A memoir detailing the 1966 founding of Sire Records and the author’s journey through six decades in the music industry discovering talent like the Talking Heads, the Ramones, Madonna, and many others.
Siren Song functions simultaneously as a memoir and a canny history of the music business from the frontier days to rock’s triumph as Big Business and its corporate subjugation to Big Brother. There are no surprises as to when Mr. Stein felt more at home ('when music came before business'), but there are heroes and villains throughout ... The worst thing about Siren Song—except that everyone from Manchester to Newcastle will be annoyed to learn that Sheffield is 'about as far north as you get before England becomes Scotland'—may be the title’s pun. Mr. Stein always had a weakness for them, though.
On a New York City night in late summer, 1976, three former art students were playing at a club called Max’s Kansas City. Observing them from a ringside table were a couple who looked a little older than most of the club’s clientele, and a lot less cool. But there they sat, front and centre, staring at the stage with encouraging smiles ... Anyone who had worked in a record company’s A&R department would have recognised the couple’s behaviour as an impressive example of the art of seduction – and, as it transpired, a highly successful one for Seymour Stein and his wife, Linda, the singalong pair ... That’s a story from personal observation, not from Stein’s new autobiography, in which he makes no claim to have foreseen such enormous success, as he and Linda tracked Talking Heads from club to club in an effort to persuade three young musicians sceptical of the established record industry that this Brooklyn hustler and his noisy wife could be trusted to help them get their music to a wider public. But he knew that something was happening. That was what he did. It was his gift, his vocation.
...Stein, the entrepreneur who is generally credited as being the man who launched the punk/new wave movement (on his own label, Sire Records), recounts his life story in this entertainingly written, conversational book. This is a fun book, full of behind-the-music-scenes stories and personal anecdotes that capture the rockin’ spirit of the 1970s, ’80s, and beyond.