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Nothing but the Blues: The Music and the Musicians
     

Nothing but the Blues: The Music and the Musicians

by Lawrence Cohn, Mary Katherine Aldin, Bruce Bastin (Contribution by), B. B. King (Introduction)
 

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The story of America's most passionate and enduring music, told through fascinating narrative and vintage photographs.

It is our most passionate music, rooted in ancient Africa but brought to blossom in America at the doorstep of the twentieth century. It is a living heritage of song born in poverty, persecution, and hard labor, born of love and love betrayed, of

Overview

The story of America's most passionate and enduring music, told through fascinating narrative and vintage photographs.

It is our most passionate music, rooted in ancient Africa but brought to blossom in America at the doorstep of the twentieth century. It is a living heritage of song born in poverty, persecution, and hard labor, born of love and love betrayed, of holiness and sin, the pleasures and the pains of the flesh, the experience of tragedy, comedy, drunkenness, despair, desolation, and pure joy. It is the blues.

At root, the blues is rich in its simplicity, but it has flowered across the years in a variety of rare complexity. Perhaps no form of popular art is more immediately appealing than the blues, yet so rewards a thorough knowledge of its finer points. In eleven authoritative essays commissioned especially for the book, Nothing But the Blues traces the African-American origins of the music, its early development as popular entertainment, its early recorded manifestations, its regional differentiation (Mid-South, Tidewater-Piedmont, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles), its many stylistic dimensions, and its contemporary manifestations. Country blues, urban blues, the evolution of rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, and the blues revival are all fully covered.

But the written history is only part of the story. Blues fans have always treasured rare photographs of their heroes, and Nothing But the Blues is gloriously illustrated with posed and candid shots of the musicians as well as photographs of such one-of-a-kind artifacts and documents as Leadbelly's NYPD rap sheet and classic recording contracts. Nothing But the Blues features an introduction by one of thegenre's living legends, B. B. King, and a comprehensive "best of the best" discography, including current and rereleased recordings as well as the collectors' treasures to go after.

Blues is more popular than ever before. Not only are reissues of historical blues classics selling in unprecedented numbers, but a whole new crop of vital young blues artists is active in clubs and on record today. Nothing But the Blues is a lavishly illustrated comprehensive history of the music and the musicians, as well as the promoters, producers, and others who have shaped—and continue to shape—this powerful and enduringly popular American musical art form.

Other Details: 325 illustrations, 16 in duotone 432 pages 8 1/2 x 8 1/2" Published 1999

"Nothing But the Blues is a gorgeous object, packed full of rare photographs and written by a virtual who's who of blues experts. " —Boston Globe

Author Biography: Blues historian Lawrence Cohn is the producer of a massive blues reissue project undertaken by Sony Music/Legacy Recordings. The premiere two-CD set in the series, featuring the music of blues giant Robert Johnson, not only earned Cohn a Grammy award, but has sold some half-million copies in the U.S. alone—an unprecedented number for a historical reissue.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this extensively illustrated, comprehensive volume, Grammy-winning CD producer Cohn provides an elegant pictoral and intellectual history. In the first of 11 essays, Samuel Charters writes on the roots of the blues; in others, David Evans digs into Texas and Deep South blues and Mark A. Humphrey examines the gospel and urban traditions of the blues. Bruce Basti, Jim O'Neal and Mary Katherine Aldin are among the writers covering such topics as white country blues, the 1960s blues revival and the blues today. Richard K. Spottswood offers an excellent essay on women and the blues. The 325 illustrations include Leadbelly's NYPD rap sheet, recording contracts and rare historic photos of blues performers making their music. Cohen does full justice to this rich and vibrant chapter of American musical history. (Oct.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This compilation of 11 articles, edited by Grammy Award-winning blues producer Cohn, examines the beginnings and progress of the blues. The book starts with a penetrating essay by noted blues writer Samuel Chaters, who investigates the origins of the blues. It follows with chapters that clearly, extensively, and intelligently describe early blues in the Deep South and Texas, women and the blues, urban blues, the Sixties blues revival, and such often-neglected aspects of the blues tradition as gospel, Piedmont regional blues, white country blues, and the role of music researchers like John and Alan Lomax. Only chapters about the current blues scene and rhythm and blues offer disappointingly superficial treatment. Lavishly illustrated, well researched, and written in a lively style, this book should become a standard on the topic for both the general public and scholars. Recommended for most collections. The publisher is releasing a limited edition of this work that includes a compact disc.--Ed.-- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
Donna Seaman
This handsome, well-illustrated, and finely written history of the blues begins in West Africa with the songs of the griots and follows the forced transplantation of African musical traditions to American soil, where they evolved into one of our most vibrant and influential art forms. Blues historian Lawrence Cohn and his ten distinguished contributors trace the metamorphosis of the blues from its African roots and the "hollers," work songs, and party music of the rural south to the feistier rhythms of urban blues and on to R & B and blues rock. This multifaceted study discusses the social crucible in which the blues was forged while analyzing the "persistent longing" and humor of blues lyrics. Blues styles associated with specific regions are described, such as the down-home blues of the Mississippi Delta, which made its way to Chicago where it has flourished for decades. One chapter covers women blues artists such as "Ma" Rainey and Memphis Minnie, while another focuses on white country blues. Other topics include the impact of radio and recording technology on the popularity of the blues, the link between gospel and blues, and the blues revival of the 1960s. As B.B. King says in his foreword, the story of the blues is the story of many different people, "some are colorful, some are mysterious, all are interesting." The authors recount the careers of numerous musicians, including big names such as Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon as well as lesser-known masters such as Eddie Taylor. This volume is a cut above most blues books with its wealth of illustrations (325 to be exact) and penetrating commentary.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558592711
Publisher:
Abbeville Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/01/1993
Edition description:
Older Edition
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
8.91(w) x 11.18(h) x 1.58(d)

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