Wesley Britton's Blog

November 19, 2022

April 17, 2022

Review: COVER STORIES: Tales of rock legends and the albums that made them famous by Robert L. Heimall

COVER STORIES: Tales of rock legends and the albums that made them famous
Robert L. Heimall
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (June 13, 2019)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1096400448
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1096400448


As former Electra Records president Jac Holzman reminds us in his introduction to Robert L. Heimall’s Cover Stories, the cover art for those 7” musical artifacts were often the most important and sometimes only marketing tool a given album would get to capture the eye and then hopefully ear of the record buying public. While the musicians, producers, engineers etc. invested their time in creating what would appear in those old grooves, the equally creative visual artists like Robert L. Heimall were hard at work finding just the right cover art to visually represent something of the flavor of the music to us, the buying public.

Not surprisingly, Heimall’s fast-paced memoir is a long series of anecdotes telling us just how many album covers came to be. That means behind-the-scenes stories of his working relationships with the likes of The Doors, Carly Simon, David Peel, Paul Butterfield, Patti Smith, The Kinks and lesser known names like the highly influential Mickey Newbury and Lonnie Mack. Did you know Mack not only played bass throughout the Doors’ Morrison Hotel but also the bluesy guitar on “Roadhouse Blues”?

Especially revelatory to me were stories of bands I never heard of like Wild Things, Gulliver and Bamboo. The chapter on Barry Manilow was entertaining where we learn New Zealand shopping mall execs learned playing Barry Manilow music discouraged the presence of rowdy teenagers. A Colorado judge learned sentencing loud noise offenders to an hour of loud Manilow albums greatly reduced the number of repeat offenders.

Along the way, we learn much about the artistic decision making process of album designers, a lot about Heimall’s private life, like the protracted disillusion of his marriage to his bosses’ daughter, and his increasing religiosity.

Judging from some reviews at Amazon, there are readers who will be turned off by the growing evangelism in the latter chapters. Perhaps some readers might be miffed by the amount of repetition. Did I mention he married the bosses’ daughter? He points that out so often there’s no way you’ll ever forget that fact.

Of course, one dimension of the book not typical of most rock memoirs are the record covers being discussed, front, back, gatefold. So if you’re a fan with a nostalgic love for the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s and have a fondness for the packaging the old vinyl was protected in, Cover Art might just fit a slot on your rock and roll bookshelf.

This review first appeared at Bookpleasures.com on Sun. April 17, 2020:

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March 22, 2022

Announcing-The Remember When Podcasts March review

This month, we’re ecstatic to announce the launch of Wes Britton’s Remember When Podcasts offering reprises of his classic interviews with musicians, actors, and all manner of entertainment insiders first broadcast on “Dave White Presents” over online radio’s KSAV.org. Here’s a review of all the Podcasts posted so far:

”Remember When” debuted with a fantastic opener-Wes’s 2010 interview with former Bond, George Lazenby! Listeners will hear stories they haven’t heard before and will be delighted with George’s anecdotes about his early years, Bond, and his time with Bruce Li.


Episode 2 of “Remember When” featured the one and only Bernie Kopell! You’ll learn a lot about his work in Get Smart, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, and of course The Love Boat. Enjoy!


Most of us recall ccharacgter actor larry Storch because of his role as flustered Corporal Randolph Agarn in the ‘60s TV series, F-Troop. Get Smart fans remember him as the “Groovy Guru” in that comedy hit. Just about all of us have heard his voice in cartoons ranging from Tennessee Tuxedo to Batman.
You can learn all about these roles and what Larry has to say about impressionist actors in a reprise of his Nov. 9, 2010 interview with Remember When’s Wes Britton at:


If you know anything about the history of Patty Duke, you know her real name was Anna Marie Duke and her stage name was forced on her by abusive caretakers when she was a child. So she was billed as Patty Duke when she starred in The Miracle Worker and was, of course, the namesake of The Patty Duke Show when she played those two identical cousins.
But listeners to Wes Britton’s Sept. 13, 2011 interview with Anna will learn there’s much more to Anna’s story than two famous acting roles, to put it mildly. Here's the link to that interview including material that wasn’t broadcast the first time around-


Remembering Ben E. King:
Birth name Benjamin Earl Nelson
Born September 28, 1938
Died April 30, 2015 (aged 76)
It’s impossible for anyone to have never heard the voice and compositions of Ben E. King. During his time with the Drifters, he sang and co-wrote songs like There Goes My Baby and sang on hits like Save the Last Dance for Me, and I Count the Tears. As a solo artist, he gave us hits like Spanish Harlem and Stand by Me.
As listeners to Wes Britton’s Nov. 23, 2011 interview with Ben learned, the master of early soulful r&b classics kept on working until the end. Now, new listeners can hear one of the last in-depth conversations with Mr. King and be transported back to the days of tuneful melodies, polished harmonies, and emotional lyrics that resonate today.


