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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit stodgy and disappointing, 22 July 2014
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This review is from: The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records (Paperback)
The raw material of this looks promising: of the 50 songs Maconie's chosen, I'd be interested to read something about at least 40 or so. Sorry, I should have said something new, interesting, amusing, insightful and/or thought-provoking.

There is a little bit of that - enough for a generous 2 stars. I was thrilled to learn that the excellent Can't Get You Out of My Head was co-written by Cathy "Touch Me" Dennis and some guy out of 70s rubbish-pop act Mud - the latter point being especially interesting given how little evidence of talent Mud ever offered.

But that is unfortunately swamped in a lot of heavy stodge. Maconie digresses extensively, in an attempt to link the music to British social and musical history, as per his subtitle, but his digressions skilfully blend the already familiar, the questionable, the uninteresting and the out-of-place.

One example will have to do (neatly combining the last 3 of these 4 vices): running through Kylie Minogue's S-A-W hit history, he describes "Better the Devil You Know" as "a catchy tune saddled with perhaps the most reactionary, small-minded lyric since Peter Sarstedt's know-your-place anthem Where Do You Go To, (My Lovely)". Why should anyone care about his unargued-for dislike of the Sarstedt hit, but more particularly, what is the point of mentioning it, so grouchily, in a context where it clearly has no bearing? I assure you I'm not only not an aggrieved Peter S but not even much of a fan of the song in question; but it seems to me that the "know-your-place anthem " description is fairly wide of the mark too in both parts.

That example was picked for brevity. But there is a lot of warmed-over potted postwar social history in here which, I admit, may be of interest to any readers of school-leaving age or thereabouts.

Be warned, is all I'm saying: if you're looking for 400 pages of pop-hit fun and musings, this isn't where you're going to find it.
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