Mike Read is to be congratulated on producing a wonderful social history / time-capsule, showing how the mid-50s advent of a new race of humans known as "teenagers" affected one small area of England, namely the South Coast from Brighton to Portsmouth, with their music-inspired youth culture.
The title might give the impression that this tome is of limited appeal, telling the tale of what local newspapers of the time eagerly dubbed 'The Bognor Beat Scene' or 'The Hove Sound'. But the fact that many of the bands remained unknown outside that area soon becomes irrelevant because the South Coast music scene's story of the shift from skiffle to psychedelia as the sixties progressed could well apply to any part of the country.
The smattering of scruffy posters and dog-eared flyers that appear throughout the pages capture the essence of the times, while evoking the smell of yellowing paper. Mike also includes a marvellous selection of photographs, many of them rescued from personal collections, where innumerable groups of musicians try desperately to look moody and seductive for the camera.
As the music changes, the band names are updated and fashion dictates the current 'stage uniform'. In 1959, Deke Arlon and the Tremors, with hair styled in the obligatory DA, wear matching, Mum-knitted sweaters. In the early Sixties, The Eggheads briefly (and uncomfortably) sport fake bald pates in their quest for a gimmick; much later in the decade they pose for David Bailey as the trendy, paisley-shirted Aztecs. On the roof of EMI in 1965, The Noblemen attempt to convey someone's idea of 'nobility', via buckled shoes, frilly shirts and waistcoats enhanced by a 'heraldic crest'.
Mike has unearthed so many great stories. His own group, Amber, formed in 1967, were allowed to live at the home of Julie Andrews' mother, Barbara, rehearsing in the house's ballroom. There's the singer who starred in 'Crossroads' as... a pop singer. Then there's eccentric vocalist Tony 'Binky' Baker from the comedy act, Camp, who later released the memorably-titled single 'Tony Blackburn'. And who could fail to relate to Tim Rice having his name changed via the columns of a typically-inaccurate local paper to 'Jim Price'?
There are also the sad, 'might have been' tales; the member of the Diamonds who died in a car crash; the lad from Four and Seven Eighths whose Dad's refusal to allow him travel to Hamburg to play the Star Club, in turn quashed the opportunity for the entire band; the disillusioned musicians who left the profession to become a postman or an accountant.
Those who loved the sounds of the Fifties and Sixties and enjoyed the local music scene, whether as musicians or fans, will find much to appreciate in The South Coast Beat Scene of the 1960s.