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Book review: An eccentric, irreverent look at pop music history

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The title suggests the folly of the endeavor: “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music From Bill Haley to Beyonce.” Really? The whole story? Yeah, that’s what Bob Stanley is going for here. Doo-wop, the Beatles, folk rock, Philadelphia soul, punk and post-punk, Prince and Madonna, grunge, hip-hop, Britpop and points in between.

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You can laugh if you want. Then you can try putting it down. Opinionated, digressive, quick to play favorites — Stanley, a music journalist who also plays keyboards for the English indie dance band Saint Etienne, loves pop music the way a dog loves its master.

Stanley doesn’t cut a lot of corners; at 556 pages plus bibliography and index, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” could be mistaken for a speaker cabinet. The book’s pleasures lie in its eccentricities, its wit and its ability to make connections across decades and subgenres.

“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” is by its very nature incomplete, its ambition impossible to meet. To which I hear myself say, shut up and enjoy. This book serves up erudite irreverence on every page.

“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music From Bill Haley to Beyonce”

Author: Bob Stanley

Publisher: Norton

Price: $29.95

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