Perhaps this should be subtitled ‘Elvis’ Eternal Reach Beyond the Grave’. Sure, this is an impressive collection of facts and details about the boy from Tupelo—from his love of Monty Python to his quotes about money to his first ride on an airplane – and it’s replete with rare photos and an abundance of quotes from and about the man. But it also documents his wide-reaching influence in pop culture to this day. Elvis-themed restaurants, merchandise, movies (of course), and all the people, places, and industries his persona impacted are meticulously listed, here. You’ll see an entry on homosexuality, another on Stax history, and so much more. This is an excellent historical resource and a pleasurable flip-through read. I can think of about, oh, a few million who would just die to have this book in their collection.
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So you’re at the bar and suddenly, the jukebox cranks out a song that inspires a fellow imbiber to passionately assert some band’s superiority over another tangentially related band. Rock and Roll Cage Match is the ideal book for such opinionated pontificators. In cogent, lively essays, stellar writers decide 30 musical feuds, some real (Jay-Z vs. Nas, Blur vs. Oasis, Lennon vs. McCartney), some creative (Simon & Garfunkel vs. Hall & Oates, Bob Dylan vs. Bob Marley). Through thoughtful execution of a risky premise, Cage Match offers semi-definitive answers for rock-geek know-it-alls, while igniting as many arguments as it settles.
Guidebooks that tell you what to put on your iPod are ubiquitous these days. The album guide (yesteryear’s Rolling Stone and Trouser Press volumes) has been replaced by the playlist recommendation tome. They are flooding the market and aim to be definitive, but the Rough Guide entry is the best of the current batch. With characteristic Rough Guide depth, The Best Music You’ve Never Heard aims to highlight lesser known but very worthy artists across a wide array of genres such as rock, indie, alt-country, soul, blues, folk, electronic and more. That broad-based approach to culture is bound to appeal to PopMatters readers, even if many of these artists are, in fact, already well-known by our savvy audience.
Guided by voices, images, moods, and impressions of contemporary life, the prolific Robert Pollard’s songs are captured in images and poetry in this artsy book. Pop art collage, ruminations dark, satirical and humorous, fans of the musician and art students alike will enjoy this volume. I rather like it for the ‘thousand words’ the best images invoke. Gaze at it to Pollard’s tunes, or merely let your head provide the soundtrack. Either way, for either kind of reader, it works.