Occasionally abrasive, sometimes overwritten but still an essential book on Broadway.

BEAUTIFUL MORNIN'

THE BROADWAY MUSICAL IN THE 1940S

            Mordden continues his decade-by-decade survey of the Broadway musical by moving backwards from the 1950s (Coming Up Roses, 1998) to the ‘40s.

            The 1940s was, as the author points out immediately, a unique decade in musical theater history; for the first time, extensive documentation in the form of original cast albums exists for many shows; WWII alters theatergoing habits and casting possibilities; there are certified classics produced that are still performed today more or less intact; and the Rodgers and Hammerstein “revolution” shakes the genre to its foundations.  Yet, as Mordden notes drily, at the outset of the decade the state of the art was dire, a compendium of bad jokes, stale books, and nice tunes.  Then came Pal Joey and several other shows that challenged the status quo and led up to the earthquake of Oklahoma!  As always, Mordden is vastly knowledgeable, witty, and incisive in his judgments.  His best writing is as sexy and slangy as a Cole Porter lyric.  Where Coming Up Roses seemed somehow subdued, backing away from his usual flash-and-filigreed style, the new volume dives in, sometimes over its head.  But the book is never less than entertaining and, at its best, offers a dramatically different viewpoint from other, stodgier theater histories.  Mordden is to be congratulated for such gems as his rescue of Cabin in the Sky from undeserved oblivion, and his frank and balanced analysis of much-picked-over classics like Annie Get Your Gun and Kiss Me Kate.  That he has something new to add to the mountain of verbiage dedicated to these shows is one indication of how good he really is.

            Occasionally abrasive, sometimes overwritten but still an essential book on Broadway.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-19-512851-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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