Groovy by Mark Voger (book review).

I have to confess to a little confusion when I saw the cover of Mark Voger’s book ‘Groovy’ back in the summer. TwoMorrows is known principally for their interest in comicbooks and despite the cartoon head of a dollybird on the cover, this book is about the flower power/hippy culture from 38000BC to April 1970AD. Actually, according to the supplied timeline, that was when the first hallucinogenics were used. Voger says the ‘Groovy’ generation started in 1964 when the Beatles landed in New York. Interestingly, the word ‘groovy’ was originally coined in the 1920s by jazz musicians. What comes around, goes around. Everything is adopted for the times they are in and needed. Really, the ‘Groovy’ period was all of 7 years but it changed the youth culture of the western world.

From the looks of things, I’m only a little older than Voger and the most I remembered about these early records was more to do with the melodies than what the lyrics actually meant. I should point out that although ‘Groovy’ focuses on what was happening in the USA during this time period, the British band influence is also there. Not every last one mind you but mainly the significant ones.

Voger than ploughs into the influential bands from that period, often sprinkled with brief interviews with some group members about specific songs which should make some of you from a specific generation sparkle with nostalgia. If anything, the photos of these groups from that period show the Beatles influence of their haircuts. As an observation, I suspect the youths of back then just needed the right incentive to throw away some of the shackles of their parents and finding their own identities and the Fab Four led the way. There’s also a few bands, like ‘Guess Who?’ I’ve never heard of before.

Don’t forget, this book isn’t just about music but the culture of the period so you get sections on ‘The Monkees’ and even ‘Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In’. I was rather interested in discovering that Tiny Tim’s use of his falsetto voice was to mimic the tinny sound off the gramophone records he grew up with.

There were some interesting discoveries. I mean, I didn’t know the term ‘shithead’ derived from some people getting high smoking dog pooh allegedly for instance.

Oh, lest we forget, some aspects of comicbooks are covered, mostly with DC Comics’ Wonder Woman’s make-over and Underground Comics, which was part of the culture. The more you read this book, there is the occasional awareness that he can’t cover every subject in as much detail as he wants. Certainly, Voger’s archive is impressive and it would make an interesting subject to cover the non-flower-power activities of the time if he has it available.

It goes without saying that Woodstock would be covered and all the problems associated with getting the bands in there by helicopter because of the traffic jams. I often wonder what the people caught up in the jams actually heard. From there into Jimi Hendrix and you’re getting your cultural fix. With Altamont, we see the worse ways to run pop concerts within a short time of each other.

The latter half of the book looks specifically at TV shows ‘The Brady Bunch’ and ‘The Partridge Family’ before a selection of animation shows carrying on the music.

There really is a lot of material in this book and I’m only scratching the surface or you won’t be buying your own copy. If you’re into 60s music, then this book is a must as Mark Voger did his own interviewing over the years so this is a direct source.

If you were too young to appreciate the time period, then this book will give you insight into the culture of the time. As Bob Dylan sung, ‘times were a-changing’ and the 1960s was the place it started.

GF Willmetts

December 2017

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 191 page illustrated hardback. Price: $39.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-60549-080-9. Direct from them, you can get it for $33.96 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com, http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=95_96&products_id=1333 and www.markvoger.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

6 thoughts on “Groovy by Mark Voger (book review).

  • “There’s also a few bands, like ‘Guess Who?’ I’ve never heard of before.”

    The Guess Who were a Canadian band who produced (IIRC) five albums for RCA Records in the period. They tended to get dismissed as a “pop” act by progressive rock snobs, until those snobs actually listened to them and discovered they could *play*. They had top ten US singles including These Eyes and American Woman.

    After the group’s breakup in 1975, lead guitarist Randy Bachman joined up with fellow Canadian C. F. Turner, releasing two albums as Brave Belt, and the band then changed its name to Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and had a huge hit with You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.

    Curiously, BTO’s members were all converted Mormons (and Bachman’s conversion caused friction with Guess Who’s keyboard player and lead singer Burton Cummings and led to the Guess Who breakup.)

    And the Beatles were the leading edge of a fundamental change in pop music. Pre-Fab Four, the pop product was the 45 RPM 7″ single. It was written by commercial songwriters like Gerry Goffin and Carole King, recorded in a studio backed by session musicians, and sung by the pop star. The goal was to get it into heavy rotation on AM Top 40 stations. The single was stuff kids bought with their own money. Albums were bought by parents or relatives as gifts, and contained the singles and filler.

    The Beatles were the start of a new era where the product was the 11″ 33 1/3 RPM Long Playing *album*, written and performed by a band, and the band, not the individual talent, were the stars. It also coincided with the beginnings of FM radio, which could be broadcast in stereo. AM didn’t gaing that ability till years later. AM stations had FM bands as part of their license, and the early “underground” rock stations were experiments as station owners tried to understand how to use the new medium and make money doing it. I knew the millenium had arrived in the 70s when I heard a US Army recruiting ad on an “underground” station. :-p

    • Hello Dennis
      The info about ‘Guess Who!’ was in Voger’s book. I just never come across them.
      Being British, I’m well aware who the Beatles are.

      • It was a little curious you hadn’t encountered the Guess Who. At a guess, their singles never made it across the pond, and I don’t think they toured Britain.

        Of course you knew who the Beatles were. The point of my comment was the change in the way music was produced and delivered that they represented the leading edge of.

        • Hello Dennis
          In a similar way, I was surprised by never hearing of Blue Suede until ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’.
          When reviewing non-fiction books, there is always an emphasis on things that are new to me, mistakes that they shouldn’t have made and things they might have missed.
          Cultural books will always have an accent on where they were written. With this one, I was a little surprised that the likes of the Dave Clark Five weren’t included but then, how far can any author go?

  • I was intending to comment on the ‘Guess Who’ but someone else got there first. I’m married to a Canadian who likes music of the time – so I’m moderately familiar with their work…

    ‘the most I remembered about these early records… ‘ – they do say that if you remember the 60s you weren’t there… and for once ‘they’ is appropriate as the saying is reported to have originated with several people.

    • Hello Julian
      Re: the 1960s. It also depends on how much over your teens age you were at the time as well.
      I think I was only becoming really (accent on ‘REALLY’) aware of the influence around 67-68.
      I’m quite knowledgeable on music hence my being surprised when I missed something I should have known about in my later years.


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