Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock & Roll

Mikal Gilmore, Author
Mikal Gilmore, Author Doubleday Books $24.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-385-48435-0
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-385-48436-7
Hardcover - 978-0-330-36890-2
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-1-4472-6794-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-09698-1
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Arranged in rough chronological order by subject, this collection of a career's worth of rock, pop and jazz writing for venues like Rolling Stone and the L.A. Times shows Gilmore (Shot in the Heart, 1994) at his best when championing underappreciated icons--such as the Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson and singer-songwriter Tim Hardin--and seizing opportunities to point out what even ardent fans may have missed. But Gilmore has little to add to the general consensus regarding Elvis, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and his chapters about Jerry Garcia and Timothy Leary amount to not much more than brief biography and tender reminiscence. Gilmore's seemingly left-wing politics prove tedious when used to interpret such kindred spirits as Bruce Springsteen and Allen Ginsberg, but emerge as refreshing when he suggests that disco and David Lee Roth-era Van Halen may owe something to the ideals of the '60s. Less than revelatory discussions with Bob Dylan and Lou Reed are made fascinating by Gilmore's talent for invoking a mood and describing a scene--one can almost smell the white wine in Dylan's styrofoam cup and see Reed's weathered face in the dim light of a bar at sundown. All in all, the superlative-wielding sprawl of Gilmore's book may come as close as one can to a one-volume overview of the musical mainstream. (Jan.)
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