Ian S. Port is the author of The Birth of Loud, and a writer and editor in New York. More >>

What Critics Are Saying About The Birth of Loud

“A hot-rod joy ride through mid-20th-century American history. With appropriately flashy prose, [Port] dismantles some misconceptions and credits some nearly forgotten but key figures. He also summons, exuberantly and perceptively, the look, sound, and sometimes smell of pivotal scenes and songs. The Birth of Loud rightfully celebrates an earlier time, when wood, steel, copper wire, microphones and loudspeakers could redefine reality. Tracing material choices that echoed through generations, the book captures the quirks of human inventiveness and the power of sound.”

— Jon Pareles, New York Times Book Review

“A lively and vivid account of the careers of Fender and his main competition, Les Paul…Port tells the story elegantly and economically . . . one of [his] true strengths [is] his ability to marry an agreeably anecdotal writing style to a musician’s ear. Describing sound is extraordinarily difficult; Port can do it without channeling one of those weird, adjective-heavy descriptions of wine or perfume. I myself have owned and played both a Fender Telecaster and a Gibson Les Paul for many years now, and Port’s descriptions of their respective sonic capabilities is the most articulate and accurate I have ever read. The way a Telecaster snaps and sizzles, the way a Les Paul purrs with liquid, violin-like tones; he just gets it. Port’s descriptive elan is particularly in force in his account of Hendrix’s famous rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock in 1968, which pushed rock guitar playing to a height it may never again reach. Port wisely ends his narrative here, and it’s an apt capstone. The story of these instruments is the story of America in the postwar era: loud, cocky, brash, aggressively new.”

Washington Post

Image credit: "Hommage," by Leopoldo Maler, at the Hess Collection, in Napa, California.