“Boston during the eighties was a whirlwind...It was an era when bands proliferated so fast that the Boston sound was no longer possible to pin down; when doing something illicit in the Rat bathroom became a rite of passage; when newly arrived college students who rode the B train down Commonwealth Avenue would ask why the words ‘Mission of Burma’ were spray-painted on every block. But mostly it was a time that felt like ‘Wah-Hey!’ sounded: a little incoherent, but full of possibilities and wild energy.”
Yes, 30 years ago, I was one of those college kids and reading these words in Brett Milano’s book “The Sound of Our Town: A History of Boston Rock & Roll” makes me feel like I was a part of musical history. I spent every weekend going to clubs like the Rat, steps from my dorm at Boston University, the Channel, Bunratty’s, Chet’s Last Call, Inn Square Men’s Bar, The Paradise, and, when the mood struck, Spit, across the street from Fenway.
While I enjoyed revisiting my youth, I had a hard time getting into this book. Aside from familiar names like Human Sexual Response (still a huge fan!) and some obscure facts – Chevy Chase and John Kerry were both in Boston bands way back when – this book just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t interested in anything but what I experienced - the stuff that makes me a legend in my own mind! But, that doesn’t make it a bad book. Anyone who loves musical history and Boston will get a lot out of it.
The book starts with the beginning of the Boston sound in 1955 and continues through the new millennium, going from Norman Greenbaum to Staind. I don’t think Milano left one detail out. Well, maybe one: Robin Lane of Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, who is mentioned in this book, was married to Andy Summers before he was in The Police. I know people who knew her. Maybe I should have been mentioned in this book . . .
If you’re looking to relive your youth, like me, give the book a try, at least the parts that pertain to the ‘80s. If you’re a Boston music expert wannabe, you’ll love the whole thing.
I was there during the “whirlwind.” I’m almost famous. And for that reason alone, this book was worth my time.