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Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  386 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Written in 1968 and revised in 1972, Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom was the first book to celebrate the language and the primal essence of rock 'n' roll. But it was much more than that. It was a cogent history of an unruly era, from the rise of Bill Haley to the death of Jimi Hendrix.

And while telling outrageous tales, vividly describing the music, and cutting through the hype
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 24th 2001 by Grove Press (first published August 1969)
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Ben Winch
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
I can be a crybaby, sure, but rarely do I cry over rock music writing. Still, one night as I read aloud to my wife Nik Cohn socked it to me:

Ireland was where I had grown up, and Rock the main reason I had left. My own raising had been in the Protestant section of Derry, where Bill Haley and Elvis were not mentioned. Then one evening I’d gone astray; found myself on the fringes of Bogside, the Catholic slum. Across the street I had heard Little Richard singing Tutti Frutti on a coffee-bar jukebox
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of the essential titles with respect to the history of rock n' roll. What makes this book interesting is really the writer Nik Cohn. Hardcore Mod, a friend of Pete Townshend, and is actually the Pinball Wizard! Also if that is not enough, he wrote Saturday Night Fever. The twist in that narrative is though the story is based on a Brooklyn boy and the disco movement is actually based on Cohn's British Mod years.

Nevertheless, this is a fascinating book via the eyes and ears of Nik Cohn. Incre
Paul Bryant
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I WANT TO “HOLD YOUR HAND” - a short account of how far you could go in the 50s and early 60s

In the 50s and early 60s mainstream pop music was supposed to be fairly tame, with Wake Up Little Susie being about as risque as the radio was prepared to play you, but of course there were other markets where a certain licence was allowed. For instance – how about this delightful lyric “Sixty Minute Man” by Billy Ward, and sung by his group The Dominoes in 1951:

If you don't believe I'm all that I say
Alec Downie
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bowie-book-club
Bowie loved this book, as it was almost a documentary insight into the mind of teenage music fans, as well as a blueprint to stardom.

As irritating as Nik Cohen (and 1000's of other teens) can be when essentially writing a procession of judgemental statements saying, "I like" or "I don't like" or passing cutting comments about, levels of ugliness, it still is a fascinating read.

It is surprising he ever wrote another word after publishing this as it is brutal about individuals, and the industry i
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nik Cohn, a man who was short changed of letters at birth, in the year 1968 at 20 years of age, published the first serious critique of Rock (n Roll). At whizz bang speed he captures the relief of the last 15 years or so of popular music’s cultural climate, how key figures and influencers changed music for their musical descendants, and the naissance of Pop.

Everyone who mattered, from the great icons to those whose influence was behind the scenes, is mentioned in this book. Cohn manages to make
Darcie K
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I loved it! This is a survey of pop through, roughly, 1968, by the first believable rock critic. He writes clearly and is able to capture the excitement of each group and musical movement. He communicates effectively about music with the written word, something that not very many people can do well. If you're rusty on popular music from Elvis through Hendrix, this will catch you up and might even help you sound like you know what you're talking about.
Tosh and I discuss this on our Book Musik Podcast.

Initially written in 1968 and revised in 1972, Awopbop… is one of the earliest books to tackle the history of rock ‘n’ roll, both in front of and behind the curtain, and this is back when everyone still thought it was a passing phase. Fifty years later and now this book is essential reading in the music writing cannon. Cohn developed a writing style that was completely in sync with his subject matter – brash, visceral, in your face, with loads of
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
#DavidBowieBookClub No.5
Loved this! Albeit written in 1969, Cohn is passionate about music and gives us insights into the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elvis, The Who but also lesser known artists like PJ Proby, The Animals, Sonny and Cher to name but a few.
Sid Nuncius
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Written in 1969, this remains for me one of the best books about rock and pop music between 1955 and 1968. It documents the rise of Rock & Roll, the Beatles and the Stones, flower power, psychedelia and so on, all of which has been very well done by others, too, but Nic Cohn was *there* and had been there recently. Not only that, but he has a wonderful writing style and a sharp, incisive take on things.

Cohn's style is fairly hip, cool and opinionated. I like it a lot, like his summing up of the
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
One of the few heirlooms in my family is a set of books about the First World War by Frank R. Cana. They were dashed out as soon as the war ended so include some factual errors, such as that Samsonov was killed by a German shell at Tannenberg, when, in fact, he committed suicide.

There are similar things here, a book about the history of 'pop' (somewhat loosely defined) written in 1969. Buddy Holly died in Iowa, not North Dakota, and Eddie Cochran did not die on the A1, he died on the A4 traveli
Ella Schilling
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I would like to start this off by quoting his two absolutely surreal documented encounters with Bert Berns, the man who, if you know him at all, you know him for writing “Twist and Shout”, since the Beatles perfected it, and nothing more. I like to joke with people by telling them Bertrand Russell wrote this song. Since that is indeed the real name of Bert Berns. And naturally, he is confused with the famous English philosopher. Anyway, for some reason Cohn is infatuated with this tunesmith:

Octavia Cade
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, history
This was written near 50 years ago now, a series of short chapters - almost columns - by a young critic on the development of pop music. It's pop criticism for pop music, essentially, and not objective at all but that's the charm. Cohn's focus is always brought back to how pop music has affected him, how it makes him feel, and his judgment of the various successes and failures of groups and songs is intensely personal, and often has nothing to do with how well they've been received by other peop ...more
John Levon
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
To some the "original" rock criticism writing. He's a big fan of music I don't like much, but it's an interesting and enjoyably opinionated read, and he's prescient in spotting the rise of prog rock in the 70s.
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I first encountered Nik Cohn while collecting information on movies from the 1970s. I discovered that Cohn wrote the original New York magazine article that became Saturday Night Fever, and as an added bonus, the article had its own backstory - it was presented to the public as a piece of journalism, but was later revealed to be a complete fabrication.

