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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah Yeah Yeah
It is surely no coincidence that the title of this book comes from one of the most exuberant and joyful pop records ever made, because this is certainly written with boundless enthusiasm and a real love of music, which shines through. In five parts, the author takes you on the journey of popular music from 1952 until the early 1990's. The book begins with the first UK...
Published 19 months ago by S Riaz

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3.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, but dull.
This book sets out its stall clearly; it covers the years when the 45rpm single was the dominant format. Each chapter focuses on particular style or artist, but that makes it difficult to get an idea of the interplay between styles in any particular era. It is certainly thorough. Each chapter comes with a slew of names and titles to represent the style, but many of...
Published 1 month ago by Ignorant Bystander


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah Yeah Yeah, 16 Sept. 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (Kindle Edition)
It is surely no coincidence that the title of this book comes from one of the most exuberant and joyful pop records ever made, because this is certainly written with boundless enthusiasm and a real love of music, which shines through. In five parts, the author takes you on the journey of popular music from 1952 until the early 1990's. The book begins with the first UK singles chart, the advent of the 45 and early rock 'n' roll. In the first part the author looks at the importance of skiffle, Larry Parnes and fledging British rock, Joe Meek, Phil Spector, the Brill Building and Elvis, among others.

Generally, each part of the book concentrates on a decade - the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and the start of the nineties. I have to admit that I found the first half of the book the most interesting, but that probably just reflects my musical tastes. However, whether you are a fan of the Beatles, Dylan, Motown, Glam Rock, Punk, Britpop or anything in between, they are all covered. Although the author obviously cannot give detailed biographies of every artist involved in popular music, he puts bands and styles of music in context and assesses their legacy as well as listing musical influences and who, in turn, each successive generation influenced. Also, despite the huge time period and amount of musical styles and bands covered, there is an abundance of interesting and funny stories, which bring each section to life. This is a book that you will be quoting from for some time if you read it and I cannot think of a better gift for a music lover. Considering the task that the author set himself, this is a magnificent achievement.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to see how it could be bettered, 4 Nov. 2013
By 
Ian Marchant (Presteigne, Powys) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book, and I love it even more the more I think about it. He just gets so much right. A proper appreciation of Nat Cole, Philly soul, Todd Rundgren, Big Star, The Beach Boys, Abba, Red Bird records,'Sugar Sugar', the KLF, Pistols over Clash, Blondie over Patti Smith, etc etc etc, is balanced with a magisterial dismissal of Queen ('more a multi-national company than a band') post 'Exile' Stones ('forty years a Stones tribute act') and the woefully over-rated post Syd Floyd. Metal is equated with country (Stanley rightly sees them both as conservative genres,) and I've spent a few happy few days revisiting acid house, SOLAR, early-mid-period Bee Gees and Fleetwood Mac, and facing up to my enjoyment of Beyonce's 'Crazy in Love' and Whitney Houston's 'It's Not Right But It's OK'.
I spotted one sort of mistake, and even then I saw his point. John Waite's 'Missing You' was mentioned in the chapter on American Rock; but John Waite is a Lancastrian (and as an adopted son of Lancaster and a pal of his brother Jo, I just wanted to give credit to the Bay City). But I guess if you're going to mention John Waite at all, American Rock is very much the place for him, given the absence of a chapter devoted to Lancaster's rock aristocracy.
With its excellent bibliography and index, this deserves to be the standard introduction to the subject for years to come.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delves deep, 7 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (Kindle Edition)
Some may be put off by the sheer size of this book - but it's an easy read and not a word is wasted. The story of modern popular music is told from the 1920s on to the present day with plenty of Temptations, Abba, Nirvana and Josh Wink along the way. By necessity it does tend to skip over some periods, genres and key artists more quickly than others but the end result is a clear and entertaining overview of the progression of popular music over the past century.

The story is told in a series of digestible nuggets with chapters which are more than manageable. It crosses continually back and forth from one side of the Atlantic to the other, with continental Europe touched upon reasonably regularly as well.

The author is thankfully unafraid to express an opinion, usually subtly but occasionally not, which gives the story a human touch. It's clear throughout that this is written from the point of view of a genuine lover (and maker) of music rather than that of a detached snob with a holier-than-thou record collection.

As a child of the mid-90s, I was looking forward to reaching this part of the story and wasn't disappointed. It was also quite pleasing to see the likes of Pulp and Suede being given more attention than Oasis and Blur.

Where it does perhaps fall down slightly is in the post-90s chapters. American R&B is quite rightly covered in depth but the story finishes rather abruptly there, with an epilogue focussing on the new ways music tends to be digested since the advent of Napster and iTunes. Presumably the author feels that music produced over the last seven or eight years is still a bit too recent to be properly analysed and perhaps he's right - but nevertheless it does feel that the story finishes a bit prematurely.

