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Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé

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As much fun to argue with as to quote, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is a monumental work of musical history, tracing the story of pop music through individual songs, bands, musical scenes, and styles from Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock around the Clock” (1954) to Beyoncé’s first megahit, “Crazy in Love” (2003). It covers the birth of rock, soul, R&B, punk, hip hop, indie, house As much fun to argue with as to quote, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is a monumental work of musical history, tracing the story of pop music through individual songs, bands, musical scenes, and styles from Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock around the Clock” (1954) to Beyoncé’s first megahit, “Crazy in Love” (2003). It covers the birth of rock, soul, R&B, punk, hip hop, indie, house, techno, and more, and it will remind you why you fell in love with pop music in the first place. Bob Stanley—musician, music critic, and unabashed fan—recounts the progression from the Beach Boys to the Pet Shop Boys to the Beastie Boys; explores what connects doo wop to the sock hop; and reveals how technological changes have affected pop production. Working with a broad definition of “pop”—one that includes country and metal, disco and Dylan, skiffle and glam—Stanley teases out the connections and tensions that animate the pop charts and argues that the charts are vital social history. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is like the world’s best and most eclectic jukebox in book form. All the hits are here: the Monkees, Metallica, Patsy Cline, Patti Smith, new wave, New Order, “It’s the Same Old Song,” The Song Remains the Same, Aretha, Bowie, Madonna, Prince, Sgt. Pepper, A Tribe Called Quest, the Big Bopper, Fleetwood Mac, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” Bikini Kill, the Kinks, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, and on and on and on. This book will have you reaching for your records (or CDs or MP3s) and discovering countless others. For anyone who has ever thrilled to the opening chord of the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” or fallen crazy in love for Beyoncé, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is a vital guide to the rich soundtrack of the second half of the twentieth century.


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As much fun to argue with as to quote, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is a monumental work of musical history, tracing the story of pop music through individual songs, bands, musical scenes, and styles from Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock around the Clock” (1954) to Beyoncé’s first megahit, “Crazy in Love” (2003). It covers the birth of rock, soul, R&B, punk, hip hop, indie, house As much fun to argue with as to quote, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is a monumental work of musical history, tracing the story of pop music through individual songs, bands, musical scenes, and styles from Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock around the Clock” (1954) to Beyoncé’s first megahit, “Crazy in Love” (2003). It covers the birth of rock, soul, R&B, punk, hip hop, indie, house, techno, and more, and it will remind you why you fell in love with pop music in the first place. Bob Stanley—musician, music critic, and unabashed fan—recounts the progression from the Beach Boys to the Pet Shop Boys to the Beastie Boys; explores what connects doo wop to the sock hop; and reveals how technological changes have affected pop production. Working with a broad definition of “pop”—one that includes country and metal, disco and Dylan, skiffle and glam—Stanley teases out the connections and tensions that animate the pop charts and argues that the charts are vital social history. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is like the world’s best and most eclectic jukebox in book form. All the hits are here: the Monkees, Metallica, Patsy Cline, Patti Smith, new wave, New Order, “It’s the Same Old Song,” The Song Remains the Same, Aretha, Bowie, Madonna, Prince, Sgt. Pepper, A Tribe Called Quest, the Big Bopper, Fleetwood Mac, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” Bikini Kill, the Kinks, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, and on and on and on. This book will have you reaching for your records (or CDs or MP3s) and discovering countless others. For anyone who has ever thrilled to the opening chord of the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” or fallen crazy in love for Beyoncé, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! is a vital guide to the rich soundtrack of the second half of the twentieth century.

30 review for Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    FROTHOPHILES OF THE WORLD UNITE! I always had the feeling that somebody stole my life and was living it instead of me, and now I know who it is – Bob Stanley. There was some prenatal jiggery-pokery somewhere. I don’t know what happened, but I got people looking into it. The real trouble is, it looks like Bob Stanley has been a lot better at being me than I would ever have been. He founded Saint Etienne, the band, not the French city, which was pretty good, and he was also a music journalist, okay FROTHOPHILES OF THE WORLD UNITE! I always had the feeling that somebody stole my life and was living it instead of me, and now I know who it is – Bob Stanley. There was some prenatal jiggery-pokery somewhere. I don’t know what happened, but I got people looking into it. The real trouble is, it looks like Bob Stanley has been a lot better at being me than I would ever have been. He founded Saint Etienne, the band, not the French city, which was pretty good, and he was also a music journalist, okay, but now he has written this huge forensically detailed, funny and altogether grand history of pop and rock music since 1950, which I should have written. I must admit, though, I’m a lazy git. Bob has put the required hours in, here - o how many hours! - and he has listened to everything, I mean everything. I’ve only listened to about 37% of everything. When I say “everything” There were a few Icelandic beat groups, naturally enough, and the best were Thor’s Hammer (in the UK) or Hljomar (in Iceland), meaning ‘Clouds’. P140 and all the way up to the byzantine twists of the million microgenres of modern Dance & Hip Hop, which left me a long way behind. He connects everything together and he’s never insufferably knowing, which people who can connect everything together can often be. On p 295 he launches into British folk rock, (different musical strains started to pass close to planet pop without landing, causing a fuss without ever seizing control), which I detect is not his favourite idea of fun, and on one page he flashes nimbly from British kids tv of the early 70s to Led Zep’s famous Welsh hide-away Bron-yr-Aur, to Alan Garner’s novel The Owl Service to Anglo-French ye-ye singer Gillian Hills to the 1973 movie The Wicker Man (it declared victory for the pagans. No wonder it kept its head down). There are quotes leaping out of every other page. His style has a distinct smack of Nik Cohn about it, meaning Nik’s ur-history-of-pop book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom from 1970, which is one of the funniest books of all time. But Bob has learned from the master. Bob is, actually, the new master. SOME QUOTES Brian Jones had a fine blond mop and a babyish face that looked as if it could break out in tears under the slightest strain. Given his own tv show, Scott Walker sat on a stool and looked deeply hurt, modern pop’s most existential star. Even on Love is Blue Marvin Junior sounded like he’s been asked to encapsulate the sum of human suffering inside thirty seconds. According to garage-punk historian Greg Shaw, in 1966 sixty-three percent of American boys under twenty were in a group. The Kingsmen, whose organ-led, bumbling bear-in-a-china-shop rendition hit No 2 Happy Together, a love song so joyous that it’s hard to avoid throwing your arms around the nearest human being every time it comes on the radio King Tubby’s main rival in dub was Lee Scratch Perry, a skinny four-foot-eleven character with a penchant for “I’m mad, me” self-promotion who played Salvador Dali to Tubby’s Andre Breton Jim Reeves sits there waiting in this dreamscape, placid, blank, with that gentlemanly half-smile on his face. Dig deeper into Reeves’ catalogue and it becomes disturbing on a Patrick Bateman level. Classic rock was more of a business model than a genre A slew of balding and/or bespectacled singer-songwriters appeared from the suburbs to take out their physical shortcomings on the public He celebrates and disparages thrillingly and likes to let the guilty hang themselves with their own actions. In the wake of the 76/77 punk explosion, he singles out The Pop Group as “the embodiment of post-punk…Their politics were anarcho-syndicalist, they claimed to owe nothing to the past, they binged on dub reggae and itchy funk” but after some nice early stuff, “a year later came an album entitled For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder which featured the following lyric All that we ask for is our very own garden of Eden All that we get is a garden of interballistic missiles Pure genius! Moving swiftly on, Bob remarks : The Cure were more about stubbing your toe than taking your life There are no “essential listening” lists but Bob drops names of songs around so frequently that my marginalia in this book looks like William Morris wallpaper. So there are hours of post-reading fun also to be had here. In other reviews Bob is called a “poptimist”, one who loves the unserious froth of Blondie, as opposed to the “rockist” who only likes 20 minute dirges by Can and God Speed you Black Emperor, and I think I’m one of those too, Sister Ray notwithstanding. So if you’re a hardcore frothophile and you revel in the apparent indestructability of all these ephemeral sounds from the last 50 years, if your ipod shuffles Vaughan Monroe, Francoise Hardy, The Kitchens of Distinction, Squeeze, Shep and the Limelites, Kraftwerk, Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, Johnnie Ray, Marianne Faithfull, The Aphex Twin, Kate Bush and Nicki Manaj (the last singer to be named, on p737), then this book was written for you, just you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    Do you believe in magic? Arresting, beguiling, comprehensive, diverting, exciting, fabulous, groovy, hit-filled, inspiring, joyous... you get the idea. "Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop" is a trove of fascinating opinions and insights from Professor Bob Stanley who - in addition to being a member of Saint Etienne, a journalist, compiler of fine compilations, and a film producer - has a PhD In Musicology. If, like me you ever listened with impatient anticipation to the latest Top 30 chart r Do you believe in magic? Arresting, beguiling, comprehensive, diverting, exciting, fabulous, groovy, hit-filled, inspiring, joyous... you get the idea. "Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop" is a trove of fascinating opinions and insights from Professor Bob Stanley who - in addition to being a member of Saint Etienne, a journalist, compiler of fine compilations, and a film producer - has a PhD In Musicology. If, like me you ever listened with impatient anticipation to the latest Top 30 chart run down, pen in hand, or pause button primed, then "Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop" is your Bible. It's all here, the entire modern pop era, from NME's first chart published on 14 November 1952 (Al Martino's "Here In My Heart" at number one pop pickers) to "Crazy In Love" when, as we know, the story becomes far less interesting. 750 pages of illuminating excellence. I came away with a c500 song poptastic playlist. Yes, it's really that good. 5/5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Packing 40 years of pop history into a single volume is no easy feat. Bob Stanley covers an amazing amount of material in this 500-page book and mentions an absolutely incredible number of songs along the way. For that reason, the experience of Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! was less like regular reading and more like a six-week intensive course on the pop era. It's also quite a feat that Stanley managed to write a book that is so informative, while remaining consistently engaging, insightful, and pithy. I t Packing 40 years of pop history into a single volume is no easy feat. Bob Stanley covers an amazing amount of material in this 500-page book and mentions an absolutely incredible number of songs along the way. For that reason, the experience of Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! was less like regular reading and more like a six-week intensive course on the pop era. It's also quite a feat that Stanley managed to write a book that is so informative, while remaining consistently engaging, insightful, and pithy. I tackled the book by keeping a running Spotify playlist. I would read each chapter, then go back and review it and add songs to the playlist. To add every song mentioned would be way too much, so I focused on songs I wanted to hear and songs that sounded intriguing. The resulting playlist clocked in at more than 36 hours and totaled 571 songs. I listened to them all. Even the one by Foreigner. Each chapter of the book sums up a trend, era, or artist. Parker works chronologically through the pop era, but he has to backtrack a lot, especially for artists who were way ahead of their time. There was a point where I was well into the 70s and I thought to myself, "he skipped the Velvet Underground?!" But they were covered later, as a precursor to punk. The result is an interweaving of influences, innovations, fads, and revivals that follows the threads of pop's development and cultivates a deeper understanding of the overall narrative. (Questions answered: What's the difference between house and techno? Why did everyone hate disco? What's the deal with Northern Soul?) Perhaps the most interesting were the chapters devoted to a single artist. They give a good sense of what Parker values as a listener and of his attitude toward pop. I was delighted to see him single out both the BeeGees and the Monkees, who he describes as "one of pop's greatest achievements." He's clearly no snob, and he was able to highlight the best of nearly every genre he covered: pop, rock, soul, rap, electronica, and more. Finally, Parker has a nice philosophical take on the end of the pop era (which for him came with the end of music as a physical artifact): "The modern pop era is there to be enjoyed and pilfered, curated, compiled, and recompiled in an endless jigsaw puzzle for the generations." I've already found this to be true in my own life, and Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! has certainly added -- and will continue to add -- a richness to my experience of pop.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jon Arnold