Going Back to Happy Days with Donnie Most!

Yes, Wes Britton got to interview Ralph Malph on Dec. 31, 2014. Now is the perfect time to reprise that conversation as much of the interview focuses on Don’s musical career. As it happens, a new CD of “Donnie Most Sings and Swings” is in the works and we’ll play you some samples of Don’s big band stylings to whet your appetite.
And yes, Don has Happy Days anecdotes to share as we Remember When . . .


“Keep playing that rock and roll/ keep doing what you’ve been told . . .”

Texas has given the world a signature sound blending southern blues with good ole rock and roll- think Janis Joplin, Roy Orbison, ZZ Top, Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny and Edgar Winter, to name but a few of the Lone Star states rocking luminaries.

Back on Aug. 1, 2012, Edgar sat down with Wes Britton and talked about his inspirations, his brother, the blues and his various groups he’s headed over the years.


“Yada, yada.” “Spongeworthy.” Peter Mehlman was the Seinfeld writer who coined those catch-phrases.

During most of 1989-1998, comic writer Peter Mehlman was a major contributor to Seinfeld, first as a script-writer, ultimately becoming the series Executive Producer. So the man knows a lot about TV comedy.
So you should expect a lot of laughs in the interview Peter shared with Wes Britton first broadcast just in time for Peter to tout his then new book, Mandela Was Late: Essays and Odd Things from the Seinfeld Writer Who Coined Yada,yada, and Made Spongeworthy a Compliment (2013). Expect some generous samples from that treasury of oddball comedy.


In an interview with Wes Britton, Dee Wallace remembers playing Mother Mary Taylor in Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestial, being a “Scream Queen” in films like The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, and Critters.
But Dee Wallace has lots more to talk about than screen roles, especially her career as a healer. What does that mean? Check out the latest Remember When Podcast and we promise one of the warmest, uplifting, and inspiring conversations you’ll ever hear-


“We’re an American Band.” “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home).” “The Loco-Motion.”

While never loved by contemporary critics, it’s been said you can’t talk about ‘70s rock without talking about Grand Funk Railroad.
Well, on the next Remember When Podcast, Grand Funk drummer, singer, and songwriter Don Brewer does just that. Don tells Wes Britton tales of the highs, lows, lawsuits, and especially the stories behind the band’s biggest hits. And why the critics never warmed to the Michigan trio.


Coming attractions:

In honor of Women’s History Month, Remember When Podcasts are offering a series of interviews with notable women who’re each much more than pretty faces.
First up: Tippi Hedron is best known for her two starring roles in Alfred Hitchcock films, The Birds (1963) and with Sean Connery in Marni (1964). Among her 80 roles in television and in film, Hedron was the only actress to ever work for both Hitchcok and Charlie Chaplin in his final film, The Countess from Hong Kong (1967). Her honors include a Golden Globe, a Jules Verne Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Hedron is also noted for her long commitment to the plight of African lions and tigers and established her Roar Foundation to support her Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre wildlife habitat. She has created relief programs worldwide following earthquakes, hurricanes, famine and war. In 2012, she was the subject of a biographical film about her time with Hitchcock, The Girl, in which Hedron was portrayed by actress Sienna Miller. Did we mention she’s Melanie Griffith’s mom?
So who could be a better choice to lead off our notable women series as we reprise her 2012 interview with Wes Britton in which we touched on everything mentioned in this description (yes, lots of Hitchcock and big cats) and much more:

Then we’re featuring Jeri Jewell, an actress who broke barriers in Hollywood, bringing cerebral palsy to the small screen.

here's the anchor link where you will find all the interviews and links to listen to them on various platforms.

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March 7, 2022

New Podcast launches with James Bond interview

“Remember When”-Wes Britton’s brand new Podcast launched today with a fantastic opener-Wes’s 2010 interview with former Bond, George Lazenby! I’m certain listeners will hear stories they haven’t heard before and will be delighted with George’s anecdotes about his early years, Bond, and his time with Bruce Li.


This series will be reprises of classic interviews Wes conducted for online radio’s “Dave White Presents” from 2008 to 2014.

