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1. All Music Guide to the Blues:
2. Delta Blues: The Life and Times
3. The History Of The Blues: The
4. The Devil's Music: A History Of
5. Indian Blues: American Indians
6. Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music,
7. Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural
8. Blues for Dummies
9. Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing
10. The Blues Line: Blues Lyrics from
11. A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music
12. Intermediate Blues Keyboard: The
13. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues
14. The Everything Rock & Blues
15. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues
16. MusicHound Blues: The Essential
17. The Big Book of Blues: The Fully
18. Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding
19. Nobody Knows Where the Blues Come
20. Beginning Fingerstyle Blues Guitar

1. All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues
by Bogdanov V
Paperback: 754 Pages (2003-04-01)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$17.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0879307366
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Fully updated to reflect today's revitalized blues world, this guide is any blues fan's lifeline to the best blues past and present. It reviews and rates 7,000 recordings in all major styles across the blues map - from Delta blues to Louisiana, Memphis, Chicago, Texas, and beyond; from classic female singers to jump blues, blues slide guitar, blues in jazz, soul blues, blues-rock, modern acoustic and electric blues, and more. This fun and easy-to-use guide provides profiles of over 1,000 blues artists. Thirty historical essays plus supplemental "music maps" chart the roots and evolution of the blues, its various styles, instruments used, key artists, and more. The essays explore the blues from the Mississippi Delta to modern electric blues and everything in between. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Blues Bible
This Book has compiled some of the greatest Blues players from the past and present. Facts that I would probably not have known otherwise and it also lists their work so you can buy the music for your collection as well. I would recommend this book for anyone who is new to the Blues or not. If you want to know, this is the book to have.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Blues, baby.
My husband LOVES this book ~ I bought it for him for his birthday.He's a big, big Howlin-Wolf sized blues fan!

5-0 out of 5 stars Musical Guide to the Blues
Not for the idle coffee table book devoteee, this volume is a comprehensive encyclopedia of American Blues music and artists from the 1920s+. Packed with factual info on artists, their songs and recordings, backup musicians, publications, and various cross referenced data, this volume is THE source of information on the history of the American Blues music scene. ****

4-0 out of 5 stars Enormous Scope, Good Ratings, Some Flaws
I'm not going to address the other reviewers' issues with this guide other than to acknowledge some of them.Those that concern outright errors, I agree.Those regarding omissions, emphasis, and other things - well, you can make up your own mind about those and the reviewers'biases.

The coverage of this guide is sweeping and the write-ups on individual artists are excellent.Each entry is tailored in length to the individual's relative importance to Blues history.There is also an excellent introduction covering the history of the Blues and each Blues genre, and for the uninitiated, there are quite a few.Artist entries include album and singles lists, including compilations, with ratings for each and recommendations as to which a collector might focus on and why.

It is actually the last bit I find most valuable.If you don't already own a single recording for a given artist, how can you make a selection when you're faced with your choices at the store?Granted, in some places you can preview the music, but that still doesn't get you what you need: the BEST choices.I don't know about you, but with very, very few exceptions, I'm not interested in collecting 100% of a given artist's albums, and I'm dead certain I don't want to collect randomly.The fact that what's available in the store bin is highly likely to be the least desirable choice only ups the ante.

So in the end, it's the collecting recommendations that stand out for me - to the point where I went through the book and put together a list of specific albums to look for.Priceless.My agreement with the guide's recommendations is pretty high - probably close to 80% or so.And that alone makes the cost of the book worthwhile.

3-0 out of 5 stars Titles Not In Alphabetical Order?
I just received my copy and I must say the volume and detail are impressive right out of the gate.I am disappointed that the album titles by each artist are not in alphabetical order, especially in a reference work of this scale.I read the "how to use this book" section and it offered no information on how the titles are arranged.This could be inconvenient when trying to locate your favorite title by an artist such as John Lee Hooker, one with numerous numerous releases listed.Other users: am I right or am I missing something? ... Read more

2. Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music
by Ted Gioia
Paperback: 449 Pages (2009-11-02)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$8.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393337502
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
“The essential history of this distinctly American genre.”—Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionIn this “expertly researched, elegantly written, dispassionate yet thoughtful history” (Gary Giddins), award-winning author Ted Gioia gives us “the rare combination of a tome that is both deeply informative and enjoyable to read” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). From the field hollers of nineteenth-century plantations to Muddy Waters and B.B. King, Delta Blues delves into the uneasy mix of race and money at the point where traditional music became commercial and bluesmen found new audiences of thousands. Combining extensive fieldwork, archival research, interviews with living musicians, and first-person accounts with “his own calm, argument-closing incantations to draw a line through a century of Delta blues” (New York Times), this engrossing narrative is flavored with insightful and vivid musical descriptions that ensure “an understanding of not only the musicians, but the music itself” (Boston Sunday Globe). Rooted in the thick-as-tar Delta soil, Delta Blues is already “a contemporary classic in its field” (Jazz Review). 38 illustrations ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Delta Blues is tops among Blues books
Among all the other Blues books on the market, Delta Blues tops them all for new information. The author points out that, in so many words, Mississippi is the birthplace of America's music. Blues is the foundation of popular music and the book details the research to make that point.

This is a book not only for Blues fans but for anyone interested in America's music heritage.

Dr. Jim Brewer
Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame

5-0 out of 5 stars perfect book for the beginner
This is the perfect book for the beginner, well written, does not get caught up in the obscure obsessions of academics. I covers what a intro college course might do in a semester. Note, however that it is limited mostly to the mississippi delta blues. My only complaint is that it did not come with a CD. One can use the recommended recordings in the back of the book and download many of these songs from itunes, but it would be difficult to match the description in the book with the limited information itunes gives you. Not a fault of the book, however.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good for the buff and the historian
Gioia writes a poised ,expansive, extremely witty and erudite book on the Delta blues. This book belongs on the shelf of the historian, the blues buff, and the music lover.

Gioia writes with the hand of an historian and the ear of a musician. Much more than a "fan book," Delta Blues places the history of this musical form into its unique context as history, folk art and commercial endeavor. He never bogs down in detail, and manages to keep up a central narrative told across episodes from the history of the Delta blues. Each chapter tells a different story of the Blues, but maintains the momentum of the previous chapter and contributes to the next.

Even if you're not a music lover, read this book!

3-0 out of 5 stars Still Needed, Definitive Delta Blues History
This review originally appeared in my blog, inabluemood.blogspot.com.

It's been some four decades since this writer developed his love and enthusiasm for the blues, particularly those blues artists rooted in the Mississippi Delta and surrounding area. As a freshman in college, I bought and read Samuel Charters The Bluesmen, as well as various books by Paul Oliver. I also purchased reissues of rare country blues on Yazoo, Origin Jazz and Blues Classics, as well as albums by Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson on Chess; B.B. King and John Lee Hooker on Bluesway; Elmore James on United and a variety of other acts. Charters' book brought alive the music and personalities of the artists he focused on, which included not simply the great artists from the Delta, but also such pioneering Texas blues artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander. Written at the time that Son House, Skip James and Bukka White had been rediscovered and were performing, and with the contemporaneous interviews that he drew upon, he made these artists and their recordings larger than life.

The Bluesmen was a major factor that led me into my four decades old obsession with blues artists and their music. I start reading DownBeat for the incisive articles and reviews by Pete Welding and John Litweiler, the pioneering British publications Blues Unlimited and Blues World, (to which I made modest contributions), and then Living Blues when it began publishing. New information on the blues legends came out along with numerous reissues of rare recordings. Robert Palmer published his pioneering Deep Blues, while Living Blues and Blues Unlimited (and after Blues Unlimited folded, Juke Blues and Blues & Rhythm) published lengthy interviews with the likes of Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood, Eddie Taylor, Snooky Pryor and others. In light of the surprise success of the Robert Johnson reissue box around 1990, much was written on Johnson and his music and influences, with Elijah Wald's Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues being important in both debunking myths about Johnson's life, as well as highlighting Johnson's place in the history of the blues. And, in addition to several books about Johnson, we have been fortunate to have had biographies about some of the major figures in blues from the Delta including Skip James, Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Elmore James, Little Walter, Memphis Minnie, and Jimmy Reed. And if Mack McCormick never finished his planned Robert Johnson biography (or his equally important book on Texas Blues and Music), his work has been drawn on others including Peter Guralnick.

Ted Gioia's new book Delta Blues was a surprise when I heard of it. I was familiar with his History of Jazz and his book on West Coast Jazz, but a new book on the deep blues that came out of Mississippi was intriguing. This music, that moves so many of us, was rooted in a community living under the most oppressive conditions. In summarizing what we know about the music's early days and the lives of some of the pioneering artists, Gioia provides a useful service. Gioia integrates the writings of Stephen Calt and Gayle Dean Wardlow in putting together portraits of Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson and Skip James, and adds some brief sketches of Big Joe Williams and Tommy McClennan as well as highlight the importance of H.C. Speir, who was the talent scout that led to most of the great Delta artists recording. But his focus, even on the early Delta blues, is on the guitarist-vocalists, and outside of brief mentions of Louise Johnson (who recorded at one of Charlie Patton's sessions) and Skip James, there is essentially no discussion of the blues piano tradition of the Delta region or its proponents.

Gioia perhaps places too much relevance in the fact that some early blues recordings were reworked by such rock acts as Cream, Rolling Stones, Canned Heat and Led Zeppelin. In discussing James' I'm So Glad, Gioia goes beyond simply noting Cream would rework the song, and incredulously includes Cream's jam-rock live recording as one of the 100 Essential Blues Recordings. Discussing Johnson, he traces his life and discusses his recordings while integrating the recollections of Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood, Honeyboy Edwards and others who knew the pioneering blues artist. In addition to the music and biography, he also attempts to counterbalance the writings of Elijah Wald and Barry Lee Pearson who had debunked the Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil myth with a suggestion that Johnson may have presented himself as having done so to the public.

Gioia takes us forward with discussion of the Delta recordings for the Library of Congress that Alan Lomax made, focusing on the sessions with Son House and Honeyboy Edwards as well as Muddy Waters. The discussion of Muddy Waters leads off a detailed discussion of his music and career, along with similarly detailed examinations of John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King. There is a brief overview of Mississippi blues in Chicago and a chapter on the blues revival, detailing the rediscovery and postwar careers of some early blues pioneers. However, seminal Mississippi blues artists like Elmore James and Jimmy Reed are dealt with not as thoroughly, and such equally important Delta artists as Albert King and Sonny Boy Williamson are not dealt with in any substantial fashion.

