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Showing 1-10 of 13 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 22 reviews
on July 22, 2003
In a reader review of Tosches' book on Emmett Miller, whose real origins are in the imaginary chapters of the first edition of this book, this book belongs in every home. The writing is this book alone is worth the price. He's a vigorous wise ass and elegant literary dynamo. If you just read the writing, and dont give a hoot about country music, you will enjoy yourself.
So much of music writing is devoled to haigiagraphy and confirming ignorant common places, whereas Tosches is concerned with the dirty nasty truth, and the wild side of things. You aren't going to learn that Roy Acuff who appointed himself a great country music icon, decades after he had had a hit, began his work in music with a group called "the Bang Boys" that specialized in X rated songs.
His description of a Jerry Lee Lewis recording session sometimes in the 1970s is really masterful and still rings in my mind 20 years after I first read it. Likewise, you will love Tosches' description of the dark end of Spade Cooley. Cooley torutured and murdered his wife because Cooley believed she had banged Roy Rodgers--and Cooley got into show business a double for Roy Rogers in the movies!
There is so much uncovered about the real origins of rock and roll.
No one can live without the first book that wasn't afraid to let you know that Hank Williams was bald!
If you don't have this book in your house, buy it, or move in with someone who's got it!
Dont forget his great book on Jerry Lee Lewis, Hellfire.
This man knows how to write!
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on July 3, 2015
Could not believe the Dirty language!! Would not ever buy this!! So glad I did not buy as a gift!!
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on January 8, 2014
This is a great book, like Tosches's biographies of Emmett Miller and Jerry Lee Lewis (those biographies seem to be an outgrowth of this work). Tosches, with his ear for arcane similarities and his attention for minutiae, makes connections, draws analogies, underscores influences, et cetera, all geared to describing how country music (whatever that is) gave rise to rock 'n' roll (whatever that is). The point? Genres were fluid and flux, and nothing as real as the music of the American South never has a clear-cut beginning. The greatest things to come out of this book:

(1) It highlights the fact that country music was never the genteel, safe alternative to "black music" (whatever that is) or rock (or, today, rap, for that matter). The music was full of course metaphors, sex, death, etc., just like the black, English, and Scots-Irish music it descended from.

(2) It demolishes the well-worn LIE that whites just stole black music. (His bio of Emmett Miller does this too.) The color line was there, but it was always blurred, often times ignored. Blacks stole from whites, whites stole from blacks, blacks copied, whites copied, and so on and so forth.

Luckily, many of the arcane tunes found here can be searched for on YouTube, which means you can, without spending a fortune, listen to many of the tunes Tosches mentions. Tosches, in this originally 1977 work (it has been updated), is not as unnecessarily erudite as he is in some of his more recent works. He does harbor a hatred for Johnny Cash, who I guess he thinks is a sellout, and Roy Acuff. (I for one never much liked Roy Acuff.)

[As an aside: I can't get his read on Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, who, I would argue, are more influential than his pet Emmett Miller. There are a few remarks here that can be taken as snide towards the Playboys, but perhaps his views have softened, as they don't appear in "Where Dead Voices Gather." I still say that Tosches should turn his prodigious energy to such a book on Bob Wills (and one on Gary Stewart to boot.) As such, he makes a mistake referencing Wills. He states that Wills and the Playboys finally got around to recording "Milk Cow Blues" in 1969, when, in fact, they recorded two versions (one with a searing guitar solo by Junior Barnard, the other with a brilliant twin (or triple?) "guitar"-solo) for the Tiffany Company in 1947, one which was actually pressed (and released?) on a 78 (according to Townsend's discography). Certainly they played "Milk Cow Blues" live well before then. (I wonder what Tosches's opinion is, as I respect it, of Wills, the amazing Tiffany Transcriptions, and Junior Barnard.) Tragic indeed that Tosches does not mention, in a book about country rock roots, the rocking 1946 single by the Texas Playboys, "Bob Wills Boogie," which has boogie piano by Millard Kelso, a rock-like solo by electric MANDOLINIST Tiny Moore, under-girded throughout by the manic playing and soloing of Junior Barnard. This rocks better than many of the tunes Tosches mentions for the surrounding era. (Or, for that matter, what is his opinion of "Fat Boy Rag" from the Tiffany Sessions, the solos in it would make T-Bone Walker think twice.) As another aside, this is the problem with Charles Townsend's great but tame biography of Wills, "San Antonio Rose." It explores the fiddlin' roots of Wills and compares Will's music to the jazz of the 1920s and 1930s, but only pays lip-service to any blues influence on Wills and his cohorts. (To me, it appears Wills absolutely idolizes the Mississippi Sheiks; and in the Tiffany Transcription of "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy," Tommy Duncan adds a line to the song that does not exist in other versions, echoing a dirty blues of Charlie Patton, singing "you can shake you can break it you can hang it on the wall, throw it out the window I'll catch it 'fore it falls." There are a many such signposts to the blues. Perhaps I'll write the damn thing.)]

All in all, bravo to Tosches again. If you like his other works, you'll like this'n.
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on February 5, 2016
A nice first effort for Tosches who has become better with his later books. Tosches tends to rattle off too many long lists which bore the reader. A better study of how country made it to these shores from Britain would`ve been nice. As it was it wasn`t a horrible read but too far reaching without really detailing what is important.
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on January 11, 2014
Mr Tosches obviously has a great bank of knowledge on RR. It just too twisted and turned to follow. I really wanted to know the story, but spend too much time lost in the story.
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on October 6, 2016
Many of the artists and songs mentioned in the book can be heard on YouTube, which really makes the book come to life. Great read.
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on May 9, 2016
Great look into the origins of country music. The info on Emmett Miller was very interesting, so much so I downloaded his music.
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on December 30, 2013
The item was received as ordered. My son-in-law was pleased with the gift, but he has not had a chance to read it yet.
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on March 3, 2014
The title at first appeared confusing and after reading the book I had a problem connecting Country to Rock and Roll let alone the twisted roots. In retrospect I'm guessing the reason I made the puirchase was to find out how the author makes the connection. Tosches is an excellent writer but this one for me did absolutely nothing. Too much data for my tastes.
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on December 14, 2012
Some parts of this book were intriguing but the work is disjointed, occasionally dull (this artist recorded this song in 1933, and some other artist covered it in 1934 on xyz label, on and on....why are there chapters devoted to this?) and I'm still not sure what the point is. No premise was actually proved. No desire to read another book by this writer.
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