Date: 07-14-12 10:07
Just finished the book and I have mixed feelings. It's presented in an omniscient, everywhere-everyone-at-once tone of voice, leaping from punk to new minimalism to hip hop and graffiti artists to loft jazz to salsa. As such, the panoramic view makes it hard to follow individual musicians or scenes, but it's sufficiently dazzling to overlook the flaws for extended periods. What's most interesting is when Will Hermes breaks the fourth wall and discusses his own involvement in the scene of the mid- and late-70s scene, sneaking into clubs as a teenager or catching hip hop sets on street corners. The anecdotes about the night the lights went out - 35 years ago yesterday - are among the most memorable.
Because the book hopscotches between genres, it's a fair assumption that no single human being living in the 70s would have followed all the musicians and the scenes at the time. So, the retrospective, panoramic view is a bit disingenuous. But it does interestingly showcase where musicians and artists - Laurie Anderson, for instance - blurred the lines between pop, rock, art, and classical.
I found the catching-up epilogue from 2011 and 2012 interesting - showcasing the members of the 70s scene who are still around and active, including David Byrne and Patti Smith, but also looking at the 21st century NYC scene like LCD Soundsystem and Vampire Weekend, placing them in the historical context.
A lot of TP favorites and personalities are featured at length; would be curious to hear if Ira or others have thoughts on the book's merits.
Next music books: Electric Eden, about the 1960s-70s British folk-rock scene, and The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century, about modern classical. Wondering what overlaps there will be.
Post Edited (07-14-12 11:04)