Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen

by Bill Bentley

Rock & Roll Books

Rock & Roll Books

There's a book I've hauled around since college called Defining Moments in Music, a chronological history of Western music told through hundreds of short entries written by dozens of authors. It's informative and intelligently written, but too academic and ugly for my coffee table. Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen deserves that placement.

Here, similarly bite-sized items on rock & roll and its offspring – from the King (Elvis Presley) to the King of Pop (Michael Jackson) – convey the crucial nature of music through passionate tributes that grow the reader's love of auditory thrills. Veteran record man and native Houstonian Bill Bentley states the obvious but never obviously: The Beatles split the musical atom, Bob Dylan authored the Sixties' belief system, Kiss would've been P.T. Barnum's favorite band. His gift for language fuses the images into one comprehensive collage, out of which rises a primal universality.

Compiled from the Smithsonian's call for favorite fan photos – their own or iconic hits – that cull results in little-known and unseen pictures ranging from Nirvana to Bob Marley. The breadth of subjects includes the Austin-centric annotator's loving tributes to Alejandro Escovedo, 13th Floor Elevators, Doug Sahm, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, plus cult essentials like Tom Waits and Fugazi. Make some space on your living room footrest.


Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen

by Bill Bentley
Smithsonian Books, 216 pp., $40

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Local Aussie Rallies for Fire Relief
Local Aussie Rallies for Fire Relief
As wildfires continue destroying swaths of Australia, Go Fever frontwoman Acey Monaro rallied local bands for her homeland

Rachel Rascoe, Feb. 14, 2020

Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Kevin Curtin
SXSW Taps Baby Rose, Heart Bones & Laundry Day
SXSW Taps Baby Rose, Heart Bones & Laundry Day
108 more acts added to music fest

Feb. 13, 2020

Everything I Know About Rejection I Learned From My Cats
Everything I Know About Rejection I Learned From My Cats
He's just not that into mew

Feb. 14, 2020

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle