Rock History

Book Review: “Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers” by Richie Unterberger

urban_spacemen_cover.jpgI am a big fan of rock and roll history. No matter the decade, there are always numerous examples of great stories and interesting side trips to take in the name of rock and roll. Richie Unterberger, an accomplished rock and roll historian has put together a number of excellent, very readable rock and roll histories covering those figures in rock and roll that often get little mention amongst the tales of rock and roll lore but yet have compelling stories that are often as fascinating as the music that may have been forgotten by the general public.

In “Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of 60s Rock”, Unterberger mines a motherlode of great stories from rock’s increasingly distant past. Covering everybody from the raunchy Pretty Things and their struggles to get heard in America to the fate of “two-shot wonders” like Bobby Fuller, the Beau Brummels and Mike Brown to my favourite part of the book titled “Unsung Heros” where he looks at early Rolling Stones “manager” Giorgio Gomelski and Who producer Shel Talmy, Unterberger manages to flesh out these “should have been” legendary characters in order for the reader to come to terms with a musical legacy which, though forgotten is still worthy of a listen today.

While I won’t quibble with the book’s premise that the best rock was made in the ’60s, no one can deny that it was probably the most fertile period of time in rock and roll history. The sad part is that todays “classic rock” radio, in addition to constantly playing the same stuff over and over again has not even had the guts to delve into some of this little known stuff to perhaps give it it’s due today. Pick up a copy of “Urban Spaceman” and get yourself educated on some artists lost in the mists of time. The book even includes a CD to set you on the right path on a rock and roll archaeological journey that would make Indiana Jones proud. At the end of the day you will have to admit that there was a lot of great music from the era that is just not heard now as then. Somethings never change. A good read.