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Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago

While readers will no doubt enjoy being introduced to some of Chicago’s most intriguing blues artists, this is by no means an introductory text. Instead, it’s a comprehensive, scholarly book, complete with thorough notes and a list of works cited--a thought-provoking addition to academic libraries serving students of music and/or popular culture.

Girl to City

Rigby vaults readers back to a scarier but glamorous time in New York. Watching her grow up and pursue her dreams is gratifying. Fans of she-punk memoirs and stories of success on one’s own terms will enjoy this.

Jerome Robbins, by Himself: Selections from His Letters, Journals, Drawings, Photographs, and an Unfinished Memoir

Suggested for casual dance readers and Robbins aficionados alike. [See Prepub Alert, 4/8/19.]

Face It

Harry indicated that she didn’t want to write a memoir, and it shows. Not recommended.

Sitcommentary: Television Comedies That Changed America

A useful and readable guide to social issues as seen through sitcoms. Beyond its scholarly use, this book will be appreciated by nostalgic readers.

The Movie Musical!

Movie buffs and film students alike will applaud this delightful and insightful work. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/19.]

Country Music: An Illustrated History

A pleasing, thorough, but not unwieldy survey. For country music fans and neophytes alike.

Still Here: The Madcap, Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch

An excellent biography of a true American theater original. For all performing arts collections. [See Prepub Alert, 4/8/19.]

Sheeran: A Biography

This bland biography fails to capture Sheeran’s personality or the essence of his artistry. It will suffice as an introduction to Sheeran for casual fans, but there is nothing here that the singer’s ardent admirers haven’t already heard.

TV Noir: Dark Drama on the Small Screen

Each section could be a stand-alone show at a media museum or, better yet, a series at a dimly lit revival house. Essential for noir lovers, especially those who have exhausted the film canon and are hungry for more.

Out Loud: A Memoir

“Why the hell not?” was Morris’s guide in more than one situation. A must for dance libraries, and why the hell not for most public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 4/8/19.]

Hurricanes: A Memoir

A roller-coaster ride. Fans of Ross’s work as well as his music-making projects with some of hip-hop’s most acclaimed artists will race through this one.


Where Do I Begin? Stories from a Life Lived Out Loud

Duran’s success stems from his ability to connect personally with celebrities and listeners. Here he connects with readers through heartfelt remembrances and hilariously filthy tirades that are sure to please his national fan base.


Sweat the Technique: Revelations on Creativity from the Lyrical Genius

Die-hard fans will enjoy gaining unprecedented insight into the rapper’s life and career, while casual readers will appreciate his advice for harnessing creative potential. Less an episode of Behind the Music and more testament to an undeniable artistic legacy, this account neither romanticizes the highs and lows of fame nor acts as a cynical public service announcement. [See Prepub Alert, 1/14/19.]

Hard To Handle: The Life and Death of the Black Crowes

Gorman has written a brutally honest, deeply personal memoir of the group he helped to create. A must for fans of the Black Crowes and American rock and roll.


Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep

Potentially fun for Streep fan boys and girls, although Michael Schulman’s Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep, which Carlson references, is preferred

To Feel the Music: A Songwriter’s Mission To Save High-Quality Audio

Young remains a crusader for high-quality audio, and he tells a fascinating tale, albeit with much technical and business narrative detail, which will appeal mostly to tech, business, and music buffs interested in the future of how we consume, preserve, and listen to recorded music.

Guitar King: Michael Bloomfield’s Life in the Blues

This monumental book illuminates the legacy of a musician who has been overshadowed by other Sixties luminaries but who helped bring the vernacular of the blues to rock and whose playing influenced the course of rock and roll.

Janis: Her Life and Music

This poignant and ultimately tragic account of an iconic performer is a must for Joplin fans, but anyone who enjoys a good biography will appreciate this exceptional work.


Wichita Lineman: Searching in the Sun for the World’s Greatest Unfinished Song

This affectionate memorial to Campbell and rather hagiographic take on Webb’s talent might have worked better as a long article for Rolling Stone or The New Yorker, as it tends to repetitiveness and often veers into self-serving territory. Sadly, the whole does not equal the sum of its (many excellent) parts.

Long Walk Home: Reflections on Bruce Springsteen

This powerful exploration of the impact of Springsteen’s writing demonstrates why his music continues to resonate.


For the Love of Music: A Conductor’s Guide to the Art of Listening

The perfect companion for those who are already well versed in classical music and for those ready to take the plunge.


The Life of Lou Reed: Notes from the Velvet Underground

Reed devotees might appreciate this account, but newcomers would be better served by Anthony DeCurtis’s Lou Reed: A Life.


Gilmore Girls: A Cultural History

Gilmore Girls is a worthy subject for this series, but only readers with a serious enthusiasm for the show will want a book-length study of the its themes.


Move on Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power

Cohen marries scholarly erudition with sincere musical affection in this intriguing look at Chicago soul.


Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson

This comprehensive and engaging reference is a significant addition to popular music research. A must for Jackson fans and students of musical and social culture.

High School

This inspiring memoir will appeal to readers, especially fans of the duo.


Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music

Though this meticulously researched volume unearths a few fresh facts, Crawford treads little new ground in retelling the story of this iconic American composer. For anyone unfamiliar with previous Gershwin biographies, such as Howard Pollack’s in-depth George Gershwin. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]

The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History

This eye-opening and empowering title at last places in the spotlight many of the groundbreaking women who worked for Walt Disney Studios.


Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era

Necessarily covering the same ground as Kelsey Miller in her best-selling I’ll Be There for You, the author approaches Friends as a pop culture historian, incorporating his recent interviews with the show’s creators in this workmanlike effort. For followers of the program and lovers of pop culture.


Passionate Spirit: The Life of Alma Mahler

Considering the sexism of the 19th and 20th centuries, Alma Mahler’s status as a “muse” can be understood as a strategic attempt to signal her own talents to the world. Haste presents a necessary update and reframing of Mahler’s life and legacy.


Cruel To Be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe

An enjoyable and personal look at a cult hero who is more working artist than rock star.


Music: A Subversive History

This fascinating recontextualization will appeal to anyone who ever wondered why “Hound Dog” became a hit only when Elvis Presley covered it.


Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy in a Divided World

An inspiring study of U.S. efforts to bridge cultures and collaborate around the globe, and a reminder of the power of art to unite us.


Blue: The Color of Noise

Despite its flaws, this account of an artist’s rise will touch readers who also discovered community and solace in music.


A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons

Folds’s memoir is much like his songwriting-straightforward, wickedly smart, and with a heavy dose of self-deprecating humor.


Begin the Begin: R.E.M.’s Early Years

Lurie’s investigation of R.E.M.’s beginnings challenges established myths about the group that will interest fans, and provides a valuable history of Athens’s arts scene in the early 1980s, when R.E.M shared the spotlight with bands such as Pylon, Side Effects, and Love Tractor.


Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly

Individuals who have experienced abuse may want to avoid this book entirely. For readers interested in the cult of celebrity, the life of R. Kelly, true crime, journalism, and the #MeToo movement.


Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History

Moore is a die-hard fan, and it shows in this lovingly crafted book. Alert readers will notice the lack of textual criticism; however, Family Guy’s fanbase will find this freakin’ sweet.


Dearest Lenny: Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro

Should appeal to fans of the peripatetic maestro and those interested in Japan.


Everybody’s Doin’ It: Sex, Music, and Dance in New York 1840–1917

Readers interested in the period will appreciate this lively look at the origins of American popular music and dance.


Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show

For Presley devotees and readers who enjoy entertainment history.


Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges

For jazz enthusiasts and those curious about Hodges.

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan

It’s been 29 years since Vaughan’s passing; this is the book fans have been waiting for.

The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando

A thoroughly enjoyable, illuminating read, and a must for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 4/8/19.]

Finding Zsa Zsa: The Gabors Behind the Legend

The Gabors lived full lives, and by the end of this book, readers may be as exhausted as the Gabors must have been. Still, this wild ride is recommended for fans of the actors and lovers of tell-alls.

Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan

For readers seeking an insightful, academic meditation on the relationship between media and sociopolitical issues.


Cheers: A Cultural History

A must for Cheers fans and students of popular culture, this is a thorough and thoughtful look at a groundbreaking television gem

You Can’t Fall Off the Floor: And Other Lessons from a Life in Hollywood

This work doesn’t have the gravitas of Robert Evans’s The Kid Stays in the Picture or Julia Phillips’s You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, but it is fun, breezy, and instructive; for fans of Hollywood tales

Ruffhouse: From the Streets of Philly to the Top of the ’90s Hip-Hop Charts

Fans of these artists will love the insider information on the recording process and the trials and tribulations of getting this music out into the world

Beethoven: The Relentless Revolutionary

A disjointed and often frustrating reading experience, with moments of real insight. For devoted Beethoven fans.


