Thoroughly researched and engaging, with a spitfire pace as rhythmic as its subject.

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APPETITE FOR SELF-DESTRUCTION

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE RECORD INDUSTRY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Journalist Knopper (MusicHound Swing!: The Essential Album Guide, 1998, etc.) examines the tumultuous free fall of America’s music business.

You didn’t have to be a marketing genius in the 1980s to know that the introduction of digital media would soon throw the record industry onto an entirely new course. The 1982 birth of the compact disc changed all the rules. Rather than embracing this state-of-the-art technology, unprepared music companies evolved slowly and with much resistance. As a result, the pecking order changed and then imploded. Beginning in 1979 with what he terms the “post-disco crash,” Knopper explores how the tables turned in the recording industry as it desperately attempted to keep up with a rapidly changing marketing landscape. The companies finally figured out how to capitalize on and reap renewed profits from the CD in the ’90s. Then the new millennium brought with it an all-new animal, the MP3, throwing the industry a curve that traditionalist star-makers were unprepared for. Entities like Rhapsody, with its music subscription service, and Apple Computer, with the iPod and iStore, altered the basic musical product from shiny discs to purchasable sound bytes. They changed the shape of the market, wresting control and profits from the once-mighty record companies. Today, with YouTube, MySpace and computer recording/mixing programs like ProTools, musicians no longer need corporations to provide studio time and publicity. Industry players scramble to find new means of profitability in a continuing downward spiral. Examining digital downloading, Internet piracy and the Recording Industry Association of America’s battles with Napster, Knopper offers loss-benefit ratios and what-if scenarios. His convincing arguments pinpoint where things went wrong and how the industry could have prevailed with a little foresight.

Thoroughly researched and engaging, with a spitfire pace as rhythmic as its subject.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5215-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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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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