This week we want to talk about just one item and it is not even a record, it is a book – but a book that has been a long time coming but well worth the wait. Weighing in at over 700 pages we have the first history of the British Rockabilly scene. It is packed with information and a sprinkling of flyers and photographs. It is essential for everyone who was there and everyone who wishes they had been.
The phenomenon of the British Rockabilly subculture has never really been examined before. Those of us involved with it have been too busy living it and those outside of it are generally not interested. In this sense, it is an extremely successful subculture. It is a complete culture within which its members live but it eludes simple examination and so does not attract casual interest. You cannot understand it until you are part of it.
We think it is a safe assumption that most people on this mailing list have been involved with Rock ‘n’ Roll culture to some extent. Paul is ‘one of us’ (in a Tod Browning Freaks style), one of the people who start with buying records and seeing bands and follow a path that leads to a Rockabilly, and in Paul’s case, a Psychobilly life.
He looked at all the publications on Northern Soul, Punk, House etc and thought it looked like everyone involved had written a book but none of us had ever done so
The author says one day he was standing in a bookshop in the music section. He looked at all the publications on Northern Soul, Punk, House etc and thought it looked like everyone involved had written a book but none of us had ever done so. He wished that someone would so that other people could understand the passion and intensity of the Ted, Rockabilly, Hepcat and Psychobilly life. After it appeared that no one else was going to do it, Paul started his research and four years later this opus is the result.
It is a good job that it is someone with the character that Paul shows has taken on this task. He has taken great pains to find and interview hundreds of people from across the scene. The effort he has put in to hear different views is plain to see. There are conflicting views expressed within the book and that is how it should be. We are a big old group without a leader or set of rules and so what one set of people take as truth another group may view as nonsense. But by letting the individuals talk for themselves the book presents as much of the truth as can be found in the memories of those present.
We are not going to go through the book in any kind of depth here and have to admit we have not had time to read it in full but we can say we have been fascinated by something on every page. It starts with the background impact of Rock ‘n’ Roll in this country in the 1950 and the emergence of the Teddy Boy. Through interviews with original Teddy Boys and Rock ‘n’ Roll fans, some of whom are on the scene to the present day, we follow the ups and downs of Rock ‘n’ Roll appreciation through the 1950s and 1960s.
The scene exploded as an immediate, emotional response by young people hearing a musical form for the first time
We learn about the small groups of fans who created the Rock ‘n’ Roll revival scene and the vitally important record collectors. It was these collectors who identified an odd strand of Rock ‘n’ Roll and for sake of reference, called it Rockabilly. The heart of the book is the early 70s Rock ‘n’ Roll revival and the Rockabilly scene that grew up as that revival waned. We learn via the interviews that this was no revival of past glories by old men; it was not a backward look to lost youth. The scene exploded as an immediate, emotional response by young people hearing a musical form for the first time and recognising instinctively that it matched the hormone-driven, live for today, too young to know better, frantic exploration for a place in the world that is the teen-age years. As a subculture that has survived and maybe even thrived for 50 years, there are a lot of avenues to be explored By interviewing the people who were there, Paul has worked to cover all the bases and represent all the viewpoints. No one will agree with everything in the book but that makes it a balanced representation.
This book is selling fast so don’t delay, buy today!
Keeping with the theme of the history of our music scene, here is our selection from the shop of some of the most iconic 45s of our time.
A couple of tracks from a Rockabilly King that were issued for the first time n the 1970s and have filled dance floors ever since.
We have not come across them in our dives into the book but we guess the Vincent-a-billies are in there somewhere.
Four superb Hillbilly Bop tracks that may or may not have been played back in the seventies but are the right style.
Not a huge club hit or anything but this was first reissued on an LP in 1981 and was the sort of rarity that drove collectors crazy.