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Music category type book. Paperback. Robert Palmer, Author. Lightly age toned pages. A Penquin Book. 1982 reprinted in 1988. Printed in USA. Total 310 pages. Approximate size, 5 x 7.75. Brown covers with pictorials of Blues singers, band on the front cover - one guy wearing a blue suit. Pages clean with no markings or tears. Spine is tight and straight. A nice book that is Music category type book. Paperback. Robert Palmer, Author. Lightly age toned pages. A Penquin Book. 1982 reprinted in 1988. Printed in USA. Total 310 pages. Approximate size, 5 x 7.75. Brown covers with pictorials of Blues singers, band on the front cover - one guy wearing a blue suit. Pages clean with no markings or tears. Spine is tight and straight. A nice book that is quite educational about the "Blues" singers! See our photo, not like the one Amazon is showing on the presentation. *8BC2


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Music category type book. Paperback. Robert Palmer, Author. Lightly age toned pages. A Penquin Book. 1982 reprinted in 1988. Printed in USA. Total 310 pages. Approximate size, 5 x 7.75. Brown covers with pictorials of Blues singers, band on the front cover - one guy wearing a blue suit. Pages clean with no markings or tears. Spine is tight and straight. A nice book that is Music category type book. Paperback. Robert Palmer, Author. Lightly age toned pages. A Penquin Book. 1982 reprinted in 1988. Printed in USA. Total 310 pages. Approximate size, 5 x 7.75. Brown covers with pictorials of Blues singers, band on the front cover - one guy wearing a blue suit. Pages clean with no markings or tears. Spine is tight and straight. A nice book that is quite educational about the "Blues" singers! See our photo, not like the one Amazon is showing on the presentation. *8BC2

30 review for Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta

  1. 5 out of 5

    Donovan Foote

    This book is amazing and by far the most interesting Blues book I've read to date. Palmer focuses on Delta Blues and its migration to Chicago, but what really interested me was his tracing the roots of the Delta Blues back to Africa and the key musicians who developed the distinct Delta style. I've read plenty of books on the Blues which discuss players and attempt to divine a single individual responsible for the Blues, but Palmer doesn't operate in this vacuum in which one person can develop a This book is amazing and by far the most interesting Blues book I've read to date. Palmer focuses on Delta Blues and its migration to Chicago, but what really interested me was his tracing the roots of the Delta Blues back to Africa and the key musicians who developed the distinct Delta style. I've read plenty of books on the Blues which discuss players and attempt to divine a single individual responsible for the Blues, but Palmer doesn't operate in this vacuum in which one person can develop a musical genre. His research is scientific in its exploration which makes for a tremendously in depth read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason Coleman

    Nothing vague about this one. Palmer seeks nothing less than to trace blues to one specific spot (namely, Dockery Farm near Cleveland, MS, the founding of which reads like something out of Absalom, Absalom!), and say, "There—that's where it started." Using Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters as touchstones, he covers the genre's elusive origins, its heyday in the Delta, and its migration to Chicago, where it grandly went electric. Palmer writes a beautiful, detailed prose and is a d Nothing vague about this one. Palmer seeks nothing less than to trace blues to one specific spot (namely, Dockery Farm near Cleveland, MS, the founding of which reads like something out of Absalom, Absalom!), and say, "There—that's where it started." Using Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters as touchstones, he covers the genre's elusive origins, its heyday in the Delta, and its migration to Chicago, where it grandly went electric. Palmer writes a beautiful, detailed prose and is a damn good social historian (the chapter on the the blues' roots in West Africa and the odyssey of the slave trade is fascinating). He goes over all the building blocks, from the flattened-third "blue" note to the myriad lyrical tropes, without denying the music its fundamental weirdness (although he doesn't make as much of a fetish of this as, say, Greil Marcus does). I can't imagine a better blues history; moreover, it will make you seriously rethink rock and roll. Having said all that, I think I should stop reviewing so damn many music books.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tim Schneider

