Book review: Sonic Boom: The Impact Of Led Zeppelin Vol. 1, Break & Enter

Sonic Boom:  The Impact Of Led Zeppelin Vol. 1, Break & Enter

Author:  Frank Reddon

enZepplopedia Publishing Inc.  Hardcover, 714 pages, ISBN 978-0-9784446-0-0

Sonic Boomis the first of three volumes by Canadian author Frank Reddon discussing the origins and influence of Led Zeppelin.  In printing interviews conducted over the past decade in total, Reddon presents one of the most through and engaging book ever written about the band.

Many methods exist in ways of writing about historical topics.  The most common way, which we are most familiar with from school, is the method expounded by what is called the The Annales School.  Their agenda is to subject historical data to mathematical and sociological rules to establish an objective fact about what occur in the past.   

In contrast, Sonic Boomexists in the genre of oral history.  The virtue of this method is to emphasize the human element of historical events and topics and to probe the memory of those who were eyewitnesses.  It is much more subjective, with emphasis upon the effect of the event upon the spirit of the receiver.  Reddon’s scope is more broad than those who experienced Led Zeppelin at the beginning, but he also interviews experts and academics upon the cultural and musicological experts on the merits of Led Zeppelin’s early work.

Over the course of seven hundred pages there are many interviews with people who attended early Zeppelin concerts and who knew the band.  There are no interviews withe musicians or management themselves, which would be outside of the scope of the book.  It is much better to read about the impactof the first album and early tours instead of the actual creative process.  The most enlightening interviews are with Boston disc jockey J.J. Jackson, who speaks in exclusive depth about his involvement with the early promotion of the band in the metropolitan area, and with Jurgen Angel, interviewed in depth about the very first Led Zeppelin concerts in Denmark in September 1969.  (And the fascinating facts they divulge can be found in the book; far be it for me to expose spoilers).   

Other interviews don’t necessarily deal with the early impact of the first album, but rather offer fascinating insight into methods of critique such as Craig Morrison, an ethnomusicologist at Concordia University in Montreal and Susan Fast, musicologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.  The only criticism about the book would be the editing.  Since the focus of the book is Led Zeppelin’s first albums and tours, excursions such as Howard Mylett’s review of the recent O2 reunion gig, while interesting, are a bit out of place.  The positives far outweight the criticism however and this is a great read and an essential book to own.  It can be ordered from the authors themselves at:    

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