Tomorrow: spy spoofing and the Love Boat with Bernie Kopell!
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Published on March 07, 2022 12:21 Tags: george-lazenby, james-bond-007, on-her-majesty

March 3, 2022

Review of Behind Alien Lines by Wesley Britton

Review of Behind Alien Lines at Amazon.UK:

AL is book 8 of a series and quite complex for a collection of novellas/shorts. There are a lot of POVs and names to contend with, but this does provide for a more realistic wartime (I felt as if I were reading a band of brothers-esque world mashed with spies and sci-fi) and Mr Britton gives us an ‘important characters’ list at the start.

The overall multiverse concept is interesting and allows for many themes and questions on the validity of war. These stories all have a strong sense of what war does to soldiers, those subjugated by war and the people whose lands are torn apart. There are no outlandish heroes, just people finding hope amongst their own courage and the courage of their peers.

. . . Where the stories excel are in the exposition found in Mr Britton’s prose. The world-building is outstanding. Yes, there’s the obligatory info dump here and there, but the majority is excellent. He gives only what you need to realise this universe for the moments you are reading. I could happily sit with him or any of his characters over a round of pravine.

--Leighton Dean

Learn more about the Kindle edition of Behind Alien Lines at:


In three exciting new adventures from the Beta-Earth multi-verse, you can now go where no spy has gone before!

In "The Wayward Missiles," you'll meet three sexy members of the "Scrubs" resistance network including Jolcolm Renbourn, son of "The Blind Alien" from Alpha-Earth. You'll also meet his love interest, the willowy Hiqqa Rimudas and her saucy half-sister, Shai. You'll never expect what inventive ways they create, and what strange creatures they use, to defeat a powerful invading army!

In "The Alien Who Never Was," the tough-as-nails Shai Rimudas takes you into the heart of enemy intelligence and fights her way to a surprising climax you'll never see coming!

Finally, in "Under an Alien Moon," the three saboteurs travel down three parallel paths full of twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages of this new addition to the Beta-Earth Chronicles! it's all here--heroism, romance, intrigue, suspense, hard-edged combat, and all delivered in three of the most original sci-fi, spy stories you'll ever experience!
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Published on March 03, 2022 01:38 Tags: beta-earth-chronicles, espionage, science-fiction, war

February 17, 2022

RIP: Peter Ernest

Peter Ernest, the founding Executive Director for the International Spy Museum, passed away on Feb. 13 at the age of 88.

From the Museum’s website:

“Peter’s career as a public servant spanned 36 years with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including over 20 years in the Clandestine Service. In his final posting with the Agency, he served as principal spokesman, developing and implementing a strategy of greater openness with the media and the public to promote better understanding of the CIA’s vital role in protecting national security.
After his retirement from government, it was a natural transition to lead the Spy Museum where he continued to shed light on the shadow world of intelligence increasing public understanding of its crucial impact on world events.”


Here’s a very detailed Obit for Peter from the Washington Post:


I first met Peter when I conducted a program touting my Spy Television at the International Spy Museum on Feb. 2, 2004. I’ll always remember his warm and engaging introduction of me that night.

Over the next two years, we shared a number of phone conversations as he gave me pointers on my next book, Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film. I’ll never forget his generosity when he called one day and he graciously agreed to talk to my young grandson who got excited to talk to an actual spy. I’ve never seen Joey so ecstatic as following that conversation.

The next time I saw Peter was again at the ISM on Feb. 23, 2006. That evening was a milestone in my life as we screened The Impossible Spy for the audience, a film about Israeli spy Eli Cohen. Amanda Ohlkey, director of adult education at the ISM, even invited the film’s producer, Harvey Chertov to join me on stage, an evening that spun off in so many ways for me.

The next time we interacted was on Oct. 22, 2014 when I interviewed him for an online radio show I co-hosted at the time. He was plugging his book, Harry Potter and the Art of Spying, which he co-wrote with Lynn M. Boughey. This year, I plan to convert that audio conversation into text and make it available for all spy buffs to read-stay tuned.
Till then, here’s the review I wrote on the Harry Potter book:

Harry Potter and the Art of Spying
Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com, October 13, 2014

Authors: Lynn M. Boughey and Peter Earnest
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing (September 15, 2014)
ISBN-10: 194001414X
ISBN-13: 978-1940014142

When we read the Harry Potter books and enjoyed the films, most of us thought about wizards and wands and the powers of magical spells. But did you imagine you were also enjoying spy adventures with characters delving into the murky worlds of espionage? Did you think "Severus Snape was perhaps the best spy ever portrayed in literature"?

