Category Archives: Books

She’s So Fine: Reflections on Whiteness, Femininity, Adolescence and Class in 1960s Music – Laurie Stras, ed.

Stras, Laurie, ed. She’s So Fine: Reflections on Whiteness, Femininity, Adolescence and Class in 1960s Music. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010.

She’s So Fine explores the music, reception and cultural significance of 1960s girl singers and girl groups in the US and the UK. Using approaches from the fields of musicology, women’s studies, film and media studies, and cultural studies, this volume is the first interdisciplinary work to link close musical readings with rigorous cultural analysis in the treatment of artists such as Martha and the Vandellas, The Crystals, The Blossoms, Brenda Lee, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Tina Turner, and Marianne Faithfull. Currently available studies of 1960s girl groups/girl singers fall into one of three categories: industry-generated accounts of the music’s production and sales, sociological commentaries, or omnibus chronologies/discographies. She’s So Fine, by contrast, focuses on clearly defined themes via case studies of selected artists. Within this analytical rather than historically comprehensive framework, this book presents new research and original observations on the 60s girl group/girl singer phenomenon.

More information here.

Fado and the Place of Longing: Loss, Memory and the City – Richard Elliott

Elliot, Richard. Fado and the Place of Longing: Loss, Memory and the City. Farnham: Ashgate Press, 2010.

Fado, often described as ‘urban folk music’, emerged from the streets of Lisbon in the mid-nineteenth century and went on to become Portugal’s ‘national’ music during the twentieth. It is known for its strong emphasis on loss, memory and nostalgia within its song texts, which often refer to absent people and places. One of the main lyrical themes of fado is the city itself. Fado music has played a significant role in the interlacing of mythology, history, memory and regionalism in Portugal in the second half of the twentieth century. Richard Elliott considers the ways in which fado songs bear witness to the city of Lisbon, in relation to the construction and maintenance of the local. Elliott explores the ways in which fado acts as a cultural product reaffirming local identity via recourse to social memory and an imagined community, while also providing a distinctive cultural export for the dissemination of a ‘remembered Portugal’ on the global stage.

More information at the publisher’s website.

Sounds of the Borderland: Popular Music, War and Nationalism in Croatia since 1991 – Catherine Baker

Baker, Catherine. Sounds of the Borderland: Popular Music, War and Nationalism in Croatia since 1991. Farnham: Ashgate Press, 2010.

Sounds of the Borderland is the first book-length study of how popular music became a medium for political communication and contested identification during and after Croatia’s war of independence from Yugoslavia. It extends existing cultural studies literature on music, politics and the state, which has largely been grounded in Western European and North American political systems. It also responds to an emerging fascination with the culture and politics of contemporary south-east Europe, expanding scholarship on the post-Yugoslav conflicts by going on to encompass significant social and political changes into the present day.

More information at the publisher’s website.

Islands of Resistance – Andrea Langlois, Ron Sakolsky, and Marian van der Zon

Langlois, Andrea, Ron Sakolsky, Marian van der Zon. Islands of Resistance: Pirate Radio in Canada. Vancouver: New Star Books, 2010.

While only recently have we heard the major networks broadcast warnings of rising sea levels, since radio’s invention certain Canadians have been concerned by the increasingly centralized medium and its commercial flooding of the airwaves. Occasionally alone, frequently in teams and always illegally, these activists are islands of resistance within the ocean of homogenous frequencies, pirating radio signals for personal, political and artistic expression.

More information here.

Restless Giant: The Life and Times of Jean Aberbach and Hill and Range Songs – Bar Biszick-Lockwood

Restless Giant provides a fascinating account of the career of Jean Aberbach, legendary founder of one of music history’s most powerful music publishing companies: Hill and Range Songs. During the 1940s and 1950s music publishers, rather than artists and record companies, controlled the American hit-making machine. Bar Biszick-Lockwood shows how Austrian-born Jean Aberbach, and his brother Julian, captured entire genres of music to build a privately owned international “empire of song” while at the same time affording songwriters unmatched control over their work. Their model resulted in more than three hundred chart hits and the first-ever song royalties being paid to songwriters and performers including Bill Monroe and the Sons of the Pioneers. Using corporate records, Aberbach’s daybooks, and extensive interviews with top performers and songwriters, Biszick-Lockwood weaves an adventure story that demystifies music publishing, showing how Jean Aberbach’s keen insights, behind-the-scenes manipulations, and bold business moves fundamentally changed the music industry and nurtured the careers of some of America’s biggest popular performers and songwriters.

More information here.