That's my only criticism of what really is a terrificly fun and passionate piece of work. The best compliment I can pay this book is that it's made me want to read through again more slowly so I can try and fill in some of the gaps in my pop education! Probably using Spotify and YouTube rather than 7" vinyl of course but that's progress for you...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, comprehensive although occasionally subjective, 1 Feb. 2014
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I'm a big music fan of types and so, at more than 700 pages, this was ideal holiday reading for me. Bob Stanley's book covers the first 50 years of "modern pop" (a broad definition, which covers most types of music which charted between the 1950s and 1990s) and he focuses on the main trends and trendsetters rather than the most popular. By and large, he does an excellent job and I was particularly interested in the new stuff: the 1950s (when I wasn't around) and emergence of house and techno in the late 1980s which passed me by at the time). The book is excellently researched and highly readable throughout. The only gripe I had with it was that the book was subjective when covering the formative years of the author (basically the late 60s and 70s) - which means you don't get any Bohemian Rhapsody (surely one of the most impactful singles ever), Janis Joplin (who blazed the trail for so many female singers), Peter Frampton (one of the best selling live albums ever), Steppenwolf (whose Born to Be Wild introduced the term "heavy metal") or Jackson Browne (despite a chapter on Laurel Canyon). There was also an amazing assertion that Led Zeppelin and the Sweet sound alike and that 1970 was a weak year (which works well as an "end of the sixties" storyline , but ignores the fantastic hard rock, motown, soul, reggae which came out that year, not to mention the emergence of T. Rex. In my book, 1970 was like any other year - some great, some good and some downright awful!

Overall, though, these are minor gripes and like every music fan, Bob has the right to be subjective and could not be expected to cover everything in these 700 pages. This book is highly recommended for music fans of all ages and will have you reminiscing and digging out all those old records once again!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you believe in magic?, 10 April 2014
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Arresting, beguiling, comprehensive, diverting, exciting, fabulous, groovy, hit-filled, inspiring, joyous... you get the idea.

"Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop" is a trove of fascinating opinions and insights from Professor Bob Stanley who - in addition to being a a member of Saint Etienne, a journalist, compiler of fine compilations, and a film producer - has a PhD In Musicology.

If, like me you ever listened with impatient anticipation to the latest top thirty chart run down, pen in hand, or pause button primed, then "Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop" is your Bible. It's all here, the entire modern pop era, from NME's first chart published on 14 November 1952 (Al Martino's "Here In My Heart" at number one pop pickers) to "Crazy In Love" when, as we know, the story becomes far less interesting.

750 pages of illuminating excellence. I came away with a c500 song poptastic playlist. Yes, it's really that good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All a matter of taste l suppose, 18 Jan. 2015
It has been wildly overpraised. An ambitious , endearing and enjoyable read at times but Mr Stanley's agenda tends to spoil the pleasure. Fancies himself as a bit of an iconoclast , wants to upset what he percieves as the critical consensus ( does this actually exist anymore?). And so, acts from the poppier end of the scale such as Sweet, Lt Pigeon , The Glitter Band , the puke inducing Cliff Richard (and his Shadows ), producer of tinny novelties Joe Meek , Dollar (yawn ) and a slew of faceless house , techno and rave records are lionised. Critical favourites such as The Clash , Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, Neil Young , XTC , Elvis Cotello, Led Zeppelin and others therefore need to be trashed. Some are brought down a peg or two - Aretha , Chuck Berry , Steely Dan .And some artists are ignored completely - you might search in vain for Al Green , Bobby Bland , Undertones , Wire , Supergrass or Super Furry Animals - or mentioned in passing ,The Rascals , Pogues ,
It's not all bad news. Kudos for featuring Big Star , Pil and Husker Du , although I am not sure what they have got to do with Mr Stanley's beloved top 40 pop charts. I am no rockist , pop hater. A great pop single is one of the wonders of the world and I would not swap, say, In My Lonely Room by Martha and the Vandellas for the entire works of U2, Queen , Coldplay, Black Sabbath , Genesis , Yes , Pearl Jam, and their ilk. All put together.
Like Dave Marsh's book " Heart and soul of Rock and Roll " there is much to enjoy and admire but ultimately both are let down by their prejudices. Or perhaps they just don't have exactly the same prejudices as my own !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read for anybody who ever loved pop records., 25 Dec. 2013
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P. Western (London, England) - See all my reviews
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A "fab" (as in fabulous), intelligent, knowledgable and well-writen book about pop music and the people who made it.

I love the way Mr. Stanley condenses huge amounts of information into each chapter. Even if you think that you know everything important there is to know about artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, writers like Carole King and Gerry Goffin, labels like Tamla Motown, producers like Phil Spector and Joe Meek, Mr. Stanley continally surprises you with new insights.