Cohn, however, was no beginner when he took the magazine assignment to write about Disco in New York. In fact, was already something of a legend
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
As the supposed godfather of rock criticism, Nik Cohn has a lot to answer for. You can here his opinionated confidence echoing through the decades to the glorified NME of the 21st century, the idolisation of 'rock' not as music but as a way of being, a way of acting, in which the music is sometimes irrelevant. But Cohn has got a point to prove here and plenty of evidence to back him up; he lived through the rock & pop revolution of the 50s and 60s, he was there at the concerts where girls wet th ...more
Chris Flinterman
I'm actually doubting how to feel about this book.
First, I should say that the writing style of the author is great. In many cases, he manages to put the feeling of music in words, and does so in a very poetic way. Reading it therefore is at points even funny, as he nails how ridiculous some pop acts have been.
However, there is a big problem with this book, and that is its age. The book was published in 1969, and since 50 years have gone by, it is hugely backdated. Surely it is also its strengt
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: miscellaneous
This lives up to its fame. It was written by a 23-year-old guy in 1968. And it tells the story of pop music. And amazingly how and why everything was better in the past. This alone is illuminating. The Beatles were still around, Elvis had a comeback still to come. And yet it is not only a curiosity. Cohn really has something meaningful to say about music. “So it isn’t really their fault, you could hardly blame them, but, indirectly, the Beatles have brought pop to its knees.”
He does not like Hig
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in 1969, I heard about this book on a recent NY Times Book Review podcast. Looking back at rock from the end of the Sixties, 22 year old Brit Nik Cohn, was, according to some, the father of rock criticism. Cohn's basic thesis was that the best pop/rock was simple, loud, aggressive, somewhat paranoid, teen music. Once it began to take itself too seriously and strived to become high art, it was lost (i.e., the Beatles after they stopped touring in 1966). The chapters on Bill H ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
A bit dated, but still fascinating, especially for his attitude towards what we now see as classic artists and albums. For instance, he sees the sublime Dusty Springfield as ordinary, dismisses later era Beatles and Stones. A bit of a relic now, but still worth a look for anyone who loves rock and pop.
Risto Pakarinen
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
It's interesting to read this book in September 2018. In a way, the picture Nik Cohn paints is incomplete but at the same time, it feels more honest because the Stones are washed up and Elvis is still eating burgers in Graceland. Great writing, although in his introduction Cohn says that he could barely open because he couldn't face his blatant factual errors. He didn't have Google to help him.
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Delightful to step back in time and to hear the accounts of all sorts of music as it emerged, inspired, and dismayed. Cohn is just plain fun to read. It's like having a cup of coffee with your favorite music fanatic. You'll want another cup.
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Hot damn tamale!!! All that shit inscribed. The walls that detain deluges of conformity stare into flesh, it presses beat into style's everyday embryo. Impossible creation slangs and swangs awops and abooms.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Personal take in rock, written in 1968! Rock criticism had a good start.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Very refreshing to read music criticism from the '60s that looks as askance on the hippy stuff as I do.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great one book overview of the history of rock / pop from 1956-1968. Engaging read.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it
and a half stars (If i have to)...One of the first books about pop, written by a young man-rock was dead in 1968! Or so he says. Fun to argue with
Jo Floyd
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Music from1940 through to late 1960s. Read comment about how he hopes the Rolling Stones die young shortly having seen them
Perform in Principality Stadium in their 70s!
Rachel C.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The title is the best part - great title. The book is 101-level stuff, a whirlwind tour through the music of the '50s and '60s with a UK focus.
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Nick Cohn undoubtedly has to be the first ungulate of Rock' n' Roll music. He writes with a raw rage that is pleading to be unleashed; he writes with a rebellion that is reminiscent of the counter culture and debauchery of the late 1950s, the 60s and the early 70s. He writes with a remarkable sense of abandon that blurs ultra thin the line between licentiousness and constructive criticism. Most of all he writes because he can. Mesmerised and sucked into a whirlpool era of drainpipe trousers, sho ...more
Bernard O'Leary
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating document from the early days of pop, Cohn sat down to write this at the tender age of 22 and almost single-handedly invented the art of music journalism.

The first half of the book is absolute dynamite and captures the explosive nature of what happened in the immediate pre-Elvis era up to the dawn of the Beatles. Barely a decade, but a gigantic cultural revolution took place across the world, a revolution that was personal, sexual, interracial and led by teenagers. Cohn tracks this
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All About Books: Week 14 - (1968) Awopbopaloobo Alopbamboom by Nik Cohn. 3 19 May 02, 2016 09:16AM  

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Cohn is considered by some critics to be a father of rock criticism, thanks to his time on The Observer's early rock column entitled The Brief and his first major book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, first published in 1969. Cohn has since published articles, novels and music books regularly.

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56 likes · 24 comments
“Rock 'n' roll was very simple music. All that mattered was the noise it made, its drive, its aggression, its newness. All that was taboo was boredom.
The lyrics were mostly non-existent, simple slogans one step away from gibberish. This wasn't just stupidity, simple inability to write anything better. It was a kind of teen code, almost a sign language, that would make rock entirely incomprehensible to adults.
In other words, if you weren't sure about rock, you couldn't cling to its lyrics. You either had to accept its noise at face value or you had to drop out completely.”
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