________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2006


Flat-Out Rock: Ten Great Bands of the ‘60s. 

Mike Tanner.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2006.
160 pp., pbk. & cl., $14.95 (pbk.), $24.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55451-035-X (pbk.), ISBN 1-55451-036-8 (cl.). 

Subject Headings:
Rock music-1961-1970-Juvenile literature.
Rock groups-Juvenile literature.
Rock musicians-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Lee Anne Smith. 

**** /4 


Of course like any other era, the '60s produced a lot of forgettable music. There were goofy trends and manufactured clichés: for every one of the Beatles there were a hundred bands like the Monkees. But the best of the '60s music still sounds immediate and alive today. It still rocks. That's one reason "classic rock" is so popular, decades after the songs were written. The musicians in this book, an many others, defined the shape of rock music long after their time in the spotlight. There isn't a songwriter alive who can honestly deny the influence of Bob Dylan's lyrics or Paul McCartney's melodies. Everyone who plays electric rock guitar has learned from Jimi Hendrix; all singers who bare their souls in performance have taken something from Janis Joplin or John Lennon. 

     Who do you think were the most influential ten bands of the ‘60s? The Beatles and The Rolling Stones immediately come to my mind but what other bands rate this top billing? Check out Flat–Out Rock: Ten Great Bands of the 60’s to see if your choices are in this fascinating compendium of Classic Rock bands. 

     Author and musician Mike Tanner has written a terrific book that brings together the music, culture and politics of the 60’s into a highly readable and informative resource for teens and adults. As a musician and recording artist, Tanner has an insider viewpoint that will be irresistible to readers. His book goes beyond the usual fan memorabilia, demonstrating the importance of the artists who were pivotal forces in the 60’s and to the ongoing popularity of rock music today. Tanner’s writing is clear, and his background in communications and English language instruction gives his text a superior plain speaking flow that carries the reader effortlessly from one chapter to the next. I very much enjoyed reading this 160 page book, practically devouring it in one sitting because of Tanner’s original and rhythmic prose. 

     Tanner takes on all the well-known characteristics of the 60’s, sex, drugs, social unrest, women’s liberation, through the lens of the musical artists who created some of the most enduring rock music ever. His well-researched information provides an authentic perspective of this musical generation and the artistic vision that shaped the powerful sounds and the social controversy these famous (and infamous) groups generated.  

     The book’s style uses the same structure for all ten bands, including a front page, background, band members, best songs, best albums, band influences and each band’s musical descendants. The superb design breaks up the predictability of this format very nicely with the use of striking, high quality photographs, graphic side bars and colourful pages. Annick Press has done a bang up job in creating a cultural history book that has the look and feel of the 60’s. The unusual size of the book astutely insures that it is big enough to show off the superb photos and design but small enough that it fits easily into teen backpacks.  

     The extensive selected bibliography and further reading suggestions will lead the readers to other valuable sources. The list of cited materials for the original quotes and photo credits demonstrate the impressive research and unusual sources Tanner used. 

     As many information specialists know, teens and adults enjoy nonfiction as much as fiction. Flat–Out Rock: Ten Great Bands of the 60’s is a wonderful book for both types of readers and is highly recommended both for school and public libraries. 

Highly Recommended. 

Lee Anne Smith is a youth services librarian and Head of the Cambie Branch for Richmond Public Library in Richmond, BC. 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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