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on 2 August 2010
The Author has managed to put together what must rate as one of the definitive books on the genre. The facts are gleaned from personal experience growing up with the second coming of Rockabilly in the late 1970s and early 80s. He also draws on contemporary reviews and interviews from the year dot onwards. These are woven into humorous as well as informative prose. Of course the well-known and much written about legends of Rockabilly are given a fair nod and their rightful place in the music's history. The real joy was discovering brand new but half-century old soon to be favourite tracks that are these days only a Google and a click away. Especially after laying hidden, at least from these ears, for decades despite been a fan of the genre for most of them. From the early splutterings of moonshine soaked Hillbillys driven even wilder by bop pills to appreciative heads-up towards The Polecats and The Cramps, as the sub-title describes, this is 'The Hipsters Guide To Rockabilly Music' and a more entertaining and informative one you'll be hard-pressed to better. Simon Nott
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on 8 September 2010
Having listened to a lot of rock and rockabilly music over the years, it was very rewarding to get a 'face' on a lot of the virtually unknown artists. It is amazing how many of the 'unknowns' that Max have managed to find, or at least document. I particulry liked the way he managed to group artists and styles together; this made it a very easy book to read. The only reason for 4 stars is the lack of an index, which makes it hard to find a specific performer. Apart from that that, the book is by far one of the best music books I have read.
And don't forget to get the ACE CD 'soundtrack', it also have some pleasant surprises on it.
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on 16 August 2010
The kind of book which could not have existed before the 80s at least when the author was in an Indie band called The Gallon Drunk and the CD was barely off the ground.Now is the time for such a book when there's more rockabilly/rock'n'roll than there was in the 50s and 60s for the simple reason that so much of it was in the vaults.
Rockabilly is traced back to country boogie and the string bands of the 20s and 30s and the genre didn't as much die out as come back under other guises.
With the only real hits from Sun it was never bound to last until the main players reinvented themselves.
Elvis rung the changes many times and Buddy Holly was instrumental in founding the 60s sub genre of High School Pop via Paul Anka who was viewed as a straight ahead pop singer.
Until the Beatles the style had gone underground but there's no doubt that their covers of Carl Perkins songs gave his flagging career a massive shot in the arm.
On the 30th Anniversary of the Perkins hit Blue Suede Shoes came a TV show now on DVD which not only starred 2 ex Beatles but members of the Stray Cats-the later generation of rockabillies.
Here in this book you can read how it all fit in and note how the media viewed the new music as no more than a 5 minute craze until somebody noticed the money being made
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Surprising no one compiled the complete history before, then it took an Englishman to detail an American phenomena.

This book says it nearly all and then posts you ownward to immerse yourself in the music. Following a similar trajectory; growing up in the 70's, Rockabilly and Rock and Roll were forever present, heavily disguised in the mainstream pop charts as T Rex and the many derivatives.

The originals were unheard of. The perenially old, nasty brutish Teds, skinheads in drapes, already in their 30's, sucking on their Woodbines trying to stave back the tide of change as punks and black music swayed around them, did little to signpost the flash and allure hiding behind the surface of their genre. 70's serious music had been colonised by bearded fretboard spankers (Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Peter Frampton) with only glam (Bowie, Bolan, Roxy) showing another vision.

The Cramps took elements of glam, then beamed into a machine to return way back, beyond Ted depression to another promised land chiming with punk rock times to planets teaming with flash, allure and zest. This book lands you there without having to climb aboard and do the hard work of self navigation. The Cramps compilations; Songs the Cramps Taught Us and the early Meteors gigs, before they became an Oi band, were key to the doors of my perception in understanding the genre. One particular epiphany occurred gazing into celluloid. "The Right Stuff" released in 1984 blasted "Rocket in my Pocket," a loud and clear signal creating a new portal, another planet not inhabited by synth slush and slurry, wimp indie or goons with guitars.

A period lasting 4 years this brings it all to life, resurrected after a 50 year wait, many of the originals lying in vaults waiting for s surge of voltage to bring them back from the dead. Internet sites ease the gleaning and gaining of information now much easier than the hunt and the chase.

The book details where you can head on, after devouring the history of when white and black worlds finally collided to launch one of the biggest social cultural revolutions the world has ever seen. In renaissance Italy the whole scene was restricted by the church the major patron to around 50-60 artisans. Nine years before Elvis brought technicolour to a black and white segregated world the hymns of the Hitler Youth could have been the template for youngsters in the 50's.

Instead in the USA the whole country became infected for 4 years. Anyone with a crazed certain tude could squeeze into a pair of jeans, plug in and hiccup, holler, scream or croon their way into the local and international folklore. This is not the music of the past but the template for the future.
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on 21 August 2010
That it took until 2010 for the definitive history of rockabilly to be published is, perhaps, as great a mystery as why Charlie Feathers ain't a household name. In lesser hands, this book would've easily constituted Crimes Against Timber, but in the very capable hands of Max Décharné, we have completely different results. Steering miles away from coming across as academic or didactic, dry or boring, Décharné [or Max, as I like to call him] has given us a book every bit as loaded with history as it is loaded with the author's own passion, enthusiasm and knowledge. Quite unlike other books covering similar ground, Décharné never once tries to put himself across as being somehow cooler than his subject matter of choice, which has always been my problem with many of his peers. The remarkable strength of this book is that it's equally approachable for the curious novice as well as for the jaded rockabilly aficionado. No small feat, that. From the familiar stories that bear repeating [Jerry Lee, Elvis, Carl Perkins] to stories of the criminally unsung [Marvin Rainwater, Joe Clay, Gene Maltais] and the deliriously unhinged [Hasil Adkins, Mel Robbins, The Phantom], this book packs a hell of a wallop. Max Décharné has a long history of setting his standards high - equally through his music and his authorly doings - and 'A Rocket In My Pocket' only raises those standards. Recommended with supreme confidence.
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on 30 July 2014
A really good read, a pity there is no index, so I advise you to write down the names mentioned in this book to research later on.

For a musical movement that seemed to peak and fall between 1955-60, Rockabilly spawned some of the most important performers in musical history, a real significant part of western post ww2 culture, this music excites beyond mere words - listen to the production, the vocals, the guitars, swathed in echo, the dynamics of the sun studio, you get to read all about this in this book.
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on 20 February 2015
Great account of rockabilly, the originals and the revivals. Learnt a lot about songs I'd missed
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on 7 August 2010
I kept thinking I'd find something missing in here but the author nails it all. Great insight and plenty of anecdotes about super obscure artistes. Fab.
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on 21 February 2015
Really consise history of rockabilly music.
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on 1 November 2011
I was left with mixed reactions after reading this book. It's a straightforward account of a genre of music I enjoy and filled in a lot of gaps. However my worry is this guy has got rockabilly religion, so unless other artists follow his lead, they are condemned. He's very critical of where the Beatles mislead youth but ignores the fact that most fans like me, got to find out about Holley and Perkins through Beatle and Stones album tracks.

Because any new religion has to have figures of hate (Harrison, Clapton) Perkins Rockabilly Sessions TV programme, on which they appeared, has to get ignored, while any UK pub gig by some obscure artist gets treated as a second coming.

He also seems to downplay the britsh revival with people like Edmunds and Stevens only getting passing references, while anything from the USA gets heaped with praise. He also seems to ignore Jerry Lees demented Star Club sessions -because it was the wrong period and backed by a load of scousers?

But despite these reservations it was a good read.
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