I can't recomment it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only (possibly) the most important book on music, but also the definitive history of pop and a bloody great read!, 28 July 2014
By 
Nicholas Cendrowicz "EuroBlue" (Bruxelles, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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The best book about music since Simon Reynold's "Retromania". This really is that good.

Surprisingly, no-one has written a history of modern pop. After "Yeah Yeah Yeah", it is doubtful that anyone will. This is the definitive history. Erudite, complete and always putting pop into a social or economic context. It starts with the changes of the immediate post-war era, with chapters lovingly devoted to long-forgotten scenes, and moves through the years to, well, now. Criss-crossing the Atlantic between the UK and the US (with occasional forays outside the anglo-saxon world, to Jamaica, Dusseldorf or Sweden), most of the chapters are about musical genres. There are few devoted to persons or groups (obvious exceptions: Elvis, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys Bowie and Bolan ... but also Abba and the Bee Gees, Kraftwork, Pet Shop Boys or New Order).

There is a reason for this: Bob Stanley is in love with the single, rather than the rockist obsession with oeuvre. He manages to describe the sound of a song and the feelings it induces in you in a very personal fashion. There are fascinating details about the people involved and the way the songs were recorded, with some of the most delicious anecdotes reserved for the page notes. If anything, the book could have been longer, and Stanley would have managed to bring in even more detail. As it is, the 800-odd pages fly by in a style that is both reverent and irreverent, dry, funny and personal.

Bob Stanley's heart is very clearly on his sleeve in wanting to challenge the Mojo / Q consensus about what constitutes important music or musical events. The whole Laurel Canyon scene is dismissed as being self-indulgent, Live Aid is a disaster, the Doors are awful (as is the whole Britpop movement, and Oasis in particular). But there are also hilarious moments. When he makes a (justified) parallel between mid-1980's New Pop and American Rock,there is clear reason for this. AC/DC are dismissed as playing one song over and over again, whereas Status Quo are described as Krautrock, even like Neu. This is all very funny, but also makes important and challenging points.

But Bob Stanley is no ordinary author. ⅓ of Saint Etienne (one of the most under-rated bands in British pop history) he is also pop historian, curator of fine records, filmmaker and journalist. Modestly he fails to reference his own band, although Saint Etienne appear in a list of acts that appear on a magazine cover, and I had to laugh when he slipped in his own Cola Boy single. And Stanley can write, not only humorously but making important links (sometimes very left field) and constructing a great narrative in the development of music.

If I had to pick a hole, it is the fact that the chapters end without an idea of the influences that each genre left on pop today in 2014. I suspect that that is a deliberate choice to make this book timeless. There is another obvious comment: the book more or less ends in 2005, with 'Crazy in Love' the last great single. After that, there would appear to be no important pop movements. This is also the Simon Reynolds thesis: subsequent developments in music concentrate on the media (YouTube, Spotify, iTunes...) rather than the music itself. From that point of view, this book really is the definitive history.

That should seem like a sad conclusion, but it isn't: there is so much jumping out of every page here, with ideas for music to listen to. If pop music is important for you, your faith in music will be restored and affirmed by this important but also lovely book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For the most part this is an excellent read, covering the vast range of musical styles ..., 31 Jan. 2015
By 
jon from essex (Ampthill, Bedfordshire) - See all my reviews
For the most part this is an excellent read, covering the vast range of musical styles that have infiltrated the UK and US charts since their inception. Where Stanley excels is in providing an objective overview of a genre, delivered through his own research. You can tell that he's a music lover who has been genuinely fascinated in discovering music from a bygone era. Reading through it struck me what an impact some music must have had as it cut a swathe through the status quo - rock n roll in the fifties for examples.

Up until the last 100 odd pages (when we head into the 90's) I had been talking and recommending the book to friends. Unfortunately its in the 90's that Stanley's opinions start coming out, with snide remarks about certain types of music and bands. This for me casts a shadow over the book - it feels like I'm back to reading the NME with its narrow opinions and penchant for hyping up 1-2 acts from a genre that isn't its core indie guitar focus.
What you end up with is some borderline arrogant and entirely subjective statements chucked in here or there and in other areas cloying sycophancy for 'cool' artists that reflect fashion rather than anything more meaningful.

A big old shame really, but for me a great read up to about page 650.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive guide to pop for the muso, 5 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (Kindle Edition)
Bob's clearly a massive pop fan and deserves credit for leading the reader through half a century of the pop canon. Always some arbitrary choices as to who makes the cut and who doesn't but, as always, opinion and personal bias will prevail. My main criticism is an all too abrupt ending and I would dispute when the demise of great music occurred - we are just in another phase of pop's relentless progress onwards. It will outlive X-factor and The Voice. In fact, more optimism is justified as so much music can be created solely by the artist with the technology we are blessed with in the digital age.
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