    Deep Blues is a history of Delta Blues written by Robert Palmer one of the great music writers of the last half of the twentieth Century. Palmer treads the fine line between scholarship and readability and makes the book both informative and interesting. Written in 1982, it traces the African ancestry of the Blues through the ground-breaking work of Charley Patton and through to the then present day. While it touches on other regional variation (Texas Blues, for example) the book is dedicated to Deep Blues is a history of Delta Blues written by Robert Palmer one of the great music writers of the last half of the twentieth Century. Palmer treads the fine line between scholarship and readability and makes the book both informative and interesting. Written in 1982, it traces the African ancestry of the Blues through the ground-breaking work of Charley Patton and through to the then present day. While it touches on other regional variation (Texas Blues, for example) the book is dedicated to looking at the blues that grew in the Mississippi Delta and was then transfered to Chicago by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, et. al. There's a heavy focus on the seminal work of Charley Patton. Blues neophytes will find a ton of jumping off points to music which is much more available today than it was 28 years ago when the book was written. And people with a good blues background can find plenty to digest and more than a few surprises.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Wes Freeman

    The only book I've read that dedicates itself to mapping out the common ground American Blues shares with its African ancestry. Good stuff, though some of it's dated, it's still the best single book on the Blues I've read. Even better is the movie Deep Blues, which also features Palmer. It shows musicians from the Mississippi Delta and Hill Country in their element and in their prime. The only book I've read that dedicates itself to mapping out the common ground American Blues shares with its African ancestry. Good stuff, though some of it's dated, it's still the best single book on the Blues I've read. Even better is the movie Deep Blues, which also features Palmer. It shows musicians from the Mississippi Delta and Hill Country in their element and in their prime.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Still

    I come back to this book periodically. There is always some new aspect of Palmer's appreciation of the Blues to cherish upon each re-read. It's the critical appraisals. It's the stylistic differences between the various Mississippi Bluesmen that Bob Palmer discusses. It's the biographical detail supplied. It was my great fortune to have discovered the music of many of the artists Bob Palmer discusses in this book before actually reading "Deep Blues". I grew up in Memphis and there were always Blue I come back to this book periodically. There is always some new aspect of Palmer's appreciation of the Blues to cherish upon each re-read. It's the critical appraisals. It's the stylistic differences between the various Mississippi Bluesmen that Bob Palmer discusses. It's the biographical detail supplied. It was my great fortune to have discovered the music of many of the artists Bob Palmer discusses in this book before actually reading "Deep Blues". I grew up in Memphis and there were always Blues programs on various radio stations -from non-profit free-form radio stations to the great WDIA-AM which programmed Blues themed shows throughout the 1960s to mid-1970s on weekends (after midnight). I even got to attend performances by a few of the legends discussed in Deep Blues. I use this book as a reference point and as a personal ballast and a constant reminder of the country I come from. All of the artists Palmer discusses are long gone from this earth but their music still lives, ever writhing, ever expanding like kudzu growing wild in the gullies beyond the ghostly gravel roads.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Howison

    A modern classic on the history of the blues, it is an essential read for anyone interested in this music. Very readable, with an emphasis on the music's social history. On the one hand Palmer does recognize the way that the church trained and shaped many of the greatest blues musicians, yet he fails to take seriously the insight of James Cone in the "Spirituals and the Blues" that the blues are also "spirituals" (the "secular spirituals", as Cone puts it); an insight extended by Jon Michael Spe A modern classic on the history of the blues, it is an essential read for anyone interested in this music. Very readable, with an emphasis on the music's social history. On the one hand Palmer does recognize the way that the church trained and shaped many of the greatest blues musicians, yet he fails to take seriously the insight of James Cone in the "Spirituals and the Blues" that the blues are also "spirituals" (the "secular spirituals", as Cone puts it); an insight extended by Jon Michael Spencer and Angela Davis, among other black music scholars. Too bad, as it really limits the book's scope. And only one passing reference to Blind Willie Johnson? Hmmm...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    In under 200 pages this book tries to cover the history of the blues from pre-colonial Africa to the 1970's! Ultimately it is this breadth and brevity that undermines the book. Being ill-organized though doesn’t ruin a book and there is a lot of value here. You also get a sense that you are watching the creation of an academic field right before your eyes (but no footnotes yet). "The MC announced Wolf, and the curtains opened to reveal his band pumping out a decidedly down-home shuffle. The rest In under 200 pages this book tries to cover the history of the blues from pre-colonial Africa to the 1970's! Ultimately it is this breadth and brevity that undermines the book. Being ill-organized though doesn’t ruin a book and there is a lot of value here. You also get a sense that you are watching the creation of an academic field right before your eyes (but no footnotes yet). "The MC announced Wolf, and the curtains opened to reveal his band pumping out a decidedly down-home shuffle. The rest of the bands on the show were playing jump and soul-influenced blues, but this was the hard stuff. Where was Wolf? Suddenly he sprang out onto the stage from the wings. He was a huge bulk of a man, but he advanced across the stage in sudden bursts of speed, his head pivoting from side to side, eyes huge and white, eyeballs rotating wildly. He seemed to be having an epileptic seizure, but no, he suddenly lunged for the microphone, blew a chorus of raw, heavily rhythmic harmonica, and began moaning. He had the hugest voice I ever heard-it seemed to fill the hall and get right inside your ears, and when he hummed and moaned in falsetto, every hair on your neck crackled with electricity. The thirty-minute set went by like an express train, with Wolf switching from harp to guitar (which he payed while rolling around on his back and, at one point, doing somersaults) and then leaping up to prowl the lip of the stage. He was The Mighty Wolf, no doubt about it. Finally, an impatient signal from the wings let him know that his portion of the show was over. Defiantly, Wolf counted off a bone-crushing rocker, began singing rhythmically, feigned an exit, and suddenly made a flying leap for the curtain at the side of the stage. Holding the microphone under his beefy right arm and singing into it all the while, he began climbing up the curtain, going higher and higher until he was perched far above the stage, the thick curtain threatening to rip, the audience screaming with delight. Then he loosened his grip and, in a single easy motion, slid right back down the curtain, hit the stage, cut off the tune, and stalked away, to the most ecstatic cheers of the evening. He was then fifty-five years old."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Hill