There are also curious statements made, including one that Jimmy Reed failed to achieve fame or critical recognition in the blues world. The statement simply is foreign to my understanding as a blues fan. Also, in the limited discussion of Elmore James he doesn't discuss James' travels with Robert Johnson or Steve Franz's assertion that Dust my Broom was as much James' song as Johnson's. Enamored by Honeyboy Edwards, Gioia repeats Edwards' claim, without challenge, that Chess held his material back because they would not compete with Muddy Waters. Honeyboy's rendition of Drop Down Mama was first issued on a Chess album of that name nearly four decades ago along with rare and previously unissued recordings by Robert Nighthawk, Johnny Shines, Blue Smitty, Floyd Jones and Big Boy Spires. Listening to that one song in the context of the others on that album, it is likely that Honeyboy's Chess recordings lay unissued because they weren't very good.

You will not find the names of Floyd Jones, Arthur Big Boy' Spires, or Blue Smitty, or their recordings discussed in this book, despite them being equal to some of the recordings that Gioia considers essential. Nor will you find any detailed discussion of the commercial post-war delta recordings of Drifting Slim, Junior Brooks, Boyd Gilmore, Joe Hill Louis, Dr. Ross, J.B. Lenoir, John Littlejohn, Charlie Booker, Walter Horton or Willie Nix. While Sam Phillips and Sun records is acknowledged, the important role of Joe Bihari's field trips in the South, usually with Ike Turner, and the legacy of the recordings he made of Delta artists is ignored. One will not find Pinetop Perkins, whose piano played such a big role in the Delta blues scene of the forties and fifties, in the book's index.

And it is not that the missing artists are biographical phantoms. The late Mike Leadbitter conducted pioneering research on the post-war blues in the Delta Region that has been followed up by many, including most notably, Jim O'Neal. There have been articles published and essays in the booklets accompanying recent reissues of these Delta Blues recordings. Several of the English Ace Records reissues of the Modern Downhome Blues Sessions contain Jim O'Neal's scholarly discussion of the sessions and artists. The volumes devoted the Delta region have been available for a couple of years. In fairness, I have no idea whether Gioia approached O'Neal and others (such as Bill O'Donohue who is writing a biography of Rice Sonny Boy Williamson' Miller) about their research. It is possible that work is still ongoing on the post-war Delta blues volume and that some material was not open to be shared, awaiting its separate publication. But the fact is that some of the results of this research have been published. Nothing in the text, or the list of recommended reading provided by Gioia indicates he made use of such material. There is also no reference or the use of the autobiography by the late Delta blues harmonica player, Sam Myers.

His discussion of the blues revival provides an overview of the rediscovery of some of the prewar artists who found a new audience for their music as well as discusses some of the more recent artists uncovered such as R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough and the Fat Possum label, but there is no mention of the late Jesse Mae Hemphill, nor of Roosevelt Booba' Barnes, the remarkable singer-guitarist who ran his own Mississippi juke joint, or Joe Willie Wilkins, another associate of Robert Johnson and later guitarist on King Biscuit Time, who Steve Lavere recorded and produced an extremely rare, but excellent album by.

Gioia provides a list for further reading, which also has significant omissions relating to books germane to his text. He does not include several of Paul Oliver's writings (a couple of Oliver's books are included, but not The Story of the Blues, and Oliver's writings specifically directed at the questions of the blues origins are not listed). Another significant omission is Mike Rowe's Chicago Breakdown. Gioia also provides a dubious list of 100 essential blues recordings (Gioia selects songs, not albums, because albums might go in and out of print). The uselessness of this list is seen by the inclusion of a Cream recording but nothing by Eddie Taylor, Floyd Jones, Boyd Gilmore, Junior Brooks, Willie Huff, Little Johnnie Jones, Sunnyland Slim, Robert Lockwood or Jesse Mae Hemphill to name a few. If one is going to include Bessie Smith and Blind Lemon Jefferson for context, where are representative recordings by Leroy Carr and Lonnie Johnson? I would also question some specific choices such as Tommy McClennan's Bottle Up and Go, whose controversial lyrics was atypical of McClennan's recordings. I would suggest checking out Elijah Wald's Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues, and track down the various recordings Wald discusses.

One might be more forgiving of Gioia if there was substantial new material presented here, but there is little, if any, here. There is discussion that many will find insightful of the music, and Gioia's consideration of the musical legacy of John Lee Hooker is the most credible discussion of John Lee Hooker's recordings readily available; and there is also cogent discussion with respect to early 78-RPM recordings by Mississippi artists. In fact, he shares, with long-standing enthusiasts of the music, the recognition that some of the recordings that reach us so deeply had little, if any, commercial success. At the same time, one still must place the performers accurately in the history of this music, not simply relying on the fact it influenced modern popular artists. Gioia simply does not cover the full spectrum of Delta Blues or the idiom's performers.

In addition to photographs of some of the principal figures here (many from Dick Waterman's collection), the book does benefit from Neil Harpe's artwork. Neil, based in Annapolis, Maryland, is an accomplished artist as well as a pretty darn good blues guitarist and vocalist, and even if I am not very enthusiastic about this book, I am about the artwork. That does not change the fact that this book is simply not the authoritative work on the Delta Blues that it is proclaimed to be on the back cover. That work requires substantially deeper digging into the entire Delta Blues history.

3-0 out of 5 stars "unreadable prose"
I got this book for Christmasand have been looking forward to reading it so much. By the time I got to the second page however, I knew I could only finish it by slogging through it with my eye on the prize. It's a tough read. I don't think I've ever read a book that is "presented" with more pretention book in my life. I am passionate about the blues but I am also passionate about good writing. And this book is excrutiating to read. Here is another book written by a scholar who CANNOT write a SIMPLE sentence without wanting to show you how smart he is. Ted-we know you've been to Oxford, ok, but do you have to keep reminding us in every sentence?? For God's sake, you're writing about the blues, not Mozart. And what really bothers me more are the glowing reviews by folks who should know better-Jonathan Yardley, Rolling Stone, Shamekia Copeland (!!!!!), and the others who have written here - are you kidding me? - but there is a term for the that stuff on back covers, isn't there.

Understand, I have no issue with the scholarship here merely the writing.Why-o-why didn't somebody at Norton suggest an editor for him?It could have been a truly great addition to the field.I really blame them more then anybody and their name is on this pathetic effort. (Maybe I was spoiled by Cecil Brown's "Stagolee Shot Billy" but then Brown IS a writer, isn't he?.)Norton - ever heard of Cecil?Do your homework next time!!!!

So if you chose to read this, and there are very good reasons to do so, don't expect to enjoy the trip. ... Read more

3. The History Of The Blues: The Roots, The Music, The People
by Francis Davis
Paperback: 320 Pages (2003-09-04)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$12.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0306812967
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Francis Davis's The History of the Blues is a groundbreaking rethinking of the blues that fearlessly examines how race relations have altered perceptions of the music. Tracing its origins from the Mississippi Delta to its amplification in Chicago right after World War II, Davis argues for an examination of the blues in its own right, not just as a precursor to jazz and rock 'n' roll. The lives of major figures such as Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, and Leadbelly, in addition to contemporary artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray, are examined and skillfully woven into a riveting, provocative narrative.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Revisionist, Controversial, and and Eye Opener
The current consensus regarding the development of the popular music of the last 100 years is almost obsessively concerned with defending a sort of organic, evolutionary view, focused on African and African-American roots.The challenge that Davis' history presents, and provokes such strong reactions against, is that there's more involved than roots, evolution, white transformation, and revival.

In fact, Davis takes nothing away from the worth or significance of Black Artists or music!Both are enormously important in American popular music history, whether you take an artist-centered view of history or critically examine elements of the music itself.What he does is point out is that there's a thread of shared music and musical development in American history and culture, and that the entertainment and recording industry intentionally steered the direction of the Blues as a popular genre along follow-the-money lines (as if that should be a surprise).He argues for Artists - mostly, but far from exclusively Black - purposefully developing Blues in response to popular music tastes of the times, moreoever in cooperation with the industry.He argues for the Blues as a true popular, commercial music genre, where the mainline music historians would box it in as roots music originally (and primarily) and a dead-ended (if revived) precursor to jazz, R&B, and Rock.

Personally, I find Davis' view far more respectful of the talents, aspirations, and business acumen of early 20th century Black artists, as well as more respectful of current Blues artists who know the Blues are a living, breathing genre.

I'm not convinced of everything Davis has to say, but I am firmly convinced on the basis of this book that the Blues reflects a much larger slice of American culture and commerce than is usually credited.If people would pay more attention to what Davis adds to Blues history than what they incorrectly think he's taking away, we would all be better off.Musical scholarship certainly would be.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best
I have read just about every book worth reading on this subject, and this is the best.Francis Davis is a fabulous writer, and his opinions are worth considering, even when you don't agree with them.Most books that attempt to cover "The Blues" in its entirely can be tedious, and read like textbooks.Davis manages to bring this material to life, placing it a broader social context, while still covering almost everything that needs covering.Bottom line: a great read, as well as a great reference book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Tony is wrong.This IS a good book!
I wonder if this person even read the same book that I am reading.Some people won't like this book simply because it does not always take a traditionalist view of things.It is much broader and more open minded and tends to look at the blues from a broader region (IOW, there are blues outside of the Delta region) in order to gain a better understanding of it, it's performers, and theories as to it's origins.It challenges common accepted notions, and encourages the reader to challenge them as well.Sure the author injects his own opinions and experiences from time to time, but not only does he back them up, he does not try to pass them off as concrete fact, and you are fully aware that these are his thoughts on a particular matter.

Now as far as some of the listed "inaccuracies" in the book...Tony states:

"he stupidly tries to talk about Bluegrass existing in the 1920s or about the Carter family."Well, what Francis Davis ACTUALLY says is the following:

"the repertoire of the typical black country songster of the 1920's was more or less identical to that of the white rural performers of the same period. [snip a sentence abt Miss. John Hurt]The typical black songster was probably someone like Leslie Riddle, a singer and guitarist from North Carolina who didn't record until the blues revival of the 1960s, and who might be completely forgotten now if not for his early relationship with A.P. Carter, the patriarch of the Carter Family, the legendary white country harmony group...."

The fact is that Leslie Riddle DID meet A.P. Carter in 1928.The two went on trips throughout the south "collecting songs" with A.P. Carter writing down the words to the songs they liked, and Riddle remembering the Music. (google for it)

Tony says that a history would include when the blues began, how it related to other forms of music and discuss different types of regional music.Tony then says "such a discussion would be far beyond Davis's knowledge or concern".In fact, Francis Davis *DOES* discuss these things.Perhaps Tony needs to re-read Chapter *1*!Francis discusses popular beliefs of the origins of the blues including African music, field hollers, and even celtic-derived folk music.He discusses the call and response of African music that is common in the blues, and then talks about how it is not unique to blues, but is also in folk, and gospel music of the time, and even quotes Robert Palmer to back himself up.He talks about the fact that blues did not just begin one day.It evolved over a longer period of time, and from a myriad of influences.The blues did not begin on whatever specific date in 1895 with the first recording, or in 1920 w/ Smith's "Crazy Blues".That's just when we got the first recorded evidence.It developed over decades before.He discusses regional variations.It's one of the rare books that covers the likes of Blind Willie McTell and Barbeque Bob Hicks as well as the Delta blues musicians, and Texas blues musicians, among others.

