Review by Choice Review
Gregory (writer and researcher for a British film company) has compiled this biographical guide to soul personalities, primarily performers but also producers, label owners, and writers. Although he defines soul in a broad sense (excluding rap and hip hop but including such names as Van Morrison, Robert Palmer, and Delbert McClinton), Gregory stays essentially true to covering those whose music and style reflect a blend of rhythm and blues and gospel. The more than 600 alphabetically arranged entries include brief biographical sketches (averaging 300-500 words) that include songs that made the charts (with UK and US top listings and date), and selective discographies. Irwin Stambler's Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, and Soul (rev. ed., 1989; 1st ed., CH, May'75) lists 120 figures in common with Gregory (the major names one would expect, including Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Al Green, and Sam Cooke) with longer entries. Gregory's work suffers from typos, comma splices, run-ons, and other evidence of sloppy editing e.g., "Pittsburg, Philadelphia" for "Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" (p. 60) but he does provide basic biographical information on a number of lesser-known soul music figures and groups, e.g., Al Bell (head of promotion at Stax), Chairmen of the Board, and Teddy Riley. Stambler does not cover songwriters; Gregory lists Holland and Dozier as well as Goffen and King. This work will prove a useful starting point for those interested in pursuing the personalities of this very influential aspect of popular music. R. A. Aken; University of Kentucky
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
British writer Gregory has compiled this biographical dictionary of almost 600 soul performers, songwriters, and producers. Entries run the gamut of soul's history. Producers from pioneer Ahmet Ertegun to today's Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are included. Performers also span time from Sam Cooke and his predecessors to new groups like the Fine Young Cannibals. In his introduction, Gregory acknowledges the difficulty in classifying soul singers. This problem is most obvious with contemporary performers and means that some "blue-eyed" soul singers like Michael Bolton have been omitted and rappers like L L Cool J included. The biographical sketches focus on musical careers and associations with other artists. Entries include the year and place of birth, career background, and hit singles, with both U.S. and U.K. charting and year. For some performers there are brief discographies of albums likely to be available. Profiles range in length from one column to 11/2 pages. Two inserts of black-and-white photographs spotlight big-name performers like Aretha Franklin, Ike and Tina Turner, and Mariah Carey. See and bold-face see also references are used throughout the book, which has no index. A brief bibliography is appended. Many of the big-name contemporary performers will be found in works like The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music and The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul. As with so many genres of popular music, it is the early performers who sometimes fall between the cracks. Those libraries with a demand for information on early performers like Little Willie John will certainly want to consider Soul Music A-Z as an inexpensive addition to their music collection. (Reviewed Sept. 1, 1992)
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.