There are bookshelves crammed with tomes about the origins of punk rock and just as many, if not more, about how hip-hop first began. It’s refreshing then that Will Hermes, a long time music critic, manages to cover both genres as well as disco, salsa, jazz and other aspects of the music world from his unique perspective growing up in New York in the mid 70’s.
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire covers the period between 1973 and 1977, as these different musical styles all finding their audiences in the various boroughs of New York and eventually across the globe, were either just taking off (punk, disco), evolving (jazz and salsa) or in the very early stages of being created (hip-hop). The book is well-researched and thanks to entertaining (and enlightening) first person anecdotes from the author, a teenager in New York at the time, the stories are given a sense of intimacy you just don’t find in most second person books about music. The fact that Hermes is obviously a passionate fan of just about all the music he is profiling is clearly evident and makes the book that much more appealing.
Not since Legs McNeil tackled punk rock in the brilliant Please Kill Me more than a decade ago has music journalism been given this appealing a storyteller.
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever By Will Hermes/FS&G/Hardcover/384 pages/2011