Monday, October 3, 2011

Party Out of Bounds

This outstanding book by author Rodger Lyle Brown chronicles the evolution of the Athens alt-rock scene, from the B-52s through R.E.M.’s breakout success in the mid 1980s.  The book is drawn from the author’s own memories (he lived in Athens from 1977- 1987) as well as thousands of hours of interviews with people who participated in the music scene during that time.

Far from being a dry historical tome, the book reads more like a novel, with each band’s formation and development described in terms of the people involved; not just the band members, but also the people behind the bands who offered introductions, support, and inspiration.  It’s a fascinating tale of chance meetings, unlikely circumstance, and odd collaborations that created the dynamic that came to be known as the “Athens Scene.”

An even more interesting and personal story serves as an undercurrent throughout the book, and Brown tells it poignantly: the scene’s loss of innocence as Athens evolved from a musical curiosity known by only a few to a national phenomenon, and how during this transition, the people who created the scene in the first place were gradually disenchanted, then disenfranchised, and ultimately displaced by new generations of bands, fans, and opportunists.

Copies of the original 1991 printing are long gone (and selling for a pretty penny, I understand), but a 25th anniversary edition released in 2016 are still available.

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