A saga in the history of rock ‘n’ roll: the decades-long rivalry between the two men who innovated the electric guitar’s amplified sound—Leo Fender and Les Paul—and their intense competition to convince rock stars like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton to play the instruments they built.
Lively and vivid ... traces the dual arc of the men’s rise with consummate skill and authority ... Port does an outstanding job of tracking the ways each new musician, from Buddy Holly to Jimi Hendrix, vaulted over the next, engaging the new instruments with ever-surprising results. Port tells the story elegantly and economically ... Describing sound is extraordinarily difficult; Port can do it without channeling one of those weird, adjective-heavy descriptions of wine or perfume...he just gets it ... The story of these instruments is the story of America in the postwar era: loud, cocky, brash, aggressively new.
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 ... scrupulously sourced ... Tracing material choices that echoed through generations, the book captures the quirks of human inventiveness and the power of sound.
... rich in description ... full of imagist sound-summonings ... spot-on human characterizations ... Port can write lovingly... And he can write with technical lyricism ... [Port] even made me like Eric Clapton for a minute. And from the fumbled genesis of the electric guitar to its expressive climax, he draws us a beautiful, educational arc ... Port gives [Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock performance] a whole chapter, his prose rising to the occasion.