Flying Saucers Rock’n’Roll – Edited by Jake Austen (Duke University)

Flying Saucers Rock ‘N’ Roll was compiled from articles and interviews that originally appeared in Jake Austen’s Roctober Magazine, telling the stories of ten fringe artists who never got their due. Zolar X, David Allan Coe, Sugar Pie DeSanto and The Fast may not mean much to many, but behind each name is a unique and strange story. Although the book advertises “Conversations With Unjustly Obscure Rock’n’Soul Eccentrics” it never makes a strong enough argument for reevaluating its subjects. Nor did it ever make me want to investigate more of their music, which is a bad sign. Perhaps the problem is that the book lacks cohesion – some artists are interviewed and some written up biographical style, in chapters that vary greatly in length. Also, it’s hard to care about each artist when they come from such a wide array of genres. Does a fan of Sam The Sham want to read a lengthy interview with jazz artist Oscar Brown Jr.? Will someone who loves Sugar Pie DeSanto be excited about David Allan Coe? Probably not. If you’re already a big fan of the acts in Flying Saucers Rock’n’Roll, then you might relish the rare opportunity to read more about them. However, for the casual rock reader the book isn’t likely to elicit more than indifference.