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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars

VINE VOICEon 21 August 2012
This is a really interesting book...I guess it was quite different to what I expected. I'm a big fan of ..I guess late 70's Punk,New Wave ...whatever tag you want to apply.
So I thought this would cover my usual points of interest....Talking Heads/Ramones/Patti Smith/Television and Richard Hell..Noo York Dolls.
Well you get this..but you also get so much more about what else was going on musically in New York....loads of stuff running along in parallell...like the Disco and latin stuff
Plus...the birth and development of rap and graffiti culture.
Lets just say my mind was opened..!!...an amazing amount happened in such a short space of time...and I was lucky enough to be a teenager at this time..Ok....so I wasn't hanging out in the Bronx..
more like the bus stop in a small market town in Shropshire...!! but music was soooo....exciting for me back then..
A great read...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 September 2013
First, a disclaimer: I knew Will very well back in the mid- to late-70s; we hung out together and went to many concerts. (A whole group of us were regular concert goers.) So my opinion of this book is certainly influenced by that personal connection.

In any case, Will looks at a somewhat arbitrary 5-year period in the 70s (he easily could have extended it a year or two in either direction), and goes into great detail about the NYC music scene during that time. Not only did it see the rise of groups from CBGBs and Max's Kansas City (Talking Heads, Ramones and others), the minimalists (Steve Reich, Philip Glass), performance artists, and the early days of hip-hop, but it also was a key time for the ascendancy of salsa, singer-songwriter rock (Springsteen, Patti Smith, etc.) and jazz. Will was always an eclectic listener, and among my friends, was the one with the most varied record collection. He writes here about all these styles of music - yes, even disco, which sucked - with erudition and feeling.

As I look back on the 70s from a distance, I realize that not only were those formative years for my own musical tastes, but that they did, indeed, have lasting influence. Will points out how much of this gestation was under the radar for years before becoming influential, and highlights a number of forgotten musicians and artists that were essential back in the day. (And there were plenty of non-NYC bands that passed through: the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, Genesis - okay, I was a prog rock fan), Santana, the country rock bands like Lynard Skynard and the Marshall Tucker Band, and so much more.)

New York City in the late 70s was an amazing city for concerts. My friends and I would go to one or two a month, and many more in the summer (we'd hang out on the hill beside the Wollman skating rink in Central Park to listen to many of the concerts that we didn't care enough to pay for. Madison Square Garden, the Palladium, even the Nassau Coliseum were places we frequented, seeing shows by the big rock bands of the time, and in smaller venues, seeing an even broader range of performers. (And in spite of our lack of funds, these concerts were affordable.)

So there's a lot of nostalgia for me in the book. For others, who are younger, or not from NYC, you'll certainly learn a lot about the music scene, but especially understand how much of a connection there was among the different genres of the time. If you love music, read this book; you'll enjoy it.
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on 21 July 2014
This is a good book as far as it goes, and it definitely gives a sense of the massive amount of musical creativity in NYC in the mid-70s, but ultimately that's about all it does. While it's trying to do something different to, say, 'England's Dreaming' by jon Savage, it doesn't get anywhere near the depth, importance, and perceptiveness of that book. More on the visual arts in all forms and fashion too (and possibly literature - why does nobody who writes about Television ever discuss poetry?) I really can't agree with Nick Hornby that this is 'social history' - it's not - it's music writing with occasional historical references. Various bits of history come and go, and are dealt with fairly well, but they're really nothing more than throwaway references - the Son of Sam killer, for instance, pops up in a fairly sinister way at a couple of points, but later on other shootings he was responsible for are tossed away in half a sentence.

also - I realise the author didn't have an indefinite amount of space - but the choices of which people to follow seems arbitrary. It's nice to see Latin music given some attention, and jazz too, but there's nothing about, for instance, broadway musicals.

Oddly for a book like this, the personal recollections are among the best bits - I'd have liked more of them.
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on 4 June 2014
Overview of the NY music scenes in the 70's punk/new wave , salsa, Reich and Glass , Jazz and all points in between , Springsteen being an adopted native. From punch-ups and squabbles to the state of a certain gig's toilets many bases are linked and covered and by the end of the book you'll want to investigate people like Meredith Monk and Reuben Blades. Yes, Talking Heads feature prominently as do Lou Read and his missus . The only thing possibly missing is the link with poetry and literature (other than Ginsberg and Burroughs), comedy/stand up and the visual arts (other than Andy Warhol) . A book to keep near the bedside for quick browsing that can last an hour or two , utterly reccomended
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on 30 May 2015
Need to live in NYC to appreciate fully
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on 8 April 2015
Unmissable! You are right there in the 70's and you will be searching for all the tracks it mentiones that you don't know yet.
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on 18 February 2016
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