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Review â€œIn The Birth of Loud, Ian S. Port has sorted out the facts of the electric guitarâ€™s much-mythologized genesis and cultural conquest. He turns them into a hot-rod joy ride through mid-20th-century American history. With appropriately flashy prose, he dismantles some misconceptions and credits some nearly forgotten but key figures. He also summons, exuberantly and perceptively, the look, sound, and sometimes smell of pivotal scenes and songs. The Birth of Loud rightfully celebrates an earlier time, when wood, steel, copper wire, microphones and loudspeakers could redefine reality. Tracing material choices that echoed through generations, the book captures the quirks of human inventiveness and the power of sound.â€ â€”Jon Pareles, New York Times Book Reviewâ€œFascinating . . . one of Portâ€™s true strengths [is] his ability to marry an agreeably anecdotal writing style to a musicianâ€™s ear. The wayÂ a Telecaster snaps and sizzles, the way aÂ Les Paul purrs with liquid, violin-like tones; he just gets it. . . The story of these instruments is the story of America in the postwar era: loud, cocky, brash, aggressively new.â€ â€”Washington Postâ€œ[An] excellent dual portrait . . . In the second half of the book, Mr. Port, a veteran music journalist, touches on the work of every major guitar player of rockâ€™s golden age, from Muddy Waters to Buddy Hollyâ€”whose appearance on â€œThe Ed Sullivan Showâ€ electrified (the pun is unavoidable) Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney and John Lennonâ€”and continuing through Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and, of course, Bob Dylan, whose notorious switch from acoustic to electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival scandalized his fans. Not everyone played a Fender or a Les Paulâ€”the Beatles were Rickenbacker fans, and Gretsch guitars had a significant market shareâ€”but, as Mr. Port says, the wildfire popularity of those two guitars fueled a world-changing demand for electric guitars of every type.â€ â€”Wall Street Journalâ€œRich in description . . . full of imagist sound-summonings, spot-on human characterizations, and erotic paeans to the bodies of guitars . . .Â Port can write lovingly, such as when he describes an early, solid-wood model that belonged to the country twanger Merle Travis. . . And he can write with technical lyricism . . . He even made me like Eric Clapton for a minute. And from the fumbled genesis of the electric guitar to its expressive climax, he draws us a beautiful, educational arc.â€ â€”The Atlanticâ€œIan S. Portâ€™sÂ The Birth of LoudÂ reframes the standard history of rock â€™nâ€™ roll around the dual creators of the modern electric guitar. . . . Instead of a parade of frontmen and songwriters dueling it out in the charts, Port presents a ground-up account of an at-times begrudging friendship between two Angelenos who created the sound of what we instinctively understand as â€˜rock.â€™ . . . Portâ€™s research is thorough and his prose is lucid. If the evanescence of the internet and the machine-like qualities of synthpop make you want to put words to that vague cultural hunger for something more tactile, more connected to physical reality, this is your book. . . .Â The Birth of LoudÂ is a compelling addition to the misremembered history of the time.â€ â€”SF Weeklyâ€œIan S. Port knows a thing or two about guitar heroes. . . . [With] lyrical, evocative prose,Â The Birth of LoudÂ includes vivid scenes of Muddy Waters inventing Chicago blues, the Rolling Stones' sex-drenched appearance onÂ The T.A.M.I. Show, Buddy Holly's TV debut with Ed Sullivan, Bob Dylan going electric at Newport and more. Along the way, Fender and Paul hone their inventions to perfection, vie for endorsements from the hottest players, and engage in that age-old driver of American innovation: cutthroat competition.â€ â€”KQED â€œArtsâ€â€œA rip-roaring journey through the early days of rock 'n' roll, told through the lives of the men whose innovative guitars helped usher it into existence . . . A lively, difficult-to-put-down portrait of an important era of American art that enhances readers' appreciation for the music it depicts.â€ â€”Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)â€œA page-turning look at two central players [Leo Fender and Les Paul] in the sonic evolution of popular music. Port explores their trials and tribulations with an expert hand. This is a long-overdue cultural biography of music innovation. VERDICT: Thoroughly entertaining and deeply informative, this love letter to American creativity and rock and roll belongs in every library and should be read by all rock fans.â€ â€”Library Journal (Starred Review)â€œThis smartly written and genuinely exciting book walks us through the bitter rivalry between Fender and Gibson and, since there is no way to tell this story without telling the story of rockÂ â€™nâ€™ roll itself, also provides a jaunty if necessarily abbreviated history of rock. For music buffs, this one is special.' â€”Booklistâ€œ[The] definitive history of the electric guitar and its two foundational personalities [Leo Fender and Les Paul]. Theirs is a fascinating and compelling story, especially in the hands of a writer as committed to lively narrative . . . Port can spin out evocative, succinct rock â€™nâ€™ roll writing with the best of them.â€ â€”The New York Journal of Books Read more About the Author Ian S. Port is an award-winning writer and music critic whose work has appeared inÂ Rolling Stone,Â Village Voice,Â The Threepenny Review, andÂ The Believer, among others. He is also the former music editor of theÂ San Francisco Weekly.Â A California native and lifelong guitar player, he now lives in New York with his wife, Lindsay. The Birth of Loud is his first book. Read more See all Editorial Reviews