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Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  43 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 hyp ...more
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
...more
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
Com
...more
Tosh
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
...more
Daniel
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
...more
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
...more
John
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
...more
Darcie
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.
Octavia Cade
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, music
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
Liedzeit
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
...more
Emma
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.
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.
Markku
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Personal take in rock, written in 1968! Rock criticism had a good start.
Thomas Greaves
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.
Chris
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.
Rachel C.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic, subj-music
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.
Venky
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bibliocase
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
...more
Rjs
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was about 16, [I'm now 50] and it informed my thinking about pop music in all its glory ever since. I'm one of the luckiest generation in terms of how music has played a huge part in so many aspects of my life. I feel for today's teenagers, not because there is no great music out there. In fact, there's too much of it. I feel for them because music is not going to be the centre of their universe in the way it became for me in the 70's. There are now so many other distract ...more
Joe
Feb 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Reading this original edition - from before it was renamed to Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock seems very appropriate, since the best way to approach this is as an artifact straight from its specific moment in time: the musings of a precocious, cocky 22 year-old music obsessive in 1969.

Some of the quirks of perspective that result are more charming than others. It's wryly ironic that Cohn was already wondering what the Rolling Stones had left in them with Let It Bleed and its
...more
Josh
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
An eyewitness account of rock and roll-- its rise, its glory days, its decline; written when The Beatles were still a going concern, Elvis was still making his comeback, and The Rolling Stones had given up touring, Cohn's book is unlike any other rock and roll book I've read: It aims to capture the pulpy, electric feel of the best rock and roll, which means it's rough and ragged, quick with its opinions and funny stories but not much interested in a more scholarly approach. That's fine, of cours ...more
Darren
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a blast this book is - like Absolute Beginners, it captures what it was to be in that first generation of British teenagers to have a distinctive identity.

This book was written by Cohn when he was in his early 20s, reflecting on the gestation of rock music performed by white people, highschool pop and RnB, through to soul, surf, superpop, folk rock and the almighty Beatles. Unlike every other book about rock and pop I've read, this was written as a 'hot take', if you will, capturing the th
...more
Terry Wheeler
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
For me this is one of those books that got away. In the early 70s you could count the paperbacks on pop with one hand. My teenage budget was also scarce. I had to choose between this book and Charlie Gillet's 'The Sound of the City'. This one looked more trivial so I opted for Gillet's book. Much as that book is a classic and incredibly well researched and set out, Cohn's labour of love about 50s and 60s rock and pop wins hands down. He wrote this book when he was twenty two - locked himself in ...more
Evan
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This was one of the first book-length works of "rock criticism," written in 1968 and revised a few years later. As such, it didn't tell me much that I didn't already know from a factual standpoint, but the writing is passionate as well as thoughtful and engaging, and the voice is emphatically subjective without being obnoxious. In particular, I found the Anglo-Irish Cohn's observations on the late-'50s American culture that spawned what he calls "highschool" music (the post-Elvis, pre-Beatles te ...more
Saxon
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is essentially time piece from '68(and revised a few years later) that attempted to track the rise of pop and rock n roll from the 50s to the present by one, particularly opinionated and very young, rock critic. At times, it's brilliant and other times Cohn seems bored as all hell with his task.

In many ways, this book also acts as an alternate history to a lot of generally accepted narratives about some of pop music's greatest bands and stars -- and none of them, absolutely no one, gets off
...more
robert
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My hardcover was published in 1969. This book is flash - opinionated and fast and in love with the pop of pop, in love with rock n roll but not Rock. Heresies abound which makes the book rebellious in a good way, even though I cannot agree that the Beatles lost their way when they dropped acid and became spiritual and started creating "Art", or that one line of the Monotones "Book of Love" means more than all of "Blonde on Blonde." Cohn bemoans the state of modern music: "There has to be insanit ...more
Josh
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a marvelous introduction to rock/pop, spanning from its beginnings in the late '50s to the post-Beatles era of 1970. The perfect companion piece to this, which starts in the '60s but then also runs into the '80s, is Lester Bangs's Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung.
What makes these books work so well together are the authors' commitment to writing in the style of rock, i.e.their narrative voices attempt to echo the general cadences of rock music and the personality of the times. Bot
...more
David Ward
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn (Grove Press 1969)(781.9609). Written in 1969 by a Brit, this book covers roots rock, R & B, and the biggest bands of the 1960's before the sixties were over. In fact, this was written so early that there is no perspective to be found. This book contains the earliest rock criticism I have found. My rating: 7/10, finished 7/29/14.
Romanaadvorafred
Good points: it's written with absolute conviction, written well and is an invaluable memento of a particular moment of time.
Bad points: its language has not aged well, there are some factual inaccuracies and he was dead wrong about Zeppelin.

It's a polemic. It doesn't pretend to be unbiased. However, it is somewhat amusing to see someone claim that the Beatles won't mean as much as Elvis.
Gautsho
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Isegi mu rõõmsalt pealiskaudne huvi muusika vastu ei seganud, väga hea raamat, ja millise lustiga (ja kui tõsiselt) kirjutatud. Tahaks kogu popmuusikast kuni siiani sellist lugeda. David Bowie teab, mida loeb.
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All About Books: Week 14 - (1968) Awopbopaloobo Alopbamboom by Nik Cohn. 3 18 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.