New Books Network

Lester K. Spence, “Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics” (University of Minnesota Press, 2011)
Hip-hop has, within a short time span, moved from a free-flowing expression of urban youth to a global–and highly marketable–musical genre. Its influence in culture, fashion, film, and music is ubiquitous, and theories about hip-hop’s importance in the political sphere abound. But what, exactly, is the relationship between hip-hop and... Read More
Kevin Fellezs, “Birds of a Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion” (Duke UP, 2011)
To introduce his book Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion (Duke, 2011),Kevin Fellezs quotes Jeff Beck: “For Christ’s sake, I wish somebody would make up a name for this kind of music, ’cause it ain’t jazz and it ain’t rock.” Beck’s words echo Fellezs’s argument,... Read More
Heather Augustyn, “Ska:  An Oral History” (McFarland, 2010)
“Before reggae there was rock steady, and before that, ska,” writes Cedella Marley in the foreword to Heather Augustyn’s 2010 book Ska: An Oral History (McFarland, 2010). By way of interviews with dozens of ska musicians, Augustyn traces the history of the music from its Jamaican roots, through its 2Tone... Read More
Kimbrew McLeod and Peter DiCola, “Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling” (Duke University Press, 2011)
One hallmark of important art, in any medium, is a thoughtful relation with artistic precursors. Every artist reckons with heroes and rivals, influences and nemeses, and the old work becomes a part of the new. In Adam Bradley’s seminal monograph on hip-hop lyrics, Book of Rhymes, legendary MC Mos Def... Read More
Jim Tuedio and Stan Spector, “The Grateful Dead in Concert: Essays on Live Improvisation” (McFarland, 2010)
In a career that spanned three decades the Grateful Dead are rock music’s ultimate jam band. To jam, of course, is to improvise, to engage in “spontaneous, extemporaneous expression.” In The Grateful Dead in Concert: Essays on Live Improvisation (McFarland, 2010), Jim Tuedio, professor of philosophy at California State University-Stanislaus,... Read More
Eric C. Schneider, “Smack: Heroin and the American City” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008)
When I arrived at college in the early 1980s, drugs were cool, music was cool, and drug-music was especially cool. The coolest of the cool drug-music bands was The Velvet Underground. They were from the mean streets of New York City (The Doors were from the soft parade of L.A….);... Read More
Sheree Homer, “Catch that Rockabilly Fever: Personal Stories of Life on the Road and in the Studio” (McFarland, 2010)
“On July 5, 1954, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black forever changed musical history,” writes Sheree Homer in Catch that Rockabilly Fever: Personal Stories of Life on the Road and in the Studio (McFarland, 2010). It was on this day that the trio recorded Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup’s “That’s... Read More