Re: Minstrelry vs Minstrelsy - well that would typically be the fault of the editor for not catching it, and is a common misspelling, but lets use that as ammo to discredit the author, shall we?

This book does assume that you know at least a little bit about the differetn blues musicians in question.It at least assumes that you recognize their names and have a pretty good idea of the region that they came from.This book is not a bunch of mini biographies for all of the bigger names in blues.If you want that, you need to look elsewhere.If you want something different, something that challenges common notions, and provides a nice overall "survey" of the blues, how it began, and evolved, then this is definitely a book to add to your collection

4-0 out of 5 stars A challenge to conventional thinking
Davis challenges you virtually from page 1. That's one thing a good book should do. A less thick skinned reader might have been a little upset with his characterisation of one of the main groupswho love blues music: overweight 50-something white males. I am one. There was more than a faint suggestion that o50swm's have a faintly condescending attitude to those nice lil' darkies plunking away at their guitars. Rather than slamming the book shut, I re-examined my views. He had a point: it was at university when I discovered this music. At the time, I was in one of my more pretentious periods: faux angry young socialist. But all I can do is thank Mr Davis. I have looked at myself. NOw I am sure. I love this music. I just love it. There is much to learn from this book.I don't agree with Davis' contention that white folks can't play the blues. They can. They do and and they do it very well.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice pocket guide with maps
Maps and good information on places to eat and stay, some vital info for the Mississippi delta area, Memphis on down into Mississippi.
Not to be used soley as your only blues guide, see others that have more info and use them together, but a lot of good information. ... Read more

4. The Devil's Music: A History Of The Blues
by Giles Oakley
Paperback: 320 Pages (1997-03-22)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$10.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0306807432
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Devil's Music is one of the only books to trace the rise and development of the blues both in relation to other forms of black music and in the context of American social history as experienced by African Americans. From its roots in the turn-of-the-century honky-tonks of New Orleans and the barrelhouses and plantations of the Mississippi Delta to modern legends such as John Lee Hooker and B. B. King, the blues comes alive here through accounts by the blues musicians themselves and those who knew them. Throughout this wide-ranging and fascinating book, BBC-TV producer Giles Oakley describes the texture of the life that made the blues possible, and the changing attitudes towards the music. The Devil's Music is a wholehearted and loving examination of one of America's most powerful traditions. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Blues You Can Use
For anyone interested in a learning more about the blues, including it's history, different styles and most important musicians, this book is an excellent choice. It traces the music from it's roots in work songs, gospel and tent shows through the country blues of the South and the electric blues of Chicago on to the modern era.

The writer clearly has great admiration for this music, not only for it's creative spirit but as a reflection of the black experience in America and the struggle of so many folks to survive bigotry and economic injustice.

Top notch blues perfomers like Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters are covered as well as lesser known but still influential talents such as Gus Cannon and Henry Thomas. Written in 1976, Oakley's comments on the contemporary blues scene can sometimes sound dated. But an excellent afterword, written in the late 90's, bring it somewhat more up to date. If you want to know more about the blues then this book is a great place to start.

4-0 out of 5 stars Highly eductional; great for the early blues
Very comprehensive; from Slavery era through the 60s, provides a long list of the men and women who created the blues and the following generations that assimilated and popularized them.Discusses the social, economic and political forces that influenced them as well. Good educational read.Pretty much ends at the Muddy Waters/BB King heyday of the 60s. If you're looking more for the modern blues (the Alberts, Buddy Guy, Clapton, Hendrix, SRV even) then this one is not for you.However, if you want to know about the guys (and gals) from whom the modern-era bluesmen learned their chops, this is your book. ... Read more

5. Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879-1934 (The New Directions in Native American Studies Series)
by John W. Troutman
Hardcover: 323 Pages (2009-05-30)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$32.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0806140194
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
From the late nineteenth century through the 1920s, the U.S. government sought to control practices of music on reservations and in Indian boarding schools. At the same time, Native singers, dancers, and musicians created new opportunities through musical performance to resist and manipulate those same policy initiatives. Why did the practice of music generate fear for government officials and opportunity for Native peoples?

In this innovative study, John W. Troutman explores the politics of music at the turn of the twentieth century in three spheres: reservations, off-reservation boarding schools, and public venues such as concert halls and Chautaqua circuits. On their reservations, the Lakotas manipulated concepts of U.S. citizenship and patriotism to reinvigorate and innovate social dances, even while the federal government stepped up efforts to suppress them. At Carlisle Indian School, teachers and bandmasters used music in hopes of imposing their "civilization" agenda, but students made their own meaning of their music. Finally, many former students, armed with saxophones, violins, or operatic vocal training, formed their own "all-Indian" and tribal bands and quartets and traversed the country, engaging the market economy, and federal Indian policy initiatives, on their own terms.

While recent scholarship has offered new insights into the experiences of "show Indians" and evolving powwow traditions, Indian Blues is the first book to explore the polyphony of Native musical practices and their relationship to federal Indian policy in this important period of American Indian history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars How the U.S. government tried to control music on reservations through the 1920s
INDIAN BLUES: AMERICAN INDIANS AND THE POLITICS OF MUSIC, 1879-1934 tells of how the U.S. government tried to control music on reservations through the 1920s, sparking a resistance on the parts of Native singers and dancers who decided to manipulate these policies. Both music history libraries and those at the college level specializing in Native history will find this an impressive exploration of the politics of music and Native American issues. ... Read more

6. Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music, and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton
by Howard Reich, William M. Gaines
Paperback: 320 Pages (2004-05-26)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$6.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0306813505
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The acclaimed, definitive biography of the first jazz composer, based on newly discovered archival material.

Jelly's Blues recounts the tumultuous life of Jelly Roll Morton (ca., 18851941). A virtuoso pianist with a larger-than-life personality, he composed such influential early jazz pieces as "King Porter Stomp" and "New Orleans Blues." However, by the late 1930s, he was nearly forgotten. In 1992, the death of an eccentric memorabilia collector led to the unearthing of a startling archive, revealing Morton to be a much more complex and passionate man than many realized. An especially immediate and visceral look into the jazz worlds of New Orleans and Chicago, Jelly's Blues is a definitive biography, a long overdue look at one of the twentieth century's most important composers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Jazz Genius
Jelly Roll Morton has gotten a "bad rap" through the years.After protesting loudly and justifiably about the terrible financial deals he was tricked into, seeing songs he had written stolen from him, he was dismissed as being a loud mouth complainer.He made some bad choices in his life, but he left a legacy of music we all still benefit from.The way he, and other black musicians, were virtually shut out of ASCAAP was wrong.You will wind up appreciating him, and cringing about the way he was mistreated.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Jazz Composer, Mr. Jelly Lord
This is an excellent book which gives us a full picture of the life of Jelly Roll Morton, one of the most important figures in early Jazz. Though Morton is remembered by many critics and fans as a bitter man who claimed he "invented Jazz", a pimp, a card shark, a liar, and an all-around lousy human being, after reading this book, I have come to think of him as an American musical genius and a man with great strength and pride in his work. "Black Bottom Stomp" is one of the most wonderful pieces of music in history; I have never heard such amazing musicianship in such a short song. The tune is literally crammed with ideas. "Deep Creek" is Jelly Roll's masterpiece in my opinion, and "Dead Man Blues" and "Pretty Lil" are not far behind. The author does an excellent job of discussing all of these tunes, and how Jelly Roll was able to read, write, and compose music, as well as tell all of his band members exactly (and we mean exactly!) how to play their instruments. I enjoy his music even more than that of Louis Armstrong, and feel that he is a truly under-appreciated genius in the field of Jazz, and American music in general. Lester Melrose is a real s.o.b. and really robbed Jelly Roll. He cheated him out of countless dollars. The author does a wonderful job of helping Mr. Morton redeem himself. Until the very end of his life, Jelly Roll Morton tried to record music that was light years ahead of what everyone else was writing and playing. This book is excellently written, fun, tragic, and highly recommended!

4-0 out of 5 stars Useful,provides a correcting insight
Very much of Morton's life and legacy remain in controversy, controversy in part created by Morton's own assertiveness about his seminal role in creating Jazz and the often blunt defense he made of himself against rivals like WC Handy.Reich seeks to come to Morton's defense by using recently available documents including letters from Morton to a long time collaborator and the newly-found manuscripts of Morton's compositions of the late 1930s and 1940. Along the way he presents a fairly accurate and useful picture of Morton's youth than other reporters.

Reich's strength is his depiction of Morton's last years when money ran out, his health declined, and the recording industry felt that Morton was out of fashion.He provides a great explanation of how the Melrose Brothers cheated Morton and others out of millions of royalty dollars.He also describes very well the way that ASCAP limited membership for Black composers like Handy and then provided them a pittance of the money it collected off of their compositions during the 1930s and 1940s.For those concerned about the controversies between Handy and Morton, it must be pointed out that Handy's autobiography written in 1941 ends with a paen to ASCAP, without mentioning the struggle that Morton and other Black composers had with that organization.

Morton was one of the great musicians and composers in American history.However, American capitalism's ability to milk his creativity without paying him anything reached its bleak end in his final illness.Morton could not afford decent medical attention as heart problems assailed him.He could afford only a few days in a rest home where he was told that months of such care could have lead to his survival.

One of the areas that this book provides a corrective is in relation to the Alan Lomax interviews with Jelly Roll Morton. In the mid 1930s, Morton, living in Washington spent hours being interviewed by Lomax for the library of country.Reich explains that Lomax brought a bottle of whiskey to each session and encouraged Morton to drink, knowing that Morton's comments would be come more exaggerated and pugnaciou, the more whiskey Morton drunk.This coincides with Lomax's behavior throughout his career of trying to make sources he found reflect what he wanted. Very much of Morton's reputation as an unreliable braggart comes from these interviews.

5-0 out of 5 stars Chapters Six through Eight Make This Book

The great trumpeter Rafael Mendez once said that he lived by one golden rule his father taught him: "Never boast.Someone better than you may be lurking around the corner, waiting to take your place."This was a lesson that Jelly Roll Morton (1886-1941) didn't learn until bad luck, lack of opportunity and rivals who DID take his place (particularly Ellington and Art Tatum) humbled him into reassessing his talent and his place in contemporary music.But, as this remarkable book points out, he not only learned his lessons but learned from them, remaking both his image and his music in the face of near-total indifference.

When reading through this bio, I had reached about page 148 and had some reservations as to its worth over Alan Lomax's half-bio, half-autobiography, "Mister Jelly Lord."It seemed to me that the authors had bent over backward to excuse Morton's past as a pimp, gambler and hustler simply because he was the first to codify jazz in written music, and indeed even seemed to claim his superiority as a jazz musician over such luminaries as Bunk Johnson, Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet.Chapter Five, in particular, had several errors in both fact and judgment, consistently referring to Morton making his early acoustic recordings in front of "microphones" (they used a big metal horn to focus the sound into a steel cutting needle, no microphones were used at all, hence the term "acoustic"), renaming Bing Crosby as Bill (a typo so glaring that even a modern yuppie proofreader should have spotted it), and their astounding demotion of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings to "a rinky-dink ensemble" in their records without Morton.(In plain truth, the NORK was the first band to actually swing on records, even from their very first records in 1922, by virtue of their rolling, "loping" beat, similar in feel to that of Sidney Bechet's New Orleans Feetwarmers of a decade later.Listen and hear for yourself.)

At this point, then, I was going to give this book 3 stars, mostly for factual accuracy but not for value judgments or style.But then something happened.They began chronicling, in full detail, the meeting and eventual partnership of Morton and Roy Carew.They fully documented, as Lomax had not, all of Morton's personal, medical and legal battles with their results in his lifetime and after.They described in full Morton's second and last stay in New York, quoted what he really said to black musicians on the street corners of Harlem, and told just how he re-evaluated the musical value of contemporary musicians and planned to compete with them.And they described in detail his sad last months in California and the creative new music he had written for large orchestra, something far beyond his greatest accomplishments of the 1920s.

Morton, then, is truly given his just due as a man and musician.The loudmouthed "braggart" is revealed as a man who did not proselytize his music above all others in Harlem, but warned younger black musicians not to trust the powers that be in the music business of their time because they would get railroaded as he had.The quixotic dreamer who Lomax described as wanting to create carbon-copy Red Hot Peppers bands across America to push his name above all others is shown as a man who truly cared about finding work in the Depression for good musicians who deserved better.And the "moldy fig" whose stomps and blues were already outdated by 1939 is shown as a vital creator who was still coming up with startling new material.So much is already evident to Morton fans from a few of the 1939-40 General recordings, but this book also describes his innovative large-band scores "Mr. Joe," "Oh Baby" (not to be confused with the pop `20s song of the same name), "Why?" and especially "Ganjam."More satisfyingly for the reader, it chronicles how Morton's "loudmouthed" complaints of the early 1940s eventually led to real reform in the 1950s and `60s of the entire music business and the rules it had to follow.

As a result, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.Forget the sometimes stiff and schoolbookish writing style.Forget the occasional errors in fact and judgment.The overall picture it paints of Mr. Jelly Lord, especially in his last years, is a fine and noble one.If you think you know the Morton story, I'm here to tell you you DON'T, at least not until you read this book.I always had the utmost respect for Morton's musical mind, one of those rare organs that was able to remember with photographic precision everything it heard and synthesize it into a unique and personal style.Now I have respect for Morton the person as well, at least the Morton of his last years.Jelly Roll had indeed redeemed himself, and you WILL be startled by some of the things you read here.I guarantee it.

2-0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
The book contains a number of careless errors.For example, it repeatedly states that King Oliver recorded Morton's "Wolverine Blues" (which he didn't--they're confusing it with "Weatherbird Rag," written by Louis Armstrong).Regarding "solo tunes... recorded on July 8, 1929," the authors mention "'Pop' (a revisiting of 'Seattle Hunch')."The correct title, "Pep," bears some similarity to the earlier "Stratford Hunch," not to "Seattle Hunch," which was recorded after "Pep."Other mistakes are evident...

Also, the focus on Morton's health and financial problems comes at the expense of his musical achievements--his monumental Library of Congress sessions receive a single paragraph in the main text.For those interested in Morton, I'd recommend the great "'Oh, Mister Jelly' - A Jelly Roll Morton Scrapbook" by William Russell and "Mister Jelly Lord" by Laurie Wright (neither are easy to find), as well as "Dead Man Blues" and the landmark "Mister Jelly Roll." ... Read more

7. Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta
by Robert Palmer
Paperback: 320 Pages (1982-07-29)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140062238
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (32)

4-0 out of 5 stars Got Blues?
I enjoyed this book. It is a very comprehensive study of the blues. The history of how the blues came to be and the life of its originators were very interesting. Sometimes I felt a little overwhelmed with the names of all the different artists, but I imagine it would be hard not to include everybody. It all started, for me, with watching Eric Clapton's DVD "Sessions for Robert Johnson". Always loving the blues, I decided to look into the history of it further. Next I rented John Hammond Jr's DVD "The search for Robert Johnson". I bought Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Robert Lockwood Jr, ect ... songs from Amazon. I've been playing guitar for a while, I ordered "Acoustic Guitar Basics" by David Hamburg, also from Amazon. I learned enough from the book to learn a few songs in bottleneck style. Being a middle aged, middle class white guy, I don't know if I've paid the dues, but I love the blues.


I was impressed with the amount of research done to compile such a definitive list of early blues artists. I have learned about some I had previously not heard of, and was delighted to read about those I was familiar with. The author has definitely done his homework in researching the many artists included. I also enjoyed the discography included, whetting my appetite for more of this wonderful art form. An outstanding job for such a compact volume.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Look at the Blues Music Scene As It Developed
This is a history of the Mississippi Delta Blues music scene from roughly about 1920-1980. You learn about the extraordinary blues guitarist Robert Johnson, who, as the story goes, went down to the crossroads in Rosedale, Mississippi and sold his soul to the devil in exchange for increased proficiency on the guitar. People say that he left the crossroads a markedly better player, so you be the judge as to what really happened.

You also read about Son House, who had a religious upbringing and started out as a preacher, but the calls of the blues and the flesh were just too tempting, and he became an influential musician of the blues. You also read about Muddy Waters moving up from the Delta to Chicago to play piano and harmonica in the bars and streets of Chicago. He also perfected a rough urban electric blues that is still admired to this day. Many of his songs are now standard blues numbers (Hoochie Coochie Man, Got My Mojo Working, etc).

Robert Lockwood, an early follower of Robert Johnson, became a professionally competent practitioner of a jazzy, lead guitar style of blues, which B.B King also played.

Palmer also tells of how the popularity of Rock and Roll and Rockabilly in the late 1950s took some fans away from the Blues, but that didn't stop formidable bluesmen like Howlin' Wolf from prowling the stage and gripping audiences with his stirring blues numbers.

This is a terrific book about an important stream of American musical history.

4-0 out of 5 stars Deep Blues
Great personal anecdotes and good overview of the development of Blues from the Delta to Chicago.

5-0 out of 5 stars the best concised book on the blues
this is the the best concised book on the blues. few books provide so much insight in so few words ... Read more

8. Blues for Dummies
by Lonnie Brooks, Cub Koda, Wayne Baker Brooks
Paperback: 400 Pages (1998-08-13)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0764550802
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Get your mojo working as you take a musical trip from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago's gritty South Side and points beyond with Blues For Dummies, an insightful, toe-tappin', music lovers' guide to the blues. Popular blues guitarist Lonnie Brooks serves as your tour guide through the life and times of the blues, from the acoustic mystique of Robert Johnson and Son House to the urban blues men and women of today: John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Etta James, Koko Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and, of course, Brooks himself.

Blues For Dummies travels from sad to glad, with stops along the way at heartache and despair, hope and joy, on the road to great music. Get hip to the different styles and eras of the blues; discover what makes the blues so blue; find out "Who's Who" among four generations of blues musicians; and make tracks to the best blues clubs on the planet with this great, easygoing reference. Plus, take a listen to some of the greatest blues recordings of all time (from Muddy Waters and Little Walter to Bobby "Blue" Bland, Buddy Guy, and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown) on the exclusive audio CD that comes with Blues For Dummies. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I have just finished reading the book, and while it does offer a lot of good information, I think it tends to be biased and incomplete. Many of the finest blues pioneers were either omitted completely, or given one mention in a sentence about somebody else. No blues history is near complete without in-depth mention of Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Pink Anderson, and others. There is not a fence around art. There is more to blues than electric guitars and feedback. And by the way, I would argue with the point that the banjo was played in blues before the guitar- though I am not dissing the banjo at all. It's just that the modern banjo is a comparatively recent instrument. I think if someone wants to learn blues history, go to the very good PBS documentaries first. And listen to everybody!

1-0 out of 5 stars never received the book !!!
I emailed the seller several times & never heard from them. they charged my credit card tho. I'm currently trying to get my money back,filed a complaint with amazon. I never got the book !

4-0 out of 5 stars All in all a very good book and CD
This book is pretty much exactly what a for dummies book should be. It's an enjoyable light read about the blues. The coverage is extensive and written in an entertaining fashion. The knowledge of the authors is indisputable. I only have a couple of complaints:
This book was written in 1998 and not updated since so the contemporary blues section is missing some obvious important new comers (Eric Bibb for example) and online resources are hopelessly out of date ([...]).

I expected the Playing the Blues section to have a little bit of theory and perhaps some tips for each instrument but its about putting together a band that could play the blues. Given the authors experience I don't doubt the value of this information but I just wasn't expecting that information and question what percentage of readers need that versus some getting started tips on playing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good INTRO book
If you already know the difference between Delta, Chicago, and Piedmont blues and know more than just Robert-Johnson-Muddy-BB-Sonny Boy-Buddy-John Lee-whoever, you don't need this book.If you really don't know just how diverse the blues really is, how long a history it has, or how influential it has been, this book is a reasonable starting point.You'll get oriented to the major sub-genres, artists, instrumentation, music forms, and milestones.The CD provides a very brief audio guide by giving you samples of various types of blues, using well-known examples.

There's much left out and much that's simplified, but the major points are made, and that's the intent of the book.It succeeds very well.

Once you've digested this, I can recommend "Nothing But the Blues" as a next book: Nothing But the Blues : The Music and the Musicians, which will give you a deeper dive across the history of the blues.

5-0 out of 5 stars For Blues Lovers And Newbies Alike
For those seeking to learn more about the blues it's hard to imagine a better primer. This book covers a wide range of artists from Mamie Smith's release of "Crazy Blues" in 1920 through the country blues and Chicago blues up until the blues of today, including substantial coverage of blues influenced rock musicians like Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt.

The first 2/3's of the book offers information on the artists in roughly chronological order. While the final 1/3 covers the best CDs, clubs, internet sites and other useful info. Written with passion and style by blues guitarist Lonnie Brooks, this book is an outstanding purchase for anyone who loves the blues or wants to know more about this great form of American music. ... Read more

9. Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer
by Robert Palmer
Hardcover: 452 Pages (2009-11-10)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$4.51
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416599746
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Palmer's extraordinary knowledge and boundless love of music were evident in all his writing. He was an authority on rock & roll, blues, jazz, punk, avant-garde, and world music -- often discovering new artists and trends years (even decades) before they hit the mainstream. Now, noted music writer Anthony DeCurtis has compiled the best pieces from Palmer's oeuvre and presents them here, in one compelling volume.

A member of the elite group of the defining rock critics who emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, Palmer possessed a vision so complete that, as DeCurtis writes, "it's almost as if, if you read Bob, you didn't need to read anyone else." Blues & Chaos features some of his most memorable pieces, including gripping stories about John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, Moroccan trance music, Miles Davis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Philip Glass, and Muddy Waters.

Wonderfully entertaining, infused with passion, and deeply inspiring, Blues & Chaos is a must for music fans everywhere. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars read this book!
Something that makes Mr. Palmer's writing different from other critics' music writing is that he had deep knowledge of music itself. In this book he discusses blues and rock, but he also discusses jazz (Ornette Coleman, for example) and modern/contemporary classical composers. His musicological knowledge makes his discussions more than subjective statements of what he liked or didn't like in a song or piece of music. Instead, he discusses what experimental musicians (such as Mr. Coleman) or more traditional musicians (such as Muddy Waters) were actually doing musically.

And please don't miss his discussion of Bo Diddley. Mr. Palmer shows how he was a great innovator within particular African American musical and oral traditions, and that he deserves much more acclaim as a blues musician and rock & roll originator.

Finally: This book made me want to go out and get recordings of lots and lots of the music Mr. Palmer liked! So read this book, learn something maybe, and have fun!

Hardcover-432 pages of text.There is an index,and a sixteen page introduction written by Anthony DeCurtis,giving a short look into (the late) Robert Palmer's writing on music.There are no photographs accompanying the text.The various essays/interviews are grouped-such as "Jazz","The Blues","The Originators","Soul and R&B","Classic Rock","World Music","Punk and Beyond",etc.,instead of in chronological order of writing.There are also excerpts from his writings on Morocco and an excerpt from an interview with William Burroughs.

This great collection finally brings together many of Palmer's best writing concerning music and the people who make it,thanks to another noted music writer,Anthony DeCurtis.Palmer is mostly known for his wonderful book,"Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta" (which should be in every blues listeners library),and others such as "The Rolling Stones","Rock and Roll: An Unruly History",and"Baby,That Was Rock and Roll: The Legendary Leiber and Stroller". Palmer wasn't an authority on just one style of music-he seemed to have an innate sense of what makes for good music,no matter what type.While this collection isn't all of his best writing (there is still a great deal of it out there),what this great book does is bring into sharp focus a number of his best pieces,over many years and different musical subjects.Besides the above books,Palmer wrote many reviews/articles for "Rolling Stone Magazine",back when that magazine (and others) was still important musically,and he was the first person to hold the title of chief pop critic for "The New York Times".One other important point-Palmer was himself a musician (I still play his two albums when he was in the band THE INSECT TRUST),which gave him an extra feel and insight into music-making.

What elevated Palmer's writing above most of the others of the time was his obvious enthusiasm for his subjects.No matter what genre of music,if Palmer thought it had value he wrote about it with great insight and excitement.He was widely quoted and looked to for his opinion in many areas of music.His writing brought support to many musicians/bands who sometimes needed a boost into the public eye.Just some of the people/scenes he passionately wrote about included Philip Glass,Steve Reich,THE ROLLING STONES,the punk music scene,Charles Mingus,a number of blues artists,and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND.This book collects all that and much more.His way of drawing readers into his essays/reviews was second to none.At times,in the interviews,you get an almost "you are there" feel from his writing.His essays will make you think.His way of combining entertaining prose with extraordinary knowledge,and an excitement for his subject,made you want to go out and hear all this incredible music that you somehow had missed,or maybe needed to hear again with Palmer's insights.Palmer has the innate knack for both observing and getting to the heart of what music is. His opinions are usually grounded in the historical past-music (whatever genre) is based on something (blues,gospel,etc.) that came before.

His writings will make you stop and think about the music you're listening to.On reading his opinions on rock & roll as opposed to "rock",or the blues,for example,Palmer brings to light ideas and opinions that seem to get inside the very heart of what music was,is,and maybe might become.He uses examples (Springsteen,ROLLING STONES,Presley,for instance) to get his point (s) across as to just what r & r really is.On the subject of jazz innovators/innovation,Palmer argues that (to paraphrase),blacks (as they were known in the 70's),such as Armstrong,Ellington,and Parker for instance,have been the ones who have formulated and pushed every major movement in the genre.And that white musicians,while popular (Keith Jarrett,WEATHER REPORT as examples) have done relatively little,if anything to advance jazz.Palmer writes that it is because black culture is imbued with another form of music,the blues,which has been endemic to their culture for so long,while white jazz players ideas are steeped in European movements.Whether you agree completely or partially,or not at all,Palmer brings up ideas that needed (and still need)to be aired.This is why on reading his essays,you will more than likely come away listening to your favorite music with more insight and appreciation.

With this book listeners of many genres of music can once again,or for the first time (I envy you),revel in Palmer's style of making his subjects and ideas come alive on the page as few writers can.I can vividly remember reading (usually in "Rolling Stone Magazine") his reviews/thoughts on blues (especially)and jazz artists (Sun Ra),and other areas of music I was not,at the time,familiar with (Moroccan trance music for example)),and wanting to go out and purchase the music he so excitedly and passionately wrote about.Now,with this wonderful collection spanning a number of years and several genres,many more music listeners will get the chance to read Palmer's insights into the heart of what makes good music.

... Read more

10. The Blues Line: Blues Lyrics from Leadbelly to Muddy Waters
Paperback: 512 Pages (2003-12-23)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1560255676
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Transcribed from 78 rpm recordings and preserved here long after many of the records have disappeared, this collection of nearly three hundred songs from more than one hundred singers celebrates the diversity of feeling and form that defines the blues. Ma Rainey, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, Memphis Minnie, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters are represented with their lesser-known contemporaries-Barefoot Bill, Barbecue Bob, Bumble Bee Slim, and Black Ivory King. This complete anthology also features lyrics by Blind Blake, Victoria Spivey, Blind Willie Johnson, "Funny Paper" Smith, Texas Alexander, Lightning Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Ma Yancey, King Solomon Hill, Skip James, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Son House, Willie Brown, Mississippi John Hurt, Bukka White, Furry Lewis, Sleepy John Estes, Rev. Gary Davis, Roosevelt Sykes, Peetie Wheatstraw, Sonny Boy Williamson, Kokomo Arnold, Tampa Red, Howlin'Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Charlie Patton, and more than 100 others. Dozens of illustrations are included. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars half the lyrics are WRONG
I got this book because I perform OLD style Blues.I like doing songs by Bukka White especially as well as other musicians of his time period.As you can imagine, transcribing the lyrics off of old recordings can be challenging so when I saw this book I was thrilled.
The very first song I went to, "Sic Em Dogs ON' by Bukka White, was incorrect - half the lyrics are just MISSING...
i tried several more songs and sure enough, lots of lyrics - entire sections of the songs = are MISSING!
My recommendation - skip this book, get some good headphones and do the transcriptions your own self... this book is a TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY! what good is a book of lyrics where the lyrics are wrong or flat out missing? You want art, buy an art book - I wanted correct transcriptions of the songs, not some crappy drawings and fancy typesetting.

2-0 out of 5 stars Missed Opportunity
I pulled this book off my shelf hoping to use it for a Blues History class I'm teaching this semester. Then I remembered why it's been sitting on the shelf unused for years: this would-be wonderful anthology has on index of musicians or song titles. Yes, in this collection of hundreds of blues lyrics, there is absolutely no way to locate the lyrics of a particular musician, or the lyrics to a particular song. Instead, the lyrics of King Solomon hill are located in the "New Orleans to Jackson" chapter, and Robert Pete Williams "I Got So Old" is located in the chapter titled "Somewhere to End." How clever and useful. There IS a clear index of illustrations. Gee, thanks.

I've been trying to buy this book for the last 5 years but I can't find a copy of it to buy.I finally found a copy to borrow from a local library.The book is wonderful and any blues lover will enjoy it.So if anyone who reads this can do anything to get this book back into print, PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful anthology
The lyrics to almost three hundred blues are in this substantial book, which should be enough to convince anyone to get it. Need more persuading? Okay, how about visual art: all of the lyrics are typeset in innovative andoriginal ways that really bring out the spirit of the music, and there arerough, striking illustrations of many of the artists represented in thiswork (which, incidentally, includes just about anyone you can thinkof).

An unexpected but very welcome addition is the final section,entitled 'A Survey of Sorts: Various Voices', which has quotes fromeveryone from Basho to Blind Blake on the nature of poetry and melancholy.

This book is truly unique among lyric collections, well presented andfull of surprises. Get it if you're even remotely interested in music. ... Read more

11. A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt (North Texas Lives of Musician Series)
by Robert Earl Hardy
Paperback: 320 Pages (2009-11-15)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 157441285X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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 Like Jimmie Rodgers, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt was the embodiment of that mythic American figure, the troubled troubadour. A Deeper Blue traces Van Zandt’s background as the scion of a prominent Texas family; his troubled early years and his transformation from promising pre-law student to wandering folk singer; his life on the road and the demons that pursued and were pursued by him; the women who loved and inspired him; and the brilliance and enduring beauty of his songs.

 "Hardy delineates the musician’s chaotic life in honest, often dramatic detail, but always brings the focus back to Van Zandt’s music and the classic songs he penned."--Billboard.com

 "A Deeper Blue demonstrates why Van Zandt has become Texas’ version of Mozart, Van Gogh, and Hank Williams all rolled up into one brilliant and beautiful burrito."--Kinky Friedman

 "A Deeper Blue gives fascinating insight into what inspired this sweet-singing, tortured genius and what inevitably brought him down. Save a tear for Townes. You’ll need it."--Joe Ely
... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars quite a life with gambling and rambling addictions
There were tremendous tensions in the life of Townes Van Zandt and he was already frail and shaky when he died. At times injuries made playing guitar difficult for him, and he could not play as well when he was old, but he was a personification of waiting around to die for those who did not hear about him before the release of his album The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. I have seen a number of DVDs featuring Townes Van Zandt as a writer of great songs. Reading about how his career had twists and turns in a book lacks the sound of the music, but the need for the kind of commercial business management that could afford to pay recording studios for the time and effort that went in to so many recordings which were only released years later was almost as bad as being married to a woman who told him she was sure he would produce more money after he died.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for any music collection with a focus on folk
Musicians embrace music to carry them through their troubled times. "A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt" tells the life story of the singer song writer, embracing folk music as a clutch for his life that carried him through his days when it looked as if his demons would finally consume him. Love, loss, and the things that drove Van Zandt will help readers earn a deeper knowledge and respect for the man, and Robert Earl Hardy transmits his soul well. "A Deeper Blue" is a must for any music collection with a focus on folk.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
A great read about a troubled genius. Full of interviews, the narrative style really flows.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not bad
I waffled between 3 and 4 stars, but settled on 4 because it is honest and doesnt gloss over Townes many faults. Thats being quite generous because the writing is only average at best and it has severe faults.The book starts well but becomes rather dull midway through. I'll admit I havent finished the book yet, I'm a little over 2/3 done but I dont know if I will finish because the story will only become more depressing.I will probably skim the last 90 or so pages.

