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33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day [Copertina flessibile]

Dorian Lynskey

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Amazon.com: 3.7 su 5 stelle  11 recensioni
27 di 28 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle A long but ultimately worthwhile read 8 maggio 2011
Di Sean Gallagher - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile
We've all heard ad nauseam how the only people to actually get anything done in this country were the baby boomers in the 1960's, with protest against the Vietnam War, marching for Civil Rights, put out music and movies that were culturally relevant, and so on. Conversely, there are those who thought, and still think, the 60's were a time when America lost its moral compass, politically and culturally, and are trying to change things back when it was a "better" place. "33 Revolutions per Minute", by Dorian Lynskey, which covers the protest song from Billie Holliday's "Strange Fruit" to Green Day's "American Idiot", may not change anyone's mind on what protest songs, and movements, meant to this country (as well as Britain, Chile, and Africa), but it's a well-written history.

As the title would suggest, Lynskey, a music critic for the Guardian, picks 33 songs to write about. Along with the two listed above, it includes songs both well-known (Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land", Bob Dylan's "Masters of War", James Brown's "I'm Black and I'm Proud", Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio", Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Two Tribes", which apparently got Lynskey interested in protest music) and lesser known (Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddamn", the music of Victor Jara, a singer/protestor in Chile until he was murdered when Pinochet took over, Steve Earle's "John Walker Blues"). Instead of merely describing the songs, however, Lynskey describes the history behind the songs (a brief description not only of the singer or band at the time, as well as what was going on in that particular country at the time), and often even a parallel songwriter whose work either complemented or contrasted the song under discussion (such as dealing with Phil Ochs in the chapter on Bob Dylan, as Ochs was more obviously political, and discussing the Clash and Sex Pistols, as while they both were the leaders of British punk they were also diametrically opposed in many ways).

While Lynksey isn't blind to the pretensions that go with the territory when it comes to writing protest songs (he singles out John Lennon as a case in point, though I do think he's a tad harsh when it comes to "Revolution"; its ambivalence is why, I think, it's still potent as a song), and he also recognizes how many singers were unable or unwilling to keep up the momentum (Dylan, for one, famously backed off from making any explicit protest songs when he went electric), he also isn't out to mock. He genuinely appreciates the intent behind many of the songs, and how they went hand in hand with the political movements of the time (though he concentrates more on civil rights than, say, feminism). While he concentrates mostly on the U.S. and Britain, Lynskey does touch on how protest music fermented in Latin America and Africa (as well as recognize how, unlike here and in Britain, singing these songs could get you killed, and did). At the end, Lynskey wonders if, as well as writing a history, he's also written an epitaph for the protest song. That may well be true (as he also points out earlier, there were in fact a number of songs eventually protesting the war in Iraq, but they seemed independent of each other rather than unifying or galvanizing a protest movement), but a few nit-picks aside (he misses how the segregation of American radio affected African-American protest music), Lynskey has written a fitting tribute to the protest song, as well as a vital history of it.
22 di 25 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
3.0 su 5 stelle Sans "And A Third" 1 giugno 2011
Di Donald S. Handy - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile|Acquisto verificato
This is A, rather than THE, history of protest songs.

At its best, the book is informative. Even if you hate a particular song and/or artist, the author manages to keeps one's interest in reading about it/them. In part this is due to his scatter-shot approach, encompassing eras and genres. It is also well-researched.

Where it fails is in the balance of history. There are far too many relatively recent songs included. That Phil Ochs wasn't granted a chapter, while Frankie Goes To Hollywood was, is criminal. Broadside magazine is hardly even mentioned, while the author goes out of his way to include an obscure disco song, as well as U#2's "Pride (In The Name of Love)," which isn't even a protest song but, rather, a song of celebration. So why include it? I suspect it's for the same reason that the book is so laden with relatively recent songs, that the main concern was the bottom line. Most people will want to read about songs that they're familiar with.

So the blues, a form of music that, by it's very nature, is a protest, is totally ignored. Part of this is probably due to the author's definition of protest music, which he links to politics. There are, of course, other forms of revolution, such as cultural and social, but the author chooses to put blinders on concerning them. Still, I'd much rather have read something about the "Bourgeois Blues" than "Two Tribes."

Even among the modern music the author does highlight, there is some head-scratching on my part. Does Dorian Lynskey honestly believe that Huggy Bear is more representative of Riot Grrrl than Bikini Kill? Does he not believe that Patti Smith's song "People Have The Power" is even worth mentioning? Doesn't he see the implicit revolutionary aspect of the entire DIY culture / "indie scene," in which the "workers" have seized the means of production?

This is still a worthwhile book. I learned quite a bit about such artists as Crass, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Victor Jara and Feli Kuti. While I would not say that it is at all definitive, it is a good start.
3 di 4 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Fascinating read 23 marzo 2013
Di Jonathon L. Wiggins - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile
A long book, but one of the most entertaining music books I have ever read. The background information about the songs and artists are fascinating, and the author could be a sociologist so insightful are his descriptions of the contexts in which the songs came out.

Like some other reviewers, I could quibble about the songs selected (too light on the blues, a bit heavy on recent artists, too harsh on John Lennon), but since I really enjoyed learning so much about the artists profiled I can't really complain. You'll enjoy coming out of the book with new perspectives about a wide variety of performers, including James Brown, The Manic Street Preachers, Crass, The Specials, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Phil Ochs, The Clash, Eric Clapton, Bratmobile, and Motown's roster of performers. Some of them you'll appreciate more, some you'll see as more shallow or as downright mean. (I'd like to hear Eric Clapton's rejoinder to the way he's protrayed in the book.) With such strong opinions of some artists, you know that only a true fan of the music could have written this book.

Be forewarned though: This book will very likely result in you buying a ton of music to hear for yourself both those songs profiled and the many, many artists and songs mentioned in the book. I, for one, though am enjoying this particular trip I'm taking to the poor house...
1.0 su 5 stelle Leftist Chest Thumping 14 giugno 2014
Di Amazon Customer - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Formato Kindle|Acquisto verificato
This book is half content, half propaganda. Aside from being incredibly biased and only covering the book's topic from a leftist point of view, the author takes every chance to slide in a comment, quip, or jab when mentioning anyone or anything that does not share his views.
5.0 su 5 stelle great way to learn about history 21 febbraio 2014
Di Amazon Customer - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Formato Kindle|Acquisto verificato
what I enjoed most about the book was the amazing and interesting stories beghind the songs. A history lesson of each song!

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