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“I’m Going to Learn to Dance If It Takes Me All Night and Day” - Thoughts on Chuck Berry

Geoffrey Jacques Portside
Much commentary on the late Chuck Berry will focus on how his songs expressed fun and teenage angst. This is the right thing to do. Yet there’s more. For example, Berry’s obsession with the comparative qualities of fast cars — most brilliantly displayed in his song “Maybellene” — did not just reflect the rise of post-WW II consumerist culture....He preferred V-8 Fords over Cadillacs because he spent several years in the late 1940s and early 1950s helping make Ford cars.

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How Rock and Roll Became White

Colin Vanderburg Los Angeles Review of Books
Rock and roll music has always been a site of struggle over issues of race and racism. In this insightful review, Colin Vanderburg surveys what Jack Hamilton has o say regarding how rock music succumbed to the lure of American racism.

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The Realest Thing You've Ever Seen

Robert Christgau Barnes and Noble Review
With this book, Springsteen has joined the ranks of those musicians who have also produced first-rate autobiographies. Indeed, the musician's biography has developed into its own literary genre. Long-time music critic Christgau offers a detailed appreciation of this important memoir.

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The Genius of James Brown

Geoffrey O'Brien New York Review of Books
Even in the era of the Beatles and Motown's roster of stars, the brilliant James Brown established a place that was his alone. His was not about magic, it was about power that could not be denied by anyone brought within its field of influence. What the book's author also finds is a wary solitariness that paradoxically found its fullest expression in Brown's ability to give himself so completely in performance to suggest a generosity approaching self-immolation.

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Dusty and Jimi

Charles Bethea The New Yorker
Pro baseball player and coach Dusty Baker was a teenage rock and roller. His new memoir details those years, centered on the legendary Monterey Pop Festival, where Jimi Hendrix played his way to stardom. Charles Bethea profiles Baker in advance of his memoir of those year of hanging out with a host of legendary musicians and learning how rock and roll is like baseball.
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