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About The Book

Now in paperback, the definitive anthology from a writer who “set the standard for newspaper pop-music criticism” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), the New York Times’ first chief pop music critic and Rolling Stone contributor Robert Palmer.

Robert 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. Noted music writer Anthony DeCurtis has compiled the best pieces from Palmer’s oeuvre and presents them here, in one compelling volume.

A member of the elite group of the defining rock critics who emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, Palmer possessed a vision so complete that, as DeCurtis writes, “it’s almost as if, if you read Bob, you didn’t need to read anyone else.” Blues & Chaos features some of his most memorable pieces about John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, Moroccan trance music, Miles Davis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Philip Glass, and Muddy Waters. Wonderfully entertaining, infused with passion, and deeply inspiring, Blues & Chaos is a must for music fans everywhere.

About The Author

Robert Palmer was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1945, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1964. He began writing for Rolling Stone in the early '70s -- and continued to do so as a contributing editor throughout his life. From 1981 until 1988, he was the chief pop music critic at The New York Times, the first person to hold that title, and he continued to write for the Times after that. He is the author of Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta (1981); Baby That Was Rock and Roll: The Legendary Leiber and Stoller (1978); A Tale of Two Cities: Memphis Rock and New Orleans Roll (1979); Jerry Lee Lewis Rocks! (1981); The Rolling Stones (1983); and Rock & Roll: An Unruly History (1995). He wrote liner notes for dozens of releases, and his work appeared in virtually every music magazine published during his time, including Downbeat, Crawdaddy, Guitar World, and Musician. Palmer died in 1997.

Anthony DeCurtis is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where his work has appeared since 1980. He has written for numerable music and entertainment magazines and newspapers. A former on-air correspondent and editorial director at VH1, he has contributed to a myriad of television specials and programs. DeCurtis holds a Ph.D. in American literature from Indiana University and he teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and the Gradudate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (November 10, 2009)
  • Length: 480 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781439109632

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Raves and Reviews

"There's so much good writing here."--A.V. Club

"A posthumous collection of music writing that single-handedly justifies Palmer's inclusion into the pantheon of Essential Music Writers. . . . For the uninitiated, a revelation."--Oxford American

"The breadth of genres and artists covered in Blues & Chaos can be astonishing"--Memphis Flyer

"Eloquent and calmly authoritative prose"--The New York Times

"One key test of any retrospective anthology of this sort is whether the reviews and essays are as relevant today as when they were first published, and on that front, Palmer scores an absolute success--his work . . . sets a standard for a critical appreciation of American culture."--Publishers Weekly

"Judiciously whittles down Palmer's writings--incisive, clever reviews, vivid, chatty profiles and more."--The New York Times

"Reading Blues & Chaos, a dazzling collection of writing . . . is to be reminded of [Robert Palmer's] singular talent, his range of interests and passions. . . . Editor Anthony DeCurtis has chosen wonderfully in this collection, which showcases Palmer's gifts as an informed enthusiast and brilliant chronicler of musical moments."--Times-Picayune

"If you're a junkie for great music writing, you owe it to yourself to pick up Blues & Chaos. Lovingly edited and assembled . . . this anthology does much to highlight Palmer's curiosity and enthusiasm as well as his scholarship."--The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)

"Remarkable"--Buffalo News

"Palmer . . . set the standard for newspaper pop-music criticism for years."--Philadelphia Inquirer

“Bob was a kind of uber-tutor. Hanging around with him was like doing a PhD in whatever subject he was interested in. I was a fan, and I feel lucky to have met him.” —Bono

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