    I really wanted to love this book. Palmer did a wonderful service in authoring this introduction to the music and people of the "Delta Blues". The book comes alive in the excerpts from interviews Palmer (and others whom he cites) conducted with various bluesmen, and Palmer's love of the subject is evident in every page. Perhaps the most memorable part of the book describes Palmer's experience watching Howlin' Wolf perform. Palmer wonderfully communicates Wolf's energy, and the spontaneity, passi I really wanted to love this book. Palmer did a wonderful service in authoring this introduction to the music and people of the "Delta Blues". The book comes alive in the excerpts from interviews Palmer (and others whom he cites) conducted with various bluesmen, and Palmer's love of the subject is evident in every page. Perhaps the most memorable part of the book describes Palmer's experience watching Howlin' Wolf perform. Palmer wonderfully communicates Wolf's energy, and the spontaneity, passion, and violence of the blues. Yet such passages are few and far between, and in general, his writing does not quite rise to the subject. Much of it is a numbing chronicle of who played with whom in which recording session, and reads more like a producer's diary than a journalistic narrative. For those "deeply" interested in the Blues, this is a must read. It is also a great introduction to the canon of the Delta Blues--those looking for a guide to this vast genre should start here. But the book does not have enough to sustain the interest of readers with more general aims.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Graham Tennyson

    Best general book about the blues I've read, so far. It is a bit old now, early eighties, but it is still a great introduction to this fascinating form of deep expression. Palmer takes us on a journey from the Mississippi Delta, back to Africa and then forward on through the roots of the music, ending up in (contemporary) post rock and roll Chicago. After a brief exploration of those roots the story is told with certain key players (Patton, Son House, Muddy, Wolf, Johnson etcetera) as his drivin Best general book about the blues I've read, so far. It is a bit old now, early eighties, but it is still a great introduction to this fascinating form of deep expression. Palmer takes us on a journey from the Mississippi Delta, back to Africa and then forward on through the roots of the music, ending up in (contemporary) post rock and roll Chicago. After a brief exploration of those roots the story is told with certain key players (Patton, Son House, Muddy, Wolf, Johnson etcetera) as his driving force and particularly significant locations (Helena, Clarksdale, Memphis, Chicago etcetera) as his stomping grounds. He covers a lot of ground but the drive is compelling and the book is jam packed with fascinating details and personal stories. If you want to know a bit more about this important 20th century music this book is a great place to start. I used it as a foundation text in my Blog about my own journey to The Blues ... it's deep man!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rob Rogers

    Any course on the history of the blues should begin (and might well end) with this book. Palmer's exhaustive research chronicles the development of this most American of musical forms from a technical viewpoint (identifying particular West African rhythmic patterns and instrumentation in early blues, for example) and one that is deeply personal. It's obvious that Palmer loves the blues, and feels the deepest respect and affection for the subjects of his interviews (particularly Muddy Waters), ev Any course on the history of the blues should begin (and might well end) with this book. Palmer's exhaustive research chronicles the development of this most American of musical forms from a technical viewpoint (identifying particular West African rhythmic patterns and instrumentation in early blues, for example) and one that is deeply personal. It's obvious that Palmer loves the blues, and feels the deepest respect and affection for the subjects of his interviews (particularly Muddy Waters), even as he holds them to account. (Rice Miller, in particular, comes across as both a supremely talented musician and one mean S.O.B.) This is history I didn't want to put down.

