Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hey! Hey! We're the I'm So Hollow

1984, Cox & Wyman edition
Denis Doyle
Hey! Hey! We're the I'm So Hollow: Group Names and Their Origins from Abba to Zoo
Original price £1.95, purchase price £1
Worn paperback

This is a rare case where the main title makes no sense until you think about the subtitle, in this case playing off of the Monkees theme, for a hypothetical band called "The I'm So Hollow."  Doyle doesn't explain Spooky Tooth, but he offers backstories and theories on why various rock groups are/were called such names.  Although many bands from the U.S., and a few from non-English-speaking lands, are covered, the perspective is definitely British, particularly in the first section, where he traces a general history of group-naming.  His suggestion that perhaps lower-middle-class American homes of the 1960s each had one car and "two garages," as an explanation of garage bands, will make Americans of any age shake their heads.  But he does provide some insights into how the class system affected British rock.

The book covers roughly the same period as British Invasion and Rock on Film, with additionally some bands from '82 and '83.  Doyle maintains that the 1950s weren't an especially creative time for band-naming, partly because a band as one unit of musicians (not just a back-up group with a lead singer, or an a capella singing group) was relatively unknown in rock & roll till roughly 1963, yes, with the rise of the Beatles.  But he does include the Crickets et al.  I found his explanation of The Lovin' Spoonful, along the lines of "Spoonful of Sugar," to be naive compared to the Rock Lists version (think 10CC), but then Wikipedia claims it comes from the song "Coffee Blues," so who knows?

There are a few errors, mostly of dates, but overall the book is a fun and enlightening read, a different look at rock history than what we've so far.  And, yes, it counts as "criticism," because Doyle offers opinions of some of the music, not just of the names.

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