... a sweeping, roundtable history, at which Duran Duran sit alongside the Judds, who sit alongside the Minutemen, who sit alongside Rubén Blades, who sits alongside Metallica … you get the picture. It’s also a carefully researched and remarkably ambitious work that immediately takes a place on the shelf of indispensable books about music in the 1980s ... In its best moments, which are frequent, Can’t Slow Down feels like a breakthrough in popular musical historiography. By deemphasizing the boundaries of genre, Matos has constructed a more honest and complete assessment of how pop music is made, circulated, and enjoyed—how it is lived, in other words ... this isn’t to suggest that Can’t Slow Down is a work of overly poptimistic, 'post-genre' revisionism. If anything, a great deal of the book is about artists negotiating the challenges of market segmentation and radio formats during a time when those structures held tremendous power ... yet while Matos’ writing is infused with real love for much of the music he writes about, he is rightly skeptical of the industry triumphalism that often goes hand in hand with musical nostalgia.
Drawn from a wealth of archival material, including oral history transcripts, books, and magazines, Matos’ in-depth look encompasses that landmark year’s hits, stars, and trends and the cultural, social, and financial conditions that helped change the face of popular music. This robust volume provides an abundance of material here for music fans, especially those fascinated by 1980s pop culture, to savor.
... [an] unapologetic celebration of 1980s popular music ... extensive archival research ... Matos’s strength is the zippy artist profiles of everyone from Culture Club to Van Halen that zero in on the varied facets of the pop world ... Protracted dissections of events such as the Grammys may prove tedious, but pop fans with an appetite for nostalgia will find much to like.