Synopses & Reviews
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 the genre'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.
The story of America's most passionate and enduring music, told through fascinating narrative and vintage photographs.
No musical tradition is richer than the blues. Rooted in the cultures of ancient Africa, it was brought to blossom in America at the doorstep of the 20th century, telling of love and love betrayed and of the pleasures as well as the pains of the flesh.
No music is richer in its variety, which ranges from Mississippi, Texas, Tidewater, Piedmont, and Cajun, to urban variations in Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles. It includes genres like hokum blues, holy blues, white country blues, folk blues, barrelhouse blues, big-band blues, jug-band blues, piano blues, guitar blues, and offshoots such as rhythm and blues, soul, and rock Ôn' roll.
Anyone can enjoy the blues. Yet no other popular music so richly rewards the kind of inside knowledge found in Nothing But the Blues. Introduced by blues immortal B. B. King, this lively history is illustrated with rare photographs of the musicians, promoters, and venues, as well as a selection of record labels, posters, ads, and other ephemera. A special feature is the book's authoritative best-of-the-best discography.
Lawrence Cohn created and produced the award-winning Roots 'n' Blues series for Sony Music/Legacy Records. A blues archivist and historian, he is a four-time Grammy nominee, winning in 1991 for The Complete Recordings of Robert Johnson. He lives in Santa Monica, California.
325 illustrations, 16 in duotone
Introduced by B.B. King, this lively history of the blues is edited by a noted blues archivist and historian and illustrated with rare photographs of the musicians, promoters, and venues, as well as a selection of record labels, posters, and ads. 325 illustrations.
Discography: p. 410-413. Includes bibliographical references (p. 414-416) and index.