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Surf Beat: Rock 'n' Roll's Forgotten Revolution

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(Guitar Reference). Surf Beat is the first book to tell the story of the birth of surf music, and its persistent survival and reinvention in the face of decades of dismissal as a mere cultural aberration. Conventional wisdom posits that rock 'n' roll languished in the period between 1959 and 1963. Yet in that four-year stretch between Elvis joining the army and Buddy Holly (Guitar Reference). Surf Beat is the first book to tell the story of the birth of surf music, and its persistent survival and reinvention in the face of decades of dismissal as a mere cultural aberration. Conventional wisdom posits that rock 'n' roll languished in the period between 1959 and 1963. Yet in that four-year stretch between Elvis joining the army and Buddy Holly's death, and the emergence of the Beatles, a musical revolution took place in Southern California that would influence all electric guitar forms that followed it. They called it surf music, and in Surf Beat, the genre finally gets its day in the sun. Surf music authority and author Kent Crowley uncovers the story of the initial emergence of surf music as first a local, then a national and international phenomenon, and its subsequent waves of popularity through the ensuing decades.


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(Guitar Reference). Surf Beat is the first book to tell the story of the birth of surf music, and its persistent survival and reinvention in the face of decades of dismissal as a mere cultural aberration. Conventional wisdom posits that rock 'n' roll languished in the period between 1959 and 1963. Yet in that four-year stretch between Elvis joining the army and Buddy Holly (Guitar Reference). Surf Beat is the first book to tell the story of the birth of surf music, and its persistent survival and reinvention in the face of decades of dismissal as a mere cultural aberration. Conventional wisdom posits that rock 'n' roll languished in the period between 1959 and 1963. Yet in that four-year stretch between Elvis joining the army and Buddy Holly's death, and the emergence of the Beatles, a musical revolution took place in Southern California that would influence all electric guitar forms that followed it. They called it surf music, and in Surf Beat, the genre finally gets its day in the sun. Surf music authority and author Kent Crowley uncovers the story of the initial emergence of surf music as first a local, then a national and international phenomenon, and its subsequent waves of popularity through the ensuing decades.

