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Author Topic:  Two Recommendations: Book and Film
Mark Helm

Tennessee, USA
Post Posted 13 Jan 2018 1:56 pm     Reply with quote

Friends: Recently finished a very interesting, mostly well-written book: 'Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitar' by Alan di Perna and Brad Tolinski

The early chapters feature the groundbreaking work of George Beauchamp, Adolph Rickenbacker, John Dopyera, Paul A. Bigsby, Leo Fender, and, to a lesser extent, Paul Barth, Harry Watson, Doc Kaufman, and George Fullerton. Though there's one gaping flaw in the book: little mention is made of the first "real" guitar heroes who were wizards on the lap steel (and you know their names), it's a decent read with some real insight into the mind of Leo Fender especially.

AND, while I'm at it, I'd also like to highly recommend an absolutely brilliant documentary: 'Rumble (The Indians Who Rocked the World),' which was recently released on Netflix and rightly documents the influence of Native American musicians on "American" music like the Blues and Rock and Roll:
War-time Rick Model B (Panda), 1948 Rick Model S/NS, 1955 Fender Dual Professional 6-string (non-pedal)
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Guy Cundell

More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 17 Jan 2018 5:40 pm     Reply with quote

‘Play it Loud’ is an interesting enough but by no means as comprehensive as it is made out to be, as Mark suggests. The authors are forced to acknowledge the importance place of the steel guitar in the story by the facts but seem unenthusiastic about doing so. The summary of steel guitar origins is regulation and could have been pulled from Wikipedia. The lack of research is evident in the amusing equivalence that is drawn between Hawaiian steel guitar and slack key. (p5) Beauchamp’s story is told in detail with reference to his Hawaiian steel interest and experience. The Tricone gets a mention, as well as Sol’s part in its success. Alvino Rey gets a paragraph or two, as do the competitors of Rickenbacher in the mid thirties before the chapter fades to black to emerge in the next chapter with Charlie Christian.

Before the fade is a paragraph that deals with Alvino Rey’s steel guitar effects, mentioning the talk box and the rock stars that took it up in the seventies. But the paragraph ends with this.
The public’s perception of the electric guitar as a novelty instrument would persist well into the 1940s. Its novelty began to subside when jazz musicians adopted the new instrument, but would only be fully laid to rest with the advent of rock and roll.
The paragraph had started with discussion of a famous steel guitar practitioner but by the end, whole genres of steel guitar music had evaporated. On one hand, the authors acknowledge the significance of the steel guitar but a myopic perspective prevents them from presenting a full and rich picture to their readers. They give no credence to the artistry of the steel guitarists of the 1930s. Perhaps they (or their editor) judge that their audience would have no interest in western swing or Hawaiian music. Pity.

One and a half stars. (harsh perhaps, but I'm a bit miffed.) Smile
Save your money for John Troutman’s “Kika Kila” or any article by Lynn Wheelwright.
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Mark Helm

Tennessee, USA
Post Posted 17 Jan 2018 8:11 pm     Agreed (Sorta) Reply with quote

I totally agree with Guy that this book gives criminal short shrift to the towering importance of lap steel guitar and its most dizzying practitioners.

The reason I recommend it has only a bit to do with its mention of the steel's history.

There's some pretty insightful stuff about Leo Fender and the genesis of that iconic company, and great chapters on the Telecaster, the Strat, and Rickenbacker solid and semi-hollow body electric guitars like the 360-12. Never mind the rather engaging chapter on Eddie Van Halen's FrankenStrat."

I do agree with Guy that, if you're looking at it purely from the perspective of a non-pedal steel player (which is reasonable since I posted about it on this forum), it's pretty weak tea.
War-time Rick Model B (Panda), 1948 Rick Model S/NS, 1955 Fender Dual Professional 6-string (non-pedal)
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Anthony Lis

South Dakota, USA
Post Posted 17 Jan 2018 9:36 pm     Reply with quote


Thanks for your frank thoughts on the di Perna/Tolinski book.
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