PERFORMING ARTS

London, Reign over Me: How England’s Capital Built Classic Rock

Rowman & Littlefield. Feb. 2020. 216p. ISBN 9781538127179. $28. MUSIC
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Scores of books have explored the English groups that took America by storm in the 1960s. Tow (history, Delaware Valley Univ.; The Strangest Tribe) takes a slightly different tack, focusing on London, where the early forces of the British Invasion were mustered. Musicians such as the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, and the Animals started putting a British spin on American blues, and this new sound blended into folk and jazz to produce acts including Fairport Convention, Pink Floyd, and Yes. Key to this musical explosion, according to Tow, was London itself. Having grown up in a city devastated by the bombings of World War II, these musicians were motivated both by the rebelliousness of many young artists and a desire to build something new—a sentiment echoed by thousands of fans across Britain. Fittingly, Tow offers readers something fresh, too; rather than regurgitating the research of others, he draws from many interviews with key musicians including artists Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Rod Argent (the Zombies), and Jim McCarty (the Yardbirds), as well as from memoirs and biographies. His writing is immediate and clearly paints a picture of 1960s London.
VERDICT Covering dozens of bands in a variety of styles, Tow pens a sweeping look at a pivotal period of music history.

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