RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Brad Tolinski & Alan Di Perna - Play It Loud: an Epic History of the Style, Sound, & Revolution of the Electric Guitar

Rating: B

I’ve never been a big gear guy, but it’s testimony to the clear and concise writing and logical storytelling ability of Tolinski and Di Perna that Play It Loud could be an engaging and informative book, through subterfuge, getting the layman reader into the story. Of course, it helps when the two Guitar World legends plunder their action-packed archives for quotes with all manner of acts hero, of particular interest to myself being sections on Steve Vai, Carlos Santana (who also provides a forward), Joe Walsh and Eddie Van Halen. But the duo also take you down side roads, including an informative treatise by George Gruhn, owner of Nashville’s Gruhn Guitars. There’s also much talk of Jimi Hendrix, and landmark moments like Dylan going electric. As well, the entire early history of the guitar is explained, inextricably tied to the blues and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, the duelling banjos being Fender and Gibson. There’s also a literary device where the guys focus on 12 essential guitars, but all of this is secondary to the storytelling format, where icon after icon routinely shows up. The book ends with a nice timeline, of which the major points correspond to some of the detailed story points within the book. By the end, I’m still not convinced of the importance of the guitar versus, say, songwriting and lyrics, but what falls out of this indeed “epic” journey, is how much of the inspiration for these guys came directly from the instrument put into their capable and callous-hardened hands.

By Martin Popoff