A vital chronicler of rock’s story, several decades on.

IS IT STILL GOOD TO YA?

FIFTY YEARS OF ROCK CRITICISM, 1967-2017

A robust compendium of work by the “Dean” of rock criticism.

Christgau (Going into the City: Portrait of the Critic as a Young Man, 2015, etc.) positions his familiar critical voice to take the long view regarding his lifelong dialogue with music and youth culture, noting, “one does become more weathered as one ages, which is quite different from knowing that getting weathered is in the cards.” Thus, the book is organized into sections that broadly reflect developmental stages over a century of American pop as well as his own maturing perspective—e.g., “A Great Tradition,” “Postmodern Times,” and “Got to Be Driftin’ Along.” The most powerful selections appear first, in “History in the Making.” These longer essays, which deal with the social underpinnings of popular music and the strange machinations of the music business, include a prescient report on the long-term prospects of British punk, published in 1978 in the Village Voice: “I consider their hostility healthy, especially given how much they’ve been maligned.” Later, the author immerses himself in malaise-filled 1990s spectacles like Woodstock ’94 and Lollapalooza, noting that at earlier festivals, “going for the music meant going for the culture in a way it no longer can.” Otherwise, Christgau remains focused on the output of specific artists. This often entails discussions of significant creators he considers misunderstood, including remembrances of (among others) Chuck Berry and Prince, “the most gifted artist of the rock era.” Other rock personages to receive in-depth consideration in multiple pieces include Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, M.I.A., and the Ramones (“they did conquer the world, if changing rock and roll utterly counts”). At a moment when music criticism seems less empowered for being more fragmented, Christgau still offers an informed, authoritative perspective, self-aware regarding cultural aging and mortality, not stodgy but wry.

A vital chronicler of rock’s story, several decades on.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4780-0022-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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

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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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