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From the author of the acclaimed Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald takes us on a journey through the music of the sixties and seventies. Starting with one of the most important assessments of Bob Dylan to appear in print for many years, these essays range from the psychedelia of the Beatles and the rebellion of the Rolling Stones to the political activism of John Lenno From the author of the acclaimed Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald takes us on a journey through the music of the sixties and seventies. Starting with one of the most important assessments of Bob Dylan to appear in print for many years, these essays range from the psychedelia of the Beatles and the rebellion of the Rolling Stones to the political activism of John Lennon, the 'dark doings' of David Bowie and the spiritual quest of Nick Drake. In the central essay of this collection, The People's Music, MacDonald argues that the emergence of the Beatles in the early sixties changed the world of music for ever, as the power in the industry shifted to the audience. Combining a close reading of the music with a detailed understanding of the times, this collection confirms Ian MacDonald's reputation as one of Britain's most important music journalists. Enlightening and entertaining, The People's Music is music writing as its best.


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From the author of the acclaimed Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald takes us on a journey through the music of the sixties and seventies. Starting with one of the most important assessments of Bob Dylan to appear in print for many years, these essays range from the psychedelia of the Beatles and the rebellion of the Rolling Stones to the political activism of John Lenno From the author of the acclaimed Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald takes us on a journey through the music of the sixties and seventies. Starting with one of the most important assessments of Bob Dylan to appear in print for many years, these essays range from the psychedelia of the Beatles and the rebellion of the Rolling Stones to the political activism of John Lennon, the 'dark doings' of David Bowie and the spiritual quest of Nick Drake. In the central essay of this collection, The People's Music, MacDonald argues that the emergence of the Beatles in the early sixties changed the world of music for ever, as the power in the industry shifted to the audience. Combining a close reading of the music with a detailed understanding of the times, this collection confirms Ian MacDonald's reputation as one of Britain's most important music journalists. Enlightening and entertaining, The People's Music is music writing as its best.

30 review for The People's Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Ian McDonald is an excellent writer on music matters, sensible, but open and acute in his criticisms. I loved his 'Revolution in the Head' about the Beatles, and here there are three essays on them, one which delves into the McCartney/Lennon songwriting rivalry and collaboration; one on their psychedelic period, and one on John in America. The pieces collected here are mainly album reviews - but reviews of collected works, so they tend to talk about the musician/band's whole career, and there ar Ian McDonald is an excellent writer on music matters, sensible, but open and acute in his criticisms. I loved his 'Revolution in the Head' about the Beatles, and here there are three essays on them, one which delves into the McCartney/Lennon songwriting rivalry and collaboration; one on their psychedelic period, and one on John in America. The pieces collected here are mainly album reviews - but reviews of collected works, so they tend to talk about the musician/band's whole career, and there are some great summaries of groups: Jefferson Airplane: excruciatingly dated; The Supremes – exuded chic and savoir-faire; Pink Floyd - he's puzzled by their popularity, but ' the group played its limited hand expertly.. [with its] glum swathes of electronic sound…[and] disconsolate cheerlessness... the heart music of middle aged, middle England.' There are a few longer essays on Nick Drake - [his work] 'opens a door to the eternal'; Dylan; Love; Spirit.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Zak

    read the randy newman essay. and the nick drake essay. his music writing reaches towards the technical and at times, metaphysical (see: nick drake) where a lot of extrapolation on the circumstances of his life occurs. Not a terrible read, just feels a little dated.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sum Doood

    A collection of excellent, really, essays each of which amounts to music journalism of a very high standard. (It was MacDonald who wrote the excellent Revolution in the Head (all about The Beatles and their contexts. I didn't read all of RitH because I'm not a Beatles nut, and it is a BIG book). At much the same time as reading The People's Music I was reading Clinton Heylin's "All the Madmen: Barrett, Bowie, Drake, the Floyd, The Kinks, The Who and the Journey to the Dark Side of English Rock" A collection of excellent, really, essays each of which amounts to music journalism of a very high standard. (It was MacDonald who wrote the excellent Revolution in the Head (all about The Beatles and their contexts. I didn't read all of RitH because I'm not a Beatles nut, and it is a BIG book). At much the same time as reading The People's Music I was reading Clinton Heylin's "All the Madmen: Barrett, Bowie, Drake, the Floyd, The Kinks, The Who and the Journey to the Dark Side of English Rock" and the two books go very well together in whatever order you might wish. MacDonald's writing on Nick Drake seems to me to be particularly astute. I don't think I'm spoiling anything if I add that in 2003 MacDonald committed suicide aged 54.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David

    Old fart music reviews previously published in old fart music magazines. Several months removed, the only parts that stand out are the longish, personal pieces about Dylan, and Nick Drake, and the amusingly bad-tempered thing about Simon and Garfunkel of all things. MacDonald is most known for his slightly overrated Beatles book, Revolution in the Head, and his collected writings here don't stray far from the comfort of late-60s - early '70s canonical rock music, but he occasionally has some ast Old fart music reviews previously published in old fart music magazines. Several months removed, the only parts that stand out are the longish, personal pieces about Dylan, and Nick Drake, and the amusingly bad-tempered thing about Simon and Garfunkel of all things. MacDonald is most known for his slightly overrated Beatles book, Revolution in the Head, and his collected writings here don't stray far from the comfort of late-60s - early '70s canonical rock music, but he occasionally has some astute and interesting things to say about dad rockers who have had far too much said about them already. It's still a mixed bag, though.

