Top critical review
A nice fun read, some great character development, but a bit light
Reviewed in the United States on May 14, 2013
I was hooked at his description meeting "Adam" (great description about his CCM-dar, p. 5, "He's right; he doesn't dress like the ordinary Christian, but he does dress like the ordinary Christian rocker.") which succinctly reminds me dealing with my own sense of dreaded MLM-dar and trying to avoid/deflect/shut down too-"friendly" snoopy conversation$.
I came to the book via goofballing around those "rock music is the devil's music" juvenile advice books by Bob Larson, Dan/Steve Peters record burnings, satanic backmasking paranoid conspiracies that were so popular in the late '70s and '80s. I was only vaguely aware that Jeff Godwin (wow) thought Amy Grant was eeevil, but the only other volume that hinted there was an issue with more-vanilla-than-Pat-Boone pop, CCM, was a fence-straddling Dan/Steve Peters-Cher Merrill WHAT ABOUT CHRISTIAN ROCK? book, suggesting CCM was a Christian music niche for their own youth market. But then, I stumbled onto the old mid-'50s "the beat!" devil-rock arguments full of codewords that keep being recycled (all the way back to syncopated ragtime/jass/jazz with flappers from World War I), like those THE HORROR OF HAMMER sequels exhuming Christopher Lee's corpse for another full-fanged scare. Matthews book is a nice look at that culture still in play--really, Sandi Patti, Sheila Walsh and Amy Grant are eeevil? Buying and throwing out/your mother throwing out Grant's vanilla-pop HEARTS IN MOTION crossover album as rock-offensive (???) several times over: that's harsh.
The downer part of the book for me, as a record junkie, is the short-shrift of information about Matthew's stint at CCM. Meh, I had a segue into re-listening to some of Amy Grant's old titles; she was the Elvis or Beatles of CCM's rise as a pop niche when I was pestered on campus in the early '80s from the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Billboard had some coverage of the updated album charts, splitting their ...GOSPEL... album chart into TOP SPIRITUAL LPS and TOP INSPIRATIONAL LPS (CCM titles showed up on the latter; the charts were published once every 4 weeks or so in the middle of the month issues) about March, 1980, but CCM provided the "singles" radio charting going back to July, 1978, whatever the methodology to track the songs. Any books about the CCM magazines history tend to be shallow and I'd hoped that Matthew's observations would have plumbed deeper on the business side of the magazine, trade advertising/promotion, and charts. I found "Chasing Amy" (p. 185-201) excerpted on the internet, a la Jack R. Christianson's "Apples or Onions" article from his books about eeevil rock music, and searched out Matthew's book on the strength of his Amy Grant CCM interview(s). It's a well-written, some great and restrained, funny observations, coming of-age book, but a bit smallish.