    This book should be an impossibility. Instead it’s merely insanely ambitious; the equivalent of attempting to simultaneously scale Everest on physical and philosophical levels. Not only does it seek to scale the mountain it seeks to admire and understand it. The Sherpa and Zen master for this expedition is Bob Stanley; fan, journalist and member of St Etienne. The only other person remotely qualified to write something of this breadth and depth with the same level of understanding is Neil Tennan This book should be an impossibility. Instead it’s merely insanely ambitious; the equivalent of attempting to simultaneously scale Everest on physical and philosophical levels. Not only does it seek to scale the mountain it seeks to admire and understand it. The Sherpa and Zen master for this expedition is Bob Stanley; fan, journalist and member of St Etienne. The only other person remotely qualified to write something of this breadth and depth with the same level of understanding is Neil Tennant and he’s probably a touch too busy to attempt a project like this. Like the mere thought of scaling a mountain it’s a deceptively simple concept; the history of British and American pop through the five decades where the single was the common unit of currency. Essentially Stanley’s theory is that the advent of downloads, emphasis on marketing tricks and the rise of dedicated music channels meant that this period around the turn of the century was when the pop charts stopped mattering, that they were no longer the common cultural currency they’d been for nearly five decades (the rise of the MP3 player and playlist culture might also factor in here). He traces the history of the charts from the pre-rock ‘n’ roll days of David Whitfield through to Beyoncé by essentially replicating the format he’s writing about; each chapter is a short, sharp but hook filled burst covering genres, years or important artists, the equivalent of a single. This allows room for pop’s titans and the one-hit pygmies who belied their stature for three or four minutes of glorious noise. Naturally he covers all the well-worn territory that these books have to cover but the twin joys of the book are the unexpected angles he finds to appreciate records and the nuggets dug up along the way; the relationships and patterns he draws out from pop history that only a book of this scale would allow him to draw. Stanley’s background as journalist and fan also allows him to pull off the tricky balancing act between rational assessment and conveying the emotional hit of the music. It’s clear he’s attempting at least a fair assessment; for instance whilst he’s obviously a huge Bee Gees fan their flaws are clearly drawn out and acknowledged and where Westlife and Stock, Aitken and Waterman are disparaged at times there’s even a thought that he may investigate their discography someday. But he’s prepared to make the case for the bands and records he adores; for the KLF, for the pure beauty of Wichita Lineman’s lyric ‘And I need you more than want you/ And I want you for all time.’, for Brill Building songwriting; for the vocal performance on N-Trance’s ‘Set You Free’ and even for the arrangements on David Whitfield’s records. This is a book designed to open eyes and actually properly assess pop music. As such it isn’t a quick read; most chapters demand a dive into your music collection, YouTube or Spotify. Incidentally, Stanley’s assessments of that Wichita Lineman lyric and the KLF as his favourite lyric and band respectively are compelling cases, though it helps that I was inclined to agree with him before reading that. There are minor flaws, notably a willingness to draw an easy trajectory of decline on certain bands – I’d certainly argue with his assessments of the fall of REM and the Pet Shop Boys for instance – and, perhaps a certain modesty. His own band gets a casual mention I passing (naturally, in the Britpop chapter) and as a result one of the most heartrending, beautiful singles of the 1990s, ‘Hobart Paving’, goes unmentioned. Sarah Cracknell’s voice is the sound of falling tears and sweet heartbreak (particularly in the magnificence of ‘Rain falls, like Elvis tears’ and ‘Don’t forget to catch me’). But then that’s like complaining a conqueror of Everest made one step out of line with the route Hillary took when successfully climbing the mountain; something only a perfectionist might quibble with. As it stands this is likely as close as there will ever be to a definitive, joyous history of what looks like a bygone age of shared musical culture. What remains are shards; instead of a mountain the future pop historian looks like they’ll be a wandering through foothills. As an epic recounting of the ever churning, ever hungry pop machine this is likely to stand as far above other pop books as Everest does above all other mountains; physically and philosophically.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    It is surely no coincidence that the title of this book comes from one of the most exuberant and joyful pop records ever made, because this is certainly written with boundless enthusiasm and a real love of music, which shines through. In five parts, the author takes you on the journey of popular music from 1952 until the early 1990's. The book begins with the first UK singles chart, the advent of the 45 and early rock 'n' roll. In the first part the author looks at the importance of skiffle, Lar It is surely no coincidence that the title of this book comes from one of the most exuberant and joyful pop records ever made, because this is certainly written with boundless enthusiasm and a real love of music, which shines through. In five parts, the author takes you on the journey of popular music from 1952 until the early 1990's. The book begins with the first UK singles chart, the advent of the 45 and early rock 'n' roll. In the first part the author looks at the importance of skiffle, Larry Parnes and fledging British rock, Joe Meek, Phil Spector, the Brill Building and Elvis, among others. Generally, each part of the book concentrates on a decade - the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and the start of the nineties. I have to admit that I found the first half of the book the most interesting, but that probably just reflects my musical tastes. However, whether you are a fan of the Beatles, Dylan, Motown, Glam Rock, Punk, Britpop or anything in between, they are all covered. Although the author obviously cannot give detailed biographies of every artist involved in popular music, he puts bands and styles of music in context and assesses their legacy. Also, despite the huge time period and amount of musical styles and bands covered, there is an abundance of interesting and funny stories, which bring each section to life. This is a book that you will be quoting from for some time if you read it and I cannot think of a better gift for a music lover. Considering the task that the author set himself, this is a magnificent achievement.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    A staggering project to even attempt, of course - especially when you define 'pop' as widely as St Etienne's Stanley obviously does. Elsewhere I've compared it to David Thomson on film, but that was meeting the mainstream audience halfway - what this really reminds me of is those ludicrous projects of scholarship like the Anatomy of Melancholy, enormous and necessarily incomplete yet packed with so much arcane knowledge and sudden, startling new perspectives that you can hardly begrudge the inev A staggering project to even attempt, of course - especially when you define 'pop' as widely as St Etienne's Stanley obviously does. Elsewhere I've compared it to David Thomson on film, but that was meeting the mainstream audience halfway - what this really reminds me of is those ludicrous projects of scholarship like the Anatomy of Melancholy, enormous and necessarily incomplete yet packed with so much arcane knowledge and sudden, startling new perspectives that you can hardly begrudge the inevitable omissions, small errors and questionable interpretations. I would say it doesn't pretend to objectivity, but that's not quite right; it does, but often with a footnote by way of a wink that acknowledges otherwise. Definitive, if only because nobody else could be fool enough - or know enough - to even attempt to supplant it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bart