  11. 4 out of 5

    James Nuttall

    A fascinating exploration of the blues from its cultural roots to its rise to prominence. Robert Palmer explores the growth through the actions of many notable figures including Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, and casts a scholar's eye over the shifting culture of America at the time. While fans of the blues will be drooling over such a book, those less familiar with it might find it a harder read. That said, Palmer's writing is easy and comfortable enough to make this a good entrance to the hi A fascinating exploration of the blues from its cultural roots to its rise to prominence. Robert Palmer explores the growth through the actions of many notable figures including Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, and casts a scholar's eye over the shifting culture of America at the time. While fans of the blues will be drooling over such a book, those less familiar with it might find it a harder read. That said, Palmer's writing is easy and comfortable enough to make this a good entrance to the history of the blues.

  12. 4 out of 5

    James Earle

    Moments of great cultural history, but moments when it was too musically technical for my novice understanding of music. This line makes the book worth reading: "The singer [of Blues] is so involved that in many cases his involvement becomes both the subject and substance of the work. Such unflinching subjectivity may seem callous and self-involved, but in the context of its time and place it was positively heroic. Only a man who understands his worth and believes in his freedom sings as if noth Moments of great cultural history, but moments when it was too musically technical for my novice understanding of music. This line makes the book worth reading: "The singer [of Blues] is so involved that in many cases his involvement becomes both the subject and substance of the work. Such unflinching subjectivity may seem callous and self-involved, but in the context of its time and place it was positively heroic. Only a man who understands his worth and believes in his freedom sings as if nothing else matters. " pg 75

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    This is a wonderful, enjoyable book. The "cultural history" is supplemented with biographies and anecdotes, and there is some, but not too much, technical discussion of the music itself (which, as someone who does not play or read music, is apprecicated). This is a wonderful, enjoyable book. The "cultural history" is supplemented with biographies and anecdotes, and there is some, but not too much, technical discussion of the music itself (which, as someone who does not play or read music, is apprecicated).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Robert Palmer's Deep Blues was published a long time ago (1981), but that's good, because it means he had the opportunity to include some direct contact he had with the great Delta blues musicians, notably one of the greatest, Muddy Waters, who did as much as anyone to spread the blues far and wide beyond the Mississippi Delta (plantation land between along the Mississippi, Yazoo and Sunflower rivers). As a musicologist, musician and journalist, Palmer does a wonderful job of connecting the blue Robert Palmer's Deep Blues was published a long time ago (1981), but that's good, because it means he had the opportunity to include some direct contact he had with the great Delta blues musicians, notably one of the greatest, Muddy Waters, who did as much as anyone to spread the blues far and wide beyond the Mississippi Delta (plantation land between along the Mississippi, Yazoo and Sunflower rivers). As a musicologist, musician and journalist, Palmer does a wonderful job of connecting the blues' fascinating roots in African music through Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Son House, Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and dozens of other not-so-well known bluesmen. These were singers, songwriters, guitar, harmonica, and piano players who found their way out of unheated shacks on the Dockery and other plantations and participated in the great migration of southern Blacks up north through St. Louis to Chicago, Detroit and ultimately, both coasts--New York and L..A.--and Europe and Asia as well. As a music critic--a pair of ears connected to fabulous gifts as a writer--Palmer captures the essence of one blues great after another. He describes all the sounds: the aching, the sorrowing, the preening, the preaching, the dancing, the thundering. And he lodges those sounds in a great piece of Black America cultural history, telling us exactly how the blues spread from Saturday night juke joints to big stages in big auditoriums and stadiums, drawing huge audiences of Whites. One fascinating aspect of this tale is how generous blues musicians were with one another. Sure, there were rivalries and jealousies, but in the main, the blues were handed along, one generation to another, with great care. At each step the "deep blues," that which most sounds like the blues' Delta origins, inevitably were modified according to the next generation's particular gifts, sense of audience, and technology. The electric guitar made a big difference in the blues' sound, so did gospel music, and so did, with the blues' success, the impact of being able to assemble larger blues bands in contrast to earlier solo or duo street corner acts. It's an old and often-told story, but the blues' impact on British musicians from the Stones to the Yardbirds and beyond remains intriguing. The Mississippi Delta to Liverpool and Birmingham is a long throw. The fun of this book lies in the unbroken stream of anecdotes flowing from the early 20th century to the 1970s. There were great successes and tragedies, there was a lot of drinking and sleeping wherever the floor was flat, there were night rides on dark roads with the police in pursuit, there were radio shows promoting flour, there was an endless stream of blues' promoters from the Chess brothers to Sam Phillips. Palmer does a fantastic job of pinning down the whereabouts and fates of scores of blues musicians--who played in Helena, Arkansas, and what it was like when Howlin' Wolf stalked the stage. He addresses everyone's story with care and respect. A very fine book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Doctor Moss