  5. 5 out of 5

    TheYetiWakes

    A marvellous collection of dissertations from the late Ian McDonald that highlights just how missing intelligence and actual thought is in music writing and reviewing. His desire to think about what he is hearing and try to understand it shines through and encompasses all aspects of his subject - Musical, philosophical, psychological whilst not being afraid to leave the lesser inclined reader behind as he runs with his theories. Sadly missed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Worth reading if only for the essay "Minimalism and the Corporate Age" Steely Dan and Dylan. What a serious and sad loss when Ian MacDonald took his own life. One of the great music critic originals. Worth reading if only for the essay "Minimalism and the Corporate Age" Steely Dan and Dylan. What a serious and sad loss when Ian MacDonald took his own life. One of the great music critic originals.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Paolantonio

    Found this book on my favorite Used Music shelf at my favorite New & Used bookstore: Unnameable Books on Vanderbilt Ave in Prospect Heights, BK. Ian MacDonald's byline caught my eye as his 'Revolution In The Head' is my father's bible. I scanned the chapters and read the opening pages before deciding the $7 price was worth several great, outdated essays . Published in 2003, I am not sure if its a compilation of essays and criticism from elsewhere as none of the chapters are noted as so. I didn't Found this book on my favorite Used Music shelf at my favorite New & Used bookstore: Unnameable Books on Vanderbilt Ave in Prospect Heights, BK. Ian MacDonald's byline caught my eye as his 'Revolution In The Head' is my father's bible. I scanned the chapters and read the opening pages before deciding the $7 price was worth several great, outdated essays . Published in 2003, I am not sure if its a compilation of essays and criticism from elsewhere as none of the chapters are noted as so. I didn't read the entire text, just the selections that interested me most. The first chapter 'Wild Mercury: A Tale of Two Dylans' was full of great commentary on an already overwritten subject. MacDonald does not ever feel tired of Dylan and he writes about him effortlessly with great hindsight. I'll take it as a) I love good music writing and b) love writing about Dylan that stands out from the crowd. Naturally, 'The Psychedelic Beatles: Love and Drugs' was a brilliant chapter. MacDonald writes so beautifully about the band he knows (and loves) so well. I have been reading and writing a lot about LSD culture lately and this chapter was a new perspective on a topic that is rarely covered in mainstream retrospectives: The Beatles and their use of LSD. It isn't a major topic unless you're knee deep in biographies of the Fab Four or of their "solo" lives. He provided wise commentary on the drug as the zeitgeist of the the decade and how The Beatles managed to find it *just* a little bit before everyone else did (see: Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band). Other good writing on Jimi, Lennon as "America's John," The Stones, and a bit of scathing eye-rolling at Simon & Garfunkel and Jefferson Airplane--the latter a personal favorite of mine. MacDonald writes with a good amount of time between himself and the subjects' heydays. Other good pieces about The Supremes, Steely Dan's *Gaucho*, Chic, Cream, The Beach Boys, Bowie's "Dark Doings," The Band's *Music From Big Pink*, Randy Newman, and more. A good historical document as compilation/anthology work. Something I've never seen before and will likely see in other places now that I've already found it. The chapters are short and if you're a total nerd for music criticism of the past on the past, this book is for you.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Consistently great music criticism. The Nick Drake essay at the end is worth the price of admission.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Lilly

    Excellent, insightful, brilliant on the Beatles and the Stones, then I got to the analysis of transcendent mysticism in the songs of Nick Drake, and... Sheesh. Really really good then really really really really bad. Sorry Ian...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danny

  11. 5 out of 5

    Egil Mosbron

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  13. 5 out of 5

    David R. Giardino

  14. 5 out of 5

    Justin Roberts

  15. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Cowslip

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gray

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jon Kanis

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul Cantin

  19. 5 out of 5

    Boox

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maurice

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  22. 5 out of 5

    John Kilcar

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jacques Adrian Powers

  24. 5 out of 5

    Megan Pattie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hampus Lindvall

  26. 5 out of 5

    Richard Allen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tony

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sue Collins

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Spring

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gerald Dunlop

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