    One hell of a rollercoaster ride through the second half of 20th century pop music history. An era when you physically bought something, took it home and cherished it until your next pocketmoney. Then you could go out again and buy yet another single, album or compilation. A slow appreciation proces could start over new. That proces had usually begun after you picked something up from the radio, a magazine, MTV or at a friend's house. Today, everything is at your fingertips every second. The inter One hell of a rollercoaster ride through the second half of 20th century pop music history. An era when you physically bought something, took it home and cherished it until your next pocketmoney. Then you could go out again and buy yet another single, album or compilation. A slow appreciation proces could start over new. That proces had usually begun after you picked something up from the radio, a magazine, MTV or at a friend's house. Today, everything is at your fingertips every second. The internet is a vast space of chaos, 90% filled with trash. But that's how I love it. Everything is available and possible like it never was before. It really is a great era to be alive, to be reading this book and listening to everything Bob Stanley mentions has been one of the best music book experiences I've had until now. It deserves a place at the top next to Brewster & Broughton's masterpiece "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life". The problem with today is that many people don't have any concentration span and approach music as an easy listening side commodity, that has to appeal immediately to their liking. Average listeners don't seem to care to broaden their tastes, they want ready-made, instant gratifying pleasures. Sometimes I think they don’t even know there is more to music than that. So they turn to those top 3 songs that get played to death on every radio station and in every mall/store/supermarket. There's no wide popular music consensus any more. After Beyonce and the R&B nillies, where this book ends, you've got Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, Bruno Mars, Adele, a bit of reggaeton and that’s it. Outside of that, you're already entering specialized niches which is thin ice when you spin records for an average all-ages audience. I am a DJ (mostly weddings and corporate parties) and my motto is to play what my audience wants to hear. That moment, I will not try to teach or rather force my so-called knowledgeable views on good music onto anyone. We are here to celebrate so I’ll play all the hits everyone knows and loves (and I love as well !). But I must confess I have a hard time with this decade's popular music, there is so much great stuff out there today but it is so scattered and fragmented all over the place. People only seem to know random stuff they picked up via spotify, youtube or other streaming websites. So to play new music everyone knows, offers a rather limited repertoire to choose from. But nostalgia is bigger than ever, everybody knows the classics, so that's an easy path to happiness when I'm DJ'ing to many generations at once. But I sometimes long to that era that everyone listened to that same bunch of new groundbreaking genre specific singles. The twentieth century is full of these wonderful hit periods: Rockabilly, Motown, the British Invasion, Northern Soul, Glam Rock, Disco, Punk, Reggae, New Beat, Acid House & Hardcore Breakbeat, the Golden Age of Hip Hop, Grunge, Gabber, Britpop, Big Beat, Trance, D&B, R&B, etc. to name a few. Maybe it's just my nostalgia fooling me, like an old man’s “Things used to be better", but I feel like the general consensus of popular music has never been so limited. And most of it is produced by Max Martin, Dr. Luke or Benny Blanco anyway. To end my review, I would like to share my 25 favorite, to me most exciting pop singles from the 2010's that are too risky to spin on most parties : 1. Danny L Harle - Broken Flowers 2. Grimes - Oblivion 3. Danny Brown - Ain't it Funny 4. Jamie XX - Gosh (great tune that seems to work, although more than half of the crowd just doesn't know it) 5. SOPHIE - Bipp 6. Kanye West - Famous (even post-MBDTF Krazy Kanye is risky) 7. Todd Terje - Inspector Norse 8. Death Grips - I've Seen Footage 9. Azealia Banks - 212 10. M83 - Midnight City (you can be lucky with this one) 11. Sky Ferreira - Everything is Embarrassing 12. Deerhunter - Desire Lines 13. Crystal Castles - Baptism 14. Andrés - New For You 15. Waka Flocka Flame - Hard in da Paint 16. Charli XCX - Vroom Vroom 17. Moderat - Bad Kingdom 18. M.I.A. - Bad Girls 19. Blawan - Getting Me Down 20. Jai Paul - BTSTU 21. Wavves - King of the Beach 22. TR/ST -Rescue, Mister 23. A.G. Cook - Beautiful 24. Sentinels - Love Rhythm 25. Bicep - Glue :)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joachim Stoop

    4+ Terrific! Pop music is broader than the genre itself. All music that once was popular from the 40s till now. Only the last chapters came across a bit hurried and haphazardly done

