Nick Cohn undoubtedly has to be the first ungulate of Rock’ n’ Roll music. He writes with a raw rage that is pleading to be unleashed; he writes with a rebellion that is reminiscent of the counter culture and debauchery of the late 1950s, the 60s and the early 70s. He writes with a remarkable sense of abandon that blurs ultra thin the line between licentiousness and constructive criticism. Most of all he writes because he can. Mesmerised and sucked into a whirlpool era of drainpipe trousers, shoulder length unkempt hair, indiscriminate acid tripping and neck breakers of motorcycle accidents, Nick Cohn in this seminal work traces what he terms the ‘demise’ of Super Pop and the emergence of a blend of music that is at once uproarious, pretentious, un-glamorous and yet irresistible.
From the rise of Bill Haley to the demise of Janis Joplin, Nick Cohn catches us by the scruff of our necks and drags us through the non-linear passage of Rock and Roll. Compulsively irreverent and mostly irascible, Cohn expresses his views bordering on the intractable upon a myriad number of rock bands and individual singers who tried to woo, wreck and wallop a world of unsuspecting, uncaring and unavoidable teeming mass of teens, hysterical on LSD, hyped up with sex and hollering for noise. Nick Cohn writes with a sense of humour which is at once deadpan and morbid. Whether it be describing the painful contortions of P.J.Proby or ‘duck-ass hair’ and ‘tricksy grin’ of the genial Eddie Cochran, Nick Cohn does not miss a single beat that is of consequence or a single twang that has relevance written all over it.
Nick Cohn with this book (by the way for all you new generation homo-sapiens, the title is taken from a crooning containing the same seemingly indecipherable words, courtesy Little Richard. The song is named “Tutti Fruity”) laid the structure and built the foundation for the art of rock criticism. The title of “father of rock and roll criticism” should rightfully be bestowed upon this music obsessed writer. This even though, his personal views on some of the proven artists borders on illogical ridiculousness. To praise the likes of Beach Boys and The Mod influx following Beatlemania is one thing; but to cast off the likes of Jim Morrison’s Doors and Led Zeppelin as bands of no consequence is a totally insane act altogether. But to the credit of Nick Cohn , in the foreword to the book he himself confesses the fact that the book might be a ‘morass of factual errors’. The time at which he escaped to an island to write this book was the culprit. It was the late sixties, where fact was more ephemeral than fiction and strange lies made perfect sense than inconvenient truths. Acid tripping was sacrosanct while Woodstock was seminal; Psychedelia was both the taboo as well as the truth; Short hair was sacrilegious to be banished in favour of an ill maintained shoulder length tumble.
Despite the times, Nick Cohn has not stumbled much in his brilliant assessment of the past, present and future of rock. From the sixties till to day, not a great deal has changed other than rapid strides in technology and commercialism. Even today true fans of Rock thirst for that one element of aural Holy Grail – unblemished; unadulterated and unshackled NOISE!
“Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom” – A true celebration of Rock and Roll!