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Sonic Boom: The History of Northwest Rock from Louie Louie to Smells like Teen Spirit

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Author: Peter Blecha
Backbeat Books

When the topic of conversation comes around to music that came out of the northwestern part of the country undoubtedly most folks today would point to the Seattle grunge scene and probably Nirvana in particular. And while Kurt Cobain and company definitely changed the face of music, so did many other area acts that preceded them. Classic rockers will point to hit-makers Heart and the two foxy ladies that fronted the band. Summer-of-lovers will hold the Bic lighter high for one of the most innovative guitarists of all time---Jimi Hendrix. And the really old-timers will say, "Hey, what about the Sonics and the Kingsmen?" You can go back even further than that and Sonic Boom does; it starts chronicling the Northwest music scene beginning in the mid-'50s. But a few chapters into the book is where things really start popping as the Wailers shake up Tacoma by hitting the charts with the sax-driven "Tall Cool One" and the Kingsmen come along and start a nationwide controversy over possibly dirty lyrics with their remake of Richard Berry's regional hit "Louie Louie." Sonic Boom is extremely well researched and devoted to detail---you'll find out exactly who the movers and shakers were that paved the way for the likes of Nirvana many years later. There's not a lot of coverage of the grunge scene; that's a whole 'nother story and only the basics of Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone and the like are featured near the end of the book. But an in-depth look at everything else is here from the pop of Paul Revere and the Raiders to the surf sounds of the Ventures to the granddaddies of all garage rockers, the Sonics. Sonic Boom is a fun read and also a great reference tool for those interested in music history in general.



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