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WORST BOOKS ABOUT ROCK MUSIC (Part 2 of 2)

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NightTrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:41 PM
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WORST BOOKS ABOUT ROCK MUSIC (Part 2 of 2)
Part 1 here:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

From THE NEW BOOK OF ROCK LISTS by Dave Marsh & James Bernard (1994):


7. ROCK STARS - Timothy White

The only rock writer best-known for wearing a bowtie, White picks out purple images and applies them almost at random to all manner of performers. His specialty is overblown "insight" into behavioral peccadilloes. His Bob Marley biography, CATCH A FIRE, possesses a certain utility, but as for the rest of his work, God! Keep this man away from a thesaurus.


8. UNSUNG HEROES OF ROCK 'N' ROLL - Nick Tosches

Who gave this man permission to call the great blues shouter Joe Turner "a big fat fuck"? Tosches can be a riotous read--for about 500 words. Then his smug assurance that he's superior to his subject matter and his bizarre conviction that he's the true heir of beatnik prose upsets the picture, after which all that can be seen is somebody small assaulting something large.


9. HIT MEN: POWER BROKERS AND FAST MONEY INSIDE THE MUSIC BUSINESS - Frederick Dannen

Dannen's theory is that bad men make an essentially honest system corrupt and that if you just got rid of a few moguls, power-brokers, and mob-connected businessmen, all would be hunky-dory in the world of popular music. A thesis so puerile it's no wonder it made the best-seller list.


10. SIGNIFYING RAPPERS: RAP AND RACE IN THE URBAN PRESENT - Mark Costello & David Foster

Even if it's not an (entirely) black thing, these white boys don't understand. Condescending and atrociously written post-academic pomp.


11. THE POETRY OF ROCK - Richard Goldstein

A bad idea poorly executed. Spawned many imitators, sad to say, from THE POETRY OF SOUL to RAP THE LYRICS. Do you think any of the editors of these projects spend much time considering the nature of rock, rap, and related music as matters of *aural* culture, and thus ill-suited to be abstracted to the page? They all say they do, but the evidence is otherwise.


12. SOUND EFFECTS: YOUTH, LEISURE AND THE POLITICS OF ROCK 'N' ROLL - Simon Frith

Taken for what it is--a parochial analysis of white-made popular music in the declining market and production center that was Great Britain in the late '70s and early '80s--SOUND EFFECTS isn't so bad. It's even relatively free of sociological jargon, if not sociological cant. But taken for gospel, as it has been by a generation of post-punk critics, it makes a massive muddle of analysis, particularly in the United States. Even on more narrow grounds, it is an extremely partial account of how the music industry works, and one that takes for granted that the function of popular culture cannot be any larger than the moment in which it offers pleasure.
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:46 PM
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1. Goldstein's book is the first one that sprang to mind...
when I read the words "worst books about rock music"

I actually enjoy Tosches style. The true subliterate "heir to beatnik prose" is the godawful Richard Meltzer. If I only had 5 minutes alone in a room with that asshole...
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