That's the thesis of spy novelist Lynn Boughey and 36-year CIA veteran and Executive Director of the International Spy Museum, Peter Earnest. They believe the Harry Potter series demonstrated many attributes of actual spycraft as they show in their Harry Potter and the Art of Spying. In particular, they use harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as a textbook study of the many aspects of espionage that J. K. Rowling wove into her books.

According to Earnest, it was Boughey who spotted parallels between Order of the Phoenix and covert actions like secret codes, secret organizations, and adversary surveillance. It was Boughey who mapped out the analysis of how these tropes can be seen in the fifth Potter novel, and brought in Earnest aboard to provide real-world examples of how such actions can be found in espionage history. As a result, publicity for The Art of Spying is spot on when it describes the book as a "primer" in spycraft as readers can see how scenes from every chapter of Order of the Phoenix have something to do with spying from recruiting double-agents, uncovering moles, to using politics and diplomacy to achieve objectives. In fact, the book serves very much as a textbook in the many arenas of espionage using Harry Potter as a touchstone to lead into discussions into actual cases and practices of spies.

Without question, readers must be familiar with the Potter books for the study to be enjoyable. The first half, the part focusing on Order of the Phoenix, requires a detailed understanding of that particular novel. Part two is a more general overview of the Potter series and is, in many ways, a more readable section. Throughout, the authors provide numerous definitions of spy terminology including a good glossary. They add sidebars which include stories from Ernest's own CIA experiences. Into the mix, the pair also point out literary parallels between Rowlings and Shakespeare.

Harry Potter and The Art of Spying is obviously an opportunity for Boughey and Earnest to interest younger readers in the world of espionage by using Potter's popularity to showcase what the real covert world involves. It's not light reading but is appropriate for a YA audience. If you want a good Spycraft 101 course in one volume, here you go.

This review first appeared at:

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Published on February 17, 2022 07:33 Tags: cia, cold-war, espionage, harry-potter, international-spy-museum

February 16, 2022

Wes Britton talks espionage and the law on new Podcast interview!

On Tuesday Feb. 14, Wes Britton was a guest on Arash Hashemi’s “Hashing the Law Podcast” where
Wes talked a bit about historical espionage in the 20th century, his four spy books, espionage law and other items of hopeful interest to spy aficionados.
Here are some of the links where you can see and hear the conversation:
• YouTube: https://youtu.be/jGaeSF5Msts
• Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast...
• Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1muG...
• Anchor: https://anchor.fm/HashemiLaw/episodes...
The podcast is also available on Audible, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, and many other platforms.
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Published on February 16, 2022 10:04 Tags: espionage, espionage-act-of-1917, law, patriot-act

February 6, 2022

The return of spywisesecretdossier.com-

If you were reading books back in 1965 like I was, you might remember a little red paperback called Double O Seven, James Bond, A Report by O.F. Snelling. It was the only such title personally authorized by Ian Fleming. Part of the book’s initial success was that its publication roughly coincided with the death of Fleming in August 1964 and included footnotes discussing the recently issued Bond novel, You Only Live Twice. Focused on the literary 007 with passing mentions of the first Sean Connery films, Snelling examined the predecessors to Bond, his adversaries, and especially the women in the novels. Knowing novelist Kingsley Amis was also working on a similar study (published as The James Bond Dossier in 1965), Snelling rushed out his book to compete with Amis, and the two titles have been frequently compared ever since as the earliest serious studies of the James Bond phenomena. Snelling’s title sold over a million copies, appeared in French, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, and Israeli editions and translations, and it came out in the United States in 1965 under the imprint of the New American Library, Ian Fleming's own publishers.
Readers of the original paperback experienced Oswald Frederick Snelling’s literary critique of the Bond novels in five sections.
First, Snelling examined “His Predecessors”, “those upper-crust fictional heroes who performed feats of sexless derring-do long before the advent of the permissive society: leftover puppets from the age of chivalry.”
“His Image” was a section which analyzed “James Bond personally in the minutest detail, from the black comma of hair which falls across his brow to the casual shoes he wears on his feet.”
“His Women,” as the reviewers noticed, “is the longest part. Then comes ‘His Adversaries.’: Finally, ‘His Future.’” In Snelling’s view, this was bright indeed for 007.
The final page was a reproduction of a now famous watermark he saw on his typing paper – “Bond-Extra Strong.”
In notes written long before Snelling died on January 31, 2001 in London, the writer concluded by describing his now classic critical study: “‘Double 0 Seven’ set out to examine and to analyze James Bond by treating him as a real person. It was not a long book, and it made no attempt to be highbrow, abstruse, or involved. It was deliberately written in a racy and easy-to-read style. Certainly it is jokey and humorous, but it is both lighthearted and serious at the same time.”

