Affirming that ``the black-white fusion remains the ineluctable source of the appeal and impact of our popular music,'' Shaw, a composer who also writes on the subject of music, describes the development of that trend primarily from the black perspective. According to the author, this blend or synthesis resulted from the interplay of five black stylesminstrelsy, spirituals, ragtime, jazz and bluesthat were adopted, refined and commercialized by white musicians. He also discusses such adjunct forms as ``coon'' songs, cakewalks, stride piano, British skiffle, blue-eyed soul, heavy metal, reggae, Oreo singing and hip-hop. Because much of this carelessly edited volume reads like a catalogue of composers, musicians and performances, it will probably be more useful as a survey than as a book to read for pleasure. Photos not seen by PW. February 1
As Shaw correctly states, no single volume covers the history of black popular music in its entirety, and most studies have focused on the white mainstream. American pop music is in fact a blend of black and white musical influences that can be better understood if explored from a black perspective. Shaw examines five key black stylesminstrelsy, spirituals, ragtime, jazz, and bluesanalyzing the origins and developments of each, profiling important artists and songs, and exploring the ``white synthesis.'' Often the ``synthesis'' has amounted to little more than a soulless white imitation of inspired black stylistic innovations. A final chapter looks at the contemporary scene. It will be easy for the casual reader to get lost in the avalanche of detail, and there are minor errors, but overall this is a worthy, much needed, well-documented history. A basic purchase for public, secondary, and college libraries. Thomas Jewell, Waltham P.L., Mass.