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The Chitlin' Circuit: and the Road to Rock 'n' Roll
The Chitlin' Circuit: and the Road to Rock 'n' Roll
by Preston Lauterbach
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic book for lovers of American blues, soul & rocknroll, 10 Mar. 2012
First off, The Chitlin' Circuit And The Road To Rock `N' Roll is the best music book I read in 2011. Superbly researched and beautifully written, its subject is how the Chitlin' Circuit - the unofficial collection of blue collar black American clubs that almost every soul singer of note cut their teeth on - came to be. Rather than approach this as a sociological study, Lauterbach chooses to focus on a handful of club owners, promoters and musicians from the early-1930s to the mid-1960s (when US local governments began tearing the heart out of black urban communities). What fascinating tales they have to tell, often running the clubs as brothels and illegal drinking and gambling dens at the same time as booking the hottest bands going. I never thought I could learn a lot more about Little Richard and James Brown but Preston digs up fresh material. A long essay on Roy "Good Rockin' Tonight" Brown brings this unfairly marginalised artist to life and made me see him as a great pioneer rather than a one hit wonder. Understandably, a lot of the men - and it is almost all men documented here - are unsavoury, brutal types. Yet through their desire to make money and give the people what they wanted they helped create this sound we know as R&B and R&R. What characters. What stories. What a book. Highly recommended to anyone who loves good writing on American music.


How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music
How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music
by Elijah Wald
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, maverick work on popular music, 8 July 2011
I must give this book the highest recommendation possible. Wald has gathered a huge amount of information and sifted it thoroughly so to write a hugely informative and readable history of pop music in the US - from the 1920s to early-1970s.

His point about the Beatles focuses on their transition from rock'n'roll entertainers to selfconscious art rockers: he follows this by demonstrating how black and white American musics, separate yet mirror images (of sorts) across the 20th C, then shifted into very different arenas - where James Brown lead black US music in the early 70s Crosby Stills Nash lead white in the early 70s.

I'm simplifying his reading and arguments - this is a book to be read and deliberated upon - but do not be put off by the title: this is a book that I believe most serious music fans will find pleasure in perusing. Which is true of all Wald's books - Narcocorrido gives more information of Mexico's drug wars (only now being touched upon by the UK media) than any other text or medium I can think of; his book on Robert Johnson places that great artist firmly in the music making community he existed in (rather than glorifying him as some sold-his-soul-to-the-devil proto rock star that much writing on RJ does). While Guralnick's hagriographic treatises on dead pop legends and Marcus's pompous treatises on Dylanisms have got much attention over here across the last decade Elijah Wald has been oddly overlooked. Revision time: check this guy!


Danziger's Travels: Beyond Forbidden Frontiers (Paladin Books)
Danziger's Travels: Beyond Forbidden Frontiers (Paladin Books)
by Nick Danziger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fiction not nonfiction, 24 Oct. 2010
Having travelled through the same region as Danziger not long after he was there (I had not read his book at the time) I picked this up with interest on returning to the UK. What Danziger actually experienced I don't know as much of this appears "sexed up" ie invented to appeal to a Loaded magazine style readership. Muslim women in rural parts of Asia do not leap into the guest's bed and shag all night - this is Orientalist fantasy - both because they would never do so due to the moral code of their community and to risk doing so would invite a stoning. Beyond such obvious fantasy this is poorly written and edited. This book should be listed under "fiction".


Drown
Drown
by Junot Diaz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 24 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Drown (Paperback)
A masterpiece of literary fiction. Diaz writes with not just remarkable skill and detail but also an ability to give his stories a low-slung hip-hop rhythm that no other writer in contemporary fiction possesses (as far as I'm aware). I've purchased so many copies of this book to give to people - it just must be read! And to think English is Diaz's second language!!!


Titian: The Last Days
Titian: The Last Days
by Mark Hudson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Titian, the man and the artist., 21 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Titian: The Last Days (Hardcover)
Titian: The Last Days is a fine mix of biography, art history, travel writing and adventure story. Before I read Hudson's book all I knew of the artist was the paintings and the extraordinarily long creative life. Having finished I now have a good understanding of the man, his times and art.

And what a man: the painter Titian most resembles in recent times is (of course) Picasso. Both were teenage prodigies, both achieved fame and fortune in their twenties and both worked ruthlessly throughout their lives. Both also loved money and courted the rich and powerful so to bring greater wealth their way. And both struggled with sons who wanted to enjoy their fathers' wealth without doing anything worthwhile. Both also loved women and painted naked female flesh with an eloquence and eroticism few others have come near.

Hudson details the artist's struggles with both art, patrons and his oldest son. Having sifted all available information Hudson is careful here, not making grand claims (no Da Vinci code theories pop up to help sell the book), presenting Titian as cautious, both a hack for hire and a ground breaking visionary, radical as artist if parochial as a person (he rarely left Venice). Hudson himself drops in and out of the story - hunting for paintings and studios, desperately seeking out information on Titian and his times. He brilliantly describes the city when it was a major European power and draws biographical sketches of the painters and Kings who surrounded Titian. Never overlong and written in a wry narrative that lends wide appeal, Titian: The Last Days (actually, it covers all of his days with Hudson's strongest fascination being on his great, raw late paintings) is a fascinating read.


Hank Williams: The Biography
Hank Williams: The Biography
by Colin Escott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.92

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hank Lives!, 2 Sept. 2008
Colin Escott is the world's leading expert on hank williams and this brilliant biography tells us all about this most talented yet self destructive of men. Hugely researched and very well written, for all interested in one of the great talents of popular music this biography is essential


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