Despite the book’s original success, Snelling and his literary executor, Ron Payne, were never successful finding a publisher interested in issuing a new edition. Instead, The first authorized full-text publication of Snelling’s 1964 book in over 40 years, now with the title he preferred – James Bond Under the Microscope debuted at my spywise.net website and is back again exclusively at spywisesecretdossier.com.
Snelling’s 1981 preface has been added as an update to this PDF publication. We added excerpts and passages from letters exchanged between Ron Payne and Snelling beginning in 1979. These letters, edited especially for SpyWise.net, are introduced with notes by Ron Payne. The passages show Snelling’s changing views on 007 over the years, share some of his views on spy films, television, and writers, and perhaps include enough of Snelling’s life to give perspective into the literary life of an extraordinary writer and thinker.
And, while not directly related to Mr. Bond, we also offer the first online publication of an essay Snelling wrote for the Antiquarian Book Monthly Review in 1981. This discussion of “Clubland” writer Dornford Yates was seen only by subscribers to that magazine, and never available in America. (Yates, as mentioned in James Bond Under the Microscope, was very much a literary forbearer to Ian Fleming.)
You can find all these offerings at:
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Published on February 06, 2022 06:45 Tags: espionage, ian-fleming, james-bond, james-bond-books, o-f-snelling

January 10, 2022

Spies and secret agents podcast

If you love reading or watching #spy and secret agent #stories, yep we're talking #Bond, #Bourne, Jack Ryan, Man from Uncle, then you don't want to miss #listening to this #podcast by spy TV and literature #expert Wesley Britton.


The Encyclopedia of TV Spies
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Published on January 10, 2022 15:16

December 18, 2021

Book Review: The Priestess of Camelot: Prequel to The Heirs to Camelot by Jacqueline Church SimondsThe Priestess of Camelot: Prequel to The Heirs to Camelot Jacqueline Church Simonds Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 28, 2018 ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07HSYTNRT https://w

The Priestess of Camelot: Prequel to The Heirs to Camelot
Jacqueline Church Simonds
Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 28, 2018

I suppose nearly everyone alive has experienced more than one version of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table from the songs of Lerner and Loewe in their Camelot to the craziness of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In literature, we’ve seen everything from Thomas Malory’s 1485 Le Morte d’Arthur to Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1859 Idylls of the King to T.H. White’s 1958 The Once and Future King to my personal favorite, Bernard Cornwell’s earthy Warlord trilogy.
With such a plethora of reworkings of the classic stories, is it possible to give the much revamped canvas any new twists? It seems so. Jacqueline Church Simonds has indeed taken the epic where it hasn’t trodden before. For one key matter, her version of the legend centers on a female lead, Anya, a goddess-worshipping priestess of the Nordic Rus tribes. In Britain, she joins the sisterhood of Avalon, headed by Arthur’s archnemesis, Morgaine.
In time, Anya travels to Camelot where she falls in love with Merlin and bears him a son. Then, she falls in love with Arthur and also bears him a son. Then, in a magical ritual in a sacred grove, she has a sort of “immaculate conception” where the goddess impregnates Anya with the fatherless daughter. Now, that’s a vivid, memorable scene.
Back in the beginning of the tale, Anya is seduced by Morgaine which sets the stage for a series of very erotic encounters. Malory nor Tennyson nor White ever ventured into this territory but, not having read every modern recasting of the Roundtable saga, I can’t attest as to whether or not Church Simonds is breaking new ground here. All I can safely say is that The Priestess of Camelot is not YA material.
To be fair, the book is far more than a series of romances. Anya is a very developed, vividly painted character who becomes a leader in her region, demonstrating her skills by protecting her neighbors in a time where Christianity is doing its best to quash goddess worship. Because of the visions the goddess occasionally shares with Anya, the priestess sets about making it possible for goddess worship to return to Britain 1,500 years in the future led by her heirs, the descendents of Merlin, Arthur, and the goddess.
So, The Priestess of Camelot sets the stage for Church Simonds’ Heirs to Camelot series including The Midsummer Wife, The Solstice Bride, and The Mistress of the Rose Moon. All of these titles are available now, so if The Priestess of Camelot grabs your imagination, you can dive into a non-stop trip into a new avenue of Arthurian lore. Maybe you’ll fall in love with Anya yourself. You’d be in good company.

This review was first posted at BookPleasures.com on Sat. Dec. 18, 2021:

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Published on December 18, 2021 11:35 Tags: goddess-worship, king-arthur, knights-of-the-roundtable, merlin

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