If Loder weren't Loder, this book would be exactly where it belongs: online, as part of a blog.




Lackluster collection of movie reviews from Loder (Bat Chain Puller: Rock and Roll in the Age of Celebrity, 1990).

A presence on the music scene since the late ’70s, the author is one of music and pop culture's most knowledgeable and likable writers. Best known for his print work with Rolling Stone and his small-screen work with MTV, Loder has proven to be both a trustworthy news reporter and an incisive rock tastemaker, so one would assume that when he turned to film criticism, his opinions would be sharp and compelling. Unfortunately, in this overlong collection, that's far from the case. Part of the problem is that the era of films on which he focuses is one of the most creatively feeble in showbiz history, so it's little wonder that the majority of the essays take a negative tone (hence the book's title). Loder relies on glib jibes that fail to provide illumination or insight—e.g., of the romantic comedy Valentine's Day, he writes, "It has the radiant glow of a Hollywood pitch meeting”; of the prehistoric comedy Year One: "the picture's desperate, teen-baiting assemblage of fart jokes, dick jokes...and urine inhalation are a dreary reminder that no matter how far removed the setting's supposed to be, the land of lame Hollywood japery is always near at hand.” The author tries to justify his lightweight approach by explaining in the introduction that he's not a film critic, but rather a movie reviewer, but that's a cop-out. If you criticize something, you are, by definition, a critic; unfortunately, this talented and charismatic scribe isn't a particularly notable one.

If Loder weren't Loder, this book would be exactly where it belongs: online, as part of a blog.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-64163-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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

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