Sarah's Stars

Mike Tanner. Flat-Out Rock: Ten Great Bands of the ‘60s
Annick Press $14.95  ISBN 978-1-55451-035-1  160 pg.
Reviewed by Emma, Age 15

Out of the darkness onstage came the sound of a lone guitar as Robby Krieger played the delicate, vaguely sinister introduction to a new Doors song, “The End.”  The crowd at West Hollywood’s Whiskey A Go-Go—the heart of the west coast club scene in 1966—stopped talking, and a hush descended on the room. The music swelled, slightly Indian, slightly Arabic, as Jim Morrison stepped into the spotlight and began to sing…

Flat-Out Rock is a compilation of musical biographies, the stories of ten rock ’n’ roll acts as they crossed the Main Stage forty years ago. Dylan, the Beatles, the Who, the Doors, Joplin, Hendrix, CCR, the Stones, Young, and Zeppelin are the artists selected, and their lives as musicians are outlined here, along with a decent bolstering of short articles about hippie and mod culture, song and album lists, and speculations on the musical roots and offspring of each performer and group.

Flat-Out Rock’s Mike Tanner started to play guitar at 15, going on to write and play for a number of groups, record three albums, and land himself a membership in the Toronto group the Circumstancialists. The Canadian author-musician’s other work includes Resurrection Blues, a novel for young adults.

Flat-Out Rock is compelling, creative, and vivid, saturated in potent, Technicolour images of the concerts, smash-hits, and inevitable devastations that immortalized these ‘60s rock stars. In-depth descriptions of some of the decade’s most extraordinary singles, and mind-blowing sagas of life (and death) beyond the guitars and the glamour make you want to hear each band, each album, and experience the characters as they were meant to be remembered—through their musical legacies.

I am not a fan of classic rock or of non-fiction, but this book wholly captivated me. I recommend it to students looking for a not-so-boring option for a non-fiction book report, or to fans of the musical era that wish to educate themselves. Tanner’s style is diverse, mesmerizing, and enjoyable: an enlightening four-star read to be noticed and noted.


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