Fancy a huge chunk of pop music? Yeah Yeah Yeah

YEAH YEAH YEAH: THE STORY OF MODERN POP BY BOB STANLEY

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My own story of pop began with Adam Ant in the early 80s. Luckily, music journalist and founder member of Saint Etienne, Bob Stanley,  goes back a bit further than that. This weighty volume comes in at just under 800 pages and is packed with all the songs, bands, personalities and pop trivia that you could wish for. Starting back at the introduction of vinyl, the charts and the music press in 1952 through the rock n roll era, the Beatles and Elvis, the rise of the album, punk and the 80s before things took a turn for the worse with rave and the descent into the throwaway download culture. Yeah Yeah Yeah is pop’s heydey; Bill Haley to Britpop – it’s a thrilling ride.

What interested me was seeing how pop culture and trends changed rapidly from UK to US, West Coast to East Coast, London to Liverpool to Manchester. As much as he tugs at your memory and I swooned with nostalgia over a pictured Smash Hits cover featuring Brother Beyond, Glen Medeiros and The Pasadenas, Stanley also points to scenes and you wonder why you were not there. I wish I’d known about the Smiths and Orange Juice when my senses were being brutally assaulted by Queen, Collins, Young, Sting et al. But then I was only a primary school child at the time!

I disagree with Stanley on some things; his dismissal of post-Smiths Morrissey, post-Bill Berry R.E.M, the weight he sometimes gave to credibility over popularity. Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ may have been a let down to him but to myself and just about everybody I grew up with, it was the pinnacle of pop.

Being primary interests of mine I’d read most of the Elvis, punk and new wave stories before and I cannot lay fault at Stanley’s door for the dull chapters which prog rock (Yes, Genesis, Mike Oldfield) and fey, yelpy groups like Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and OMD fell into.

But it was a joy to realise what a year in pop 1991 was – I still have treasured 45s from those twelve months by the eclectic mix of Right Said Fred, Manic Street Preachers, Bart Simpson, KLF and Hale and Pace. Ah memories!

Here are my favourite facts, insights and quotes from Yeah Yeah Yeah: Continue reading

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