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Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop Paperback – 13 Sep 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Paperback, 13 Sep 2013
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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (13 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571281974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571281978
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The key to Yeah Yeah Yeah is the mix of erudition and brilliantly sharp perspective; a mind equally intrigued by Bill Haley and Beyoncé. Delightful and illuminating, this is the pop answer to The Rest is Noise. (Roy Wilkinson MOJO 2013-09-30)

London has the A-Z, and pop now has Yeah Yeah Yeah. Finally, pop music has its Boswell (Caitlin Moran)

Might be the best book about music I've ever read. (Alexis Petridis Guardian)

A good old romp through the late twentieth century's greatest art form. (Jeremy Deller)

For everyone who ever made a mix tape (Observer)

...Noel Coward talked of the potency of cheap music, and Yeah Yeah Yeah is a love letter to this potency, written by a besotted and discerning Yeah Yeah Yeah proves on nearly every page, Bob Stanley is both a fine writer and an impassioned celebrant of pop in all its mongrel, misfit glory, sending you back to records you know and in search of ones you don't with the giddy adolescent expectation that no pop fan should ever lose (Stuart Maconie The Times)

There is an ache there as much a part of pop as its natural exuberance, and Stanley's book - funny, wise, almost encyclopaedic - is testament to both aspects of the form. (Independent)

Entertaining, informative and great...he's a fine writer with a jukebox brain and a sense of humour. Through Yeah Yeah Yeah's fantastic analysis and history of pop he makes brilliant observations....this book covers everything- from pop's beginnings int the 50s to Beyonce and beyond, via Top of the Pops, Smash Hits, rock, punk, disco...It's essential. (David Quantick Q Magazine)

If anyone is qualified to condense the history of pop music into a 747-page book and reclaim the subject from the MP3 vs. vinyl hand wringers, it's Stanley. As founding member of Saint Etienne, music press stalwart and owner of a notoriously extensive record collection, Stanley practically has A-Levels in rock 'n' roll. (The Quietus)

Firstly, what makes this a must-read is Stanley's habit of nailing exactly what gives pop its romantic attraction; by the end of his concise dissection of The Beatles, you need never read another word about them. Secondly, the breadth and depth of his knowledge is astonishing. Most pages feature enough recommendations to send you on countless musical tangents, ensuring that the book becomes as much a trusted reference point as it is a wildly entertaining read. (Jamie Atkins Record Collector)

What is striking about Yeah Yeah Yeah (as perfect a title for a book about pop as you could imagine) is that Stanley's interest is principally in the music. Yes, he writes about pop image, the music press and the record industry when he has to. But it all starts with the sound...Whether you agree with his judgements or not, you will stay for the writing. Stanley is able to sum up a singer or a song in a few well-chosen words...It is also a book full of wonderful I-didn't-know-that asides...glorious (Teddy Jamieson The Herald)

There are many candidates for the title of the last man to have known everything: Leibniz, John Stuart Mill, Archimedes, take your pick. It's entirely possible that the last person to have listened to everything - everything in pop, at least - is Bob Stanley...For readability and appreciation of scale, sweep and drama, Stanley is the Antony Beevor of pop...This book will change the way you think about a protean form of music that you have known all your life and I stand in awe of it. (New Statesman)

A book every bit as well researched and infectiously enthusiastic as you would expect ...From A&M to ZTT, Stanley has missed nothing and Yeah Yeah Yeah excels at offering both a broad overview of the subject as well as a devilishly detailed account. Either read the thing from cover to cover or dip in and out according to mood, but do check out the story of modern pop, because it's one that will never be told again. (Lee Bullman Loud and Quiet 2013-10-01)

'with his incisive and erudite eye, Bob Stanley manages to deal with the broad specifics of huge cultural and industrial changes during this period of recent history without losing sight of the smaller scale....make sure to pick up Yeah Yeah Yeah, a book which looks set to be an essential tome for any pop fanatic'. (Mark Corcoran-Lettice NARC Magazine 2013-09-25)

With births come deaths and the rise and fall of Top Of The Pops, Smash Hits, vinyl, cassettes and CDs show just how pop has developed and how it has changed the world.This encyclopaedic labour of love traces 50 years of contemporary chart music and it leaves no stone unturned. (Harry Hodges Daily Express)

Book Description

The complete story of the modern pop era: the era of vinyl, the Top 40, the NME, Smash Hits and Top of the Pops - when pop music defined pop culture.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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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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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.
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Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop' by Bob Stanley is the best book written about popular music, maybe even popular culture in general, that I have ever read. Stanley takes the reader on a compendious tour through the beginning of what he describes as the modern pop era in the early 1950s to what he considers as its demise in the late 90s with the beginning of our own digital era.

Unlike Peter Doggett's gigantic 'Electric Shock: From the Gramophone to the Iphone- 125 years of Pop music' - which tries to be all things to all people by including pre-WWII pop trends and a sampling of world music - Stanley is unapologetic in his focus upon the Anglo-American development of popular music from the 50s-90s, aside from a paragraph on Krautrock and single chapters devoted to Abba and the influence of Jamaican music respectively. I am of the opinion that Stanleys book compares favourably to Doggett's as a consequence.

Stanley is acute in his observations - Heavy Metal is: 'starter-pack rock. It works as both a gateway to other forms of modern pop, via volume, speed and power, and as a model of pure escapism –the roar of the fairground, the cheap thrills of the slasher movie, sex and horror..... It is also deeply conservative, with its own canon, its own heroes, a true metal code of conduct. Along with country, it’s quite likely it will outlast every other genre in this book.' Bob Dylan's back catalogue meanwhile is described as: 'a library, with narrow, twisting corridors and deep oak shelves drawing you in: start leafing through the pages and you may never want to stop.'

Often brilliantly catty in his portraits - Kim Wilde 'emerged in 1981 with a three-years-too-late budget-Blondie sound she’d bought from a petrol station in Hertfordshire.
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