The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates


524 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-19-512571-1
DDC 781.64'09




Edited by Compiled and edited by David Brackett
Reviewed by Ann Turner

Ann Turner, formerly the financial and budget manager of the University
of British Columbia Library, is a freelance writer.


David Brackett, the compiler and editor of this anthology, is an
associate professor of music at McGill University, but the work began at
SUNY Binghampton, where he taught survey courses in popular music
history for many years. The 94 selections include many, often
controversial, points of view: the musicians themselves in interviews
and autobiographies, the critics of their performances and recordings,
and other journalists writing for music industry publications and
general interest magazines and newspapers. Although the general
organization of the book is chronological by decade, beginning with
“Before 1950” and ending with “The 1990s and Beyond,” some
artists were active over several decades and continue to be influential
today. The comprehensive index, including names and song titles as well
as genres and terms, is very helpful in tracking a specific topic over

Brackett’s background commentary on each of the selections provides
continuity, establishes the historical and social context, and enables
him to cite other relevant sources. Being drawn from the popular music
literature of their day, the articles and excerpts in this anthology
present the music and the thoughts of its composers, performers,
audiences and critics with an immediacy that could only be surpassed by
actually being there at the time. This is an excellent textbook or
supplementary reader for courses in popular music history, and a
wonderful guide for private study.


“The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024,