Book Review: Memphis Mayhem by David A. Less

Publisher: ECW Press
Format: ebook
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Genre: Non-Fiction – History – Music

Rating: 2/5 Stars

I admit I struggled to get through this. I was really excited to pick it up, as I love seeing the way entertainment developed, the history of a particular aspect of it and the society around it that helped it grow. But Memphis Mayhem feels disjointed, lacks depth, and is a very dry read. Large sections read as a series of names, and aspects of Memphis’ history are tackled in thematic sections, in which there is a lot of overlap, meaning much of the information becomes repetitive.

It felt like too much of a cursory glance through Memphis’ musical history. There are sections of historical information, but again, the dry tone prevents these from being as engaging as they could be. There’s nothing here but facts, really, with the occasional author’s perspective creeping in. To me, it could have done with a bit more of a personal touch, and where we do get some of this, it really works.

The names of musicians fill the pages sometimes with little reference to who they are or which band they’re linked to, and sometimes it feels rushed through certain parts. It’s a little bit of a mess, and it feels like there was almost too much information to cram in here, whereas a narrower focus – allowing for quality over quantity – might have been more effective.

Lass’ journalistic skills are apparent, but there’s a constant sense of the reader being kept at arm’s length – we get to see very little of what life was life, and are instead told a lot.  There’s a lot of history crammed in here, but little expanding on points where it would have been interesting to do so.

The book is at its strongest when dealing with personal accounts and interview snippets.

If you have interest enough to recognise many of the names, but not so deep a knowledge you know a lot of this information already, the book could be fairly informative. But if your interest is more basic and you’re not already familiar with a lot of the musicians mentioned in these pages, it’s a bit of a struggle to keep up with them all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: