The Death of Rhythm and Blues

The Death of Rhythm and Blues

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Product details

  • Paperback | 112 pages
  • 156 x 234mm
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 21 b&w phtotgraphs
  • 0711918120
  • 9780711918122

Review Text

An impassioned review of the economic, cultural, and social currents at work in post WW II black music; by the editor for black music at Billboard and author of The Michael Jackson Story, 1984; Where Did Our Love Go?, 1985; etc. George takes us behind the scenes to the record and radio industry machinations that led black music from the rhythm and blues of the 1940's to the rock-and-roll of the 1950's, from the soul music of the 1960's to the funk and disco of the 1970's and into today's rap (hip hop) phase. But what might have been (and is, in some places) a highly informed and intelligently reasoned work too often lapses into a mean-spiritedness that finds any black move into white popularity as capitalistic manipulation. George's ire is reflected in his casual asides - Elvis Preslay's music too often devolves into "crap," latter-day black music seems "indistinguishable from the commercial shallowness of American music." In his concentration on the media executives and promoters who decide which singers get recorded and played on the airwaves, George seems to lose track of bottom-up trends - that is, what do the black people want to hear? Common experience seems to uphold the contention that black listeners are just as likely to enjoy Phil Collins, Paul Young, or George Michael as are white listeners to thrill to Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, or Whitney Houston. While this new assimilation may be a result of black movement towards middle-class status and white co-opting of the grittier blues styles of the past, George persists in denouncing black artists who, for instance, jettison black managers for more proven successful white agents. In the end, he has nothing to hang his hat on but the old Booker T. Washington theory of black economic self-sufficiency. Despite his insistence on arguing counter to the pocketbooks of his people, George is informative about the recording and black radio industry, and it is on these themes that his book stands, failing only on his own nostalgic proclivities. Sixteen pages of photographs (unseen). (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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164 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
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4 46% (75)
3 23% (38)
2 2% (3)
1 1% (1)
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