    It took me way too long to get around to reading this. Deep Blues is required reading for blues fans. Palmer did an exhaustive job of tracing the roots and connections, from turn of the century plantations along the Mississippi, through the Chicago migration, and on to the confrontation with rock in the 50s and 60s and blues’ ultimate revival. It’s a narrative genealogy of the blues, told at a fine level of who grew up where, learned from who, played what songs in what style, developed in what d It took me way too long to get around to reading this. Deep Blues is required reading for blues fans. Palmer did an exhaustive job of tracing the roots and connections, from turn of the century plantations along the Mississippi, through the Chicago migration, and on to the confrontation with rock in the 50s and 60s and blues’ ultimate revival. It’s a narrative genealogy of the blues, told at a fine level of who grew up where, learned from who, played what songs in what style, developed in what direction, and had what success (or lack of success). Much of Palmer’s research was gathered via interviews with the principals, like Muddy Waters and Robert Lockwood, Jr. The blues spread organically and geographically, like a musical virus (in a good way) from person to person, and from style to style. Actually, I think it would be great to see a genealogical chart of origins and influences, although that may be the academic in me talking. It’s more than just a body of knowledge — Palmer’s book enhanced my listening. He wrote in the pre-YouTube, pre-iTunes/Spotify/Pandora days when hunting down these musicians and recordings was a formidable task. Luckily, now, we can follow along with the story, looking up songs and musicians, some of whom I hadn’t known at all, or hadn’t known well. And Palmer’s musical knowledge allows him to call attention to details and aspects that I could then hunt down and appreciate for myself. I can’t vouch for the validity of everything that Palmer recounts from his interviews and other research. Much of the history of the blues is pure folklore, often told by musicians whose currency is image, metaphor, and just plain stretching the truth, with a measure of mysticism thrown in for extra spice. If you like the blues, this is necessary. It may be dry and factual in places, but reading the book is just part of the experience — ultimately, it’s what it adds to your experience of the music that counts.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alger Smythe-Hopkins

    Dated, but excellent. Palmer spends considerable time attempting to draw straight lines from specific African cultural traditions to the elements of the Blues, which was a classic anthropological project of the 20th century. In retrospect this isn't terribly useful information since there is not too much difference between the kind of a la carte cultural selection Palmer conducts here and just making up connections. Palmer hears what he wants in specific African traditions with an ear tuned to Bl Dated, but excellent. Palmer spends considerable time attempting to draw straight lines from specific African cultural traditions to the elements of the Blues, which was a classic anthropological project of the 20th century. In retrospect this isn't terribly useful information since there is not too much difference between the kind of a la carte cultural selection Palmer conducts here and just making up connections. Palmer hears what he wants in specific African traditions with an ear tuned to Blues music. Anything similar would sound like a source. It is now commonly accepted that this approach strips agency from the subject (in this case the blues innovators of the Delta) and overdetermines an idealized coherent 19th century Afro-American culture with examples drawn from the present African culture. This assumes considerable cultural inertia across the slave trading period into the present. This is comparable to a claim that the origins of American Rock and Roll music are found in 16th century German folk music. It is a claim that is both true and false at the same time, but in the case of the blues we are too willing to accept the proposition entirely because of the exoticism of Africa to most readers. Palmer also reflects the interests of his time in that he largely defines "the Blues" as the particular flavor of Blues that took root in post-War Chicago. As above, his project is to draw a bright straight line from the musical traditions of the slave coast Africa to the popular music of the late-1970s. The actual collaboration of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and John Lee Hooker with the headline acts of the 1960s and 70s make the last part of this musical family tree defensible at least. Actually, the parts of the tree that connect Skip James, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton through to the Rolling Stones and The Band are among the best parts of this book. A century of influence that is not always appropriation makes a better and fuller story of 20th century music than the usual White music -v- Black music history that sees both in isolation: Elvis stole from Rosetta Tharpe in this telling, not influenced by. In other limitations, Palmer is also a prisoner of his sources. So far as his narrative is concerned, Muddy Waters is the transformative figure in moving the acoustic Delta Blues into the electrified Chicago Blues. What makes this story suspect is he is told this by Muddy himself. Similarly Robert Lockwood stands as a crucial bridge between the Robert Johnson tradition and the explosive Chicago style. The source for that interpretation is Robert Lockwood. At the same time and for exactly the same reasons this book is the best document for capturing the first person and strutting opinions of the musicians who built an enduring musical legacy. Palmer so obviously loves this musical form, and has an unparalleled rapport with the musicians that there is no better guide for the enthusiast to a vital part of the American experience.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roz Milner

