Most rock histories come complete with the authors’ specific approach. There are the pop cultural historians, the “I was there,” sort of authors, and the snarky “I know more than you do,” approach. At first glance this small format book looks to be unsubstantial. Once you start to read it, you realize that the author has devoted a considerable amount of research to this project. There is virtually no musical style related to rock that isn’t covered in these pages. Better yet, the author has few obvious axes to grind, in terms of preferring one sub-genre over another.
Starting with the 1950’s, each section of the book covers a decade. The author starts with a timeline of significant music-related events. Short biographies of major figures follow, along with numerous photos. Each reader may have a feeling that their favorite or least favorite artist should have gotten more or less space, but in general the treatment is even-handed. My only criticism is that although the layout is generally attractive, the pages printed on a black background are a bit hard to read. This is not a definitive work, but an excellent introduction to the world of rock and roll.
Reviewed By Dick Weissman