PAUL D. GRUSHKIN The Art Of Rock (Abbeville Press)

“The Art Of Rock” appears to have attained mythical status amongst rock poster enthusiasts, and from the content it’s easy to see why. It covers the evolution of the concert poster – and, by implication, of the presentation and performance of live music itself – from a 1956 advertisement for RCA Victor recording star Elvis Presley’s Jacksonville, Florida engagement to a circa 1980 Seattle appearance by Units. Happily, it’s heavily weighed towards the San Francisco scene of the mid to late 1960s, with plenty for the committed Deadhead in you to pore over. It does make me wonder how anybody ever managed to attend a gig in that place and time at all, though, given the convoluted, borderline illegible lettering so often employed. A particular favourite, given my heritage, is a dragontastic poster promoting The Rolling Stones’ slightly incongruous 1973 tour of Welsh castles.

Unfortunately, manna for the rock memorabilia enthusiast as it may seem, my edition of “The Art Of Rock” is horribly hobbled by its size, or lack of it. In Tiny Folio form, it measures a Lilliputian 4.5” by 4.1”. On the plus side, it makes it compatible with even the smallest coffee table, but it also runs the risk of being mistaken for a coaster. Any serious attempt to study the graphical riches it contains is immediately curtailed by the amount of squinting involved. A larger, more LP- than CD-sized edition of this book also exists, and even though it’s about five times the price it would surely be preferable for anything other than stocking filling.