    With traditions and legacies running deep into musical history, writing the definitive history of what's become called The Blues is something of a fool's errand. Not that it stopped Martin Scorsese from trying. It's just that it's too deep, too wide and too big a box to be encapsulated in one concise package. With that said, Robert Palmer's book is pretty close to being that exactly that. Less a history of the blues, and more focused on how a particular variety of them rose to prominence, Deep Blu With traditions and legacies running deep into musical history, writing the definitive history of what's become called The Blues is something of a fool's errand. Not that it stopped Martin Scorsese from trying. It's just that it's too deep, too wide and too big a box to be encapsulated in one concise package. With that said, Robert Palmer's book is pretty close to being that exactly that. Less a history of the blues, and more focused on how a particular variety of them rose to prominence, Deep Blues follows several key musicians, the paths of migration for southern black men throughout the 20th century, and the ways this music evolved and gained popularity. It's the story of how the Delta Blues became Rock and Roll and the key players in that path. Largely, it follows Muddy Waters. Waters - aka McKinley Morganfield - was the lynchpin of this change. Both in the deep south, Waters grew up around and learned from the legendary figures in blues history: Robert Johnson, Son House, Charley Patton. He started by playing in a similar vein: solo, on an acoustic slide guitar. But as he matured, he started playing with an electric, with a backing band and, eventually, in Chicago, where his run on Chess Records still makes waves. And, unlike many of the figures Palmer dicusses, Waters was still alive to talk about it. That said, Palmer gives due to other key players. Founders like Patton, Johnson and House are all discussed in depth, as are players like Howlin' Wolf - who was nearly 40 when he became a professional musician -, Sonny Boy Williamson (both of them), Otis Spann, Ike Turner, BB King and many others. Some left a handful of records, others recorded extensively, but Palmer gives each their due. But what makes Palmer's book stand out is the depth of research and knowledge. Palmer goes back to various forms of African music - and recommends records! - to trace the roots of the blues, and uses his knowledge of music theory to explain what makes specific performers stand out from others. Some use different techniques with their voices, others make use of so-called Blue Notes (a diminished fifth, for example) in the scale to give their guitar playing a particular feeling. Palmer's the rare critic who's able to explain in musical terms what makes someone stand out, but expresses it in a way even the layperson can understand. There are minor gripes with this book. For example, his focus on delta blues reduces the impact of bluesmen like Josh White, T-Bone Walker or Blind Willie Johnson. And the book was never updated from it's original version, leaving the lengthy discography woefully out of date: most of these records are no longer in print, but have their contents duplicated on many other CDs. Still, these are relatively small and didn't change the way I felt about this book. All in all, it's a sharp, interesting and compulsive read about blues music, one which inspired me to go dig out my Waters records and put away the Clapton ones. Recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This is a book I enjoyed because I love the blues and I recognized a lot of the names, but I can't see how it would appeal to a non-fan of the blues, or blues agnostics, and the prose is fine or whatever, but it sure does drag sometimes, particularly when it just becomes a rote list of names, dates, and indecipherable (to me) explanations of tone, meter, etc. I mean, it's impressive-- really impressive-- how much information is crammed into here, and it's awesome to hear from Muddy Waters and Jo This is a book I enjoyed because I love the blues and I recognized a lot of the names, but I can't see how it would appeal to a non-fan of the blues, or blues agnostics, and the prose is fine or whatever, but it sure does drag sometimes, particularly when it just becomes a rote list of names, dates, and indecipherable (to me) explanations of tone, meter, etc. I mean, it's impressive-- really impressive-- how much information is crammed into here, and it's awesome to hear from Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson, but it's a book that warrants some skimming unless a) you're a music scholar b) you're writing your dissertation on African American vocal rhythms, or c) you're working really hard to build up your hipster cred by being able to drop the name of a guy like Destruction into your casual conversation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

    Robert's quirky personality comes through in this book---the DVD of the same title, though produced later, further shapes perceptions of the book. It is a bit fragmented and, sometimes, non-linear. However, it has an engaged attitude which covers its presentational flaws. A good general overview of the development of blues in the Delta as well as the great migration from Mississippi to Chicago and the resulting musical phenomena, which ultimately impacted the sound and social attitude of popular Robert's quirky personality comes through in this book---the DVD of the same title, though produced later, further shapes perceptions of the book. It is a bit fragmented and, sometimes, non-linear. However, it has an engaged attitude which covers its presentational flaws. A good general overview of the development of blues in the Delta as well as the great migration from Mississippi to Chicago and the resulting musical phenomena, which ultimately impacted the sound and social attitude of popular music. Well-researched by an author with roots in the geographical area and a love of the music. Recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    East Bay J

    Robert Palmer's Deep Blues is a classic of the blues book genre and I'd wanted to read it since I found out this was NOT the Robert Palmer of "Some Like It Hot" fame. Published in 1981, this book put Palmer in the esteemed company of G. D. Wardlow and Paul Oliver and I really think Deep Blues holds up. As he writes about the many blues performers who contributed to the art, Palmer gets to the heart of things and communicates who they were, what they were about. My suggestion is to read this and Robert Palmer's Deep Blues is a classic of the blues book genre and I'd wanted to read it since I found out this was NOT the Robert Palmer of "Some Like It Hot" fame. Published in 1981, this book put Palmer in the esteemed company of G. D. Wardlow and Paul Oliver and I really think Deep Blues holds up. As he writes about the many blues performers who contributed to the art, Palmer gets to the heart of things and communicates who they were, what they were about. My suggestion is to read this and all of Paul Oliver's books then take in Francis Davis' History Of The Blues. Deep Blues rules and blues fans will love it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    Second year in university? maybe... i was in this class with some pals and really enjoyed it. The teacher was a local blues musician "lil' rev" and he was fun, interesting and smokin' hot. Plus he had musicians come in and play during class. It was during a dreary winter and it perked me right up. I had SOMETHING to look forward to. This is an excellent read if you're not sure what to dig into first as far as blues music goes. I've been trying to remember the name of the author for a while now. Second year in university? maybe... i was in this class with some pals and really enjoyed it. The teacher was a local blues musician "lil' rev" and he was fun, interesting and smokin' hot. Plus he had musicians come in and play during class. It was during a dreary winter and it perked me right up. I had SOMETHING to look forward to. This is an excellent read if you're not sure what to dig into first as far as blues music goes. I've been trying to remember the name of the author for a while now. I pwned remembering this damn thing! Anyways, this is a book i would constantly loan out and people would love it. That is all.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Roderick Mcgillis

    Compelling narrative of the development and growth of the music originating in the Mississippi Delta. Palmer goes back to the African roots of this music and then traces its journey from the likes of Charlie Patton right up to Sons Seals, Buddy Guy, Albert King, and others. This is a large history, focused on the music and the performers of a specific region. An even larger history exists, but what Palmer offers does set the stage for this larger history, and provides a backdrop for the music ma Compelling narrative of the development and growth of the music originating in the Mississippi Delta. Palmer goes back to the African roots of this music and then traces its journey from the likes of Charlie Patton right up to Sons Seals, Buddy Guy, Albert King, and others. This is a large history, focused on the music and the performers of a specific region. An even larger history exists, but what Palmer offers does set the stage for this larger history, and provides a backdrop for the music many of us experienced as Rock n' Roll.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Spiros

