A very broad (and definitely not deep) history of pop music. It's primarily a sorting exercise, putting artists in the right genre chapter, allowing us to see trends. Soul, disco, glam, you name it. Even one lonely little paragraph on country/western. And most groups get a sentence or two of judgement, some a couple paragraphs, and the really big ones got chapters devoted to them (Elvis, Beatles, etc). But even though he only gets a chance to make one comment about most groups, he goes out of his way to make it punchy. He's got an opinion about all these groups, and he's happy to share in a light hearted way. The Turtles were undervalued for not being good looking enough. Debby Harry was undervalued for being too good looking. U2, oh, no. And don't get him started on Madonna. See? Don't you want to jump in there and argue?
It's makes for great group reading -- I dropped tidbits into many conversations. And it's fun. But don't expect any great revelation from it. I was hoping for a little more about technology and cultural trends, and there's just not enough there. He just didn't have the time.
I also want to take issue with his conclusion that the golden age of pop is over now, and all the rest is basically remixing. No one can make a new sound anymore. This strikes me as history-deaf (like tone-deaf? what's the word I'm looking for...). In art and music, as in science, have many times declared that the age of discovery and creativity is over, simply because they can't see anything new on the horizon from where they stand. These folks have time and again been proven wrong, and I have no doubt that Stanley will be, too. And I'm sure he'll be happy about it. In any case, this big pink book is recommended for a fun overview of pop.