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Book Review: JON SAVAGE

1966: The Year The Decade Exploded (FABER)

The heaviest pop music book you’ll read all year.

Here, the veritable pop professor and author of England’s Dreaming has turned his forensic eye to a single year in which pop music reinvented itself as a conductor for social change.

Tackling such well-thumbed subject matter without lapsing into flower power cliché is an achievement in itself. An essay a month explores themes and events in the US and UK in such depth and detail that some readers will fear being buried under the weight of analysis. Each single is dissected to the bone marrow and some choices are so wilfully obscure that you’re likely to keep breaking off to look up a little-known garage 45 on YouTube, or watch an archive clip from the 55-page list of sources. The only niggle is that the author of such an expansive work chose to sidestep Jamaican ska, but perhaps another volume looms.

Claudia Elliott is a music writer and sub-editor. She has freelanced for BBC Radio 2's Sounds of the 60s, Uncut, History of Rock, Classic Rock and The Blues magazine. She is a 1960s music specialist.