A Concise History of Rock Music

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Mel Bay Publications, Feb 27, 2012 - Music - 370 pages
This book, intended for the general public, music students, and enthusiasts of all ages, explores the entire history of rock music, from its origins up to the twenty-first century. Paul Fowles, guitarist, teacher and writer, has created a fascinating guide to a musical phenomenon which has captured the imagination of young people throughout the world.

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I'd rarely ever be cruel enough to punish an author with a one-star review over a few inaccuracies found in one chapter, but when these inaccuracies are indicative of such lazy and wilfully dishonest journalism, I'm afraid I'm left with no choice but to attempt to dissuade the public from wasting their money. The section regarding the progressive rock band Genesis beginning on page 146 states the following about A Trick of the Tail, the band's first album following the departure of singer Peter Gabriel:
"From that moment on, Genesis became a fundamentally different band, A Trick of the Tail (1976) containing an expertly presented agenda of neatly crafted pop songs for grown-ups."
One can only assume from this bizarre little nugget of misinformation that Mr Fowles hasn't actually listened to the album in question at all. A Trick of the Tail is a pure progressive rock album containing long, pastoral, mellotron-drenched epics full of tricky time signatures, extended instrumental workouts and lyrics rooted in fantasy, philosophy and ancient mythology. Vocals aside, there is very little stylistic difference between A Trick of the Tail and it's Gabriel-fronted predecessors, and the same can be said of its successor Wind & Wuthering (1976). While Genesis did slowly evolve into a decidedly less adventurous adult pop band following the departure of guitarist Steve Hackett, to imply that any sudden change occurred in 1976 is self-evidently absurd. It'd be laughable if Mr Fowles weren't asking us to pay for this.
"Many long-term fans were outraged by what they saw and heard..."
This simply isn’t true. There is so little stylistic difference between the first two Collins-fronted records and what came before that many fans at the time were unaware that any lineup change had occurred, and in 2014 Peter Gabriel stated that he is still praised for A Trick of the Tail to this day by unsuspecting listeners who believe he sang on the album. Furthermore, the band's live shows (supported by Bill Bruford of Yes & King Crimson fame; how’s that for prog credibility?) remained dominated by Gabriel-era material (not that the then-current material felt even slightly out of place), some of the live performances of which are even considered by hardcore fans to have surpassed the earlier studio recordings, such as the Apocalypse in 9/8 section of Supper's Ready featured on Seconds Out (1977), one of progressive rock's most universally beloved live albums.
"Collins was soon relishing his new-found fame, launching himself as a solo artist and media personality before the corpse of Gabriel's Genesis was cold in its grave."
Yet another falsehood. Collins' solo career didn't commence until seven years after Gabriel had left Genesis. This sentence alone demonstrates perfectly the kind of lazy, reductive journalism that has for so long plagued music journalism. This author is clearly more concerned with pushing a convenient narrative than he is in presenting a nuanced and accurate depiction of this band's history. I'm not exactly a rock historian myself, but the approach Mr Fowles has taken regarding Genesis makes me wonder just how many more distortions and outright lies that I'm not privy to infest the other chapters of this book. On these grounds, I stand by my one-star review of this work and strongly discourage anyone reading from purchasing it.

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