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    Bob Stanley's Yeah Yeah Yeah is an ambitious work, setting to out cover no less than the entire history of pop music from just before the beginning of the rock & roll era (specifically, the publication of Britain's first weekly pop chart with the advent of the 45 rpm single as the primary medium of distribution) until the onset of the digital age with the arrival of mp3s and file-sharing. Stanley looks at pop and all of it's many strains through the decades, including rock, soul, folk, elect Bob Stanley's Yeah Yeah Yeah is an ambitious work, setting to out cover no less than the entire history of pop music from just before the beginning of the rock & roll era (specifically, the publication of Britain's first weekly pop chart with the advent of the 45 rpm single as the primary medium of distribution) until the onset of the digital age with the arrival of mp3s and file-sharing. Stanley looks at pop and all of it's many strains through the decades, including rock, soul, folk, electronica, hip-hop, disco and others, and endeavors to show how the origins, influences, and evolutions of each were threads in a wider, ever-changing tapestry of popular music as a whole. The book forms its narrative by looking at the monthly and yearly pop charts chronologically, examining what was popular, then using the charts as a framework to zoom in on key songs, people, record labels, and events to illuminate his points. Stanley aims to follow two broad themes here. The first has to do with the fact that, unlike many pop or rock history books, "Yeah Yeah Yeah" is not another appraisal of the established "canon" that has been built up by critics over the years. Volumes have been written about what critics think is important, but Stanley is much less concerned with asking "What is the critical consensus" than with "What were people actually listening to?" The book emphasizes the "popular" component of "pop" music. The second overarching theme is the relationship between different genres under the broad umbrella of "pop", and their influence on each other over the decades. Whether it's dance, rock, reggae, hip-hip, punk, or electronica, no genre exists in a vacuum. Stanley endeavors to show not only how the different styles of pop music developed, but how they developed in relation to each other, drawing influence from what came before (or concurrently) and setting the stage for what came later. Even with close to 900 pages to work with, fitting everything in is still a daunting task. Stanley helps to sketch in the big picture by focusing in on little details here and there. He excels at brief, thumbnail descriptions: Chuck Berry had the "look of a card sharp blessed with luck" whose songs "sounded like the tail fins on Cadillacs". Johnny Cash had "a wood-carved face and a look of resolute danger; when he sang his voice could go deeper than a coal mine". Sly Stone's early records had the "feel of a Sunday-school riot", while the harmonies of CSN sounded "like the first rays of dawn". The book is peppered with illuminating anecdotes and observations that serve to illustrate the larger points, such as a suitably apocalyptic description of Altamont, or a charming account of a Christmas Day charity show played by the Sex Pistols. There are a couple of things to be aware of. The author is British, so the book takes a very British point of view in many respects, emphasizing some artists or movements that were never as big in the States as they were in England. Not that this should be a problem; readers used to an America-centric outlook will simply have to recalibrate their point of view. Second, rather than providing a strictly detached outlook, Stanley frequently takes the opportunity to express his personal tastes and opinions. On the one hand, this allows his passion to shine through, giving a fervent eloquence to his writing when talking about those things that he feels strongest about, both positively and negatively. On the other hand, some of his opinions are bound to meet some resistance with different readers. This is especially true for those whose tastes run more towards rock, as Stanley can be quite disdainful of the post-sixties rock canon (notable exceptions being the watershed 70's punk revolution and it's early 80s descendant post-punk, which were by their very nature, a repudiation of rock’s perceived self-absorption). Whether or not you agree with Stanley’s personal opinions, his passion is undeniable. When describing the music that has really moved him, be it a Beach Boys song, a Motown track, a punk anthem, a pioneering techno track, or a 70s bubblegum pop song, his eloquence and unabashed enthusiasm are infectious, drawing the reader in. Stanley is both professional critic and professional musician, but he is also at times simply a fan, eager to share his discovery of joy with others. One might not agree with Stanley's personal opinions, but any music fan knows the giddy rush that only comes when getting lost in a favorite song. No matter your musical preference, that is a universal feeling that this book ultimately seeks to celebrate, and in that it does a remarkable job. One more thing: It’s handy to have access to YouTube or an internet radio account while reading this, as listening to the songs he’s writing about adds a whole new dimension.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ed Price

    Pop music: we all know what it is, we all know what we like and don’t like, and we all have an opinion on it. But we don’t really know much about it. The shelves of libraries are well stocked with chunky hardbacks about the legends of rock, the story of the blues and the significance of jazz, but pop - the very stuff that turned most of us onto music in the first place - is seriously under represented. Perhaps it is its very popularity that has meant that until now nobody has attempted to write Pop music: we all know what it is, we all know what we like and don’t like, and we all have an opinion on it. But we don’t really know much about it. The shelves of libraries are well stocked with chunky hardbacks about the legends of rock, the story of the blues and the significance of jazz, but pop - the very stuff that turned most of us onto music in the first place - is seriously under represented. Perhaps it is its very popularity that has meant that until now nobody has attempted to write about the history of modern pop in its entirety. The subject is so broad and so sprawling that it would seem an impossible task to give pop the same comprehensive overview that modern ‘classical’ music recently received with Alex Ross’ ‘The Rest is Noise’. Although better known as a member of Saint Etienne, Bob Stanley is also an experienced music journalist, and no doubt has a record collection to die for, which makes him the ideal candidate for the job, and with the perfectly titled ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ he doesn’t disappoint. This is a big book that does a great job of describing the very finest in pop music. His aim is to tell the whole story (within certain parameters) and at the same time to distil pop music into its purest form, so that we might come to a greater understanding of pop and to give the respect it is due as an art form. Stanley gives his history of modern pop a clearly defined beginning and end. Modern pop, he says, began in the early fifties with the advent of seven inch singles and the music charts, and ends fifty years later, when downloads replace shop-bought singles and the charts lose their relevance. Whether or not you agree with this delineation, there’s no doubting the usefulness of starting and ending the book when he does. Few amongst us think of anything pre-war as pop music exactly, and the ten year gap between the end of the book’s narrative and today gives the writer just enough distance to make informed and rational judgements. One of the main strengths of ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ is that the writer’s love for the music is evident throughout, his own voice and opinions are clearly stated but never intrusive. Stanley is able to take us through fifty years of chart successes, the talents that were fulfilled and those that were squandered, the inspired touches of genius and the awkward failures, without ever letting his own infectious enthusiasm drop. The lives and works of some of the most famous people on the planet, as well as plenty of those who enjoyed nothing like the same level of recognition, are told to us in a steady flow of facts, anecdotes, and never failing to include the US and UK chart position for each and every song that is mentioned. A thread throughout the bank is the tension that has always existed in pop concerning authenticity. Convention has it that ‘manufactured’ pop is cheap, throwaway and bad, but this is not a view that Stanley subscribes to. He is a great champion of those hothouse environments that at various points in the history of pop have produced such massive quantities of hits, like Motown and the Brill building, which housed many of the great songwriting duos like Goffin & King and Mann & Weil whose songs changed the nature of pop in the years between rock and roll and The Beatles. Stanley is very good on the schism that occurred in the late sixties, when pop and rock became two different things, and we are left in doubt as to which Stanley prefers. Championing Donovan, the Bee Gees and Blondie over Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Patti Smith, this is not a book that will please the Mojo-reading blues purist. All of which won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with Stanley’s own music (there’s actually a line in Saint Etienne’s Finisterre about believing in Donovan over Dylan). ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ excels at telling only as much as you need to know about each and every artist and trend of significance in American and British pop. Stanley maintains an impressive pace and at no point does the narrative seem to dip or seem insubstantial. It’s also a great resource if you’re looking for something new to listen to. The chapter on deep soul has been for me an excellent introduction to some truly stunning sounds. Recommended to all fans of pop, which is pretty much everyone to some extent.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Clementine

