THE LAND WHERE THE BLUES BEGAN

Singingly well-written cornbread-and-moonshine odyssey of folk-archivist Lomax's second swing through the Mississippi Delta in search of seminal blues songs and players, this time during early WW II. In 1942, Lomax (Mister Jelly Roll, 1959, etc.)—who with his father, John Lomax, has by that date already discovered Leadbelly and introduced Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie to radio audiences—is empowered by the Library of Congress to use a new acetate recording device to gather discs made on the spot with blues singers in the Delta, where the blues were born. Lomax considers the blues as noble as Shakespeare and the greatest art form yet produced by America, and anyone who reads the many heartsick lyrics he reprints here may agree with him. His first stop is Memphis, where he records Willie B. and son House and picks up background on ``Little Robert'' Johnson. Moving on to Clarksdale, Mississippi, he's at once in trouble with law and is told not to address ``Negroes'' as ``mister'' or ``miss'' and never to shake a black hand. What's more, blacks have now reversed Jim Crow and have their own ``Coloreds Only'' shops and bars where whites aren't allowed. Blacks are heading north by the trainload; black draftees sullenly await conscription and shipment overseas; deep night has settled on the songsters. White-hatred embitters Lomax in a way it never has during his earlier song-recording trips in the South. Just as bad, he discovers that educated black preachers now bury spirituals under pale, four-square gospel pieces with written-out harmonies, a sentimental dilution that replaces the heroic spiritual with agonizing ``I am tired, I am weak, I am worn'' choirings. Bios follow, as well as talks with blues men Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, and other songsters and guitar giants. A summa musicologia whose sobering humanity and thoughts about an American voice echo Whitman. The devil's own music gets its due. (Photos—16 pp. b&w—not seen.)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-40424-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

more