WHEN THE MUSIC MATTERED: Rock in the 1960s by Bruce Pollock

WHEN THE MUSIC MATTERED: Rock in the 1960s

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Again, as in When Rock Was Young (1981), Pollock offers a disorganized mix of trite cultural history, uneven music-critiques, and where-are-they-now? interviews--this time focusing, with no more freshness or insight, on ""that hazy decade of bliss and discontentment,"" the much-chronicled Sixties. Seven roughly chronological chapters offer close-ups of seven aspects (often murkily defined) of the 1960s pop-music scene: ""the urban folk scare"" (Baez, Dylan, Ochs); the temporary persistence of doowop; white-suburban blues (Paul Simon, The Byrds); acid rock; the non-political rock and bubblegum of AM radio (""As the sound of protest wafted up the street, on AM they chose to drown the mothers out""); the sexual revolution in rock, especially female-confessionals; and finally the apotheosis of Woodstock--embodied in an interview with John Sebastian, who ""uniquely blends both the upside and the downside of the Sixties musical experience. . . ."" Among the other interview-ees are Dave Van Ronk, Tracy Nelson (Mother Earth), Jiggs Meister (The Angels), and Tuli Kupferberg (the Fugs). Pollock also includes list after list of favorite--or most representative--song titles. But his discussions of specific artists and trends are thin, often arch: ""So, if Lennon & McCartney were still essentially foreigners, and if Dylan had leaped one too many synapses to reside in the perpetual ozone of the stoned poet, Paul Simon lived closer to Ozone Park, Queens, New York, than to Dylan's stoned ozone."" And his overall view of the Sixties is the familiar, sentimental one suggested by the book's title: ""Undoubtedly, we'll never be so unified or so positive again. . . . And if there were pipe dreams, ego trips, dissension, self-destruction, it was done in the cause of noble exploration, experimentation, idealism--in the name of art."" Well-informed but woozy, superficial analysis-cum-nostalgia--of a subject covered far better elsewhere.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1983
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston