RaveThe Wall Street Journal... a bracing personal account that celebrates how Ms. Parton has given a liberating voice to an often ignored segment of the American working class—resilient and independent-minded blue-collar women ... Through the years, and even after Wagoner’s death in 2007, Ms. Parton has played down and publicly forgiven the abusive treatment at his hands. Ms. Smarsh puts back the hurt and sting ... Bristling with sharp insights and righteous anger ... a moving account of how Ms. Parton’s music has helped \'hard-luck women\' make their own escapes from deadbeat men and dead-end lives.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalOdetta’s charisma is a touchstone in Mr. Zack’s engaging, revelatory chronicle, the first in-depth biography of this seminal American performer ... The author has a feel for the heady milieu of the folk revival, when protest songs became radio hits and the money got big and hustlers vied for fresh talent.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... a smart and zippy account of the watershed moment when the King of Rock ’n’ Roll came to Sin City to reclaim his squandered talent ... Mr. Zoglin is in his element outlining Vegas’s glory years ... In Mr. Zoglin’s view, Presley’s true legacy is the way he opened up Sin City to a broader range of music styles and ultimately to a new sort of spectacle.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Ewing calls his account a \'chronicle\' instead of a conventional biography, and the result is a mosaic-portrait enlivened by eyewitness details from sidemen and others whom Monroe molded and collaborated with. The book presents bluegrass history as it happened, as well as a fresh look at \'this extraordinary individual\' ... Mr. Ewing’s biography is at its best in such scenes, where ex-Bluegrass Boys offer glimpses of an inscrutable musical giant—including their auditions, in which they literally shook with fear as Monroe rated their talent as if sizing up horseflesh. At times, though, the chronicle bogs down in accounts of recording sessions and show dates, blitzing the reader with too much minutiae ... a girlfriend said Monroe, then 77, beat her with a Bible. This side of Monroe is, for the most part, left unexplored by Mr. Ewing but rates a disclaimer: \'It should be noted . . . that those relationships helped Bill continue to feel young and vital throughout the years we knew him, and they inspired some great love songs.\' If this seems over-generous, consider the songs Monroe got out of his rocky romances, not just \'Blue Moon of Kentucky\' and \'Can’t You Hear Me Callin’\' but \'My Little Georgia Rose\' and \'Walk Softly on My Heart.\'
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Gould takes a scholarly, wide-angle approach similar to the one he took in his 2007 cultural study of the Beatles, Can’t Buy Me Love. He has tapped into new archival sources, including unpublished interviews with key figures like Wexler, and he has the cooperation of the fiercely protective Redding family. Otis Redding is an incisive and deeply humanistic portrait, if at times offering too much of the big picture and not enough of the Big O.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalA veteran music journalist, Mr. Ribowsky cherry-picks from the whole pile [of biographies] for Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams and offers a feast of juicy anecdotes and sharp analysis that should satisfy devotees and attract newcomers to the fold. It’s the most Hank you can get in a single helping—and the most you’d probably want.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn addition to one man’s nuanced romance with pop, Love for Sale is an engaging history of our century-old infatuation with mass-produced music ... enlivened with snippets of interviews that Mr. Hajdu has conducted with musicians over his long career ... It is disappointing that, in a book documenting technology, there is no mention of the eight-track tape...Even so, Mr. Hajdu brings verve to his journey from his Silvertone transistor to SoundCloud.