Good things: It provides much personal background detail that isnt readily available elsewhere. We learn about all his girlfriends, his relationships with family and friends, how his professional life was mismanaged, his drugs habits and other self-destructive behaviors.We learn in detail how Townes was his own worst enemy, and what a truly messed up and sometimes ugly person he could be.He gambled away his gold tooth, and allowed the winner to pull it out with a pliers. How warped is that?Its hard to believe that music of such sensitivity could come out of someone who mistreated people, including his own children, so badly.Although it isnt a pretty picture, the book gets points for painting him as a human being not a revered "star". Of course he never was a star in his lifetime.Its good, though sad, to hear the whole story behind this talented writer/musician and fairly rotten human being as it helps balance out any tendency to idolize him.Many will write off his faults as "disease" and I think that is a lazy copout. If we write off his faults as mental illness then we have to write off his incredible music as mental illness too. No, Townes was a sensitive, troubled man who made almost all the wrong choices in life and needs to be held responsible for those things he could control. To loosely paraphrase his own son, "the music is no excuse for his behavior".

Bad points: the analysis of Townes lyrics are utterly ridiculous. It is clear that the author has no clue what he is talking about, as few lend themselves to logical analysis.He just inserts his interpretations and presents them as truths, which they certainly are not.He clearly has little understanding of poetry.Fortunately you can skip these parts or just laugh at them.

Overall its worth reading for any fan of Townes music.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Well Written Balanced Biog
I came across this biography while trying to find John Kruth's biog and due to the critisism of Kruth's book I opted for this one. I now have Kruth's but have not read it yet. However, this is a really good read. It is well researched and written in an easy to follow chronological style. It goes into great detail in some periods of Townes' life and although I had read pretty much everything I could find written on the internet prior to reading this there was an awful lot I did not know. I was particularly impressed with the detail around the mid 70s and having watch Heartworn Highways it was good to find the background to those scenes and were and when they were being filmed. I also had no idea how bad Townes heroin addiction was.

Unfortunatley but probably understandably there are aspects and periods of Townes' life that are not fully explained such as when and how Townes finally quit Heroin. One period I found slightly lacking was the later period where he was running around with people like Blaze Foley. This time is really very briefly brushed over.

The last days of Townes' life are very well written and paint a picture of a man who was a physical wreck and appeared to be just (like the first song he ever wrote) waiting around to die. Although I have no way of verifying its accuracy it is very sad but also very believable. It does paint his estranged 3rd wife in a fairly poor light -getting Townes to sign over all his publishing rights to her and her at best negligent behaviour and its contribution to his death- and it will be interesting to see how Hardy's account differs from Kruth's version which is endorsed by the Van Zandt family including the estranged wife, Jeanene. Having not read both biogs I can't say which is best but I can and certainly do recommend this book. ... Read more

12. Intermediate Blues Keyboard: The Complete Blues Keyboard Method
by Tricia Woods
Paperback: 95 Pages (1999-02)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0882849409
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This book is great for keyboardists who have learned the basics of blues improvisation and composing. Beginning with a review of concepts and skills covered in Beginning Blues Keyboard, this book explores further into topics such as chord extensions, blues techniques, building basslines, playing in the key, ii-V substitutions and slow blues.Blues forms such as the twelve-bar blues and the eight-bar blues are explored. Packed with sample licks and songs, this book is essential for any keyboardist serious about learning the blues. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Well Rounded
This book is perfect for anyone who understands the very basics of blues and want to add a little flavor to their music. Personally, I think it could have gone a little more in-depth on topics like N'Orleans style and stride but the point of the book is to simply broaden you blues horizons!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book - good mix concept, explanation, and exercises
This little book has distilled quite a bit of blues music history and style into an easy-to-understand format.It's really directed at quickly playing blues concepts with just enough explanation and practice exercises.I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I could play the material and use it in my more traditional jazz playing ... Read more

13. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom
by Peter Guralnick
Paperback: 384 Pages (1999-07-01)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$11.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316332739
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
SWEET SOUL MUSIC profiles the legendary artists--among them Sam Cook, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Al Green--who merged gospel and rhythm and blues. "The best history of '60s soul music. . . . Sooner or later, it is going to be recognized as a classic; the time to read it is now".--Robert Palmer, NEW YORK TIMES. 175 photos. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars MUST READ
This is a delightful book. It is very informative and at the same time; personable.

5-0 out of 5 stars One sweet read
Did my soul a lot of good, thoroughly enjoyed the background info on these established soul entertainers.

5-0 out of 5 stars must-have reference book for the Soul lover
If you love soul music and want to understand it from the inside out this book is for you. It is full of facts, myths debunked, and a scholarly yet very sensitive and thoughtful perspective on what the music means to us and why.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Look at What Made Soul Extraordinary
In "Sweet Soul Music," Peter Guralnick explains what made soul music great. He views soul as a distinct genre, separate from Motown, which was performed primarily by black singers for a black audience. Soul told the story of the rapid social upheaval transforming the South while reflecting the gains made by the civil rights movement. According to Guralnick, soul was different from other forms of R&B because it involved straining the boundaries of the listener's expectations and hinting at a conclusion without actually reaching it. Unlike Motown, the musicians who performed soul were freelancers and individualists who emphasized the underlying feeling of a song more than keeping the mechanics exactly right. Guralnick says that because the musicians, songwriters, producers, managers, and engineers who created the music worked at isolated regional outposts far removed from the major record labels, they were able to define their own roles within the movement.

"Sweet Soul Music" traces the origin of soul to the song "Crying in the Chapel" by the Orioles, which blurred the lines between gospel and R&B. "I Got a Woman" by Ray Charles, which followed, solidified soul as a distinct genre and exerted a profound influence on the future of music in the U.S. Guralnick explains that "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge then brought white fans to the table. The book tells the stories of the heroes of soul, including Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin, explaining in great detail how each set goals, viewed their careers, related to their peers, and overcame obstacles in order to achieve the extraordinary success that they did. Many of the stories are memorable, enabling the reader to see how a particular event changed an individual artist's view of the world, influenced that artist's decisions, and shaped the music itself.

The book is at its best, though, when telling the stories of the lesser-known talents who paved the way for future artists to succeed. Guralnick explains how Arthur Alexander's single "You Better Move On" was criticized in Nashville for sounding "too black," but eventually found the audience it deserved and opened new doors for other Muscle Shoals artists. William Bell's successful touring to support the single "You Don't Miss Your Water (Till Your Well Runs Dry)" not only to put Stax on the map, but enabled Bell to set the gold standard regarding philosophy towards fame and stardom. Guralnick explains how Stax's decision to open a record store and carry competing labels' stock gave the Stax musicians an opportunity to study hits closely, learn why they were hits, and discuss what future hits should sound like.

The book concludes that soul never fully recovered from the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an event that caused relationships among many of the movement's key players to become frayed. Guralnick says that soul was a genre that could only exist in a particular time and place because of the influence that the struggle for civil rights had on the music. Overall, "Sweet Soul Music" offers an outstanding look at why soul left such an extraordinary legacy for artists and fans today. The book is strongly recommended for anyone who wants to understand why soul left such a powerful impression on listeners at the time, and continues to do so today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Labor of Love
Like Robert Palmer's superb "Deep Blues," Guralnick's extensive look back at the roots of R&B and soul music combines criticism, biographical profiles and social history into one rich, printed tapestry. Meticulously researched, the book shows its author's deep love of the music without sacrificing objectivity.

Guralnick provides plenty of background on the "race music" that spawned R&B and the great soul music of the sixties and early seventies, on which much of the book concentrates. Like most, if not all, of the great blues musicians, the early pioneers of soul came from humble, mostly southern beginnings, and made little or no money from their work, which was liberally sampled by white musicians.

A good portion of the narrative revolves around the fascinating rise and fall of Stax Records, the tiny Memphis-based label that brought together white executive leadership and musicians with raw black talent from the South. Despite initially primitive recording conditions, Stax developed into a powerhouse that was home to some of the greatest musicians in soul music, from Otis Redding to William Bell to Carla Thomas to Sam and Dave to Johnny Taylor. The label became representative of the growing sense of black pride that defined the era, one in which civil rights, of course, moved to the forefront of America's consciousness.

All of these musicians and many more, including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and James Brown, to name a few, are given finely drawn profiles by Guralnick, and he treats their contributions to American music with the respect that they deserve. Throughout, he is intent on letting the artists tell their stories in their own words, and remains content to use his own fine writing to direct and bind together the narrative.

Another great accomplishment of the book, for me, was Guralnick's successful effort to illuminate the ties between white and black musicians during this period. Yes, many of the most successful producers, notably Atlantic's Jerry Wexler, were white, but so were many of the musicians. Most had grown up in the south around blacks and were intimately familiar with African-American music. The Stax house band, which included Steve Cropper and Donald Dunn, was white, and they performed on many songs penned by great black songwriters such as David Porter and Isaac Hayes. Think of the great, ominous organ introduction to Aretha Franklin's "I Ain't Never Loved a Man." The white player is Spooner Oldham. This musical cross-fertilization is a notable point, one not often brought into considerations of the era.

As a young kid coming up in the mid-60s, I loved the music that Guralnick writes about here, and I could tell -- even if he hadn't said so -- that he did too. He goes beyond that love to really dig into its roots and understand it, and succeeds admirably. ... Read more

14. The Everything Rock & Blues Guitar Book: From Chords to Scales and Licks to Tricks, All You Need to Play Like the Greats (Everything Series)
by Marc Schonbrun
Paperback: 288 Pages (2003-08-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1580628834
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Have you ever dreamed of playing lead guitar like John Lee Hooker, Carlos Santana, Jimmy Page, Slash, and Eric Clapton? Perhaps you took a few lessons, but became frustrated and gave up. If so, The Everything® Rock & Blues Guitar Book with CD is for you.

With easy-to-understand text and audio instruction, The Everything® Rock & Blues Guitar Book with CD provides you with everything you need to play all your favorite songs. You will learn the scales and chords found in all rock and blues songs, and achieve the unique techniques that define them. Frequent practice exercises allow you to put your knowledge to work, while the audio examples help train your ear.

