Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sonic Boom! The History of Northwest Rock


While the Pacific Northwest exploded as one three major musical regions along the Pacfic Coast during the 1960's, little has been rounded up in book form beyond scattered, but essential liner notes, print 'zines, websites, forum postings and Arcadia Press photo collections. After years of research and interviews, Peter Blecha has written what could be called the definite history of Seattle region music during the '50's & '60's. That being said Peter Blecha (or Backbeat Books) should have put the Sonics, with perhaps a small of inset of Pat O' Day, on the front cover. However, I realize they need to sell the book in 2010 and beyond--hence the Mudhoney photo. I didn't realize the huge impact (some say stranglehold) that Pat O'Day had on Pacific Northwest Rock 'n' Roll in the '60's. Also, amazing that he reappeared during the punk/power pop/new wave movement of the late '70's. The chapters about O'Day's rival Boyd Grafmyer and his merry hippies comes to a riveting twist as the Seattle '60s screeched to a halt. Blecha is generally on target with his assessment of the NW sounds, but I have to disagree with him that the Ventures' "Guitar Freakout and "Super Psychedelics" are sheer dreck and the worst of all their 250 albums. Their psychedelic exploitation experiments sound a lot better than their incongruous forays into disco. I also cannot share Blecha's enthusiasm for 90's major label grunge rock (e.g., Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden) that made the city world famous for something beyond coffee, computers and salmon. While I would have liked more recognition of the Fastbacks and Kurt Bloch, I have to give Blecha credit for his coverage of the K scene. Finally, it was refreshing not having to read about Jimi Hendrix once again-except for his earliest Seattle days when he was spurned by local musicians for playing solos all the way through songs.

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