    This book is an incredibly ambitious and comprehensive undertaking which I think was executed fairly well. There's no doubt that an incredible amount of research went into it, and I generally enjoyed Stanley's writing. Writing about music is very tricky, but I think he did a good job: he made me want to listen to so many songs, albums, or artists, which is a high compliment. That said, I did have some issues with the book. Firstly, it wasn't unbiased - not that I was expecting that, but there wer This book is an incredibly ambitious and comprehensive undertaking which I think was executed fairly well. There's no doubt that an incredible amount of research went into it, and I generally enjoyed Stanley's writing. Writing about music is very tricky, but I think he did a good job: he made me want to listen to so many songs, albums, or artists, which is a high compliment. That said, I did have some issues with the book. Firstly, it wasn't unbiased - not that I was expecting that, but there were times when Stanley's personal opinion was almost too present. Like, he spent one of the chapters on punk relentlessly dragging The Clash through the mud, which didn't seem necessary. Most chapters were devoted to genres (or groupings of genres), but then he'd dedicate an entire chapter to a single group once in awhile - which is perhaps justifiable for truly iconic acts like The Beatles, but then he didn't give Bowie his own chapter but he did allocated one to the Pet Shop Boys. The organization by genre also made for issues with chronology - the book does go in roughly chronological order, but whereas you might end one chapter in, say, 2009 with the death of a particular artist, you'd then start the next chapter in 1985. Or, you'd think you were firmly in the 90s, but a chapter would start in the late 70s. Necessary to tell the stories of the genres properly, but the chronological organization (and the positioning of the book as "the story of pop music") didn't quite work. Stanley also really fell into a rockist trap throughout the book, as well (including in the aforementioned chapter on The Clash). There were many times when he debated the authenticity of certain groups or songs or forms of pop music and posited a divide between commercial and creative success. The conclusion of the book is rather teleological and cynical; Stanley seems to think that pop music is past its peak, basically because musical technologies have changed. I definitely don't agree with this, but it's something every generation goes through once they're no longer young and on the cutting edge of everything. Most troubling, though, is Stanley's sometimes patronizing attitude towards women and people of colour. There is some uncomfortable discussion of rap; he argues that "something was lost" with rap without a message: he actually says, of Straight Outta Compton, "There was no Nation of Islam revolution in their words - this was a world of dope deals ho's, and violence..." (498) - as if rap needs to carry a heavy duty political message to be worthy? And let's not pretend that drugs, sex, and violence are not present in other genres! Ridiculous. And he makes a lot of troubling statements about women; generally nothing, like, overtly disgusting, but just small condescending remarks. Case in point: "I roll my eyes at Patti Smith for constantly mentioning Rimbaud, so why do I find it OK for the Human League to use an obscure term for silk manufacture and open a song with the line "Listen to the voice of Buddha"? Why do I find one good pop and the other bad? Maybe because Patti Smith was using Rimbaud as a prop, a symbol of rebellion" (391) vs. "If 1991's dance music was short on lyrical bite, then the Manics made up for it all by themselves. The quoted Rimbaud and Debord in interviews..." (477) Like, why can The Manic Street Preachers quote Rimbaud but not Patti Smith? UGH. More: "Courtney Love eventually channeled her attention away from media-baiting, until 1998's Celebrity Skin felt like a proper record rather than just a vehicle for her problems..." (523). Could he have been a little more patronizing?! Fuck Courtney Love for not using her music for the exact purpose Bob Stanley thinks is "proper", right? I mean, do these things ruin the book? No, it was still packed full of good information and written well. But is it annoying to NEVER be able to escape the pervasive sexism and racism that's embedded in the music industry and every other part of society? YES. For its sheer comprehensiveness I'd certainly recommend this book to someone interested in modern pop music, but I didn't think it was as good as the reviews made it out to be, and not just because I have my feminist hat on.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Neale

    Bob Stanley's 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' is an encyclopaedic, nerdy, impassioned, defiantly unfashionable history of popular music, from the early 50s to the mid 90s. It's endlessly fascinating, almost overwhelming in its parade of detail and anecdote. It's great strength is that, while it gives plenty of space to the landmark 'serious' performers, it gives even more space to the true footsoldiers of music: the girl bands, the crooners, the copycats, the two-hit wonders. The best parts of the book are the Bob Stanley's 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' is an encyclopaedic, nerdy, impassioned, defiantly unfashionable history of popular music, from the early 50s to the mid 90s. It's endlessly fascinating, almost overwhelming in its parade of detail and anecdote. It's great strength is that, while it gives plenty of space to the landmark 'serious' performers, it gives even more space to the true footsoldiers of music: the girl bands, the crooners, the copycats, the two-hit wonders. The best parts of the book are the sections dealing with those eras when music seemed to have stalled, when nothing important seemed to be happening. And the notes at the end of each chapter are as good as the chapters themselves: in some ways the notes are the real heart of the book. Stanley has been accused of preferring Donovan to Dylan, Sweet to Led Zeppelin. (He thinks that 'New Morning' is 'probably' Dylan's best album.) Good on him. In my opinion, only someone who feels this way is qualified to write a proper history of 'pop' (i.e. 'popular', the music that people actually listen to) music. Stanley defines pop music as basically anything that is in the charts. He begins in 1952, pre 'rock and roll', and finishes in the mid 90s. I think he does this partly for practical reasons, but his contention that the mid 90s, around the time of Britpop, was the time when pop music ended has something going for it. It is no coincidence that this was the time when Stanley's own retro-magpie band, St Etienne, was coming into its own, alongside the internet - which was to give everyone, for the first time, the chance to be as eclectic and to listen as widely as critics like John Peel (and Stanley himself). First Napster, then iTunes, then Spotify: now everyone's a collector. It's ironic that Stanley's account of the 'end of pop music' (as we knew it) is best accompanied by frequent side-trips to YouTube and streaming music services, to see and hear what he is talking about. No longer do we have to take the critic's word. This extraordinary opportunity may well be what 'killed' pop music, but it also makes it more available than ever before.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    In theory, this should have been "the" book on pop. And in many ways it is, but only as an introduction for those who may not get pop music all in one big gulp. There is nothing further I learned from reading this book, except some great obscure groups and songs. For instance, The Fairytale. Check them out. On the other hand I was kind of shocked that he doesn't mention my faves, Sparks, to a pronounced degree. Surely there should have been at least three to four pages devoted to this perfect po In theory, this should have been "the" book on pop. And in many ways it is, but only as an introduction for those who may not get pop music all in one big gulp. There is nothing further I learned from reading this book, except some great obscure groups and songs. For instance, The Fairytale. Check them out. On the other hand I was kind of shocked that he doesn't mention my faves, Sparks, to a pronounced degree. Surely there should have been at least three to four pages devoted to this perfect pop duo - but alas, no! Also Bob Stanley is very much a popster, and doesn't give much credit to bands like Television or music from the avant-garde side of pop. He doesn't even credit Eno that much, he prefers later Roxy Music albums without Eno. Which is border-line eccentric taste level, but still, a remarkable book. When I was younger, there would be mass-market books on the current pop scene, which concentrated on the "now" sounds with a touch of the history of that sound. "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" sort of makes me think of those type of books. It's a survey of sounds and styles, but Stanley is a fine thinker and writer. I believe that there are more essential books out there on pop, but still, I would recommend this book for a pop beginner.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tony O'Neill