30 review for Surf Beat: Rock 'n' Roll's Forgotten Revolution

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Foley

    Surf Music doesn't get the attention is rightly deserves. Thankfully, Crowley has taken on the genre both as a fan and as a writer. As a result, he has produced a solid guide for the casual reader. There is a lot to digest in this book as he covers the history, personalities, instruments, and venues that forged the country's collective view of the West Coast. Kids in the Midwest now had a soundtrack for their dreams of surf, sand, and hot rods. Although born from the waves of the early 60s, Beat Surf Music doesn't get the attention is rightly deserves. Thankfully, Crowley has taken on the genre both as a fan and as a writer. As a result, he has produced a solid guide for the casual reader. There is a lot to digest in this book as he covers the history, personalities, instruments, and venues that forged the country's collective view of the West Coast. Kids in the Midwest now had a soundtrack for their dreams of surf, sand, and hot rods. Although born from the waves of the early 60s, Beatlemania practically knocked it off the charts over night. As a result, it is more often considered a cult genre rather than credited as a type of American folk music. There are a lot of positives about Crowley's work, but there are also some strange choices of focus as well. Dick Dale and The Beach Boys are rightly discussed in depth, but so are Frank Zappa and Ritchie Valens. The latter two are not typical of Surf Music. Their connections to the genre are tenuous and these sections tend to derail the book. Also there are quite a few things that surf aficionados will take some exception. In particular, Dick Dale's impact on heavy metal and Jan & Dean credited as the first vocal Surf band will both raise some eyebrows. There are also some debatable choices in the recommended listening. Still, this survey is great for the music fan that wants a clearer understanding of Surf Music and the early 60s California scene. Although it has to be said, the definitive history of Surf Music is yet to be published.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Very interesting to me as a guitarist who lived through the era. The non-fictional history is very well researched and tells numerous interesting stories of musicians and those surrounding the music industry. I was hesitant to start this book thinking that it might be too narrowly focused on a genre that was sort of tangential to my music interests at the time. That concern was laid to rest because the book brings in a much wider scope of music history that was entangled with the primary scene o Very interesting to me as a guitarist who lived through the era. The non-fictional history is very well researched and tells numerous interesting stories of musicians and those surrounding the music industry. I was hesitant to start this book thinking that it might be too narrowly focused on a genre that was sort of tangential to my music interests at the time. That concern was laid to rest because the book brings in a much wider scope of music history that was entangled with the primary scene of Southern California surf music. Unexpected people such as Jimi Hendrix, Barney Kessel, Frank Zappa, Leo Fender, Glen Campbell, the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers, and many others crossed paths with this world. It was well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned from it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    Surf Beat does a commendable job of providing the cultural context for the three waves of surf music. One of the strong points is the author provides more than the usual coverage of the technical developments and innovations of the musical instruments and amplifiers with obvious nods to Fender. Crowley also seems to know and express the local history and color stretching from the beaches, through the valleys, to the near vicinity of the San Gabriel Mountains where "Pipeline" was recorded at Pal Surf Beat does a commendable job of providing the cultural context for the three waves of surf music. One of the strong points is the author provides more than the usual coverage of the technical developments and innovations of the musical instruments and amplifiers with obvious nods to Fender. Crowley also seems to know and express the local history and color stretching from the beaches, through the valleys, to the near vicinity of the San Gabriel Mountains where "Pipeline" was recorded at Pal Recording Studio in now Rancho Cucamonga. (I seem to recall that he wrote of the 1839 Mexican land grant of Rancho Cucamonga in Great God Pan Magazine over a decade ago.) He's especially good at capturing the internecine feuds between musicians and regions and provides the space to operate under a sort of Fairness Doctrine. Other strengths of Crowley are his positive & insightful assessments of the early 70's Beach Boys albums that "embraced technology while making music about nature." The section on second wave of surf music (led in part by John Blair) which coincided and converged with the punk/new wave movement, is especially welcomed as history is scattered on this era beyond the primary source documents.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    I think the author would rather be writing another book. I was expecting a look at the lifestyle and culture of the early surf scene. But there's way too much detail given in the equipment used by the bands rather than the stories of the bands themselves. Plus why go on about Zappa for so long? Nobody buys a book called 'Surf Beat' and wants to read about Zappa. Much as it is undoubtedly better researched and more accurate than Bob Keane's 'Oracle of Del Fi', that was a much better book. I think the author would rather be writing another book. I was expecting a look at the lifestyle and culture of the early surf scene. But there's way too much detail given in the equipment used by the bands rather than the stories of the bands themselves. Plus why go on about Zappa for so long? Nobody buys a book called 'Surf Beat' and wants to read about Zappa. Much as it is undoubtedly better researched and more accurate than Bob Keane's 'Oracle of Del Fi', that was a much better book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Interesting look at the entwined history of surfing and surf music (and the early history of Frank Zappa, who was an odd part of the scene.) At times reptitive, and the proofreading leaves something to be desired, but the result for me is mainly a desire to delve even more deeply into surf music old and nmew.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Stewart

    Well researched but the writing style is quite flat. But it's a useful book if you want to learn a bit about surf rock. Well researched but the writing style is quite flat. But it's a useful book if you want to learn a bit about surf rock.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim Townsend

    This was s very well-researched, comprehensive history of surf music and culture in Southern California in the early 1960s. Enjoyable but with a few typos, which is why I rated it 4.9/5.0.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dave Lusby

  10. 5 out of 5

    Toon

  11. 5 out of 5

    Roy Oki Yamanaka

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  14. 4 out of 5

    Simon Anderson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donald Eager

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barry

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amazon

  18. 5 out of 5

    Briano

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  21. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy S

  24. 4 out of 5

    James Mahoney

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  26. 5 out of 5

    Harry Sorkin

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Summers

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ceci Vera

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrés Obando

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