Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
on 15 August 2008
I found this in a remaindered bookshop a few weeks ago. It's a pleasant read, being a fairly brisk survey of the history of pop music from the point of view of the end of the sixties. Cohn quickly introduces each performer (e.g. "Gene Vincent had a bad leg.", "Eddie Cochran was pure rock.", "Paul Simon was a small, serious, fuzzy-haired man..."), before sketching in their origins and achievements. For a critic, he shows a commendable lack of objectivity in his assessments, even betraying a certain impatience with some artists as he admits that he can't be bothered to say much about them.
For the most part, I think his assessments have held up very well over the forty years since this book was written, although it's inevitable that some of these no longer fit with current views of this period: I was surprised to see a whole chapter devoted to PJ Proby, for example, and I don't think anyone would still believe that Cliff Richard's "Living Doll" was "by far the most influential British single of the whole decade" (p68); although such an argument could perhaps be made for "Move It", which is ignored by Cohn.
Finally, there are an interesting couple of neologisms in the text which I don't think I'd come across previously: I think "schnide" (p201) and "psychedelphia" (p257) might have been synonyms for "snide" and "psychedelia", but they don't seem to have caught on.