Facing the Music

Simon Frith, Editor Pantheon Books $9.95 (229p) ISBN 978-0-394-75185-6
These five postmortems by popular-music journalists are, as Frith explains, ``inspired by the suspicion . . . that the rock story is ending.'' In the eloquent and compelling ``McRock: Pop as a Commodity,'' Mary Harron interprets such movements as '50s pop, '60s rock and '70s punk, as well as individual style-conscious '80s stars like Madonna, in terms of images created by hype. Frith's ambitious but often unfocused ``Video Pop: Picking Up the Pieces'' studies the implications of media entertainment conglomerates' intense packaging and marketing. Steve Perry's ``Crossover Politics: Ain't No Mountain High Enough,'' a history of black popular music and a support of black crossover into white-dominated territory, is a welcome contrast to the other essays' cynical tone and focus on white musicians. And Ken Barnes's dry but informative ``Top 40 Radio: A Fragment of the Imagination'' unravels a maze of radio formats and discusses the reasons formats are adopted in this medium. If not as controversial as Frith aggrandizingly proclaims it to be, his volume is, for the most part, lively and challenging. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
Hardcover - 229 pages - 978-0-394-55849-3
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