For neo-glamsters, a blueprint for how to get things done; for oldsters, a nostalgic look into a shining, glittery era.




“In the early seventies, decadence was what we’d nowadays call a ‘meme.’ ” The wide-ranging rock journalist probes the highs and lows of glam.

What was the first glam rock song ever released? Little Richard may be in the running, but for Reynolds (Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past, 2011), the era begins in the later 1960s, when John’s Children began to morph into Tyrannosaurus Rex and then T. Rex, even as hippie Marc Bolan became hippie with platform heels. As the author writes, glam rock—the term is slippery, one of those “you know what I mean” things—was a reaction to the “earnestly uncamp” rock of the era, “when things got heavy and bluesy, rootsy and backwoodsy,” leaving kids like David Jones, soon to become David Bowie, out in the cold. The case of Bowie is instructive: reacting to a complaint from his father that he wasn’t bringing down enough income as a rocker, he divined that he could mix cabaret into his act, even if his first efforts were “deemed too clever for the cabaret circuit.” Then there’s the sexuality aspect of it: gay kids needed a way to rock, too, and in the face of the “drabness, the visual depletion of Britain in 1972,” they found a subculture in shag haircuts, high shoes, and feathers. For Bowie, interested not just in sex, but in its theatrical possibilities, glam was the way forward. With him came lesser bands that sometimes morphed into great ones: Slade, Mott the Hoople, Cockney Rebel, and particularly Roxy Music, whose 1973 album “For Your Pleasure” may be the finest moment in all of glam. Reynolds gets a little gluey when he gets theoretical—“other songs on “Roxy Music” aren’t disjointed horizontally (structural extension through time) but vertically (the layering together of jarring textures and incongruent emotions)”—but for the most part, this is straightforward music/cultural history.

For neo-glamsters, a blueprint for how to get things done; for oldsters, a nostalgic look into a shining, glittery era.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-227980-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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