Totally Wired: The Rise and Fall of the Music Press

Thames & Hudson. Nov. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9780500022634. $34.95. MUSIC
British journalist and culture commentator Gorman (The Story of The Face: The Magazine That Changed Culture) presents a descriptive and interpretive survey of the inceptions, outputs, and disappearance of UK- and U.S.-based popular music magazines, from Melody Maker (1926–2000) through Mojo (2008–). The book uses interviews that Gorman conducted with the likes of rock musician/lyricist Mick Farren, music historian Harvey Kubernik, writers Keith Altham and Greg Shaw, disc jockey John Peel, and fanzine entrepreneur Lindsay Hutton. Gorman’s book might be engaging for lay readers who are undeterred by detailed writing and want to learn more about Rolling Stone, Creem, Crawdaddy, Blender, Q, and more recondite periodicals. Meanwhile, social scientists will appreciate its analysis of the ebbing but still persistent Western tradition–derived hierarchical prejudices, even in an ostensible “counter-subculture”; stereotypes endure in music magazines, a field so allied with visual representations. He also shows how the dominance of the focused, mainstream, ink-based music magazine has waned in recent years, upended by economic recessions, by fragmentation into micro-markets of music–cum–“lifestyle & entertainment” publications, and by the omnipresence of online information sources. (Gorman himself uses the invaluable website—readers might want to do the same.)
VERDICT Gorman’s at times–exhaustive narrative of popular culture contextualizes evolving music reportage and commentary about trends in the arts.
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