Scarfe's great caricature of the band in action for the Winter Tour 1974 programme gets a nice double-page spread.
The Wall concerts see a handful of nice new shots that Phil discovered recently - including one showing David's assorted equipment waiting by the side of the stage, poised for action.
Fast forward to 1984, and About Face, which saw the Black Strat being put to one side in favour of a cream, and a red, Strat, which was used regularly through to Live Aid, and to the 1986 Deep End project. From there, David turned to a pair of Steinberger guitars (one black, one white) which featured on the Armenia single and the Momentary Lapse sessions, and technical details are given of each. There's also brief coverage of a pale blue Eric Clapton Strat that David tried, but didn't really find to his taste.
As the book explains, it wasn't until 2003, and the DSOTM Classic Albums documentary, that David played the Black Strat again, and a series of improvements and modifications were then undertaken.
In a final sideways look at other Strats, the book includes a new section looking at the 1954 Strat, serial number 0001, which was used in 2004 for the Strat Pack concert and a Teenage Cancer Trust show. Rarely used, incredibly valuable, and shown in detail in the book now.
The lead in to the section covering On An Island - expanded, with some nice new pictures - includes a quick look at Astoria, David's houseboat studio, which looks a fascinating place and great to see a bit more of where some of the best music of recent years has been recorded.
The final section of the book brings the story up to date with illustrated coverage of the January 2007 Barn Jams (amongst the last recordings made with Richard Wright), the DVD premiere of Remember That Night, the Oh By The Way boxset, the BBC documentary "The Story of the Guitar", and a poignant piece on David's tribute to Richard Wright, on Jools Holland's show in September 2008. There's also coverage of the Crisis show with Amadou and Miriam, and the Jeff Beck concert in July last year, where David delighted the crowd with his surprise appearance, covering Jerusalem and Hi Ho Silver Lining.
There's also good coverage of David's appearance in the June 2008 Atom Heart Mother performance staged by Ron Geesin, and his guesting in Phil Manzanera's show at the legendary Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. This is in the quite fascinating section looking at the Fender replica editions of the Black Strat. David used the final prototype in these shows - what better way to test them "in anger"?!
Finally, bringing things right up to current activity, there's a page looking at David's contribution to Bryan Ferry's new album, Olympia.
Throughout the book, there have been little tweaks to the text, to make little corrections as fresh information has appeared, and to elaborate on things. For those who haven't got the book in any edition it really is a simple conclusion: you will love this book. For those who have the first or second editions, we're pretty sure there's going to be enough new material in here to convince you to make the "upgrade". With the wealth of pictures and information from one of the few people who has been there since the early days, you'd be hard pressed to find a more authoritative tome on the subject of David, his guitars, and appearances. You DON'T need to know anything about guitars to thoroughly enjoy this book, which is equally a celebration of the music and the band through the years.
You can order the book now through Amazon UK, Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany and Amazon France. Purchasing things after entering
Amazon through our links really helps with site running costs, and we really appreciate it!