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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2001
This must be one of the best, if not "the best" book about Blues music and Blues musicians I've come across. Bill Wyman manages to discuss the cultural influences that created the blues intelligently without ever getting intelectual. He discusses the lives and talents of the musicians with admiration but without overly glorifying them. Bill comes across, as you'd expect, as someone who both loves the music and the musicians who create it. At no point though does he preach or pontificate over academic points of interest only to anoraks. The layout and design of the book is excellent, with superb graphics and pictures. Its the kind of book you can read straight through or dip into again and again as a reference work or just for fun. I thought I knew a lot about Blues culture, history and music, but I've learnt so much more from this book. I've also discovered some excellent blues music I was previously unaware of. Buy it!
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on 26 May 2002
I am a massive blues fan, and this really huge and most excellent book by the Rolling Stone's Bill Wyman is a must.
It's definately an easy read, wonderfully put together, including great photos. And every master of blues that you care to mention is here; the greats and legends such as Robert Johnson, BB King, Leadbelly and John Lee Hooker, plus Elvis Presley's Sun recordings.
If you are a fan of blues, or even curious, this book will be firm in your hands for a long time, not only as a book of blues, but a guide to buying your next CDs.
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on 16 August 2007
BLUES music is very mysterious and often misunderstood.
It is deceptively simple for a start. Music snobs may cite the 12 bar sequence, three chords and lyric repetition as a way of belittling it - yet surely the importance of music is not what you play but what it sounds like and how it makes you feel.
Some blues is based around one chord and sounds utterly fantastic and makes you want to move. Other tracks, of course, are much more complex and require stunning musicianship.
Blues often tells of hardships but it can be remarkably cathartic, uplifting, funny and exciting while some lyrics and the stories they tell border on genius. The music's influence is massive but it often does not receive the credit it deserves.
This book manages to capture the magic of the blues in an entertaining and informative way. Some books about blues are so detailed and `intellectual' they manage to take all the enjoyment and beauty out of the music.
The strength about this publication is that it pays homage to the great blues artists, their influence and their music in a way that makes you want to listen to your favourite blues CDs.
As other reviewers have noted it is top heavy with pictures of Bill Wyman with various blues legends and the odd unimportant anecdote, but don't let this put you off.
It is a personal tribute and this music had a major impact on The Rolling Stones - and countless other bands throughout the decades too - and it's great to see this acknowledged so well. Certainly in this case a bit of self-indulgence can be excused.
There are some excellent photographs as well as plenty of information about different forms of the blues and it is a book you can dip in and out of and return to time and time again.
I particularly enjoyed the write ups on various blues legends and learning about their classic recordings.
This is certainly one of my favourite books on music and well worth anyone with a passing interest in blues - or rock music for that matter - having a look at.
It's a credit to all those who have contributed to it and to all those great artists who have produced so much magical music.
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on 15 July 2003
Overall, a great book that educates the reader in an entertaining, clear and down-to-earth manner. I especially appreciated the background information (for example, on slavery, segregation and the cotton trade) which puts the blues into its social and spiritual context. This book is clearly a labour of love, especially for Bill Wyman, but that love unfortunately extends to an excessive number of Bill Wyman photographs. Bear in mind however that as a coffee table book, this book lacks some of the depth and flow of a good blues read, evident in books such as Robert Palmer's "Deep Blues" or Alan Lomax's "The land where the blues began".
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on 7 September 2002
If blues fans have such things as coffee tables Bill Wyman's book will certainly enhance them. Extremely readable and copiously illustrated it traces the amazing impact of the blues from its Delta roots to its gradual influence on all forms of popular music and on everyone from Presley and Dylan to Eric Clapton and Rory Gallagher. Dipping into it anywhere you will learn a lot about the eclectic and evolutionary nature of music.
A real joy are the one and two page spreads that focus on the Blues Greats like Bessie Smith, Robbie Johnson and Muddy Waters among very many. A similar treatment is given to the most famous classic Blues songs. There are sections on record labels like Sun and Chess and on the types of guitars that bluesmen favoured.
Bill Wymans book is miles away from many others that treat the exciting history of this art form in a dull and academic way.
Now there is one caveat to the intending reader - the book is after all about 'Bill Wyman's personal odyssey'. And I have to say Bill does not suffer from false modesty. There are more pictures of Bill Wyman than anyone else in the book and the index references to Rolling Stones (58) , outnumber those accorded to any other artist from BB King to John Lee Hooker to Howling Wolf. Most bizarre of all perhaps, among the splendid maps of Delta locations, historic recording tours and the like, is a plan of Greater London featuring key blues sites like Penge ('where Bill was working at a department store when he first joined the Stones') and Fulham Town Hall where 'Bill shot a video with Charlie and Ronnie Wood'.
Still this personal eccentricity is what made the book most likeable and readable for me and I think most others will find the same.
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on 11 June 2016
Wonderful book , fabulously designed . Main story from slavery up to turn of this century , interspersed by the Blues education of Bill Perks . This would be THE ideal book to introduce anyone to the blues , and pretty much the same for any blues enthusiast . Page size sidebars on Blues Heroes and individual standards . Accessible and enjoyable , a true gem
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on 19 January 2008
In the 60s came the first serious approaches to understanding America's own native music which were more academic than entertaining.
Here though is what it was leading up to after the various A to Zs as this profusely illustrated book is in chronlogical order placing all the key players in an easy to read manner and its a book by one who is as much of an authority as Alan Lomax or whoever did the ground work,
The blues in the U K came via the Rolling Stones-its when a lot of the music finally became available.
Probably little of it came through on original 78s and if it did it was unlikely to have been in the shops.
The 50s and Chris Barber changed all this as blues singers like Terry & McGhee and Big Bill Broonzy and Josh White and Memphis Slim were seen on the television but who were named then as folk singers.
Here in this massive tome is all you need to know
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on 22 May 2010
I really wish this book had been around when I started getting into blues music in the late 70's. Back then there was only Paul Oliver's heavy scholastic tomes available; not ideal reading for a real beginner.
But whether you are a beginner or an old hand you will find Wyman's book hard to put down. Along with co-author Richard Havers, Wyman traces the lineage of blues from its roots in slavery to the present day. Originally published in 2001, I'm sure that if had appeared a few years later there would have been room for including the White Stripes, etc.
Beautifully illustrated throughout, it is a real joy to peruse, and I heartedly recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in this most important and influential music
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on 27 June 2003
Overall, a great book that educates the reader in an entertaining, clear and down-to-earth manner. I especially appreciated the background information (for example, on slavery, segregation and the cotton trade) which puts the blues into its social and spiritual context. This book is clearly a labour of love, especially for Bill Wyman, but that love unfortunately extends to an excessive number of Bill Wyman photographs. Bear in mind however that as a coffee table book, this book lacks some of the depth and flow of a good blues read, evident in books such as Robert Palmer's "Deep Blues" or Alan Lomax's "The land where the blues began".
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on 8 December 2012
This is a great reference book for all Blues and Counrty music lovers! Definitely one for the home library. Bursting with lots of information.
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