Even fanatics will learn something here.

ROCKS OFF

50 TRACKS THAT TELL THE STORY OF THE ROLLING STONES

Expanding from his previous book about a single key album (Exile on Main Street, 2005), Buffalo Tom frontman Janovitz covers the Rolling Stones' entire recording career.

With all the hoopla surrounding the band's 50th anniversary and the tour celebrating that milestone, a book about 50 significant Stones recordings could have practically written itself. But it wouldn’t have written itself nearly as well as Janovitz has; close listening and an ear for detail distinguish his analyses. By concentrating on the recordings—and not even albums as a whole, but specific tracks and singles—the author shifts the focus away from the band’s live performances and offstage notoriety, taking the spotlight off Mick Jagger to explore the crucial yet underacknowledged contributions of bassist Bill Wyman. Janovitz also demonstrates just how important Brian Jones was in the development of the band’s music and persona, while underscoring the subsequent virtuosity of Mick Taylor. As a musician, he highlights elements within the arrangements that might escape even a passionate fan. Yet Janovitz too is “an unabashed fan," and his enthusiasm serves him well—though to describe “Jumping Jack Flash” at this late date as “one of their greatest songs...commanding and ballsy” would seem to belabor the obvious. The author experienced the music of the Stones' glory days after the fact; when he gets to “Angie,” he notes that it was “the first Rolling Stones single I remember hearing contemporaneously,” which means that he can only imagine the immediacy and context of hearing the band's musical progression as it unfolded. Nonetheless, his insights are shrewd and should inspire listeners to return to the recordings with fresh ears, recognizing that the Stones are more than Mick and Keith.

Even fanatics will learn something here.

Pub Date: July 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-02631-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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