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Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer
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Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  95 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Palmer's extraordinary knowledge and boundless love of music were evident in all his writing. He was an authority on rock & roll, blues, jazz, punk, avant-garde, and world music -- often discovering new artists and trends years (even decades) before they hit the mainstream. Now, noted music writer Anthony DeCurtis has compiled the best pieces from Palmer's oeuvre and p ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Scribner (first published 2009)
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Jeff Jackson
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: punk-rock-etc
I wasn't surprised that Robert Palmer - who wrote the seminal "Deep Blues" - filed insightful pieces about roots musicians like Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, and Jerry Lee Lewis. But I had no idea that he also wrote absorbing profiles of minimalist masters LaMonte Young, Phillip Glass, and Terry Riley and insightful appreciations of avant luminaries including Yoko Ono, Ornette Coleman, Sonic Youth, and Sonny Sharrock. Erudite but always engaging, Palmer was equally a ...more
Tim Niland
Nov 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
Palmer is widely remembered as the author of the seminal Deep Blues but as this collection demonstrates, he was a well rounded music connoisseur, writing thoughtfully about jazz and rock 'n' roll as well. As critic at the New York Times and Rolling Stone, Palmer chronicled music from the mid 1970's to the mid 1990's with compassion and forethought. Some of his most striking essays in this book cover early rock and roll, interviewing Sam Phillips of Sun Records and musing on what makes rock and r ...more
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, essays
Not every selection in this collection is worthy of 5 stars. But on the whole, this is a solid collection of Palmer's work and shows the breadth of his knowledge of Blues, Jazz and Pop music. Palmer was a great writer, with a sharp wit, and a compelling style. I was a regular reader of his Rolling Stone Magazine reviews in the 80's and always loved is acerbic criticism. At the time, I just thought he was a cool writer, but I really missed getting an appreciation of his vast understanding of musi ...more
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best volumes of music criticism that I have read. The breadth and depth of Palmer's knowledge, and the exceptional enthusiasm he maintains for rock, soul, R&B, rockabilly, punk, jazz, minimalist and world music is astonishing. Palmer deals with music titans whose work we all know by heart, and those who could have been contenders, but didn't get the breaks for one reason or another. Whatever the level of renown that his subjects have or don't have, he makes the reader want ...more
Norman Revill
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading the late American music critic/writer Robert Palmer (not to be confused with the late, great 'Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley' singer Robert Palmer) can truly help explain how the universe works. After reading 'Blues & Chaos' at last I know why I've never been much of a Bruce Springsteen fan. Sure he's an immense songwriter (but then so is Elvis Costello and I don't much care for his work either) but Bruce does nothing for me. I love rock & roll, yet 'Born To Run' has always str ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
During his lifetime, I read very little of Robert Palmer's essays on popular and historic music. I regard this as a mistake. Palmer was an excellent writer... and an even more insightful storyteller. I had been allowing this book to simmer in my reading list for months... taking the book in, one essay at a time. This book is worth the read solely for the intimate stories and interviews with Ray Charles, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and (especially) the 16-page selection featuring Sam Phillips of Su ...more
Neelakantan K.K.
Quite an enlightening read. Palmer's myriad tastes and his expertise is just astounding. Each album and artist mentioned here is someone who should be listened to. Even if you don't agree with all of Palmer's opinions -- I personally think Springsteen is a fantastic artist, and a rock & roll star -- you will still find his writing absorbing, insightful, and likely to make you rethink your own ideas.

This book has made me rethink Yoko Ono and her own music. It was actually quite startling to
Sep 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Of all mainstream rock writers, Robert Palmer had the most wide-ranging and unerringly good taste. He wrote about a lot of great shit, but his writing itself (prose style) was not really that memorable. This is a 3 1/2 star book.
Kelly Smith
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Wonderful collection of essays and insight into the history of blues and rock. Read it with your computer at hand to listen to the music he mentions to get the full experience.

You will come away feeling smarter.
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: americana
palmer's writing on the blues, the stones, and john lennon make this book a worthy pick-up all on their own. one of those music critics who teaches their readers and brings music to life through prose, which is no mean feat.
Mike Barnett
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you like music, especially blues and rock and roll, then you really have to read this book.
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Robert Franklin Palmer Jr. was a 20th century American writer, musicologist, clarinetist, saxophonist, and blues producer. Robert Palmer is best known for books he authored such as Deep Blues, his music journalism articles for The New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine, his work producing blues recordings and the soundtrack to the film Deep Blues, and his clarinet work in the 1960s band The Ins ...more
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