Rock and Roll: An Unruly History

Overview

Rock and roll is a profoundly American art form, the musical expression of revolutionary changes in popular culture and values, a Dionysian eruption that hit the white-bread fifties like a hurricane. It was a force destined to shake up subsequent decades and transform American culture.

Rock & Roll: An Unruly History is a full-scale salute to rock that is also a companion...
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Overview

Rock and roll is a profoundly American art form, the musical expression of revolutionary changes in popular culture and values, a Dionysian eruption that hit the white-bread fifties like a hurricane. It was a force destined to shake up subsequent decades and transform American culture.

Rock & Roll: An Unruly History is a full-scale salute to rock that is also a companion to the ten-part public television series, illuminating the roots of rock and exploring the "rock and roll culture" that surrounds the music.

Robert Palmer, a preeminent rock critic and musician who was the chief consultant for the public television series, explores the complex creative processes that have allowed rock music to endure as a living art, fed from sources deep within nonconformist, anti-mainstream, often multiethnic American culture. By focusing on its roots and branchings, Palmer charts rock's ongoing developmental processes, showing how its many tributaries - from blues and gospel to reggae, punk, and rap - converge and connect to create the most insightful history of rock and roll ever written.

In this official companion guide to the 10-hour PBS series on rock and roll, the author of Deep Blues focuses on rock's roots and branchings, and charts its ongoing development, showing how its many tributaries--from blues and gospel to reggae, punk, and rap--converge and connect. 120 photos, 50 in color.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Basing his lively history on his own experiences and predilections as a rocker, Palmer (Deep Blues), who has for many years played, taught and written about rock, here tells the story of the music, its performers and the culture that fuels it. In narrative chapters accompanied by time lines, he follows its development from the mid-'50s, when teenagers began to get the message from rhythm and blues and other nonmainstream sounds, through all its permutations to the present day, including heavy metal, psychedelia, punk, funk, rap and hip-hop. Interspersed are essays exploring sources and origins in which he focuses on rhythmic traditions from around the world that have been subsumed by rock; the Dionysian heritage of liberation through ecstasy and frenzied sexuality; and the central role of the electric guitar and its virtuosi. Palmer's book, written to accompany a PBS/BBC TV series, is fun yet far from unruly; it takes a serious look at rock as an art form and an important part of our culture. Photos. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Rolling Stone rock-writer Palmer has authored a selective, personalized history of rock'n'roll that loosely serves as a companion to the PBS/BBC television series on the same topic. He offers ten chapters of uneven quality, including a good explanation of rock's origins, an almost needless chapter about Bob Dylan circa 1965, a look at psychedelia that omits leading San Francisco bands, and a weak concluding chapter on rap and metal. Clearly more comfortable with blues and its direct descendants, Palmer downplays or ignores MTV, Michael Jackson, the Mersey Beat British Invasion, early Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, grunge, and hardcore punk. Further confusing this "history," Palmer intersperses three thematic essays between the chronologically organized chapters: a detailed account of the African and Cuban antecedents of rock; a less-than-compelling look at rock's dangerous side; and an excellent, previously published examination of the electric guitar. Considering his past accomplishments (the indispensable Deep Blues, LJ 5/15/81) and his many interviews with musicians, Palmer has provided a disappointing book that adds little to rock histories currently available. Buy only according to demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/95.]-David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517700501
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/19/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 8.26 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Palmer was the New York Time's first full-time rock writer and chief pop critic (1976 - 1988) and has been a contributing editor at Rolling Stone since the seventies.
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