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R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country Hardcover – November 1, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

R. Crumb is the leading cartoonist in the American “underground comix” movement. He is the creator of Mr. Natural, the iconic “Keep on Truckin” T-shirt image, and Fritz the Cat. His book The R. Crumb Handbook was a Booksense bestseller. He lives in France.

Terry Zwigoff is the award-winning director of the documentary Crumb.

Stephen Calt, the author of two acclaimed musical biographies, lives in New York City.

David Jasen is the director of the Popular Music Archive at the C. W. Post Campus of Long Island University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Har/Com edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810930862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810930865
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm just delighted with this book. It's nice to have all of Crumb's colorful jazz, blues and country portraits together for the first time in one place. Each portrait is accompanied by a short biography of the artist and usually a few tidbits about their records. It also comes with a 21 track CD featuring Jimmie Noone, King Oliver, The Memphis Jug Band, Dock Boggs, The East Texas Serenaders, Skip James and others. Filmmaker and musician Terry Zwigoff also contributes an introduction detailing how Crumb's involvement in the portraits (originally released as trading cards) came about.

All in all this is a good package for a novice or a hardcore music fan. Neither will be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow! Every so often you run across something that knocks your socks off. R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz, & Country left me barefooted.

In the 1980s, Robert Crumb, whom Robert Hughes appropriately once called the "Breughel of the 20th century," created sets of trading cards featuring some of his favorite blues, jazz, and country musicians. (The plan was to include one card per LP sold by innovative record firm Yazoo.) This collection, edited by Terry Zwigoff, the same guy who directed the documentary "Crumb," pulls together the illustrations from all three sets. They're wonderful. The blues and country illustrations are drawn, and are vintage Crumb: crosshatched, brooding characters. The jazz illustrations are water-colored. They're identifiably Crumb, but have a definitely different feel to them.

Crumb is a fascinating genius. Although his art and comics tend to be avant-garde (a term he might well disdain) and iconoclastic, Crumb also has a real affinity for late 19th and early 20th century American culture. Part of this love for an earlier time, no doubt, stems from his intense dislike of the fast-paced, loud, and garish American culture he eventually fled in the 1990s (Crumb now lives in France). But part of it is that he thinks the music produced in the early 20th century represents folk art at its finest and purest, before music became an industry. Crumb began collecting old 78s when he was still a teenager, and his love for the older music has never waned.

And so to the piece de resistance of this book: the accompanying 21 cut CD. Crumb personally chose the pieces, and they're absolutely fantastic. Except for a couple of the blues and jazz musicians, all of the artists are virtually unknown except to the afficionado.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent deal. The recordings are certainly esoteric, but I must be in the correct demographic (or something.) I like just about all of the music. I'm a kind of old-time music dilettante, so it's a great way for someone like me to check out some more obscure stuff.

As for the book... hard cover, heavy paper and just the right size to carry around (if so desired.)

Of course the main selling point of this book is the drawings. They are uniformly excellent. Someone with an obsessive personality may wish to collect the actual trading cards which are reproduced in this book, but this is a far more economical and practical means of collecting these drawings.

There is mention of Crumb's decision to use a different coloring technique for the jazz trading card set in the book's introduction. This means that some of Crumb's trademark cross-hatch shading is obscured by the overlay of color. Rather than being a detriment to the jazz drawings, it actually helps to give them a distinct character.

Anyway, buy this book. It's worth double the price.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Nevins of Rounder Records first came up with the idea for Robert Crumb to illustrate a series of early Blues, Jazz, and Old Time Music and Bluegrass greats along the lines of the baseball cards of his childhood. Crumb went for the idea and produced what became three boxes of cards with illustrations taken from old photos on the front and write-ups about the players on the back (many of them by Nevins).

Now the famous fine arts publisher Abrams Books has designed and published a superb volume that includes the Crumb artwork as never before -- in brilliant color and on a larger scale than the cards -- along with expanded bios and a bonus CD that samples some of this great American roots music. Anyone interested in high-level cartoon art and this powerful expressive music will want to own this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book contains illustrations that Crumb originally did some years ago, to be used like baseball bubblegum cards inserted into record albums. That never worked but the illustrations have gone thru several incarnations and reprintings, now as a book. They are great, well worth the price--IF you like Crumb's work and IF you are interested in classic jazz, old-time country, and blues. I'd hoped to learn more about the artists, but the text, about a paragraph on each artist, is very brief and gives minimal info. There's enough to help you follow-up with Google, but that's about it. There's a CD with examples of old 78 cuts by some of the artists, but the selection was limited to cuts that had appeared on one reissue label. I wasn't generally impressed with the selections. In sum, if you're really into R. Crumb's work, get this book; otherwise, forget it.
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