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33 Revolutions Per Minute Paperback – 3 Mar 2011
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'This rabble-rousing romp through politically motivated pop music is a delight.' -- Arthur House, Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year >>
'Extensive ... enormous but readable.' --Will Hodgkinson, The Times Books of the Year
'Lynskey s ability to link history, culture, politics and music makes the argument not just for the potency of protest but the need for music journalism. The stories he tells are as epoch-shaping as the songs themselves.' -- NME, Book of the Year
'A panoramic view of music, politics and social history that s wonderfully well-written, informative and often surprisingly funny.' -- Uncut
'A scrupulously researched, elegantly written and highly absorbing account of the intersection of politics and music.' - Independent
An astounding history of protest music, told through 33 momentous songs.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The sections that cover my personal music tastes (such as the chapter that looks at The Clash, particularly comparing them to the Sex Pistols) are of more immediate interest in some ways but the whole concept is very well conceived and conveyed in writing which, to my mind, stands above much of what I've read in non-fiction recently.
I didn't give it five stars only because there are times where it is perhaps a little too much like a history text book with very detailed dates on who did what on which day which demonstrates a thorough approach to research and a knowledge and understanding of the subject matter (which is partly what you're paying for) but can impact on the readability.
Overall, however, it's a great social history. There is a common thread through all the artists featured, despite the huge disparity in musical styles, which pulls the whole thing together into what is a great read for anyone with an interest in music.
The book starts with Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit", about the lynching of black men in the Southern states, moves through "This Land Is Your Land" and "We Shall Overcome" and on to the work of Dylan, Lennon, Stevie Wonder, The Clash, Billy Bragg etc, right up to Green Day, and not just looking at one particular song, but the performer's body of work.
Most of all, Lynskey provides a very astute social commentary of the circumstances that produced the songs of those times. It's not so much a wallow in nostalgia as a hard-nosed reminder of the way things really were back then.
And along the way there's a thousand little nuggets for your enjoyment. Did you know, for instance, that Chic's Nile Rogers used to be in the Black Panthers? Or that Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five were bitterly opposed to releasing "The Message", much preferring a song called "Dumb Love"?
Alas, it also feels a little like an elegy. There's nothing out there now to be mentioned in the same breath as the songs discussed in this book. These songs may not have changed the world but they surely gave a focus to people who were working for a cause. This has gone now and it's impossible to imagine it coming back to any great extent and we're much the poorer for it. And, hey, one or two, like Special AKA's "Nelson Mandela" actually did change the world.
One small caveat. It would have been nice to see the the whole lyric of the discussed songs printed, especially for the songs we might not know quite as well, so we could see the songs for ourselves, but I daresay this was not possible due to copyright restrictions.
My ultimate test of how much I'm enjoying a book is how much I want to get back to reading it and how sorry I am when the reading finally comes to an end. This book passes the test on both counts.
Very highly recommended. I wish you happy reading.