Monday, December 31, 2012

Rock on Film

1982, first edition, from Virgin Books
David Ehrenstein and Bill Reed
Rock on Film
Original price unknown, purchase price £5 (in Oxford)
Worn condition

An intelligent, sometimes funny look at a quarter-century of rock music and musicians on film.  The authors are at least as generous as Dave Marsh in their definition of rock, including (as he does) country, reggae, disco, and punk, although they draw the line at Pat Boone.  The focus is mostly on American movies, although British cinema is well-represented, so it's not too odd a book for me to have found in an Oxford shop.  The role of racism in music and film is addressed, and it's notable that Ehrenstein is biracial and in fact in 2007 wrote the article "Obama the 'Magic Negro.'"

It's good that he and Reed appreciate the beauty and absurdity of rock, especially on screen.  (Where else are you going to read that in Shake Rattle and Rock Margaret Dumont "lets fly with a mean funky chicken at the film's conclusion"?)  Unfortunately, there are some avoidable errors, not just punctuation, but things like saying that Joplin, Hendrix, and Morrison all died in '68, when they actually went (all at the age of 27) in '70 and '71.  Still, the book holds up pretty well, even if music videos are still being called "promotional films" a few months into the MTV era.

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