From Publishers Weekly
Like the teen pop stars who dominate the airwaves, a lot of today's music journalism really can't singAmuch less bring an audience to its knees with revelations. Blame it on corporations, commercials or MTV, but the sad fact is that the multi-octave featureAwhat Guralnick (Last Train to Memphis, etc.) calls "the long-form story"Ais headed for that library in the sky. However, the first edition of Da Capo's Best Music Writing series proves that it isn't going without a fight. Not surprisingly, hip-hop, the youngest popular music genre, generates the choicest copy. In "Hip Hop High," David Samuels charts the making of teen rapper Lady Luck with a short story writer's omniscient eye. On the flip side, Selwyn Seyfu Hinds profiles hip-hop bad boy and mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs. With simple sentences, well-timed fragments and direct quotes, Hinds makes Combs likableAno small feat. Considering teen pop's ubiquitous presence, it's odd (but oddly satisfying) that no paeans to Britney, Christina, Mandy or Jessica made the cut; however, Guralnick addresses teen pop's snot-nosed brother, rap-rock, with David Moodie and Maureen Callahan's behind-the-latrines look at Woodstock '99. Given Guralnick's notoriety and the recent release of Cameron Crowe's cinematic autobiography of his own years as a teen rock journalist, Almost Famous, this anthology has a better chance than most of making a commercial dent. More likely, however, it will end up only on the night tables of Lester Bangs's spiritual children. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Coeditor Guralnik is quick to mention that this collection is not "a contest . . . but . . . a celebration" of the diverse world of popular music. As celebration, it succeeds memorably, with articles on such disparate stylists as Roseanne Cash, Run-D.M.C., and the legendary Shaggs. Rebecca Mead explores how sex and drugs contributed to "the disintegration of a young Cape Breton fiddler." Alec Wilkinson asks, "Who put the honky tonk in 'Honky Tonk Women,'" in his consideration of Ry Cooder. Ben Sandmel discusses underrated New Orleans legend Ernie K-Doe. Veteran rock critics Greil Marcus and Dave Marsh contribute mercifully short pieces--Marcus on the cultural referencing of pop songs, including Dylan's legendary "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," and Marsh on the lasting influence of black gospel music. Madonna, plagiarism, and the resurrection of punk sensibility are also dealt with, and Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn are saluted. With a little something for fans of nearly every kind of popular music, this is one of the best omnibuses of incisive writing about pop music. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved