WHEN ROCK WAS YOUNG: A Nostalgic Review of the Top 40 Era by Bruce Pollock

WHEN ROCK WAS YOUNG: A Nostalgic Review of the Top 40 Era

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Only the first 50 pages here are devoted to the ""nostalgic review"" promised in the subtitle--and it's not a very good one. Pollock goes year by year from 1955 to 1963, stringing together basic data on hit songs with: glib socio-cultural comments; snide put-downs of un-favorite singers (Elvis, Pat Boone); cute, superficial notations on trends; and assorted overstatements (""In November 1962, Steve Lawrence said 'Go Away Little Girl,' and suddenly that would be it for dancing for about ten years""). Breaking up these jumpy annual run-downs are brief reminiscences by Frankie Valli, some lesser-known members of hot groups, a producer, a publicist, and deejay Wolfman Jack. And the rest of the book is then turned over to interview-profiles of nine former greats of the first rock boom. Most of these are in the depressing where-are-they-now? vein--with tales of rip-offs and downhill slides from such as Shirley of the Shirelles (""The spotlight has swept past them in its relentless search for fresh talent""); Dave Guard of the Kingston Trio (now a student of guru Swami Muktananda); Anthony Gourdine, a.k.a. Little Anthony (now trying a comeback with born-again inspirational music); and ex-pill addict Phil Everly (with a funny story about turning down Bob Dylan's ""Lay Lady Lay"" because, in Dylan's muttering rendition, the lyric seemed to be ""lay across my big breasts, babe""). True, Neil Sedaka and Brenda Lee--successful come-backers--do provide more upbeat interviews. And Pollock's fellow buffs will find some engaging early-rock anecdotes here and there. But overall this is a patchy, unsatisfying little collage of a book: others have written about rock's first heyday with just as much nostalgic enthusiasm and far more care, style, and substance.

Pub Date: July 27th, 1981
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston