THE TWANG DYNASTY (Paperback book)
Northdown Books (BK062)
Just reading the first few pages of this book, I just knew I was going to be hooked. Deke Leonard, self-confessed ‘not the greatest guitarist who ever lived' has certainly been good enough on the guitar, and for long enough, to have had a taste of fame, fortune and acclaim outside of his native South Wales (most notably of course as leading light in the rock band Man).
This book is however only occasionally a telling of his own story. The driving narrative across 370 breathless pages seeks to capture the allure and magic of the guitar to those of us who grew up revering, and still revere, the rock and roll era (Deke, you and I included). The role of key guitarists we idolise (or have ignored) dominate the heart and soul of this book along with their stories on what that led them to (or from) their instrument of choice.
For Deke the route to achieve this is not through studious research, field trips and an academic ponder-fest. Rather, he has simply sharpened his natural story-telling and reservoir of anecdotes, boundless enthusiasm and opinionated bravado and ploughed right in. So what you actually get is a roller-coaster ride through story of the rise of the guitarist in country, blues, rock and roll and more and a packed series of pen-portraits on key guitarists in their field. While this might not sound like anything out of the ordinary, these pen-portraits are rarely delivered straight, almost all which are just launch-pads for an interesting diversion into anecdote, opinion or reflection.
None of this would amount to anything of course if it wasn't for the obvious fact that Deke can actually write very well. He has an engaging style and a never-ending reservoir of self-deprecating charm and wit - not usually things associated with guitarists, I think you'll agree!
Review Date: August 2013