    I have to claim some kinda bias here because I remember being totally in awe of Bob and Saint Etienne as a teenager (and I still am really, I mean come on Saint Etienne are a brilliant band) and then remember nearly dying when I met him when he was producing Kenickie's debut album. So I came into this knowing I'd like it - not just because Bob was someone I admired - but because he is a walking encyclopedia of pop knowledge... so yes, I had high exceptions coming into Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! and it di I have to claim some kinda bias here because I remember being totally in awe of Bob and Saint Etienne as a teenager (and I still am really, I mean come on Saint Etienne are a brilliant band) and then remember nearly dying when I met him when he was producing Kenickie's debut album. So I came into this knowing I'd like it - not just because Bob was someone I admired - but because he is a walking encyclopedia of pop knowledge... so yes, I had high exceptions coming into Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! and it didn't disappoint: it's an indispensable, fun and prescient guide to the world pop as written by someone who really knows their stuff. Essential to anyone who grew up in an era where music was a religion, not just that pleasant noise thats playing the background when you're on Facebook. Shit, I'm old.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    An essential book in my collection. No qualifiers, as in essential “music book”. I found interesting and relevant things on virtually every page. I had a feeling I’d like it because of the way he defines pop, which is basically the same way I do: if you make records, singles, albums and you go on TV or on tour to promote them, you are pop. Simple but correct. And he’s funny as hell because he has strong opinions and doesn’t hide them even a little. This is one of those books I will reference over An essential book in my collection. No qualifiers, as in essential “music book”. I found interesting and relevant things on virtually every page. I had a feeling I’d like it because of the way he defines pop, which is basically the same way I do: if you make records, singles, albums and you go on TV or on tour to promote them, you are pop. Simple but correct. And he’s funny as hell because he has strong opinions and doesn’t hide them even a little. This is one of those books I will reference over and over. Clearly I’m not alone at all because a quick google search shows that people have created playlists on line that track the book. Looks like my free time now has some direction.

  16. 4 out of 5

    James Tierney

    Although never less than engaging, Yeah Yeah Yeah is freighted with so much anecdote that it fails to service a clear narrative. This eventually leads to it reading as a series of unusually considered music mag pieces rather than as a book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Art

    I vacillated on the rating for this long book. It is a broad survey of popular music since the mid-fifties. Each of the five dozen chapters covers a narrow period, name dropping and cramming song titles along the way, giving the sense of a surface history whizzing by. The early chapters come across as deeper and more satisfying than the late ones. Three and a half stars. This book traces the development of pop from the seven-inch forty-five rpm single, introduced in the late forties, to the decl I vacillated on the rating for this long book. It is a broad survey of popular music since the mid-fifties. Each of the five dozen chapters covers a narrow period, name dropping and cramming song titles along the way, giving the sense of a surface history whizzing by. The early chapters come across as deeper and more satisfying than the late ones. Three and a half stars. This book traces the development of pop from the seven-inch forty-five rpm single, introduced in the late forties, to the decline of pop as a physical thing, when it became digital in the nineties. Billboard published its first Top Hundred list in fifty-five. The author takes the launch of that list as the beginning of the pop era, which ran for thirty-three years, ending when the magazine allowed the tally of airplay tracks to count toward a song’s rating. A sample of nuggets, assertions and observations from this six hundred page book: — Louis Jordan, the king of jump blues, served as the transition between the swing of the forties and the rock ’n’ roll of the fifties. “Is You I or Is You Ain’t My Baby” (written in Milwaukee) became Jordan’s breakthrough song as a million-seller in the early forties. — “Rocket 88,” by Jackie Brenston, recorded at Sun in fifty-one, influenced Little Richard, who took that boogie-woogie piano intro seven years later for his own “Good Golly, Miss Molly." The author describes “Rocket 88” as “proto-rock.” — The author, a Brit, writes that skiffle in England served as a rough equivalent to rockabilly in the United States. It was fast, loud, do-it-yourself music without pretension. The Beatles began as a skiffle band. — Felice worked as a nineteen-year-old elevator operator in Milwaukee, at The Schroeder Hotel. Her door opened one day and in walked Boudleaux Bryant. Felice saw his face in a dream as an eight-year-old. So, upon seeing him, Felice knew that she would marry him, which inspired them to write “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” a big hit for the Everly Brothers in fifty-eight. They published fifteen hundred songs. — The birth of FM rock radio began with long album tracks. AM mainstream radio stations of the day ignored the vacant channels on the newer FM band. So, our generation filled that air. San Francisco stations began that in the sixties. I deejayed at an underground radio station in St Louis in the early seventies, using the phrase “under St Louis.” Of course these stations typically avoided most of the pop tunes of the day. — “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” by Nina Simone in fifty-eight, with its walking bassline and dance floor action, helped inspire ska, a style that exploded in sixty-two, writes the author. Modern pop began in the early fifties with vinyl, pop charts and the music press, the author says. Singles evolved into albums before morphing into digital for the new era, he concludes. Although the appendix includes a massive thirty-nine page index, it does not include any footnotes. Not one. And that may help explain the factual errors throughout the book. Meanwhile, the cheap and ugly cover may help explain why I postponed for three years this book of uneven quality. Each of us likes pop songs in our music mix. In my case, pop songs account for a third of my musical memoir, which includes jazz, folk, classical and eclectic styles that will never rank on the lists.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    What a great, great read! I have no idea how Bob Stanley pulled this off but he literally captures almost every important song, album, movement, genre and moment in the history of music...like he was present for each of them. I know that sounds crazy but read it and then tell me if I've exaggerated. If you love music (and who doesn't?) every minute you spend reading this book will have been well spent...and don't skim, read every word! Trust me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Taff Jones

    Impressive accomplishment! Keep Spotify to hand as you read to listen to the songs you don't know.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Epizeuxis

