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Showing 1-10 of 10 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 19 reviews
on March 7, 2014
This book documents the evolution of African-American R&B music since WW II. The term R&B is used loosely by me, and by the author. In order to fully understand R&B specifically, a wider musical net is spread historically. The book is a good, and quite historical read. That was a great plus for me. My only very small negative is I would have enjoyed a few more anecdotes, vignettes, quotations, experiences to further paint the smell and scent of the world he describes.

Read the book! It's worth the money.

Oh, check out the publish date as it doesn't cover the most recent years of musical history.
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on December 17, 2014
The back story is unbelievable so on point
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on March 14, 2010
Great and informative book on the pre and post world war I history of Black music. It is said that 'history repeats itself for those who refuse to study it'. Thus, this book actually gave me a historical understanding as to why Hip Hop is in the state it's currently in (dying). The only issue I had with it is that Nelson ends the book on the issue of Hip Hop when its obvious he hasn't quite done the proper homework. There was no mention of Kool Herc or Bambaata as the originators of the art form and instead the credit is given to DJ Hollywood declaring the "rap started in the discos" (it actually started in the STREETS of the bronx at least 10 years before it found it's way into the discos). HOWEVER, roughly 10 years later, Nelson authors 'Hip Hop America' (which I'm currently reading) and (so far) totally redeems himself. He has used the time wisely to reflect on his own historical relationship with the art form (having been one of the first, if not THE first, journalists to cover Hip Hop in 1979 - not to mention his monumental Source interview with 'the 3 Fathers of Hip Hop', Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaata and Grand Master Flash) and accurately depicts Hip Hop's organic and humble beginnings.

Still 'The Death of Rhythm and Blues' is a MUST-READ for anyone seriously concerned about the future of Black music as well as the the Black community for, as Nelson bluntly puts it, "it is clear that Black America's assimilationist obsession is heading it straight towards cultural suicide" .
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on October 24, 2015
It's okay. Not what I expected. But its useful for basic information on the history of R&B. Still a good buy
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on May 30, 2008
I gained knowledge from reading this book, and I could relate completely. I am giving this book a four star simply because there was a lot of jargon that made some sections hard to read, if you are not a musician. Then again, it is a book about music.

Here are some excerpts that moved me:

"Through the history of black music in the United States, it has been through the repetition and revision of texts, through the interplay of black language and black music in a long chain of Signifyin(g) tropes, that African American peasants became and continue to be the poets in a land that initially denied them the right to be called artists of any stripe. But poets they have become, as makers of the spirituals and the blues, as creators of R&B and rock `n` roll, and as composers of works for the concert hall. It is clear from the nature of their texts and their tunes that the makers of this music--the repeaters and revisers of the musical derivatives of the ring--have privileged and honored the spirit of Esu as, for example, that spirit is personified in the redoubtable Harriet Tubman, who bid many thousands to come ride her train.." The only thing I can say is "preach brotha, preach!" - Big Sistah Pat

"In the 1960s, gospel music became entertainment." Interesting! - Big Sistah Pat

"Sometimes when "new" sounds emerge in jazz they are perceived as foreign to the black-music tradition and, consequently, are unacceptable to many critics, mostly white, who reside on the margins of the culture. For example, John Coltrane's sound was strongly criticized as being inferior, but was applauded and appreciated by listeners from within the culture." Ain't that some bull! De folks ise all dat matters!" - Big Sistah Pat

Reviewer's Note:

This comment reminds me of how the mainstream critics hate Tyler Perry. Yet he is loved and supported by numerous regular folks in Black American society. The so-called critics have no value to the folks that support Tyler's productions. They determine what is worthy of their support, not self appointed outsiders. He speaks to them and aspects of Black American culture they can identify.

"In the late nineteenth century, the advertising of musical products became the primary means of developing, perpetuating, and communicating the negative images of black people in American society. The coon song was the vehicle for repeating these messages in American culture. The stereotypes perpetuated by these publications linger as both conscious and unconscious images of blacks in the memory of countless Americans." What fool said that images aren't powerful! -- Big Sistah Pat

"Essentially and most fundamentally, the African-American musical experience is largely self-criticizing and self-validating. As such experiences unfold, for example, listeners show approval, disapproval, or puzzlement with vocal and physical responses to, and interaction with, events as they occur. African Americans serve critical notice on inferior music making either by withholding their participation or, as in New York's tough Apollo Theatre in the 1940's and 1950's, by addressing criticism directly to the performers on stage. The culturally attuned are aware when the notes and the rhythms do not fit the context and when the idiomatic orientation is wrong; they know when an act is a Signifyin(g) one, when it is effective, and when it is not". You got that right. You know how well you are doing right then by the audience response. We are going to let you know. - Big Sistah Pat

I would recommend this book if you have a strong interest in learning about the origins and the evolution of African American music in the United States.
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on September 9, 2014
It's a really good book! But i don't like the fragile cover.
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on May 5, 2016
very good book
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on September 4, 2014
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on December 22, 2010
The thing that bothers me about books like this is, disco gets ALL the blame for the demise of "black music" but rap/hiphop always gets a free pass.
No I don't like it that disco seemed to take over & knock the superior Funk genre out of the way but at least in disco, people were still playing INSTRUMENTS.
What is considered R&B,since the mid 90s is basically just beats & nothing more.
There is nothing in this book expressing dismay at the thought of DJs & sampling replacing LIVE BANDS,which is the true death of R&B.
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on March 8, 2015
Disappointed...more a racial inequality rant than anything else.
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