The author’s love for a flawed-but-deep-down-okay dude, plus his amazing eye for detail, make this one of the finest rock...

IGGY

OPEN UP AND BLEED

Is it possible to adore a rock star who has been known to throw watermelons at concertgoers, defecate onstage behind an amplifier and purposefully cut his bare chest with a shard of glass? You betcha.

Born and raised in Nowheresville, Mich., James Osterberg was every mother’s dream: brilliant, charismatic, an all-around good guy. But during high school, Jimmy took up the drums and decided that playing loud was more fun than being an all-around good guy. He joined a band, some music-making thugs introduced him to mind-bending drugs, and before long, our hero was front man for a dumb but charming group called The Stooges. Jimmy Osterberg became Iggy Pop, and Iggy Pop became one of the most iconic musical figures of the late ’60s and early ’70s. But those drugs took their toll, and Ig’s career turned into a peaks-and-valleys mess. He betrayed friends, antagonized audiences, alienated supporters like David Bowie and yet found time to cut a batch of records that defined the punk era and made an indelible imprint on rock that resonates today. Music writer Trynka makes a solid case for Iggy’s anointment as rock divinity. With The Stooges and on his own, he created some terrific music—“I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Lust for Life,” “The Passenger” and the entire Metallic K.O. album, for instance—though he’s definitely an acquired taste, and a good chunk of his catalogue is all but unlistenable. The author’s enthusiastic, lucid song analysis encourages readers to rethink the rougher material. Unashamedly enamored of his subject, he’s even able to make Iggy’s bad behavior—and there was tons of it—seem acceptable and even enchanting.

The author’s love for a flawed-but-deep-down-okay dude, plus his amazing eye for detail, make this one of the finest rock bios of recent memory: Music and pop culture fans will dig it even if they don’t dig Ig.

Pub Date: April 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2319-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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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

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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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