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on 25 February 2009
For any music lover that has argued that their favourite rock artists are realer than say Britney Spears or Take That this book is a must read. Barker and Taylor do a thorough job examining the issues at the heart of the argument. Are artists like Kurt Cobain more 'authentic' than say someone like Moby? And what constitutes 'Authentic'? and is it really attainable? Rather than being just an arbitrary notion. An eclectic range of artists are examined from Elvis to the Sex Pistols to The Beuna Vista Social club. The most interesting chapter is Neil Young's tortuous obsession with 'Keeping it real' and the lengths that he drives himself too in pursuit of that intangible. This is a crisply written and absorbing study of an idea that may well be impossible to achieve - but that won't stop me arguing that Nirvana are more authentic than Britney, whatever that means.Last Train to Memphis: Rise of Elvis PresleyThe Record Men: Chess Records and the Birth of Rock and RollNevermindTonight's the NightPlay
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on 2 June 2010
Why are some acts slammed for being 'manufactured', whilst others are revered for their perceived 'authenticity'? The authors of this book explore the phenomenon, look at historical examples and consider how skilful management of artists has created massive international superstars. Authors Barker and Taylor have created an accessible look at an under-explored subject in music writing, which delves behind the facade to try and discover a little more about the marketing of popular music from the 1940s onwards. Unfortunately, despite some promising source material, it can be a little hard-going for the more casual reader. But if you're prepared to stick with it, it's well worth the effort.
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on 1 March 2010
Barker & Taylor have written a book that is informative, entertaining, and deeply thought-provoking. As a jaded academic with 20 years experience in the subject area, I rarely come across any text that really energises me - but this book did. As well as being a much better read than parallel academic tomes in the field, the authors manage not to sacrifice complexity in terms of their arguments, sources or examples. If there was one book I was asked to recommend to any student, or serious fan of popular music wanting to move beyond the journalistic into the analytical, even the philosophical domain - this would be it. Dr Ron Moy.
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on 12 April 2013
A great, warm, fascinating study of "keeping it real" in music.

What is so great is not so much the arguments, but the vast knowledge and love that the writers have for their subjects.

Sharply written, and fascinating - any serious music fan should buy it now!
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on 12 February 2015
Fascinating, absorbing & very insightful - a brilliant piece of analytical writing...
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