Indispensable for anyone who wants to understand popular music in the 21st century.

READ REVIEW

RIPPED

HOW THE WIRED GENERATION REVOLUTIONIZED MUSIC

Clear, concise and entertaining account of the tectonic shift in the recording industry over the past decade, thanks to technological innovations like the Internet, the MP3 and the iPod.

Music critic for the Chicago Tribune and co-host of NPR’s Sound Opinions, Kot (Wilco: Learning How to Die, 2004, etc.) begins by chronicling the rise and fall of the compact disc, introduced in 1983. It was the recording industry’s cash cow, forcing consumers to replace vinyl albums at exorbitant prices that bore little relation to costs. Beginning in the summer of 1999, however, Napster and other file-sharing applications gave fans the means to acquire music without paying for it. The resulting collapse of the CD market led the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to launch a campaign to sue illegal downloaders—including 12-year-old girls and at least one single mother on welfare—ostensibly to recover lost copyright fees but also to intimidate consumers back into the music-buying habit. Alas, for the RIAA, the downloading genie was out of the bottle, and the music industry would never be the same. Despite the best efforts of corporations to consolidate control over the star-making machinery, Kot shows how increasingly sophisticated musicians and fans found ways to create new standards for assessing what is and is not a hit. Each chapter tells a story about key participants in this revolution, from Napster’s Shawn Fanning and Ryan Schreiber of the influential webzine Pitchfork to unlikely rock gods Death Cab for Cutie, Girl Talk and Arcade Fire. Some artists, like Metallica, who joined the RIAA in going after Napster-using fans, struggled and failed to come to terms with radical change. Others, like Prince and Radiohead, the heroes of this book, led full-frontal assaults in the music revolution, leaping ahead of the record companies—and reaping rich rewards for themselves—by offering fans free music and more choice in the packages they might be willing to pay for.

Indispensable for anyone who wants to understand popular music in the 21st century.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4727-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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?

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

Did you like this book?

more