Near the end of ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah,’ Bob Stanley writes that,
…the modern pop era was as long as the jazz era; there’s enough in those five decades to spend a lifetime digging through, and even then you’ll never hear all of it.
In this book he distills the lifetime that he’s spent digging through it into 700-odd pages of incredible detail, fascinating and funny stories and (almost) impeccable judgements.
Stanley takes the music seriously as befits a fan and a practitioner (He’s a founder-member of Saint Etienne after all) but his book is about the pure enjoyment of pop and it’ll rekindle your love of it too. He relishes all the craziness, the commerce, tantrums and tragedies.
Each chapter draws out the links between songs, singers, composers and producers, sometimes jumping decades to make the connections. Song words are dropped into sentences, almost at random, which allows the whole narrative to ring with lyrics.
If I have one minor gripe about Stanley’s writing, it is that he sometimes falls into Jazz Club speak: songs are too often ‘cuts’ or ‘sides’ but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he’s a quality writer.
Best bits: the laws of pop peppered throughout; for example the rule that all genres end in a flurry of novelty hits. I understand dance and doowop more than I ever have before but I still haven’t learned to love rave or heavy metal.
If you read ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah,’ make sure you have internet access nearby because you WILL want to hear the music you don’t know.
But be warned, it could prove expensive if you have iTunes to hand. I now find that I have albums by the Aquatones and the Paris Sisters.