    "Music, as it was in the pre-Edison nineteenth century, is in the air. The modern pop era is all there to be enjoyed and pilfered, curated, compiled, and recompiled, an endless, interchangeable jigsaw puzzle for future generations." A great overview of pop music, running the gamut from the birth of rock and roll in the early '50s to the rise of Napster and Beyoncé. Stanley's approach to writing about such an opinionated topic perfectly suited for this sort of venture: he isn't snobbish about any "Music, as it was in the pre-Edison nineteenth century, is in the air. The modern pop era is all there to be enjoyed and pilfered, curated, compiled, and recompiled, an endless, interchangeable jigsaw puzzle for future generations." A great overview of pop music, running the gamut from the birth of rock and roll in the early '50s to the rise of Napster and Beyoncé. Stanley's approach to writing about such an opinionated topic perfectly suited for this sort of venture: he isn't snobbish about any of it, never sneering or posturing about certain genres or artists. Certainly, he is critical of some songs and albums, but not in a way that betrays a haughty, 'better-than-you' superiority in his tastes. Instead, he celebrates pop in all of its unwieldy and complicated forms, and tracing the cyclical nature of music — the rise and success of a new genre, its splintering into new hybrids, its abandonment for a yearning for 'the good old days' of earlier hits, its later comeback — is fascinating to trace over the years, and proves a point that I'm always eager to defend: music (particularly pop) and its usage/importance in our lives is too complex and too branching to be snobbish over. Stanley seems to agree: regardless of the 'how' or 'why' or 'when' it was made, he seems to find something good about just about everything ever sung into a microphone. He also has a wonderful way of describing sounds, using metaphors and comparisons that never would have occurred to me but work perfectly, despite their silliness. Listening to the tunes he reels off with his summaries in mind is an interesting exercise in connections and comparisons. I do wish he spent more time on certain topics — Madonna's longevity, the rise of Prince, the impact of the Internet and file-sharing on record companies — and dug into their nuances, but covering over fifty years of worldwide music history in a few hundred pages isn't the best place for that, and there are more than enough books dedicated entirely to more specific topics. "What creates greate pop Tension, opposition, progress, and fear of progress." And if nothing else, his work provides one heck of a playlist for those looking for new music. I admittedly don't recognize a lot of the names (of singers, of producers, of writers, of albums, of songs) he brings to the table, which leaves a lot of passages rather dense and hard to follow with their deluges of industry terms and faces, but he manages to cram in so many titles that you could spend weeks online giving them all a try. (Which I probably will.) So... Should I Read It? If you're looking for something of a history lesson, absolutely. It isn't the most 'exciting' read, per se, especially if you're more interested in particular time periods and genres (which regulate each chapter) than others, but it's an undemanding read that's fun to pick up for bits and pieces of time. And if you need a new voice or two on your iPod, you'll find more than enough fodder here. So, pop. Enjoy it. Appreciate it. And chances are that your elitist attitude over what you consider 'real music' was once dismissed as frivolity once upon a time, so you should probably get off of your high horse. Music isn't there to give you an undeserved sense of importance. Besides, singing along to 'Crazy in Love' is a lot more fun than pretending that you don't think it's great.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    fabulous book which chronicles pop from the first (British) chart in 1952 up until the turn (and just beyond) of the millennium. The writer has his own pop group - the wonderful St. Etienne - but how he finds time to record anything I'll never know as he must listen to a hundred new songs a day if this book is anything to go by. He covers so much ground, dividing pop history into movements and genres and micro-movements. Every page is stuffed with songs and there are over 750 pages. The man is g fabulous book which chronicles pop from the first (British) chart in 1952 up until the turn (and just beyond) of the millennium. The writer has his own pop group - the wonderful St. Etienne - but how he finds time to record anything I'll never know as he must listen to a hundred new songs a day if this book is anything to go by. He covers so much ground, dividing pop history into movements and genres and micro-movements. Every page is stuffed with songs and there are over 750 pages. The man is generous in praise (although there are groups/singers he doesn't like, eg The Stranglers), acute in observation (his vast knowledge enables him to make unlikely - to me - comparisons, eg Madness are the new Coasters), and a rather elegant writer. Loads of quotes, here's just a couple: (The Bee Gee's 'You Win Again') sounded like a Christmas carol created in a shipbuilding yard. (Happy Together) is a love song so joyous that it’s hard to avoid throwing your arms around the nearest human being every time it comes on (for more lovely quotes see Paul Bryant's much better review) There are chapters on individual groups/singers - The Stones, The BeeGees, Bolan and Bowie, Michael Jackson. The one on the Beatles calls them a miracle, and refers to the amazing incident mentioned in Derek Taylor's book 'As Time Goes By' when Paul stops on his journey back from recording 'Thingyumybob' with a brass band 'up north' at a village called 'Harald' because they like the sound of it, and the villagers get up -it's late at night - and re-open the pub for him and he gives a rendition of new song 'Hey Jude' on the pub piano. It's almost like my life is in there, as it starts just before I was born, and from about 1963 I remember a lot of the genres and music that sweep past, although of course I missed much too. This book has helped fill some gaps, e.g. The Flamin' Groovies - who somehow passed me by the first time round - particularly this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIcmk... and pick up some more soul too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjuoN... Oh and loads more. Thanks Anthony for the recommendation. Now I have to take it back to the library. Probably buy it later...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    An absolute feast of a book - simply, breathtakingly brilliant and surely nobody has done this better. I found myself enjoying the chapters and sections about artists I don't particularly care for far more than those which charted the musical journeys of my heroes - so the passages that illustrate the influence of the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and Madonna were especially fascinating as were those that dealt with adult oriented rock in the manner of Foreigner and Journey, Deep Soul and Teeny Boppe An absolute feast of a book - simply, breathtakingly brilliant and surely nobody has done this better. I found myself enjoying the chapters and sections about artists I don't particularly care for far more than those which charted the musical journeys of my heroes - so the passages that illustrate the influence of the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and Madonna were especially fascinating as were those that dealt with adult oriented rock in the manner of Foreigner and Journey, Deep Soul and Teeny Boppers. That's probably because this is a book about 'Pop' rather than 'Rock' of course - although it does a pretty good job of covering both. Although Stanley is far too urbane and pleasant a commentator to slag anyone off, it's interesting to see which acts he affords relative short shrift - Radiohead and The Clash are both practically dismissed with the former lumped in with the po-faced 'Dad Rock' crew (Ocean Colour Scene, Post-Jam Weller) and the latter depicted as opportunist. But he's far from anti-indie with The Smiths, Portishead, Joy Division and many far more obscure bands provided with their full due. The chapters on the 1950s and 1960s are especially good in charting the forces that helped pop music rise to prominence although the central thesis that digitisation and the decline of collective influences such as the charts and Top of the Pops have led to the 'end of pop' is a hard one to buy - colossal acts of the past two decades such as Eminem, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z and even Take That will have to wait for a follow up. I would have liked a little more politics - in the UK at least, the 1980s were a shocker and Radio 1's apolitical (read: Conservative) attitude towards the playlist turned this teenager into an indie kid and gave me a lasting and probably unfair distaste for commercial music - but Stanley by and large does a good job of not making the book too UK-focused.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jarvo

    Vastly enjoyable read. Admirably catholic in that the author isn't prepared to rule out any form of popular music that had an impact on the charts, and hence covers movements as distinct as skiffle, doo wop, and ska and hence inevitably tells you about things you've never heard about, and better still reminds you about records you'd long forgotten about and suddenly desperately need to hear again, like those pre disco Bee Gees' singles or the classic Pet Shop Boys/ Dusty Springfield collaboratio Vastly enjoyable read. Admirably catholic in that the author isn't prepared to rule out any form of popular music that had an impact on the charts, and hence covers movements as distinct as skiffle, doo wop, and ska and hence inevitably tells you about things you've never heard about, and better still reminds you about records you'd long forgotten about and suddenly desperately need to hear again, like those pre disco Bee Gees' singles or the classic Pet Shop Boys/ Dusty Springfield collaboration 'Nothing has been proved' (which accompanied the sadly overlooked British movie, 'Scandal'). There are 100's more like this The books' most serious drawback, in my opinion, is the lack of a discography but I can imagine the publisher's faces at the thought of something that would make a long book several hundred pages longer. It does though, have a very good index. Other issues are really more talking points than criticisms. What's of a greater value, an overview or the near microhistory of something like Jon Savage's 1966: The year music exploded. You need both of course, although the danger with a survey is that it can appear to shape history to its narrative. So for example Andrew Loog Oldham was instrumental in getting the Stones rolling, but they didn't suffer as a result of leaving him as suggested here. They want on to record their greatest albums, and some of the greatest in the genre. Also Stanley chooses to frame his book around the rise and demise of certain key institutions - vinyl 45 records, the British charts, and certain aspects of the pop media. This means that, effectively, he stops when digital takes over. But more seriously he doesn't cover the popular music that existed in the first half of the century, so this is a book which doesn't get to mention Robert Johnson or Hank Williams. But you can't have everything.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    I was always going to love this book - written by Bob Stanley, music journalist and also member of one of my favourite pop groups of all time (the miraculous Saint Etienne), it's a look-back over the history of "pop" - defined by Stanley pretty broadly as anything that gets in the charts. So over 750 pages or so, he takes us from the birth of rock 'n' roll, through skiffle, Merseybeat, doo wop, girl groups, soul, glam rock, psychedelia, disco, prog, punk, post-punk, new wave, hip hop, indie, hou I was always going to love this book - written by Bob Stanley, music journalist and also member of one of my favourite pop groups of all time (the miraculous Saint Etienne), it's a look-back over the history of "pop" - defined by Stanley pretty broadly as anything that gets in the charts. So over 750 pages or so, he takes us from the birth of rock 'n' roll, through skiffle, Merseybeat, doo wop, girl groups, soul, glam rock, psychedelia, disco, prog, punk, post-punk, new wave, hip hop, indie, house, techno, Britpop, R'n'B.... It's a huge project and out of necessity Stanley is forced to condense entire fascinating histories that probably deserve their own book into just one chapter (I would love to read a book about the Brill Building scene, for instance, or riot grrl, about which I remain largely ignorant), but he's clearly got endless enthusiasm for pop and his dismissive attitude to rockist bores or really anyone who takes themselves too seriously (fans of Patti Smith, Radiohead & The Doors take note) is brilliant. You'll come away from this book with a desire to listen to all the great pop you thought you'd forgotten, and an envy of your parents who were there, who grew up with whole other generations of pop that is actually pretty fantastic (Del Shannon is a particular favourite of Stanley's, his name pops up more than once over the course of the book). Highly recommended for anyone who loves music - if nothing else, you'll come away with a huge new playlist and a rediscovered appreciation of Roy Orbison, Dexy's Midnight Runners, The Shangri-Las, Dusty Springfield, Donna Summer, the Pet Shop Boys and maybe - just maybe - "MacArthur Park."