The Awfully Big Adventure: Michael Jackson in the Afterlife

Many will find the author’s approach almost as enigmatic as its subject, though serious fans and those interested in deconstructing Michael Jackson’s life and death may appreciate it.


Notes from the Field

Creative and highly thought-provoking, this work should be read not only by those who wish to perform the monologs but by anyone seeking to understand an increasingly frightening and pervasive social ill.

Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste

A brilliant and passionate work about music's indelible aesthetic algorithm; for anyone curious about why their favorite songs strike a chord with them. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/18.]

The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record

A must for all libraries.

The Rhythm of Rap | Performing Arts Reviews, December 2018

Sidelined in Hollywood | Performing Arts Reviews

Music & Art, December 2018 | Best Sellers


Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times

Though the style is breezy and doesn't go too deep emotionally, Barlow's memoir tells such riveting stories on a variety of topics that it's hard to resist. Essential for Deadheads, fans of Wired, and Internet technology mavens.

Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein

An unforgettable memoir filled with poignancy and humor. A must for music lovers and general readers alike. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/18.]

Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead's Long, Strange Trip

For Deadheads only and not all will be interested. Better starting points would be Dennis McNally's definitive A Long Strange Trip, David Browne's So Many Roads; or Blair Jackson and David Gans's This Is All a Dream We Dreamed.

On the Road and off the Record with Leonard Bernstein: My Years with the Exasperating Genius

More memoir than biography, this engaging account will do well in general collections.

Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual

To approach this work without knowing Kubrick's major films, oy vey! For film enthusiasts and Kubrick fans, Peter Bailey's Critical Insights: Stanley Kubrick flies above this thematically burdened work.

Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece

Essential for sf fans, Kubrick enthusiasts, and film history buffs.

Homey Don't Play That! The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution

Highly recommended for those who enjoy reading about the entertainment industry, how their favorite TV shows are created, In Living Color, the Wayans family, Jim Carrey, and African Americans in the entertainment industry.

Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television

Highly recommended for those who enjoy reading about the entertainment industry, how their favorite TV shows are created, and women. [See Prepub Alert, 10/4/17.]

Heather, the Totality

In his fiction debut, Weiner, creator of the Mad Men TV series (and executive producer on The Sopranos) delivers a razor-sharp, fast-paced dark look at the class divide. Fans of Richard Yates will enjoy this chilling addition to noir literature. [See Prepub Alert, 4/10/17.]

Silent Films in St. Augustine

This recommended title will be of interest to both specialists and general readers of American film history as well as those who want to know more about the history of Florida and St. Augustine.

Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band

Recommended for those already well versed in the history of soul looking to learn more; especially essential for libraries in Florida.

Their Finest

A motion picture is in the works, and one wonders how much will be changed to accommodate the modern filmgoer. Which is rather ironic, given the novel's subject.

If I Could Tell You

Readers who enjoy introspective and morally ambiguous tales such as Jojo Moyes's The Last Letter from Your Lover and Anita Shreve's The Pilot's Wife will want to pick up this tale from a promising writer. At times a bit slow-paced, Wilhide's title delves deep into the human psyche, especially when it comes to loving and losing.

Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films

Recommended for readers of film criticism or commentary.

J.J. Abrams vs. Joss Whedon: Duel for Media Master of the Universe

Recommended for readers looking for a brainy take on pop culture.

Elvis Style: From Zoot Suits to Jumpsuits

While sure to be an Elvis fan favorite, this quick read will also appeal to pop culture enthusiasts and designers. However, readers wanting a biography or scholarly study should look elsewhere.

The Death and Resurrection of Elvis Presley

This title will appeal to die-hard Elvis fans as well as readers curious for insight into the continuing significance of the performer.

Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz

A well-researched look at an oft-chronicled period, this book uses solid research to dispense with romantic apocrypha. An essential title for any serious popular music collection.

The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies

This is an essential title for readers who know and love film and for those who wish to know more; it functions both as a great reference and a great read. Chronology and linearity be gone, this thing sparkles.

Lew Ayres: Hollywood’s Conscientious Objector

This well-written book looks at Ayres’s entire life but provides extensive information about  his actions during World War II. Recommended for readers interested in celebrity biographies, World War II, and conscientious objectors.

Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio

The incessant name-dropping becomes tiresome as the thin veneer of Miller’s modesty wears off, and many chapters end with crude foreshadowing of future events. Nevertheless, this is an essential title for any reader who grew up listening to Miller’s distinctive voice or who simply had a passion for rock music. [See Prepub Alert, 3/5/12.]

Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies

This impressive anthology belongs in the collection of any fan of silent film and perfectly showcases why Pickford was a superstar. It will interest a wide audience and is an important work on one of the leading lights of cinematic history.

Shall We Play That One Together?: The Life and Art of Jazz Piano Legend Marian McPartland

De Barros shows how a talented, white, British woman was able to fully participate in American jazz through multiple eras, styles, and channels. Recommended for jazz fans and those interested in musicians with long, varied careers.

The Accordion in the Americas: Klezmer, Polka, Tango, Zydeco, and More!

Simonett’s book is an excellent collection of ethnomusicology scholarship that will be of interest to those who like world music, ethnography, or unusual instruments.

The Leading Man: Hollywood and the Presidential Image

Peretti’s writing rises above many Hollywood-centered books by viewing the industry from an historian’s perspective, albeit sometimes ponderously. It should appeal to knowledgeable general readers and serious film buffs.

Hendrix on Hendrix: Interviews and Encounters with Jimi Hendrix

This is a valuable and informative book for Hendrix and music fans. A great compendium of primary material on the musical culture of the late 1960s.

The Man Who Saw a Ghost: The Life and Work of Henry Fonda

Those interested in the intimate lives of the stars will appreciate the attention to detail and richness of research. Highly recommended for readers looking to complete their old Hollywood education. [See Prepub Alert, 5/1/12.]

Will Oldham on Bonnie “Prince” Billy

A rare glimpse into the thoughts of a truly original artist. Fans of Bonnie “Prince” Billy will not be disappointed.

Love Song: The Lives of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya

While light on purely personal details (Lenya’s fourth marriage is given only one sentence, and there is little explanation of why Weill tolerated his wife’s many extramarital affairs), the book offers thorough analysis of Weill’s musical style, Lenya’s personal magnetism, and the creative environment in which they lived. Academic readers will appreciate the excellent annotated back matter, which includes a discography, list of sources, and further reading suggestions. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/12].

The Guy Under the Sheets: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Not funny! Recommended only for the hardest of the hardcore Chris Elliott fanboys. [See Prepub Alert, 4/23/12].

How Music Works

While he avoids focusing on his musical career, Byrne’s ability to draw upon his experiences with Talking Heads and as a solo artist to illustrate his points is a clear strength. Music fans of all stripes will find engaging material in this book.

A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music

Howard ranges from anonymous mountaineers to urban pioneers in this sprawling, honest exploration of a seminal source of American music. This book’s combination of interviews and history makes for an entertaining study of the heart of American roots music.

Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir

While the exterior suggests it may be a bit dull, this book is in fact thoroughly Southern, spicy, real, and lots of fun. Excellent for popular music history collections.

Shocked but Connected: Notes on Laughter

Roemer invites readers to think critically about comedy in films. This text will impress the serious student of film comedy and will be a welcome addition to film studies literature. Recommended.

Prisoner of Southern Rock: A Memoir

Smith’s intimate knowledge of and passion for Southern rock make this a welcome addition to the literature on the subject. It will be of interest to fans of the genre or readers looking for a breezy memoir of life around popular musicians, much like Rolling Stones sax-man Bobby Keys’s memoir, Every Night’s a Saturday Night.

Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page

Fans of all stripes will be delighted by the wealth of new interview material. This book offers genuine insight into the musical and philosophical vision of one of rock’s living legends.  Highly recommended for guitar aficionados and readers who enjoy an intimate look at the creative process.

Christian Wolff

Musicologists, historians of 20th-century music, experimentalist composers and listeners, and music students are all served by this work.

Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand

A compelling, detailed look at the rise of the multitalented Streisand from 17-year-old unknown to chart-topping singer and Broadway star. Highly recommended for fans of Streisand, biographies, and theater.

Woody’s Road: Woody Guthrie’s Letters Home, Drawings, Photos, and Other Unburied Treasures

This book is limited in scope and recommended (with some reservations) for readers interested in the iconic musician. Readers seeking an introductory biography of Guthrie will be better served by Elizabeth Partridge’s This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie.

Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection

Although there’s no end of readily available ballet histories, such as Jennifer Homans’s Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet, this title will be a pleasurable read for any balletomane. Index not seen.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy

A valuable social history that is humorous, touching, and revealing, this book will be an asset to both women’s studies and entertainment collections. It will appeal to a wide general readership with an interest in the art of comedy.

Pete Seeger: In His Own Words

This remarkable collection displays Seeger in all his cantankerous, playful, idealistic, and loving glory. He’s one of America’s national treasures, and this treasure trove of his writing reveals why.

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