Lively, amusing, irreverent and often scattershot—in other words, perfect bathroom reading material.



Freelance writer Raftery chronicles his obsession with karaoke.

Though he frequently sang to himself as a child, the author didn’t get his first taste of proper karaoke until 1988, when his family moved to Honolulu. One night, his father belted a drunken version of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” in one of the city’s many karaoke bars. Raftery may not have witnessed it firsthand, but his mother’s recounting left an indelible image in his mind. It wasn’t until years later that his obsession was born. “As was the case with so many other ludicrous pursuits I picked up in my twenties—malt liquor, ska, polyester suits—I was finally talked into karaoke by my friend Mike,” he writes. Raftery got his start at Village Karaoke in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City, where he and his friends eventually became regulars. In 2000, he and Mike created a short-lived public-access show, Karaoke! Adventure!, which featured drunken puppets singing such classics as H-Town’s “Knockin’ Da Boots.” The author’s obsession, delineated in colorful, mostly engaging prose, would eventually lead him to countless karaoke bars in NYC and Japan, where he sought the origins of the phenomenon and endeavored to visit as may karaoke bars as possible. Interspersed with his personal story is a loose-limbed, entertaining history: the invention of the first karaoke machine, the Juke-8, created in 1971 by Daisake Inoue; the story of Sal Ferraro, who, he claims, founded the first karaoke bar in the United States in 1982; the germination of the “Original Punk Rock/Heavy Metal Karaoke Band” at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC; and the 1985 founding of Sound Choice, “one of the largest karaoke-track providers in the world.” This last chapter is the most intriguing, as Raftery provides insight into the talented studio musicians who spend hours charting and recording pop hits note for note, exactly as heard on the original albums. The book ends with the author’s trip to the 2007 Karaoke World Championship in Bangkok.

Lively, amusing, irreverent and often scattershot—in other words, perfect bathroom reading material.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-306-81583-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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...



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?



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?