Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cousin Brucie - Rock and Roll...And The Beat Goes On

If you grew up in the New York area in the 70s and 80s, you undoubtedly know who “Cousin Brucie” is. The radio personality and host of all your favorite oldies as played on WCBS FM. Prior to that, he played songs of the times on both WABC and WNBC. Known throughout the nation as one of the most knowledgeable historians of rock and roll, Cousin Brucie is revered for his craft, memory, and passion on the subject of music. He is currently hosting radio programs on satellite radio and still finds time to pursue other interests, such as writing. His latest offering is Rock and Roll…And The Beat Goes On, a wonderful coffee table book covering a significant period of rock and roll history as only Cousin Brucie can recall it.

With a Foreword by Brian Wilson and an Epilogue from Billy Joel, it’s quite obvious that Cousin Brucie has some friends in the industry. He’s met a lot of greats during his many years in the music industry and in Rock and Roll… he covers a lot of the very great musicians from back in the day.

Opening with the 1950s era of rock and roll and moving forward through 1973, Rock and Roll is a fun little travelling time trip through memory lane with Cousin Brucie as your host. Using his deep knowledge and passion about music, Cousin Brucie has written a great remembrance of the best rock and roll musicians from a bygone era. Musicians that need to be remembered and recalled not only for the contributions they brought to the world of music, but also for the sheer enjoyment that they’ve brought millions of listeners over the years.

From Bill Haley and the Comets all the way to The Eagles, every significant musician is covered between these pages in unique Brucie style with his own remembrance of each. Lesser known artists are mentioned as well. Not only are The Doors, The Grateful Dead, and The Rolling Stones covered, but also Paul Revere and the Raiders, Petula Clark, Blue Cheer, and Peter & Gordon.

Music isn’t the only mainstream form of entertainment remembered by Cousin Brucie. He also delves into pop culture of the time. All your favorite television programs (Star Trek, I Spy, All In The Family), movies (James Bond, One Million BC, Rosemary’s Baby), and political leaders (Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.) are covered within the pages of this exceptional remembrance. Blending music with the hardships and struggles of the different eras, Brucie is able to paint an entire picture of the days gone by, rather than just one significant portion of it.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this book is the pictures contained within. Literally thousands of photos grace the pages. Pictures from Thomas Edison (inventor of the phonograph)) all the way to Richard Nixon show the historical perspective of music as well as some of the great musicians from the time.

There are also plenty of album covers too, which was the most interesting of all. It isn’t known whether these are from Cousin Brucie’s personal collection or not, but the covers are wonderful. Some of the photos are complete with the vinyl ring (wear and tear that used to show on the cover of well worn vinyl albums) which adds to the authentic feel of the time gone by.

While Rock and Roll covers just about everything Cousin Brucie could remember, the downside to the book is that it dabbles in multiple artists, movies, pop culture, and politics. With the breadth of memory and contacts that Cousin Brucie has, we would have been better served with an in-depth look at the key musicians of the times, rather than a brief glance of each. It would have been much more significant reading intricate details about Stevie Wonder and the Beach Boys rather than a quick half-page to a full-page of coverage they received. This is the only area for improvement that takes away from the book as a whole.

Overall, Rock and Roll…And The Beat Goes On is an enjoyable read for any fan of music. The elder statesmen (and women) will love reliving the days gone by and remembering the bands and events of those times. Younger readers will see a book filled with deep knowledge and historical perspective that can help them relate to the earlier days of music and the bands that inspired a lot of today’s hard rock acts. Rock and Roll…And The Beat Goes On is a worthy read and pure enjoyment.

Ryo’s Rating: B+

Rock and Roll…And The Beat Goes On by “Cousin Brucie” Morrow is available in October wherever books are sold.

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