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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2013
I really have to say I was excited about reading this book, but I felt like it was a huge let down. I understand the author trying to describe how the Seattle sound was made, but I feel like he went overboard explaining insignificant bands that don't matter during this time. He also left out many influences (drugs, boredom, the weather, etc...) yet he talks about his own theories that he believes influenced these bands. This books isn't totally bad, but for an avid grunge fan like myself, I would recommend Greg Prato's book. This book focused way too much on the punk and post punk which I know influenced many Seattle bands, but that wasn't the sole factor. Drugs were barely touched here, they talked about how Andy Wood died of a drug overdose, but they were only talked about in three pages or so. He writes about what he wants to write about, for instance he states people didn't like Mother Love Bone and they had bands who were even anti-MLB, but he doesn't even go into Temple of the Dog very much. He disses Alice in Chains by saying they had nothing to do with the Seattle sound and were strictly a metal band because he seems to not like the metal influence on Grunge which really pissed me off because to me, grunge is half and half (amongst some other things.) The one thing I did like about the book was at the end when the author gives you a list of Seattle records to listen to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2011
There is something pretty weird about being in history books when you are still alive. It is nice to have people notice that you did something, but you always have the feeling you are probably supposed to be dead already. Nonetheless, what we have here is a Seattle music history with very few dead people, mostly just living folks that probably did not expect to be geezers.

Stephen Tow has taken a look at the Seattle rock scene circa 1976 to 1993, basically from the beginnings of the punk rock scene until Nirvana blows up. Certainly this ground has been trod before, in Clark Humphrey's "Loser" and Peter Blecha's more recent "Sonic Boom", but not in such narrow focus. To make it a spot more intriguing, Tow does not have a horse in this race. He is a historian from Philadelphia who thought there was a story here to tell and went digging. Perhaps in part due to his horselesssnes, I think he gets it right. Some might quibble over details, but it gives someone who was outside what was a fairly insular scene a reasonably decent feel of what the time was like. It rings of truth. And he can write. Tow does a nice job of pulling a pile of disparate characters together in a somewhat brief, but highly readable yarn. A fine read for a rainy NW afternoon.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2011
In The Strangest Tribe, Stephen Tow takes us on a journey through a spontaneous music grassroots movement. For those of us who are not from the Seattle area, the book paints a clear picture of the city and the surrounding areas. This book could easily have been murky in the telling, but Tow makes it an important point to not fall into that trap. There are so many stories and quotes that are funny, that it makes this quite informative book very entertaining. Kudos to Mr.Tow for his exhaustive research which has reaped many dividends. I highly recommend The Strangest Tribe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2012
I felt the need to add a positive review here, especially considering the one-star review that claims Tow interviewed "the usual suspects," "added nothing new, etc." As someone who has read all the other books mentioned, I'm going to have to disagree here.

The interviews focus on the scene before it became national. So yes, although you do hear from some of the "usual suspects," you are getting deeper into the backstory of the scene that closely preceded the Grunge late 80s/early 90s. I learned more about the bands that are constantly referenced as influences. I also learned about bands that I never even heard of. Tow was able to put his history and research skills to the test to create a mini "textbook" that I would be thrilled to read both in and out of the classroom.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
Using an incredible amount of interviews with people from all levels of the Seattle scene, Tow shows how the music scene that we think of as grunge emerged from a relatively short, but incredibly rich history of independent bands. You really come to appreciate the creativity of the earlier bands, where being funny and entertaining was as important, if not more so, than sounding good or even knowing how to adequately play an instrument. I burst out laughing several times while reading about the ridiculous antics of the people who created the Seattle music scene.
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on March 31, 2015
this was such a fun read -- there's so much information about the history of Seattle and the bands here. Highly recommended!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2011
The Strangest Tribe is a must read for anybody that's looking for an accurate, in-depth look at the Seattle music scene during the 1980's and 90's. As somebody who has been playing music in Seattle for a million years, I can say that Stephen Tow did an excellent job of figuring out what happened here before Grunge hit the national market. And it's fun to read. If you are into rock history, I'd recommend adding this book to your collection.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2012
Details. This book has a lot of them, and though there's a mountain of information, it isn't overwhelming. It's scholarly but entertaining, interesting and funny; it's researched to no end but quite relatable for both musicians and music fans. Reading this story the way Mr. Tow writes about it, I almost feel like I was there drinking a beer with Leighton Beezer from the Thrown Ups as Nirvana exploded. And that's to Tow's credit. There's a ton of detail, but it never loses focus, never gets bogged down. He has an instinct for that which really matters to the story and writes it in a memorable way, almost nostalgic. A good read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2011
Throughout The Strangest Tribe, Tow successfully outlines the scene's musical diversity, eccentricities, intelligence, and especially humor. The book is well-written and reminds us that in the moment a musical culture can be serious and infantile at the same time.The Strangest Tribe: How a Group of Seattle Rock Bands Invented Grunge
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2011
Stephen goes deep and broad in this book to create an accurate and wonderfully readable and entertaining account of a music scene that was far more diverse than the other 'grunge'-related books that are out there. Lots of fresh information and stories make this a very worthwhile read.
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