From Library Journal
Harrington, music columnist for the Casco Bay Weekly in Portland, ME, sets out to document the entire history of rock'n'roll in the tradition of critics like Lester Bangs and Nick Tosches. While the author's quirky and manic style always engages (and often outrages) the reader, his fixation on rock stars' drug taking and bed jumping often gets in the way of the music itself. Some questionable scholarship also mars the book (e.g., Michael Nesmith was not the only member of the Monkees to play his own instrument; Peter Tork was a multi-instrumentalist). Names of (deservedly) obscure rock and pop bands fly like broken beer bottles in a rowdy roadhouse-perhaps a case of "let's see how much trivia I can pack in." Despite these flaws, Harrington makes some sense out of rock, especially in his analysis of societal response to it and deft deconstruction of famous critics, including Bangs, Tosches, Jon Landau, and Robert Christgau. Biting, opinionated, and take-no-prisoners in approach, this is not a history for the uninitiated. Readers will either love it or hate it. Recommended for larger public libraries as a complement to Charlie Gillett's classic The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock'n'Roll and James Miller's Flowers in the Dustbin.James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Budding rock chronicler Harrington says Greil Marcus', Peter Guralnick's, and Nick Tosches' great books about rock "seldom explained its essential meaning" and aren't "adequate histor[ies]." Hence his book. Harrington is from the let's-make-a-list school of inquiry (remember the original  cover of Charlie Gillett's Sound of the City
?). His lists can be lengthy or blithely abbreviated, but they are profuse. Still, like the predecessors he cites, he is given to overtelling the big picture (e.g., he tries--via lists, of course--to make the book an all-inclusive pop history starting in the early twentieth century). Ultimately Harrington aims to produce "an epic that [ties] in all the cultural manifestations that Rock has come to represent, along with its musical legacy." That he ultimately fails is perhaps a consequence of the nature of a subject that is still lurching drunkenly along. Can't blame him for not trying, or for writing an amusing introduction to pop-music history that is positively no more wrongheaded than the scholarly, semiotic approach. A solid choice for pop-music collections. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved