Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Rock and Roll Alphabet by Jeffrey Schwartz and Chuck Boyd

( This book marries amazing photographs from the 60s and 70s by rock lensman Boyd with rhyming couplets to make it a children’s alphabet book (ostensibly). As a photo book it is unbelievable. James Brown fixing a magnificent helmet of hair, Ozzy and Tony goofing on stage during a Black Sabbath gig, Marvin Gaye mesmerizing a nightclub…nearly every shot, even the live concert ones, feels intimate and revealing. And since Boyd had Queen shots, the only letter Schwartz has to fudge is X (T-ReX – which is a pretty good concert photo, by the way). As a kiddie book I’m not sure…there’s nothing wrong with the rhymes but if the kids don’t already dig Fleetwood Mac or Aretha there’s not much here to convince them. Even the stuff that usually draws in kids is not the right images – the KISS one is kind of dark and not vivid enough to have comic book majesty and the beautiful Beatles picture has them more as medium-length haired humans, not in their cartoony, uniformed (moptop or Pepper’s brigade) glory that kids might dig. But I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy this book, it’s pretty great. The fact that he has an actual Velvet Underground photo should be enough to convince you that this cat had the goods.

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