Rock Reads: Street Culture: 50 Years of Subculture Style by Gavin Baddeley

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

Fashion and music have always been intertwined and here Baddeley chronicles how styles of dress, music and the zeitgeist of the times all fit together, beginning with Britain's Teddy Boys of the 1950's then chronologically through to the emo era. The Teds, whose name derives from the fact that they dressed rather Edwardian, were said to be Britain's first homegrown youth culture; that scene gave way to two overlapping eras that Americans are more familiar with, the time of the Rockers and Mods, covered here in their own individual chapters. Rockers with their black leather jackets and motorcycles took their cues from American movies like "Rebel without a Cause" while the Mods, dressing like clean-cut preppie, were the total Rocker antithesis. Followers of both styles were hardly goody-goodies; the Mods in particular, who counted the Who, Rod Stewart, Steve Marriott and many other musical luminaries among their followers, were notorious for popping pills like they were candy. Baddeley isn't just talking about the fashions here; when he talks about hippies going naked and bikers busting heads he's also explaining how each subculture came to its beliefs and why they took the actions that they did. Bowie and Bolan and their outrageous outfits proved to be the main influences of the early Glam movement while the Skinheads, the worst of whom were violent and racist thugs, had a simple dress code that incorporated heavy boots that were good for kicking those who had differing views. Punks, metal heads, Goths, psychobillies and crusties (a Thatcher-era phenomenon in Britain) are examined as are ravers and the hip-hop and grunge eras. Loaded with photos of some of the main proponents of various eras, readers will see shots of the likes of Motorhead, Elvis, Led Zeppelin, the Ramones and the Sex Pistols but the most evocative photos are candids of "nameless" people. This fun and informative read will be especially memorable for anyone who "was there" and a great journey through the past for everyone else.

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