Book Review: “All Hopped Up and Ready to Go”

“All Hopped Up and Ready to Go: Music from the Streets of New York, 1927-1977”
By Tony Fletcher

Never before has anyone tried to archive the whole of New York City’s popular music scene, but Fletcher undertakes 50 years of the Big Apple’s harvest.

Nothing is left out. Beginning in Harlem, he chronicles the Jazz Age, pop, be-bop, rock, swing, folk, Latin, disco, punk, hip-hop and more. But “All Hopped Up” is not just about music. It’s about who makes the music, where the music is made, and how they relate to one another. It’s like a book version of a Music Genome Project for NYC musicians, with artists surrounded by neighborhoods, enclosed by genre-related circles, which intertwine with other circles that enclose other neighborhoods and individual artists. Thus it is possible to get from Leadbelly to The Chantels in a mere six degrees of separation.

And yet, this isn’t just an overview or a timeline. This is an intimately researched account of both major music players, from Deborah Harry to Tito Puente, and those whose critical acclaim is still lacking. He treats readers as invisible observers to music history.

It’s a very readable account, lacking in pretense and preachiness. If you don’t recognize some of the artists’ names, well, that’s okay. Fletcher will educate you without talking down to you.

The only thing this book is missing is a companion CD or download site. Because, as all music fans know, reading about the lives and careers of musicians is one thing. But it’s nothing compared to the music.

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