Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The British Invasion

1983, undated (but probably that year) McGraw-Hill edition
Nicholas Schaffner (and friends)
The British Invasion
Probably bought newish for $14.95
Worn paperback

Although this was first published in 1982, and is listed as such on, for instance, Wikipedia, I'm going with the 1983 copyright.  Schaffner and his collaborators (including two with his last name) use December 1980 as a cut-off point (because of John Lennon's death), although in some profiles a band's releases and other actions for '81 are mentioned.  As such, I found it worked on two levels for me.  One is as a glimpse into a time of rock history (a term that Schaffner finds himself defending, though this is a decade after the Christgau book I reviewed) when I was either not yet born or too little to follow the charts.  (I would say 1975 is when I became aware of, in particular, Paul McCartney and Elton John.)  The book is also, in the second section, with its short profiles of the "Hot Hundred" a glimpse of British music shortly before I became a fan of Culture Club, the Thompson Twins, Dexy's Midnight Runners, and others, that is 1982 onwards.

Oddly enough, some of the artists, including the Kinks (one of seven bands and/or soloists that Schaffner has longer profiles of), seem not to have "invaded" the U.S. all that well, in that their music often flopped on American charts and had no more than cult status, a hit or ten aside.  This paradox, especially as it played out in the aggressively non-commercial punk movement, could've been explored in more depth.  Also, there are many bands here I just don't care about.  Still, the writing is good, with Parke Puterbaugh (a Rolling Stone reviewer) probably the best after Schaffner, as with his remark that "no one would own up to the origins of [Spooky Tooth's] name, which suggested a regrettable dental episode."

Schaffner's other 1983 collaboration, with Pete Shotton, is not mentioned on the back cover, so this probably isn't a much later edition.

No comments:

Post a Comment