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Home arrow Reviews arrow Books arrow "Golden Years" - Paul Coerten
"Golden Years" - Paul Coerten Print E-mail

Golden Years coverPublished by Apach Edition, Belgium, 2004.

Of all the books that vie for our attention, occasionally a true bit of eye candy arrives and deserves space on your bookshelves. The new book "Golden Years", published by Belgian company Apach Edition in June 2004, is one such book.

Forming the photographer Paul Coerten's tribute to the rock of the 1970s and 1980s - "the best of his archives", with 80% of the pictures never previously having been published, the book has been released to coincide with rock music's 50th anniversary.

There's more than 120 bands and major musicians included, and over 400 images.

And, with thanks to the publishers, we have a selection of pictures from the book, and one exclusive shot, to share with you.

The first impression of the book is of the very high quality - it is an expensive book, but you feel you are getting value for money from the materials used and the presentation of the book.

The book is heavy, with thick glossy pages thoughout, in black and white with gold detailing. Nicely typeset and presented, too.

Text in the book is brief but to the point. As Coerten remarks, "a short introduction to define the theme, a few brief captions, nothing more is needed. My main priority in this book was the image, chosen for its spontaneity and the essence of the moment it conveys".

Rather than be sorted by artist or era, Coerten instead chooses some rough headings or groupings to bunch together varieties of similar shots. Thankfully, an index is provided at the rear so that one can search for favourite artists.

Roger Waters, 1977The book starts with "Animals", a look at masters of the stage, crowd manipulators - and has great Stones, Genesis and the late Alex Harvey, shots.

From the outset it is clear that the use of black and white exclusively emphasizes the theatricality, or emotions, without light shows diluting the performances.

"Mad Dogs" looks at what Coerten calls "over-indulgence to insanity via shameless excess", illustrated by the likes of Iggy Pop in full flow, and Ian Anderson.

"Faces" give us portraits with a difference - in the heat of a performance. Some super shots of David Bowie, Marc Bolan and a very much out of place Boy George, in a conventional portrait. Lots of rock legends, in performance, and then... George?! Hmm... a very strange inclusion and will appeal to very few readers of the book.

"Keep Cool" is the realm of Neil Young and Donovan, contrasting sharply with the following chapter, "Rock & Roll Circus", the world of Kiss and Alice Cooper, via Tom Waits, and Alex Harvey's unforgettable guitarist Zal Cleminson.

The self-explanatory "Jump" includes the expected and unexpected shots - like Bryan Ferry (with Andy Newmark staring in amazement at the antics!). A nice sequence of The Who's Pete Townshend closes the chapter.

"So Many People" turns the camera the other way, and provides some great crowd shots - in particular an outdoor festival with the audience suffering the rain. An experience many of us have had over the years!

Next, a celebration of the guitar, which includes a great shot of David Gilmour on the 1977 Animals tour, lost in the moment. His calm contrasts with the likes of Ted Nugent and Angus Young, who share the chapter!

Nick Mason, 1977 Antwerp

An instrument not to be ignored, the drums are covered in "Just The Beat". Step forward a youthful Nick Mason and his peers, pictured in their own "offices". A good contrast is made between the elaborate kits of Nick and Phil Collins, and basic, small kits used by lesser artists.

"Open Your Eyes" provides the mother lode of Floyd pics in the book. It starts with the 1977 flavour quad mixing desk, poised ready for the performance to come. The flying pig is shown in silhouette; the "Shine On" open flower spreads its light and love on all present, in a stunning double page spread. The mood is shaken though, with Peter Gabriel and Genesis, with Peter as Big Apple, the creature from the depths!

Antwerp 1977 mixing desk

"Are You Glam?" focuses on the over-the-top figures from the early 70s, with Dave Hill from Slade illustrating the point perfectly. Some nice Led Zeppelin shots follow in the hard rock flavoured "So Hard, So Heavy".

The melting pot of ethnic music is illustrated in "Colours", with Bob Marley in the groove. "No Future" looks at the short-lived but explosive punk and new wave era, and "Do Not Disturb" concludes the book proper with a nice section of "backstage", off-duty shots at various outdoor venues.

David Gilmour 1977 Antwerp

Finally, an impressive double page spread of Motorhead's legendary "Bombers" lighting rig is shown.

A discography of the various artists sits at the back of the book - nicely done, and seems to be pretty accurate, but extremely strange in a book of photography! Still, it does provide a thumbnail shot of Roger Waters that cannot be found elsewhere in the book. However, the publishers have sent us, exclusively, the full shot and it can be seen earlier in this review.

All said, this is a nice selection of in-concert rock photography over the years. Production values are extremely high, although some of the included shots are a little strange - with one or two pictures that could easily have been forgotten about (for example, the Boy George one).

Shine On, 1977 Antwerp

The book is pricey, but it is the only place that you will find many of the shots - only a fifth of the pictures have been previously published. The value you get out of the book does depend on your knowledge of, and appreciation for, mainly seventies rock. The Pink Floyd photos in particular are a joy, and we have a selection of them here for you as a taster. Naturally, they are of higher quality in the book, and reproduced in a much larger size. A book to snap up, although fairly limited availability with few retailers stocking it. 

All photos are © Paul Coerten / Apach Edition and used strictly with permission. No unauthorised reproduction elsewhere!

ORDERING DETAILS: As at July 2008, the book is exclusively available online from You may find it on the shelves of the occasional bookshop in mainland Europe but it is pretty unlikely.

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