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I've just finished reading Peter Blecha's new book Sonic Boom, The History of Northwest Rock, from "Louie Louie" to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and I'm jonesing to dig through my attic to find all my old "Garage Punk Unknowns", "Back From The Grave", "Teenage Shutdowns" and other similar comps. The book, which focuses almost entirely on the inception of rock through the mid 60s, does a great job of describing the complicated scene that brought about greats like The Sonics (whose incredible first record, Boom, is the source of the book title), The Wailers, The Ventures, Paul Revere and the Raiders and, most famously, the Kingsmen. And, perfect for FMU fans, all of the obscure, short lived bands and the hits that never were are documented in passionate detail.
Peter Blecha attacks history from numerous angles. He covers the racial impact of rock and roll. He's got insider information on the publicists and marketers who made the deals that made the hits. He's got behind the scene anecdotes from the bands. For instance, in one of many sections on the Kingsmen's famous recording of "Louie, Louie", Blecha reveals that during the first take, the band's manager physically forced the recording engineer out of the studio. During the second and final take, The Kingsmen did not even know that they were recording a final take, they just thought they were running through the song for practice. And after hearing the playback, which The Kingsmen thought was absolute crap, the manager demanded that the band pay studio fees - when the band couldn't pay, one of their moms fronted the fifty bucks! A good investment on her part, I must say.