Walker (Laurel Canyon, 2006) argues convincingly that rock experienced significant change in the early 1970s among artists, audience and industry alike.
It's regrettable, then, that some quality writing and incisive analysis is undermined by the author’s peculiar focus on three bands and one year. Readers may well wonder why a book that takes its title from a 1975 David Bowie hit (“Fame”) is instead about Led Zeppelin, the Who and Alice Cooper in 1973. That year, all three launched massive tours the author sees as fraught with epochal impact, the likes of which “the world has not seen since and probably never will again.” Walker has a weakness for such grandiose pronouncements (he also bids us, “Welcome to 1973—the year the sixties die”); fortunately, he's usually a smart observer and reporter. Because so much has already been written about the other two groups, Alice Cooper initially seems to be the odd band out, but it's the one to which the author apparently had the most access and certainly does the best job of putting in fresh perspective, as originators of a style of theatrical showmanship that would leave an imprint on rock tours to come. In the early ’70s, peace and love gave way to harder drugs and more outrageous debauchery; the audience got younger, the bands richer and the business more cutthroat. Rock became a different animal, and Walker does an often provocative, never-less-than-serviceable job of showing how and why. He vividly captures the frustrations of the Who, the excesses of Led Zeppelin and the jealousies within Alice Cooper. It should also be noted, however, that he draws heavily on what has long been known and already written, and his odd decision to slip into the present tense for extended stretches does not improve the narrative's coherence.
Heavy on style, light on revelation.