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    Good fun, this. The shapeshifting history of pop music (1952-1999 RIP) told as breathlessly as one of Fluff's old chart rundowns. Previously, Bob Stanley had channeled his love of pop through his band Saint Etienne: a colourful blend of 60s girl groups, Brill Building, Northern Soul, disco, indie, dance and so on. This book is basically an extension of that same crate-digging, Top 40-taping obsession; only written as almost a kind of Bayeux Tapestry of chart music. Stanley takes an unapologetical Good fun, this. The shapeshifting history of pop music (1952-1999 RIP) told as breathlessly as one of Fluff's old chart rundowns. Previously, Bob Stanley had channeled his love of pop through his band Saint Etienne: a colourful blend of 60s girl groups, Brill Building, Northern Soul, disco, indie, dance and so on. This book is basically an extension of that same crate-digging, Top 40-taping obsession; only written as almost a kind of Bayeux Tapestry of chart music. Stanley takes an unapologetically popist slant - for example, he gives about as much space over to gurgling enthusiastically about The Archies' sticky confection "Sugar Sugar" as he does in sniffily summarising the entire career of The Doors. Which is fair - but, although he has his bug bears (mainly anyone who has a whiff of taking themselves too seriously, e.g.; The Doors, Patti Smith, Steely Dan etc) he's generally even-handed and generous; his interest for every new movement and the ever more tangled, interweaving threads of different genres of pop rings out enthusiastically from each scene-specific snappy chapter. Packed with facts and amusing little titbits, and good at digging out pop's lost gems and exploring forgotten cul-de-sacs that are never written about in books on more seriouser issues (as Betty Boo might say). The fact that it ends at the turn of the Millenium, with the 'death' of the single, and with modern R&B, means it has to end on something of a downer, but this'll always remain a fun book to dip back into.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    This is quite simply the best book on music I've ever read. It's 800 pages long and I could easily have read 800 more. Pop enthusiasts will lap it up but there is something here for even the most casual music fan, such is the breadth of genres covered. Bob Stanley writes with such passion and enthusiasm that it is impossible not to get carried away with his love of all things pop. He not afraid to share his honest opinions along the way - you can tell that Paul is favourite Beatle, that he prefe This is quite simply the best book on music I've ever read. It's 800 pages long and I could easily have read 800 more. Pop enthusiasts will lap it up but there is something here for even the most casual music fan, such is the breadth of genres covered. Bob Stanley writes with such passion and enthusiasm that it is impossible not to get carried away with his love of all things pop. He not afraid to share his honest opinions along the way - you can tell that Paul is favourite Beatle, that he preferred the incendiary Sex Pistols to the hypocritical Clash, and that he will always have a soft spot for Debbie Harry over the pretentious Patti Smith. You read in hope that he will praise your own favourite songs and when he does it feels like the highest vindication. He recounts it all in a wonderfully witty style - Edwyn Collins "sang like a drunken calf, The Bees Gees' You Win Again is a "Christmas Carol created in a shipbuilding yard". My favourite passages were dedicated to bands that are beacons in the annals of pop music - The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, Abba, Prince and Madonna. I must admit I found some of the earlier Fifties chapters a little tough going simply because I had never heard of most of the artists, but it is all necessary to show how the musical landscape was utterly transformed in the Sixties. It must have felt like a wildly ambitious project to start off with on page one but I cannot think of a worthier writer to master it. A stunning achievement.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A joyous, comprehensive, entertaining, frustrating, capacious, inclusive, elusive, irresistible, logorrheic, and above all passionate tour through the history of pop music, written with the erudition of a scholar and the élan of a true fan. It took me twice as long as it normally would have to traverse its 560 pages because every chapter sent me scurrying back to YouTube with another playlist. Stanley's book is the ultimate confirmation of Pop as Life Force, and we couldn't have found a better gu A joyous, comprehensive, entertaining, frustrating, capacious, inclusive, elusive, irresistible, logorrheic, and above all passionate tour through the history of pop music, written with the erudition of a scholar and the élan of a true fan. It took me twice as long as it normally would have to traverse its 560 pages because every chapter sent me scurrying back to YouTube with another playlist. Stanley's book is the ultimate confirmation of Pop as Life Force, and we couldn't have found a better guide. Am I disappointed because he gave shockingly short shrift to certain bands (Television, Led Zeppelin) while going deep on others (ABBA)? Yes. Do I disagree with some of his more confident assertions (New Morning is Dylan's best album)? Sure do. But that's the whole point -- you can't help but engage with him as he makes connections between the first era of pop and the modern era that feel effortless and totally right. Minor characters in Pop History are given their due, and sacred cows come under just scrutiny. He has apparently listened to every 45 ever released and knows how it fits into the larger narrative, but he never comes off as insufferable or desperate to show off. Highly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I'd give this book more than 5 stars if it were possible, as it's so much more than simply a book for bedtime reading; you're shortchanging yourself if that's all you do. I cannot read a chapter without going to youtube and searching for many of the songs mentioned. Songs you've never heard before, songs you haven't heard in ages, songs that remind you of a different time, a different place, in your life. I'm continually being stunned by hearing things I'd not heard before, great songs that some I'd give this book more than 5 stars if it were possible, as it's so much more than simply a book for bedtime reading; you're shortchanging yourself if that's all you do. I cannot read a chapter without going to youtube and searching for many of the songs mentioned. Songs you've never heard before, songs you haven't heard in ages, songs that remind you of a different time, a different place, in your life. I'm continually being stunned by hearing things I'd not heard before, great songs that somehow were never on my radar before. I'm in my 50s and thought I'd heard about all the pop music out there but I guarantee you will discover new favorites and obscure treasures while reading this wonderful book. I received this book free from GoodReads.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Egan

    Think you know a bit about pop music?....Well you might,but I guarantee it will be far less then the vast knowledge on display in this splendid book.Broken into small (around ten page) chapters but nevertheless told as nearly as chronologically as I think is possible with such a sprawling topic,Bob Stanley has produced a delight,that I had to restrain myself to only reading a hundred pages a day in order to prolong the pleasure...Once you get going,you will sympathise,believe me!...opinionated a Think you know a bit about pop music?....Well you might,but I guarantee it will be far less then the vast knowledge on display in this splendid book.Broken into small (around ten page) chapters but nevertheless told as nearly as chronologically as I think is possible with such a sprawling topic,Bob Stanley has produced a delight,that I had to restrain myself to only reading a hundred pages a day in order to prolong the pleasure...Once you get going,you will sympathise,believe me!...opinionated and with great one liners throughout....I have been foisting this on as many of my Real World friends as will listen and I have no hesitation in repeating that recommendation here.

  30. 4 out of 5

    The American Conservative

    "Pop music creates desire: first and foremost for more pop music—this is a business after all—but also for increasingly adventurous, some might say outrageous, sounds and images. The pop era, as defined by Bob Stanley, created an appetite for disruption. That’s the shadow side to all the effortlessly great art we got out of the deal." Robert Dean Lurie reviews: http://www.theamericanconservative.co...

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