News and reviews of Rock n Roll Soccer

ROCK N ROLL SOCCER: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League, by Ian Plenderleith. This is the blog to back the book hailed as "fantastic" by Danny Kelly on
Talksport Radio, and described as a "vividly entertaining history of the league" in the Independent on Sunday. In the US, Booklist described it as "a gift to US soccer fans". The UK paperback edition published by Icon Books is now available here for just £8.99, while the North America edition published by St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books can be found here for $11.98. Thank you.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Miles, Blondie, ELO, Defunkt - all part of Rock n Roll Soccer

Here's a round-up of some more reviews of Rock n Roll Soccer, and an interview at the US Soccer Players website. This contained my favourite question of all: "If you were going to make a playlist to go along with the book, what would be on it?" In the book, I already came up with an NASL soundtrack. But a playlist is different, right? So I had the excuse to rummage through old CDs and records and re-think the musical accompaniment to the North American Soccer League. Here's a sample:

Miles DavisBitches Brew (1972). From the album of the same name because it was, like the NASL, a one-off, revolutionary fusion of styles that drew from the past and the present, and pointed to the future.
Jeff Lynne, singing for the Blues (pic:
Electric Light OrchestraLivin’ Thing (1976). The peak years of the NASL coincided with the peak years of stadium rock, and the fan cultures of both shared a lot of features – the game/concert as a big event, the spectacle of mass entertainment, the easy availability of recreational drugs. I’m no fan of stadium rock, but ELO was an exception, and this fine, typically upbeat track from the wonderful and aptly titled A New World Record is a good example of Jeff Lynne’s ease at being cheerfully influenced by US AOR. He’s a Birmingham City fan too.

The International Soccer Network wrote that  Rock n Roll Soccer "is the definitive history on the original NASL. Nothing out there rivals the detail and variety provided by this book. It is easily one of the best soccer titles of 2015, if not the best. Plenderleith, one of the best top journalists anywhere  [Steady on! IP], is a magician with words and history, making the entertaining NASL even more exciting. That is quite a task indeed. You can’t go wrong with this one. This is an absolute must for any soccer fan, regardless of where your allegiances lie. It has the honor of being one of our favorite soccer books of all-time. It’s that good!"

The NY-focused Empire of Soccer looked in particular at chapter seven 'The NASL v s FIFA and the World', which has scarcely been mentioned in other reviews. "One thing," writes Jake Nutting, "is abundantly clear from Plenderleith’s engaging staging of all the many grievances the NASL embroiled itself in – neither incarnation of the NASL has ever been about going with the flow. Owners were openly hostile toward what they deemed intrusive oversight from the overlords at FIFA. Ironically, the league’s focus in the modern era has shifted to aligning American soccer more with the rest of the world, but the bickering within our own shores has remained robust."

"This is a far more substantive book than you’d expect from its title," writes the blog Message In A Bottle at Island Books, an independent outlet in Washington State, "but then the NASL was a far more substantive operation than history has acknowledged. When it’s remembered these days, it’s usually for garish disco-era uniforms, gimmicky promotions, and overpaid, over-the-hill stars from overseas. All of that is at best only partly true, as Plenderleith shows. [He] excels in showing what the teams and players were really like and establishes a historical context for the league, definitively answering the interesting question of how North American soccer compared to the kind played everywhere else on the globe.

"Today MLS trails only the National Football League and Major League Baseball in average game attendance, thanks mostly to the spectacular support of Northwest fans who insisted that their MLS franchises carry the names of their lost NASL forebears. Rock 'n’ Roll Soccer speaks to everyone with football fever, but to us most of all."

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