The Foundations of Rock: From “Blue Suede Shoes” to “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” By
Walter Everett. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
In The Foundations of Rock, Walter Everett has produced a treatise both systematic
and idiosyncratic, at once a comprehensive primer on the elements of rock music
and a somewhat breathless gallop through the record collection of an ardent fan.
Everett claims to have listened to “well over sixty-five hundred songs” in the course
of his research, and the book’s profusion of musical examples gives the impression
that hewould like nothing better than to introduce readers to every one of them (vi).
The range of examples is appropriately eclectic and refreshingly open-minded in its
inclusiveness:Herman’sHermits, Gary Puckett and theUnionGap, and theCowsills
mingle unapologetically with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Band. Basing
the book on contemporary commercial successes, rather than on the critical canon,
Everett represents a true picture of the pop era that the book engages. He also implicitly
asserts that a record collection—in addition to, yet aside from, the cultural,
historical, and stylistic contexts of individual discs—is amusical universe unto itself.