13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Sweeping and Readable,
This review is from: Nothing But the Blues : The Music and the Musicians (Paperback)
This is a very enjoyable read. While fundamentally a blues history book, the chapters are organized topically along lines that will make sense to any blues enthusiast, and there are lots of pictures that (for me, anyway) help to cement the content in memory. Shots of musicians and albums pepper almost every last page. Comments on individual albums and songs, short anecdotes, and quotes keep the text moving at a brisk pace.
Chapters cover the topics of roots, Texas and Deep South blues, women in the blues, gospel influences, urban blues, East Coast and Piedmont blues, a chapter on the various "field trips" taken by several people to record early blues, the roots of R&B, and blues today. The individual chapters were written by different authors, variously ranging from academics to blues publication writers. The material hangs together extraordinarily well, though - to the point where the differing authorship is hardly noticible, in the best intended sense. Unusual for most blues titles is also in-depth coverage of white blues, including commentary of the cross-overs between country music, particularly early country music, and the blues.
The book includes a discography and bibliography. I would have really liked to have had some commentary with both, however, as they are pretty simplistic listings. For perspective on individual recordings, you'll have to go elsewhere. I use the "All Music Guide to the Blues" - All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues.
As B.B. King says in his short introduction - this is a "loving presentation" of the blues. This is not a deep dive into controversies or academic arguments over roots and development. Rather, it focuses on sub-genres, artists themselves, labels, and recording and entertainment history. I'd recommend it anyone looking for perspective across the entire genre.