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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 February 2015
This is a mammoth ambitious undertaking , resulting in a real doorstep of a book, an incredible achievement to try and provide an overview of Pop Music history. It is presented in broadly chronological order, with thematic chapters on different genres . There is a good coverage of both UK and US cultural references. I personally found the early and middle part of the book the most informative and enjoyable, with lots of great insight, fascinating snippets, and it is well researched and easy to read. I suspect many readers will dip into the chapters that interest them most on the genres and artists that particularly appeal to them. I persevered and have ploughed my way progressively through the whole tome. Inevitably each reader may quibble that some of their favourites are overlooked , or take a different view on a few of the opinions proffered on the merits of some artists and genres , but most of the time this book is likely to please most of its audience, I agreed to disagree only a few times on the opinions put forward, but learnt a great deal along the way The last section of the book into the 90's was less enjoyable for me personally and I found it harder going, but the main classic pop period has been exceptionally well covered. Bob Stanley is obviously a liftime pop fan, and as a performer in his own right with St Etienne he will have gained first hand insider experience , which probably helps to frame this work in a more knowledgeable way than a more arms length detached academic author could achieve.It gives a fascinating insight into the development of pop , and is to be applauded and admired for its scope . I would love someone to pick up the baton and do something similar for folk music in the future, Overall highly enjoyable and strongly recommended.
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on 30 May 2014
A fairly breakneck hurtle through 50 years of the soundtrack to the lives of anyone born after WW2. Broken down into easily digestible chapters about the rapidly changing fads and fashions of popular music since the Hit Parade came into being in November 1952. Bob Stanley's encyclopaedic knowledge, research and clear love of the subject keep you reading on. Anyone of major influence such as Joe Meek, Phil Spector, Max Boyce and Kurt Cobain gets full recognition and there we are introduced to many artists of whom I was only vaguely aware but I now appreciate with the help of this guide and Spotify. These include, Wanda Jackson, The Dells, Doris Allen, Irma Thomas, Del Shannon (the later years), Portishead, and many others. Stanley seems to have it in for Pink Floyd, not having a good word to say about any aspect of their music. He is surprisingly warm about Rolf Harris however - even John Lennon appreciated Jake the Peg getting to number one with a Christmas anti-war song (although he may have been more influenced by Harris's screaming version of "I've Lost My Mummy" and recorded his own (slightly different) version complete with anguished screaming that may even have improved upon Australia's former backstroke champion). There's a lot of humour and wry asides that are great fun. " More More More, with possibly the only transcendent cow bell break in pop history", and consternation that REO Speedwagon's drummer retired in 1988, "Retired! Nobody in rock 'retires'." A magnificent effort and I only palled, like every one else who retires from listening to pop radio at the age of 38, when new music all starts to sound like noise. I'm with Peter Powell who retired as a DJ when Jack Your Body got to number one.
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on 24 October 2014
Bob Stanley's tour through pop music from the mid nineteen fifties to the dawn of the twenty-first century is, like Pop itself, an engrossing, often highly addictive experience.

The book is very well-structured and written with considerable style and passion. Unfairly neglected figures reemerge through his account - the Paris Sisters, Barbara Lewis, the Lovin' Spoonful, The Pop Group, illustrating his key point of the often overlooked richness of a cultural phenomenon with such a relatively short history.

Stanley's opinions are often forthright, but always well-considered and if sometimes (even often!) disagreeing, one finds oneself cheered by his astute articulation of such constantly shifting phenomena: the eclipse of the early 60s Girl Groups by Merseybeat, the increasingly lazy self-regard of the West Coast Rock scene in the mid-seventies, the talent and ebullience of otherwise much-maligned Disco acts like the Bee Gees, the chaotic and bewildering rise of House and Techno.

Pop music in the second half of the Twentieth Century was a rich broth of multiple influences, confusion, brilliance, silliness and sheer vivacity shot through at times with moments of the most startling sublimity. In Bob Stanley this music finds an author fully up to the challenge of describing all its weirdness and wonder.

Highly recommended - though you may end up with more new musical 'favourites' than you ever expected.
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on 14 November 2015
This is a massive undertaking - a book that covers it's subject with such breadth and depth that it could surely only take a superficial glimpse. Wrong. It is clever, informative, beguiling, involving and hard to put down.
The only thing negative I could say about it was that it proved profoundly depressing from time to time, due to the fact that I was trying to write a book about rock music at the same time.
But that needn't worry you - just go get it.
If I could only have one book about music and the business of music, this would be it...
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on 1 October 2013
This is a truly wonderful book about the popular music of the second half of the 20th century. It is vast and encyclopaedic, yet divides the subject up in such a way that each chapter is a perfect size to be approachable and enjoyable. Its greatest strength is the way Bob Stanley combines a detailed knowledge about literally every genre of pop music over the period with a deep love and affection both for the music itself and for the impact it had on all of our lives as we listened to it growing up. The warmth and enthusiasm behind the writing is infectious: the music I already knew seems better for the context the book provides, while the music I didn't know (or had heard of but never listened to) seems endlessly fascinating - I found the book to be a great springboard for discovering gems hidden in parts of pop music history I had never previously considered. Genuinely essential reading for anyone interested in pop from the 1950s to the first decade of the new millennium.
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on 4 October 2013
I've not written a review before so I'll keep it simple - I love this book. Bob Stanley has bravely written a hugely entertaining, informative book on pretty much the whole scope of popular music over the last 60 years and I am absolutely loving it. This could have been a turgid disaster but is the complete opposite - I challenge anyone not to read through it with barely a break (despite it's nearly 800 page length, this is a weighty tome) as it's just too enjoyable a read.
The best book about music (or about anything for that matter) I've read in ages - thank you Bob!
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VINE VOICEon 5 February 2014
On the surface a fairly conventional chronological trip through the musical landscape of the second half of the 21st century but Stanley's personal passions and prejudices (Bob Marley is overrated; heavy metal is irredeemable; and bloody hell, he really doesn't like Patti Smith, does he?) make it constantly surprising and delightful. Even if you've got several shelves full of rock 'n' roll reference, get this. It's fab.
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on 27 February 2014
I bought this for my brother as a gift- we are both pensioners now but we are both still buying old 50's music and current charts! this book covers the whole of that time- our memories are a bonu, as it reminded me, that he bought me my first music record when i was still too young to go shopping for my own! Awwww
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on 26 January 2014
Every chapter in this book has enough content to justify a book of its own. You can't possibly fit the entire history of 20th Century pop into one book. So if you want to know more about the Beatles and the Stones, there are plenty of other choices. What 'YEAH YEAH YEAH' does so well is point you in new directions. I share his belief that pop music was short-changed when it swapped mid-60s experimentalism for testosterone hard rock - what might have been if the craftsmen had won out over amplified power.

If you love pop music and understand that Westlife (for all their unit-shifting success) are the spiritual successors to The Batchelors, rather than the Monkees. you'll love this book. If pop music means whatever is on Commercial Crap FM, this will show where it all went wrong.

There's an argument that says that great pop died at the same time as vinyl. I really hope that isn't true. But hopefully there are people out there ready to change our world through music.
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on 18 April 2014
Bob Stanley is not just a critic, he's also a proper musician, and has written a history of pop music (starting with the birth of the chart in the early 50s) that it will be both unnecessary and impossible to seek to better. His knowledge is vast, his love of the genre is profound, his judgements are like those of the ideal parent: firm, clear, but always loving. And there is a laugh on almost every page. Anybody who still has a pile of 45s somewhere in the house - you will love this book. It goes on for pages and pages and chapter and chapter, and you want it never to stop - though sadly you already know the ending. Like the best pop single: accessible, instantly engaging, fantastic fun, and stays with you long after it's over.
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