The Everything® Rock and Blues Guitar Book with CD also includes professional tips on:

·Inflection and phrasing
·Chord progression
·Alternate tuning, harmonics, and slide playing
·Transcription and ear training
·Equipment, such as electric guitars, straps, amplifiers, strings, and pedals

Written in plain English by longtime professional guitarist and instructor Marc Schonbrun, The Everything® Rock & Blues Guitar Book with CD shows you how to play with your head as well as your hands. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

4-0 out of 5 stars Everything!...plus some rock and blues.
The title could be misleading...It's NOT "Everything about rock and blues guitar". It's more like "Everything about guitar" plus some rock and blues. Which makes it an excellent beginner/intermediate book.

The focus is on theory --the chords, scales, progressions-- that relate to guitar playing in general. In addition, there is information about the blues chord progressions and scales that are fundamental to rock and blues guitar. And it goes into some detail--how to bend strings, etc. It is nicely laid out. The typography is easier on the eyes than the Hal Leonard theory books. So, if you're starting out, this is a good choice.

However, three quarters of this book duplicates what most other theory and method books have in them, and the parts relating to blues and rock are at an introductory level. The examples of chord progressions and lead licks are all generic, and there are no transcriptions from existing songs (unless I missed something). So, it's not a book that specializes in Blues and Rock.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Book
I have a stack of guitar books and magazines and have found that interest in the instrument and practicing the right scales, chords, and just time invested is the best way to go. This is a decent book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply the right book to start with
Started learning guitar and theory from musician friend at age of 38...
This book is THE tool to accompany such studies.
It perfectly summarizes the whole area of scales, chords, blues scales, arpeggios, modes and more. It includes recorded playbacks to practice with.
I return to this book every time I have a chance, to review and study.
It is highly recommended. Get one !

1-0 out of 5 stars This book is weak
This is a very weak book.It contains nothing but disjoint, pointless tidbits of info.There is little logical flow. Because of this it isn't suitable for beginners. Because of its basic nature, it isn't suited for non-beginners.

If you're a beginner looking to learn to play, look elsewhere.If your an advanced beginner and you want something to doink with, this may be ok for you.

"Blues You Can Use" is a *far* better guide for the advanced beginner who wants to be able to play something.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book for someone looking for a tour of...
If you're just getting into guitar and want an insightful tour of the instrument's popular sounds and styles, this is the book to get.Author Schonbrun introduces the reader to the concept of phrasing and inflection with hands-on exercises and demonstrations.He prepares the beginner for many of the common chord progressions the fledgling player will encounter in popular music.The author also presents enough information about gear to enable the reader to feel confident while acquiring everything they need to develop their sound.

For the advancing players he introduces the idea of alternate tunings and harmonics, ear training, and transcription along with exercises and demonstrations. ... Read more

15. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom
by Peter Guralnick
Paperback: 438 Pages (1994-09)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$9.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060960493
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com Review
Nat Hentoff has called Peter Guralnick "a national resource,"and for once this isn't a piece of hype. Guralnick may be a premierechronicler of American popular music, which he writes about withbrains, reverence, and a peculiar tenderness for dashed dreams. Inthis volume, he records the rise and fall of Stax Records--the Memphispowerhouse that produced a string of classics from the likes of OtisRedding, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas, Booker T. and the MGs, andJohnnie Taylor. The birth of modern rhythm-and-blues makes for afascinating story. But there's another story behind that one--theracial tensions that eventually tore Stax apart--which makes the bookricher, and sadder, than we have any right to expect. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sad and enlightening.A great book.
I love this book. Guralnick gets inside the amazing world of Stax and other (mostly Southern) soul music empires.It's fascinating and in the end a bit heartbreaking..

5-0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as hearing Otis sing.
Peter Guralnick in his book "Sweet Soul Music" takes the reader through a tour of Southern Soul and R & B when this music was the real voice of a large portion 'young America'.He differentiates 'real' Soul Music from Motown and gives excellent personal recollections of the Stax-Volt and Muscle Shoals sound. The personal interviews with people like Solomon Burke, the Stax-Volt rythm section and the backup musicians and behind the scenes people make this a must for any serious Soul Music fan ... Read more

16. MusicHound Blues: The Essential Album Guide (Musichound Essential Album Guides)
by Leland Rucker, Tim Schuller
Paperback: 551 Pages (2002-01-01)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$10.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0825672678
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Newly revised and updated, the essential album guidecovers the gamut of regional and historical blues styles - from thedeep country blues of the Mississippi Delta to the classic electricblues of Chicago, the big-band jump blues of the 1940s and theblues-rock of today.You’ll discover reviews and ratings of the workof over 600 blues artists, from Bessie Smith and Robert Johnson toKenny Wayne Shepherd and GIllian Welch. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

3-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Reference Book - Strange Inclusions
The Music Hound series is written with a breezier style than that of the AMG (All Music Guides) and some people may find that appealing.I picked this book up at a half price bookstore and feel I got a good deal.If I had paid full price I would not be very happy.

The entries in the book are short on information and long on impressions.There are an idiosyncratic bunch of people included in Music Hound's definition of blues - Gilliam Welch and many of the alt.country performers are strange fits in a blues book.I can understand wanting to expand the label, but the descriptions of these performers do not make solid arguments why they should be considered "blues".Because of this coverage of the fringe element, some of the mainstream performers seem to receive less attention.Would be like a rock book spending an immense amount of time on rockabilly legends and giving the Beatles a two-page entry.

However, I am enchanted by music reference books and find the Music Hound no exception.But do not use this as your first and/or only guide, use it to supplement AMG or the Colin Larkin/Virgin entry on the blues.Even the RollingStone's blues book is a better single source.

4-0 out of 5 stars Has its ups and downs...
Heavy on the beer-ad blues side of things, with sidebars that talk about "monster solos," and a CD sampler that comes for the House of Blues. You see where this is leading, right? Nonetheless, this also includes admirable entries on artists such as Sammy Price, Victoria Spivey and Buddy Johnson, who might otherwise languish outside of the canon. Appendices include listings of blues festivals, labels and artist web sites, which may be useful to the up-an-coming blues hound.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another good job by the Musichound people.
These people know how to put a good review book together. Unlike some of the other reviews, I feel that the blues ranges further than BB King or Howlin Wolf. There are many forms of the blues, and Musichound brings themforward in this book. You get the reviews of popular and not so popularartist. Many times, people just go for the best of albums, and this bookhelps you dig deeper into an artist catalog. I have been listening to theblues for abut 20 years now, and I find that any resource to help meuncover an artist who is not that popular i a plus. I didn't think that thereviews were that bad. As for Howlin Wolf not being mentioned, look in theH section. You will find him there.

3-0 out of 5 stars You can buy this book, but be careful how they rate CDs
An interesting compilation of opinions, but with quite a few controversial ratings. Let's get real -- blues or any other music is a question of taste, and such a guide can only at best help you avoid "clinkers" andat worst make you buy CDs that you'll listen to once and then forgetabout... Not all the "five bone" (highest rating possible for analbum) albums are really good; I would highly recommend that you listen toa "five or four bone" CD before buying it. All in all, it is afine effort, that does help you avoid pitfalls, but is not guaranteed tohelp you buy a good CD each time. Cheers

5-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, opinionated, goes beyond the basics
The reader who says they left out Howlin' Wolf is wrong.He's there under H, though why that is the case when Muddy Waters is under W is beyond me. That reader is correct that Beck is listed and the explanation of why is abit of a stretch.So, I think someone just likes Beck alot.Maybe that'ssacrilege, but if you want religion, go to the gospel section.LedZeppelin also gets an entry, as do the Yardbirds.

I'm impressed by thenumber of minor artists covered here (e.g. the Cheathams, Frankie Lee) andby the way that reviews are organized.The reviews start with a summaryand then list "what to buy", "what to buy next", and"what not to buy".It sounds hokey as I write about it, but itmeans that they don't have to have a sentence about every album --- justthe ones that count.Plus there are star ratings for everything in printby that artist.I buy lots of album guides and throw some out.This oneis a keeper. ... Read more

17. The Big Book of Blues: The Fully Revised and Updated Biographical Encyclopedia
by Robert Santelli
Paperback: 576 Pages (2001-05-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$12.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141001453
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This new edition of the ultimate reference book for blues lovers by renowned music authority Robert Santelli contains more than 650 entries profiling every important blues artist-from Bessie Smith to Koko Taylor, Charlie Patton to Robert Cray, Blind Willie McTell to Stevie Ray Vaughn. Each biographical sketch is concise and informative, going beyond basic biographical data and discographies to include a discussion of the artist's style, musical contribution, and "essential listening"-the recordings you must go to if you want to hear that person's best work. Existing entries have been completely updated, and fifty new entries have been added. This one-of-a-kind, richly informative guide will be a beloved and much-used reference for blues aficionados and new listeners alike for years to come. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book, new edition needed
This is a great biographical guide to blues musicians and their careers, but it's time for an updated edition. The book contains 600+ entries with fairly detailed bio info in each, with musicians ranging from Bessie Smith to Robert Cray, and even including crossover groups like the Yardbirds. But the book predates the CD era somewhat, with the "essential listening" section for each musician lacking in CD listings. For some, this is a major omission (I'm thinking of the 1,000 or so Document CDs that could have been accessed with so many of the pre-war musicians).

Books like this often impel people to go through them to note who was left out as well as who made it in. Some of the earlier female blues singers who recorded many important sides in the 1920s seem under represented: Viola McCoy, Josie Miles, Monette Moore, and Merlene Johnson (The Yas Yas Girl) were all left out, though each recorded dozens of sides. Of course, artists who have come on the scene since 1993, when the book was published, are not included either (Keb Mo, Jerry Ricks, and Corey Harris to name just three come to mind). No book, obviously, that is documenting an on-going subject will ever be complete, but this one is valuable enough to warrant a revised edition. Hopefully one is in the planning stages. In the meantime, this is (along with Harris's BLUES WHO'S WHO, which also needs updating) an important reference book for lovers of the blues. A must-have book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Definitive, but not definitive...
This is a great book to have in your collection if you're a fan of blues music and history.By far, it's not the ONLY book out there.There are anumber of notable artists this book is missing.Hopefully, future editionsof this book will begin to fill some of the gaps.That being said, this isa very good reference just the same.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good referance to accompany other reading or listening.
The information provided in the biographical encyclopaedia is a goodreferance when reading other publications on the "Blues" orlistening to recordings by a performer with whome you may not be familiar. Whilst the referances are not complete, it is nevertheless a source ofsound information on numerous blues performers from the 1890's to thepresent. (I found I had a number of recordings in my collection made in the1920's and 1930's by individuals not referenced in the book.)

