Music history needed

DavidD

can't be stopped
This may seem strange but I need a book to use as a strawman to beat down in this paper I'm writing. Some sort of history of pop music from 1950-2000 (or 199x or whatever) that makes rock music central to the narrative yet claims to be a history of 1950-19xx music as a whole. It would also, hopefully, rely on albums to tell the story rather than singles for the most part.

And then any good music histories that cover the period 1977-1985 would be great too. I've got "Last Night a DJ..." and "Love Saves the Day" already. Those are great.

Any additional help would be wonderful.

thanks in advance
 

gff

Active member
Robert Palmer, maybe?

Robert Palmer's _Rock & Roll, and unruly history_ might be what you're looking for. It's not bad really, much better than the bullshit bbc docu series it was meant to accompany.
 

DavidD

can't be stopped
Someone just recommended I check Michael Azerrad. I was told:

Michael Azerrad is yr target. That dude writes a book a month about a shitty band or some such. always, framed in all kinds of "mythos" of how the band met by a twist of fate and recorded a masterpiece on $20.

I guess that's kind of what I'm looking for. Hopefully broader than his "Our band could be your life"-style shit though.

I'll check Robert Palmer definitely, thnx for the recommend.
 
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Yancey

Member
DavidD said:
Someone just recommended I check Michael Azerrad. I was told:

Michael Azerrad is yr target. That dude writes a book a month about a shitty band or some such. always, framed in all kinds of "mythos" of how the band met by a twist of fate and recorded a masterpiece on $20.

I guess that's kind of what I'm looking for. Hopefully broader than his "Our band could be your life"-style shit though.

I'll check Robert Palmer definitely, thnx for the recommend.
Uhh... I'm very biased here, but Michael has only written two books -- <i>Our Band Could Be Your Life</i> and <i>Come As You Are</i>, an excellent Nirvana bio. And by no means does that "mythos" summary describe how he writes/what he writes about. Sounds like someone with an axe to grind.

I agree that the Robert Palmer book is probably what you are looking for, but I think that whatever strawman you find will be one of yr own construction: music history books that privvy rock are, almost certainly, <i>rock</i> history books (ie you won't be finding much on jazz or dance or disco or hip-hop in there, cuz the writer never set out to chronicle those scenes). Now if you were looking to discern why no one has written this sort of broad music history encompassing lots of genres, that would be an interesting piece. My guess is: we'll see one in the next five years or so. Books like that are a headache and a half to write, and the web has made research for that sort of project much much easier (thanks Jahsonic and Discogs!), especially when the hip-hop and dance scenes don't self-chronicle and self-fetishize themselves like rock began to do in the late '60s...
 

stelfox

Beast of Burden
Yancey said:
Uhh... I'm very biased here, but Michael has only written two books -- <i>Our Band Could Be Your Life</i> and <i>Come As You Are</i>, an excellent Nirvana bio...
i'm not very biased here at all and if i didn't like michael's writing i'd say so, but yancey's right - come as you are is superb. i can't see how anyone could really fault if reading objectively. not rock-based, but get a copy of wake the town and tell the people, too. it's a good, if slightly dull at times (which there's no real excuse for), book about dancehall culture in jamaica. avoid at all costs you better work by kai fikentscher, unless you like great music being completely dessicated in painfully self-conscious, theory-heavy prose (it is a university press-published study, but language can still be engaging, even in the cloistered halls of academe, especially if you're addressing music as joyful as underground disco).
 
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DavidD

can't be stopped
OK I'm not sure why he brought up that guy then, maybe he mixed up the names. Anyway, again, thanks for the recommendations!
 

DavidD

can't be stopped
OK I'm gonna bump this and talk a bit more specifically about what I'm looking for now - a good history of ANY kind of music that was going on within the United States (although JA and UK are also good) in the period 1978 to 1984, histories of any of the music from that period be it hip-hop, disco, dance, house, etc.
 

polystyle desu

Memories of green
DC punk

Well then ,
that could include the "Dance Of Days" book on the early DC punk scene(s).
Would have to Google to check the 2 authors names .

But not sure it's worthy as what you said first a 'strawman' - beatdown ,
the book stories the scene , is not based on the records per se
 

hint

party record with a siren
DavidD said:
OK I'm gonna bump this and talk a bit more specifically about what I'm looking for now - a good history of ANY kind of music that was going on within the United States (although JA and UK are also good) in the period 1978 to 1984, histories of any of the music from that period be it hip-hop, disco, dance, house, etc.
I'm currently re-reading "this is uncool the 500 greatest singles since punk and disco" by garry mulholland

it's basically a rundown of his favourite releases from each year from 1976 to 1999, grouped in chronological order, with each year given a short background history. but it's from a UK perspective.
 

mms

sometimes
hint said:
I'm currently re-reading "this is uncool the 500 greatest singles since punk and disco" by garry mulholland

it's basically a rundown of his favourite releases from each year from 1976 to 1999, grouped in chronological order, with each year given a short background history. but it's from a UK perspective.
yeah that book is good, quite the opposite to any academic study, just straight up professional enthusiasm and unapolegetic fanboyishness, "this is what music means to me for personal reasons and i'm going to shout it out" good choice of records as well and it was good it concentrated on singles as personally i prefer them.
 

hint

party record with a siren
mms said:
yeah that book is good, quite the opposite to any academic study, just straight up professional enthusiasm and unapolegetic fanboyishness, "this is what music means to me for personal reasons and i'm going to shout it out" good choice of records as well and it was good it concentrated on singles as personally i prefer them.
indeed - a refreshing enthusiasm, mixed with solid background knowledge (plus he's not afraid to say if he doesn't know anything about a band or release).

he's written a follow-up, concentrating on albums, which is due out at the end of the month. the first one was obviously a christmas hit... ;)

CORRECTION - the book on albums seems to be due out next year.
 
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Matos_W.K.

Active member
not to be a jerk or anything, but I thought the Mulholland book was pretty badly written; really defensive and pompous in a lot of places, and not especially insightful on the whole. I don't agree with a lot of the picks, but that's beside the point. my copy is buried, unfortunately, or else I'd come up with something a little more specific to criticize (sorry).
 
C

captain easychord

Guest
if it's a strawman you're after check out "sonic cool, the life and death of rock and roll" by joe harrington. utterly rockist, check out this moaning about disco:

"disco was by definition the blandest of musical forms, because it represented the systematic mechansiation of rhythm itself... there's no denying that disco was completely devoid of emotion."

hoo boy.
 

stelfox

Beast of Burden
gary mulholland is one of the blandest, most boring, rotten writers going. if you need a strawman he's a pretty good place to start.
 

mms

sometimes
stelfox said:
gary mulholland is one of the blandest, most boring, rotten writers going. if you need a strawman he's a pretty good place to start.
well somehow i guessed that people would react to mulhollands book in this way, it's not a serious book in anyway that's for sure. its a stocking filler, and it totally benefits from being a chronological timeline with pictures of wonderful record sleeves, i read it in an evening and enjoyed it but without the glory of the sleeves it would probably be a little rubbish.
 
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