As a historian Donald Clarke makes a great encyclopaedist. For that's what this book is: chapter after dense chapter about the jazz music that he fell in love with as an adolescent with only scant attention to, apart from many gratuitous putdowns of, what was really exploding in 'pop' music during his teenage years and what happened thereafter.
Clarke is not alone in his, probably indisputable contention that music that occurs spontaneously is the most honest form. Thus his appreciation of black-originated music, particularly jazz and blues, and some white folk and hillbilly music stands true.
But he is also a self-confessed lover of classical music which, with its intellectual composition process and intricate arrangement is the antithesis of spontaneous. So once he starts to consider the evolution of music from primal soundmaking to arranged perfection, pop (and, yes, even some jazz) musicians are 'damned if they do, damned if they don't'. The Kinks are derided for their earliest original songs, the Beatles and Brian Wilson are given scant attention for their attempts to hone their music, and don't even expect any appreciation of prog rock, jazz rock, heavy metal or any of the other attempted fusions. Tellingly, the one man who sought above all to drop elements of popular, jazz and classical music into the test tube and see what explosion resulted is not mentioned at all. Frank Zappa, were you part of the 'rise' or the 'fall' of pop music?