The bookis a very good "handbook" to have by your side when you want tolearn or simply recap on some details of an individual whose story you maybe absorbing either through reading or listening.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good referance to accompany other reading or listening.
The information provided in the biographical encyclopaedia is a good referance when reading other publications on the "Blues" or listening to recordings by a performer with whome you may not be familiar.Whilst the referances are not complete, it is nevertheless a source of sound information on numerous blues performers from the 1890's to the present. (I found I had a number of recordings in my collection made in the 1920's and 1930's by individuals not referenced in the book.)

The book is a very good "handbook" to have by your side when you want to learn or simply recap on some details of an individual whose story you may be absorbing either through reading or listening.

4-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, highly recommended for any fan of the blues

I recently picked up a copy of "The Big Book of Blues" by Robert Santelli at the Delta Blues Museum bookstore in Clarksdale Mississippi. Billed as "a biographical encyclopedia with more than 600 entries covering classic blues, country and urban blues, rhythm and blues, and blues rock", the author has achieved his daunting goal of creating a definitive reference for both the uninitiated and the true blues aficionado.

Rather than a dry, vital statistics only type of approach, Robert Santelli's comprehensive reference presents a brief vignette of each artist's career and their influences, along with in depth discussion and subjective observations on their style of playing and songwriting.

The entry for Robert Johnson is a great example of the folksy storytelling style employed by the author. It tells of Johnson's illegitimate birth in 1911 and his untimely death from poisoning by a jealous husband in 1938, and covers all the significant highlights of his short career including details of the infamous "crossroads" myth.

The author also includes "essential listening" for each artist. These lists of recordings are not complete discographies as found in some references, compilation of which would take years for such a diverse group of artists whose recordings appear on the most obscure labels imaginable.Instead, the "essential listening" references cover the artist's major works and significant career milestones, and represent the best examples of the artist's style.

From world renowned performers such as B. B. King and John Lee Hooker to more obscure local club players like Cripple Clarence Lofton, the author covers a lot of ground and has done extensive research into the lives and times of nearly every artist who ever played the blues. The author's extensive knowledge and resourcefulness is clearly evident in this informative, entertaining, and well researched volume, which appears to be a true "labor of love". I highly recommend this book ... Read more

18. Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding a Place in the Circle
by Fred C. Fussell
Paperback: 320 Pages (2003-06-30)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$11.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 080785459X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia are the heart of a region where traditional music and dance are celebrated as nowhere else in America. This book is a comprehensive traveler's guide to discovering the many places where this unique music-making legacy thrives. The book leads readers to more than 160 venues and events filled with bluegrass and string band music, ballad singing, fiddling, shape-note singing, gospel music, clogging, and other traditional forms of music and dance.

Vivid descriptions bring the mountain music scene to life in all its diversity. Nearly 150 color photographs are partnered with the moving words of musicians themselves, allowing readers a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the bearers of this enduring folk legacy. Concise driving directions and up-to-date maps accompany the entries for the events covered, which range from small, local jam sessions to well-known festivals that draw thousands of fans.

An engaging and essential resource for music lovers, this guide invites everyone to experience a great American musical tradition.

The Blue Ridge Music Trails are a project of the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative and its partners, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum of Ferrum College, the North Carolina Folklife Institute, and the Blue Ridge Parkway Division of the National Park Service. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Take on Music of the Blue Ridge
I'll begin by saying I'm probably biased in favor of this book right from the start.(My name's in there!)

I've known that this project was in the works for some time, although I didn't know what the outcome would be.I got my copy a few days ago and was thoroughly impressed.The book is broken down by regions, all of which follow the Blue Ridge Parkway through North Carolina and Virginia.The musical culture highlights of each of the regions are covered in interesting detail, and often focuses on individuals who have been an important part of the musical heritage of the Blue Ridge.

The only downside to the book is that there are a few minor mistakes, such as events or venues being listed in the wrong regions.This is not a major problem, though, unless you actually intend to use it as a "guidebook."In this case it would be advisable to call ahead before making the trip.Hopefully these inaccuracies will be rectified in future editions.

I grew up listening to (and playing) bluegrass music and I'm always hungry for any new publications that covers the music I love.This one whets my appetite. ... Read more

19. Nobody Knows Where the Blues Come From: Lyrics and History (American Made Music)
Paperback: 318 Pages (2007-06-01)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1934110299
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Musicians and music scholars rightly focus on the sounds of the blues and the colorful life stories of blues performers. Equally important and, until now, inadequately studied are the lyrics. The international contributors to Nobody Knows Where the Blues Come From explore this aspect of the blues and establish the significance of African American popular song as a neglected form of oral history.

"High Water Everywhere: Blues and Gospel Commentary on the 1927 Mississippi River Flood," by David Evans, is the definitive study of songs about one of the greatest natural disasters in the history of the United States. In "Death by Fire: African American Popular Music on the Natchez Rhythm Club Fire," Luigi Monge analyzes a continuum of songs about exclusively African American tragedy. "Lookin' for the Bully: An Enquiry into a Song and Its Story," by Paul Oliver traces the origins and the many avatars of the Bully song. In "That Dry Creek Eaton Clan: A North Mississippi Murder Ballad of the 1930s," Tom Freeland and Chris Smith study a ballad recorded in 1939 by a black convict at Parchman prison farm. "Coolidge's Blues: African American Blues from the Roaring Twenties" is Guido van Rijn's survey of blues of that decade. Robert Springer's "On the Electronic Trail of Blues Formulas" presents a number of conclusions about the spread of patterns in blues narratives. In "West Indies Blues: An Historical Overview 1920s-1950s," John Cowley turns his attention to West Indian songs produced on the American mainland. Finally, in "Ethel Waters: 'Long, Lean, Lanky Mama,'" Randall Cherry reappraises the early career of this blues and vaudeville singer.

Robert Springer is a professor of English at the University of Metz in Longeville les Metz, France. Among other works, he is the author of Authentic Blues: Its History and Its Themes and the editor of The Lyrics in African American Popular Music. ... Read more

20. Beginning Fingerstyle Blues Guitar (Book and Audio CD) (Guitar Books)
by Arnie Berle, Mark Galbo
Paperback: 98 Pages (1993-05-01)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$13.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0825625564
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Takes you from the fundamentals of fingerpicking to five authentic blues tunes. With graded exercises, illustrated tips, plus standard notation and tablature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (46)

3-0 out of 5 stars not my favorite way to learn the blues
I bought this book when I began learning fingerstyle, because of all the positive reviews.I can see how it could help you learn blues guitar, as it is organized in a very step-by-step manner.But I ultimately found it boring and stopped working with this book about 1/4 of the way through.Almost the entire book is comprised of exercises rather than songs--I guess you could call the exercises "songs," but for the most part they aren't musically compelling.Only at the end, at a pretty advanced level, do you get something that feels like real blues.The exercises are challenging for a beginner, and they do help build technique, but for me the discipline required to learn the techniques was too much in relation to the fairly weak musical payoff.Compare this to the approach of Stefan Grossman, who also organizes all of his teaching materials (book/CD combos and DVD's) to teach step-by-step buildup of techniques, but who starts right in with versions of real blues songs that are very fun and rewarding to play.If you are interested in learning blues and have a little experience fingerpicking, I highly recommend Grossman's materials (the DVD Fingerpicking Guitar Techniques is a good place to start).If you are brand new to fingerpicking, I recommend Mark Hanson's Book/CD combo The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking.It doesn't focus on the blues (the repertoire is a mix of folk music and blues in its more folky aspects), but it focuses on alternating-bass fingerpicking that you will need for many blues styles (such as Mississippi John Hurt), it begins with very basic techniques and builds step-by-step, and right from the start you are playing real songs.Once you're halfway or so through that book, you'll be ready to tackle the Grossman DVD.This path will get you to the same endpoint as Berle and Galbo, but with a lot more fun along the way.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not really a beginner's guide.
I've only recently started playing the guitar but had an interest in this style of guitar playing. While the first 10 pages or so are very informative I do not as yet have enough training to jump over to the "blues" guitar. I'm guessing someone with more experience would get more out of this book. It comes with a CD which I haven't looked at yet.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to Rural Blues
Although this book has received numerous reviews, here's one more.Berle and Galbo take the player step by step into rural blues in the tradition of Robert Johnson and others from the early twentieth century.It does take several exercises and short pieces before the music starts to sound like the blues, due mostly to the major triad focus at the beginning of the book.By the end, though, the pieces are like shortened versions of real blues instrumentals and songs.The pace of learning from piece to piece is just a little uneven at times, and there are some places where the player has to work out some technical details that need to be drilled beyond the printed exercises.Therefore, it's a book that would probably work well in guitar lessons.The CD is one of the more personable recordings that I've seen packaged with a music instruction book.The fluidity of the rural blues style really comes out in Galbo's playing on the CD, and he improvises beyond the printed scores just enough that the user of the book gets some ideas on how they too might change things up a little.Frankly, a couple of times he even flubs a lick and repeats the piece again.It may seem unheard of in a commercial product, but it makes this one of the more human packages out there.Because so much of this music was and is spontaneously composed by performers, perhaps one of the most valuable parts of Beginning Fingerstyle Blues Guitar is the section on short vamp phrases.Players can take these vamps and create their own pieces by working them out, modifying them as desired, experimenting with stringing some of the ideas together, and so on.The vamps are especially helpful to learn for accompanying yourself singing, especially if you find it difficult to sing a melody, remember or improvise the lyrics, and play an ever-evolving guitar accompaniment at the same time.While some of the licks and pieces are quite challenging and may present roadblocks, there's plenty of opportunity to work out your own solutions.One minor annoyance:every once in a while the player encounters a half note that is missing a stem.For those who read music, it's annoying; for those who read tabs, but are working on reading traditional notation, it could present a confusion.The editor should have been more careful.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you only buy one fingerstyle blues book, this one should be it.
This is one of the best beginner books I have found on fingerstyle guitar, blues or otherwise.The first few exercises are easy enough that an absolute beginner can learn them fairly quickly and practice them.The exercises get more difficult as the book progresses, but you can learn at your own pace. If you are a beginner, this book will keep you busy and interested. Overall, a good investment in your guitar training.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great beginning book
I bought this book because I love country blues (mostly stuff before 1940), but I thought it was beyond me.I'm a self taught player who picked up a guitar about 2 years ago.I got this book in December, opened it in late January.By the end of Feb.I was able to play all of these songs and figure out others by ear.Now it's August and I can play around 35 blues songs from piedmont to delta etc...I'm very happy with it.A buddy I hadn't played with from December until March was blown away.He couldn't believe how proficent I became at playing fingerstyle blues in such a short time.
If you want to learn the blues this is a great book and it lays a great foundation.For me it's the one and only instructional blues book I'll ever need. ... Read more

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