Let's Do It: The Birth of Pop Music: A History

Let's Do It: The Birth of Pop Music: A History

by Bob Stanley
Let's Do It: The Birth of Pop Music: A History

Let's Do It: The Birth of Pop Music: A History

by Bob Stanley


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The must-read music book of the year—and the first such history bringing together all musical genres to tell the definitive narrative of the birth of Pop from 1900 to the mid-1950s.

Pop music didn't begin with the Beatles in 1963, or with Elvis in 1956, or even with the first seven-inch singles in 1949. There was a pre-history that went back to the first recorded music, right back to the turn of the century.

Who were these earliest record stars—and were they in any meaningful way "pop stars"? Who was George Gershwin writing songs for? Why did swing, the hit sound for a decade or more, become almost invisible after World War II?

The prequel to Bob Stanley’s celebrated Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!, this new volume is the first book to tell the definitive story of the birth of pop, from the invention of the 78 rpm record at the end of the nineteenth century to the beginnings of rock and the modern pop age. Covering superstars such as Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra, alongside the unheralded songwriters and arrangers behind some of our most enduring songs, Stanley paints an aural portrait of pop music's formative years in stunning clarity, uncovering the silver threads and golden needles that bind the form together.

Bringing the eclectic, evolving world of early pop to life—from ragtime, blues, and jazz to Broadway, country, crooning, and beyond—Let's Do It is essential reading for all music lovers.

"An encyclopaedic introduction to the fascinating and often forgotten creators of Anglo-American hit music in the first half of the twentieth century."—Neil Tennant (The Pet Shop Boys)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781639364633
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 07/11/2023
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 1,075,409
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Bob Stanley, author of the acclaimed Let’s Do It: The Birth of Pop Music and Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé, has worked as a music journalist, DJ, and record-label owner, and he is the cofounder and keyboard player for the band Saint Etienne. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Prologue xv

1 1900: Pop in the Beginning 1

2 Elite Syncopations: Scott Joplin and Ragtime 12

3 Songs for Sale: Tin Pan Alley 27

4 Doing What Comes Naturally: Irving Berlin 43

5 A Culture of Consolation: Music Hall and Musical Theatre 52

6 On the Other Side of a Big Black Cloud: World War I 62

7 A Conversation of Instruments: The Birth of Jazz 71

8 The Greatest Love of All: Louis Armstrong 86

9 The Blab of the Pave: Jerome Kern and Broadway 96

10 Let Me Entertain You: Al Jolson 111

11 I'm Gonna Do It If I Like It: The Jazz Age 121

12 In a Silent Way: Race Records 139

13 Invisible Airwaves Crackle with Life: Radio 148

14 Trying Hard to Recreate What Had Yet to Be Created: Hillbilly 165

15 Black and Tan Fantasy: Duke Ellington and the Cotton Club 174

16 Learn to Croon: Rudy Vallee and the Dawn of the Electric Era 185

17 All Hollywood and All Heaven: Talking Pictures 195

18 Ten Cents a Dance: The Great Depression 206

19 Nothing but Blue Skies: Bing Crosby 218

20 Industrial Light and Magic: The Movie Musical 229

21 Pardon My Pups: The Boswell Sisters 240

22 Make Those People Sway: British Dance Bands 246

23 Fascinating Rhythm: Fred Astaire and the Dance-Hail Boom 258

24 Eighty-Eight Key Smiles: Fats Waller and Friends 264

25 Tight Like That: The Age of Swing 271

26 Serenade in Blue: The Great American Songbook 288

27 The Winds Grow Colder: Judy Garland and Billie Holiday 298

28 Be Like the Kettle and Sing: Britain at War 309

29 Why Don't You Do Right: America at War 323

30 Hot Licks with Vanilla: Glenn Miller 337

31 Someone to Watch Over Me: Vocal Refrains 345

32 We Had to Break Up the Band: Post-War Jazz 356

33 Call Me Irresponsible: Frank Sinatra 368

34 Saturday Night Fish Fry: Rhythm and Blues 378

35 California Suite: The Long-Player 394

36 It's Mitch Miller's World and We Just Live in It: The 45 412

37 Breaks a New Heart Every Day: Peggy Lee 425

38 Almost Like Praying: Post-War Broadway 434

39 Squeeze Me: Vocal Jazz 447

40 Experiments with Mice: British Big Bands 460

41 Revival: Trad Jazz and Folk 466

42 In a Restless World: Nat King Cole 480

43 Ports of Pleasure: Exotica 489

44 Sharks in Jets Clothing: Rock 'n' Roll 495

45 The Summit: Frank, Dino and Sammy 506

46 TV Is the Thing: The Rise of Television 518

47 I Could Go on Singing: The Next Generation 526

48 The Strength of Strings: Film Soundtracks 537

49 What Kind of Fool Am I: Lionel Bart and Anthony Newley 547

50 Whipped Cream and Other Delights: Adventures in Beatleland 555

51 The Last Waltz: Tom Jones and the New Balladeers 566

52 Some Kind of Rapprochement: The 1970s 576

Epilogue 585

Acknowledgements 593

Sources 595

Bibliography 599

Index 605

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