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Art of the Blues: A Visual Treasury of Black Music's Golden Age

by Bill Dahl University of Chicago Press
Pub Date:
11/2016
ISBN:
9780226396699
Format:
Hbk 224 pages
Price:
AU$84.99 NZ$82.60
Product Status: In Stock Now
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This stunning book charts the rich history of the blues, through the dazzling array of posters, album covers, and advertisements that have shaped its identity over the past hundred years. The blues have been one of the most ubiquitous but diverse elements of American popular music at large, and the visual art associated with this unique sound has been just as varied and dynamic. There is no better guide to this fascinating graphical world than Bill Dahl - a longtime music journalist and historian who has written liner notes for countless reissues of classic blues, soul, R&B, and rock albums. With his deep knowledge and incisive commentary - complementing more than three hundred and fifty lavishly reproduced images - the history of the blues comes musically and visually to life.


 


What will astonish readers who thumb through these pages is the amazing range of ways that the blues have been represented - whether via album covers, posters, flyers, 78 rpm labels, advertising, or other promotional materials. We see the blues as it was first visually captured in the highly colorful sheet music covers of the early twentieth century. We see striking and hard-to-find label designs from labels big (Columbia) and small (Rhumboogie). We see William Alexander's humorous artwork on postwar Miltone Records; the cherished ephemera of concert and movie posters; and Chess Records' iconic early albums designed by Don Bronstein, which would set a new standard for modern album cover design.


 


What these images collectively portray is the evolution of a distinctively American art form. And they do so in the richest way imaginable. The result is a sumptuous book, a visual treasury as alive in spirit as the music it so vibrantly captures.
"[The Art of the Blues] is a stunner. The text is deeply researched and fluently written by Bill Dahl a freelance music journalist, a prolific liner note writer and author of Motown: The Golden Years. Invaluable knowledge and advice was provided by Chris James, an award-winning recording artist and music historian. . . .The visual presentations of the music similarly passed through different phases which makes this landmark book a valuable historical reference work and educational tool as well as being a stimulating and joyful book to browse."
Bill Dahl is a freelance music journalist who writes regularly for the Chicago Tribune, Living Blues, and Goldmine. He has written or cowritten liner notes for countless albums - including the boxed set, Ray Charles - Genius & Soul: The 50th Anniversary, for which he received a Grammy nomination. He is the author of Motown: The Golden Years.