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Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle…

Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World (2017)

by Billy Bragg

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you are interested in the roots of British rock music and where rock greats like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who began, then this is a must read. All these groups started in skiffle bands, guitar driven groups that played American folk and blues music.

The author immerses the reader in late '50s Britain, a country emerging from the restrictions of World War II. Working class teenagers had more money and freedoms and were looking to differentiate themselves from their parents. Espresso bars popped up in Soho with traditional jazz bands playing to teens who wanted to listen to music they could jive to. Small breakdown groups performing on guitar, washboard and bass played folk and blues in between jazz sets. Young people latched on to these "skiffle" groups and created a phenomena. The music was easy to play so anyone could start a band. Guitar sales went through the roof and skiffle groups, clubs, and contests became popular.

This book is packed with back round information on American and British history and culture and the workings of the British music industry. All this information could have made it a dull read, but Bragg does a good job of keeping the reader interested. Rock, jazz, and folk music enthusiast will enjoy reading this informative book on a genre of music little known in America. ( )
  craso | Jun 12, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Before reading Billy Bragg's wonderful history of skiffle, was that it was a British style of music that the Beatles were into before they became the Beatles. Now I know a lot more. Bragg is a super writer and does a great job pulling together all the threads (music, society, race, history, etc.) that created skiffle and the rollicking tale he tells is fascinating. Highly recommended. ( )
  MFenn | Jun 6, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A great read about a musical movement that is nearly forgotten or just plain unheard of. The book gives a solid foundation before heading into the evolution of Skiffle. There are enough commonly known ideas and touchstones of pop culture to keep your attention and to keep the narrative moving along. ( )
  Bricker | Jun 6, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An extensive look at ‘50s skiffle music in England, which was a unique style that grew from American jazz and folk music. This book includes a very interesting part of history that I had not heard before, but which had such a profound influence on British music of the ‘60s. It was intriguing to learn about and I even found myself looking up several of the songs that were mentioned and discussed. I would recommend this to any music buff interested in music history! ( )
  Carrie88 | May 8, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Billy Bragg introduces the reader to a uniquely British music that without there would be few if any of the British Bands we know today. Without Skiffle there is no Beatles, nor The Who. The entirety of British rock may have been radically different. For all they inspired, this book is not about what came after, but how the movement changed British culture of the era, how it helped to define a generational gap in the post-war era, and how it changed the sound of Britain. Along the way Bragg notes the working-class nature of the movement, its drawing upon the folk music of the land, and how it arose out of the people, rather than promoted from official institutions. ( )
  Jahoclave | Apr 30, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571327745, Hardcover)

Skiffle ― a “do-it-yourself” music craze with American jazz, blues, folk, and roots influences ― is a story of jazz pilgrims and blues blowers, Teddy Boys and beatnik girls, coffee-bar bohemians and refugees from the McCarthyite witch hunts. Skiffle is reason the guitar came to the forefront of music in the UK and led directly to the British Invasion of the US charts in the 1960s.

Emerging from the trad-jazz clubs of the early ’50s, skiffle was adopted by the first generation of British “teenagers” ― working class kids who grew up during the dreary, post-war rationing years. Before Skiffle, the pop culture was dominated by crooners and mediated by a stuffy BBC. Lonnie Donegan hit the charts in 1956 with a version of Lead Belly’s “Rock Island Line” and soon sales of guitars rocketed from 5,000 to 250,000 a year.

Like punk rock that would flourish two decades later, skiffle was home grown: all you needed were three guitar chords and you could form a group, with mates playing tea-chest bass and washboard as a rhythm section.

ROOTS, RADICALS AND ROCKERS is the first book to explore the Skiffle phenomenon in depth ― Billy Bragg’s meticulously researched and joyous account shows how Skiffle sparked a revolution that shaped pop music as we have come to know it.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 06 Mar 2017 19:02:13 -0500)

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