Riot On Sunset Strip by Dominic Priore (Jawbone Press)

This book covers LA’s wild Sunset Strip rock scene where American youth culture flourished for brief period from 1965 to 1966. Perhaps two years is a short time, but in that span there was an explosion of folk-rock, garage rock, and early-psychedelic bands where, on any given night, teens could go from club to club and see Buffalo Springfield, Frank Zappa, Love, The Seeds, The Doors, or hundreds of other similar bands with a set of instruments and a Brian Jones haircut. Like any scene-specific rock book worth reading, the story arc is a familiar one: a new “thing” is organically created, then marketed by corporate America, diluting its potency (see: Monkees, The) creating friction among major players now forced to deal with the pressure of stardom and careerism. This then turns into what Dewey Cox called “a dark fucking period” which kills everything that made it appealing in the first place. Once this happens, consumer interest wanes and big businesses moves on to look for the next big thing. It’s a story anyone who’s seen Behind The Music knows well, yet it’s almost always interesting, which is why Riot On Sunset Strip is such a frustrating read. There’s a good story in there, but the author bogs it down with endless pages on practically every mid-level band to release a single or play a show during this period. It makes total sense to cover the leading groups in detail but do we really need paragraphs on forgotten nobodies like The Everpresent Fullness, The Puddin’ Heads, The In Set, or the literally hundreds of others whose minimal contributions are unnecessarily rehashed? No we didn’t, and their inclusion makes Riot On Sunset Strip read more like a high school yearbook, where every student is included regardless of accomplishment, rather than an indespensable guide to a vital scene.