9780060525453 / 0060525452

Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey





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About the book:

Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey is an idiosyncratic, well-produced, and relatively cheap introduction to a quintessentially American musical invention. With much of the material consisting of excerpts from other sources, and the lack of an index, the tome seems more like a fluffed-up set of liner notes for the accompanying DVD set and CD series than a book--and that's probably the best way to approach it. The book is loosely constructed around the seven films, and there are great writers involved, including Stanley Booth, Hilton Als, Robert Palmer, Richard Hell, Luc Sante, and Robert Gordon. These selections are for the most part inspired, though one wonders why there's not even one page from Alan Greenbergs brilliant Love in Vain screenplay, or anything from LeRoi Jones' classic Blues People. Unlike similar collections, the book gives real props to gospel-blues pioneer Bind Willie Johnson and rightfully places fife and drum patriarch Othar Turner at the top of the blues pantheon. But very little print is given to political, racial, gender and social issues surrounding the music. Not that one wishes it were some heavy academic tome. But, like the celebrated PBS series itself, an aura of missed opportunity hangs over the entire endeavor. Overall, this book makes a fine gift for casual fans of the music and is recommended for those who really enjoyed the series. --Mike McGonigal

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