Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings

Article excerpt

Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. By Steve Sullivan. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2013. 2 vols. alkaline $200 (ISBN: 978-0-8108-8295-9). E-book available (978-0-8108-8296-6), $199.99.

A freelance writer, researcher, and publisher, Steve Sullivan writes on aspects of American popular culture. In the Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Sullivan compiles over 1,000 recorded songs gleaned from numerous discographies, charts, best lists, historical studies, periodicals, and listening. His selection of songs, which range from the Gay Nineties into the twenty-first century, is based on a "weighted point system" and, as he admits, "personal taste." The songs are then divided and chronologically arranged into ten titled "playlists," each of which Sullivan believes presents "a reasonable balance of eras and genres" (viii).

When compared to Chris Smith's 101 Albums That Changed Popular Music (Oxford, 2009) or Nigel Harrison's Songwriters: A Biographical Dictionary with Discographies (McFarland, 1998), Sullivan emphasizes the qualities of the performance of a particular song over the album as a whole or the perspective of the composer. This he does in a good degree of detail; some of the song articles range up to five columns in length.

Sullivan states that the playlists themselves are ranked, with the songs in playlist 1 being "the greatest classics of all, and down from there" (viii). This leaves one to puzzle over what inspired the particular playlist titles. For example, how are the songs in "Playlist 4: Good Rockin' Tonight, 1904-2005" greater than those in "Playlist 5: Jazznocracy, 1897-2010" or lesser than those in "Playlist 1: Crazy Blues, 1906-2004"? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.