An intriguing and informative compendium of lore about a great pop-music canon.

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AN AVID'S GUIDE TO SIXTIES SONGWRITERS

A debut encyclopedia celebrates famous and obscure pop songwriters of the 1960s.

Dunbavan, a British musician and songwriter, wants to applaud the writer’s craft rather than the singer’s. He therefore includes only songwriters who mainly did not perform their own work but did pen tunes that made it into the Top 40 charts in America or Britain. Applying these criteria to the ’60s, when the singer/songwriter came to dominate music, leads to a somewhat haphazard selection that leaves out Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and many other luminaries of the era to focus on a dwindling number of professional pop composers. (The Beatles do get in thanks to a handful of forgotten tunes they wrote for other bands.) But there’s a good roster of legendary songwriting teams, including Burt Bacharach and Hal David, scribes of jaunty classics like “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”; Carole King and Gerry Goffin, authors of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” and other anthems of teen-girl yearning; Motown mainstays Eddie and Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier; and Phil Spector, who had his thumb as co-writer or producer in countless ’60s hits. The tireless Dunbavan also unearths unsung figures like Phillip Goodhand-Tait, who managed to get three songs onto the British charts, topping out at No. 6 with 1968’s “A Day Without Love.” Each entry includes lists of the songwriter’s charting hits, covers, and rereleases and biographies of several pages, with detailed accounts of how successes were composed and recorded. These thoroughly researched, gracefully written essays contain a wealth of information for scholars and aficionados, including anecdotes from the hit factory in Manhattan’s Brill Building, where songwriters plonking away in their cubicles could barely hear their own tunes above the din of others’, and well-judged critical appreciations. (The author toasts Bacharach’s “unconventional and shifting time signatures, polyrhythms, asymmetrical phrasing, and complex harmonies which stretched even the most accomplished vocalist.”) Fans of hits from the sublime (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ”) to the ridiculous (“Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”) should have their memories jogged and their interests piqued.

An intriguing and informative compendium of lore about a great pop-music canon.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5246-3346-2

Page Count: 692

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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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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