    Robert Palmer finds the Big Bang moment for "the Deep Blues", the blues of the Delta, at Dockery's Farms in Mississippi, in the 1920's, with the advent of Charley Patton. He spends the rest of the book tracing its spread, first throughout the Delta, then up the river to St. Louis and Chicago, then throughout America, and finally, with the bands of the British Invasion, throughout the world. An excellent, entertaining retelling, and my only regret is that he only found occasion to mention Chicago Robert Palmer finds the Big Bang moment for "the Deep Blues", the blues of the Delta, at Dockery's Farms in Mississippi, in the 1920's, with the advent of Charley Patton. He spends the rest of the book tracing its spread, first throughout the Delta, then up the river to St. Louis and Chicago, then throughout America, and finally, with the bands of the British Invasion, throughout the world. An excellent, entertaining retelling, and my only regret is that he only found occasion to mention Chicago session drummer Odie Payne Jr.'s name once in 277 pages.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This book is definitely for the die-hard music/blues fan only! ""Deep Blues"" was a walk through the history of the Delta Blues from day one on the Mississippi cotton plantations through approximately 1978-79 (The book was published in 1980). Basic music fans might find the history to be dry, but any hardcore fans of Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson, etc should probably check this out. It definitely showed how current rock and roll developed by means of Delta Blues. Worth a rea This book is definitely for the die-hard music/blues fan only! ""Deep Blues"" was a walk through the history of the Delta Blues from day one on the Mississippi cotton plantations through approximately 1978-79 (The book was published in 1980). Basic music fans might find the history to be dry, but any hardcore fans of Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson, etc should probably check this out. It definitely showed how current rock and roll developed by means of Delta Blues. Worth a read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Brown

    Blues fans should absolutely read this book. I finished it several months ago, and what sticks in my memory is that the book pivots from a cultural-ethno-historical exploration of blues roots to Palmer's own experiences with Muddy Waters and other important figures. It's important to keep the publication date in perspective, though. Lots of important music has been created since Muddy Waters. Palmer is just shy of calling Waters the end-all be-all of the blues. Blues fans should absolutely read this book. I finished it several months ago, and what sticks in my memory is that the book pivots from a cultural-ethno-historical exploration of blues roots to Palmer's own experiences with Muddy Waters and other important figures. It's important to keep the publication date in perspective, though. Lots of important music has been created since Muddy Waters. Palmer is just shy of calling Waters the end-all be-all of the blues.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tim Fiester

    This was an informative book, with me discovering a bunch of new artists to check out. I also learned a lot about the Mississippi Delta region and its rich tradition of the blues. The author never failed to name-drop the numerous towns where people came from or whose homky-tonks they frequented. I just would have appreciated a map showing where the heck these places are/were. If would have helped me...well, place, them.

  27. 4 out of 5

    N.K.

    I have been a fan of the blues for almost as long as I can remember and I can say that this is one of the very best books about the subject that I have ever read. Well worth the time if you are a blues fan. You will recognize many of the players mentioned and come across a few you don't know (and will seek out). Palmer did a fantastic job documenting the music that you have to feel to truly 'understand.' I have been a fan of the blues for almost as long as I can remember and I can say that this is one of the very best books about the subject that I have ever read. Well worth the time if you are a blues fan. You will recognize many of the players mentioned and come across a few you don't know (and will seek out). Palmer did a fantastic job documenting the music that you have to feel to truly 'understand.'

  28. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Once again, this is four stars for a book that was required reading for my blues class, and once again I didn't read it front cover to back cover. This book was SUPER in-depth...in a good way. It provided intriguing little stories that personalized the blues in a way that was memorable and understandable. Once again, this is four stars for a book that was required reading for my blues class, and once again I didn't read it front cover to back cover. This book was SUPER in-depth...in a good way. It provided intriguing little stories that personalized the blues in a way that was memorable and understandable.

  29. 5 out of 5

    casapazzo

    Fantastic history of the development and evolution of the Delta blues. Follows the lives of several of the most influential Delta musicians; includes a comprehensive discography, and a smaller, more managable "recommended listening" list. Fantastic history of the development and evolution of the Delta blues. Follows the lives of several of the most influential Delta musicians; includes a comprehensive discography, and a smaller, more managable "recommended listening" list.

  30. 4 out of 5

    C.E.

    This is exactly what the title implies and even though the musicology can get a little thick for those who don't read music, its still a heck of a good book and probably the best way to learn the history of the delta blues in a 200 or so page sitting. This is exactly what the title implies and even though the musicology can get a little thick for those who don't read music, its still a heck of a good book and probably the best way to learn the history of the delta blues in a 200 or so page sitting.

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