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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and a rattling good read, 8 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers (Hardcover)
No, this book is not exhaustive, so it may not contain your favourite song, album or even singer (needless to say the book is fortunately devoid of Susan Boyle, Paul Potts, Andrea Bocelli and their ilk; also, sadly, no Pat Boone or Jane Morgan). How could it? But apart from that, the book does contain a wealth of information on some 270 singers ranging from Al Jolson to Bob Dylan, from Al Bowlly to Michael Bublé, from Noel Coward to Robert Goulet, from Marlene Dietrich to Ella Fitzgerald. Like any writer who stands for something, Friedwald doesn't mince his words, which means that inherently good singers who fail to deliver the goods properly (Friedwald is not impressed by sales numbers) get a sound thrashing (e.g. Andy Williams or Perry Como), and other singers finally get the accolades they deserve (Doris Day, Buddy Clark, Johnny Desmond). There are also some strange advocacies which I would not necessarily agree with (Ray Eberle a more memorable singer than Bob?), but which made me think and listen again to music I had not listened to for a very long time. And Friedwald says what he wants to say with panache, drive and a lot of humour. In short, this is what great writing is all about: to offer different angles and insights, to provoke and to stimulate. A minor quiddity is that there are some errors that might have been prevented by more careful editing (or an editor with more than just passing knowledge of the subject). Just one example is that Glenn Miller's arranger Bill Finegan is referred to as Bill Flanagan, and there a few more of these glitches. Perhaps in a work of this scale and with so many details they are inevitable. Since prices have slid to under nine quid the real music lover no longer has an excuse not to have this book on his shelf.
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