The must-read music book of the year—and the first such history bringing together all musical genres to tell the definitive narrative of the birth of Pop from 1900 to the mid-1950s.
Pop music didn't begin with the Beatles in 1963, or with Elvis in 1956, or even with the first seven-inch singles in 1949. There was a pre-history that went back to the first recorded music, right back to the turn of the century.
Who were these earliest record stars—and were they in any meaningful way "pop stars"? Who was George Gershwin writing songs for? Why did swing, the hit sound for a decade or more, become almost invisible after World War II?
The prequel to Bob Stanley’s celebrated Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!, this new volume is the first book to tell the definitive story of the birth of pop, from the invention of the 78 rpm record at the end of the nineteenth century to the beginnings of rock and the modern pop age. Covering superstars such as Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra, alongside the unheralded songwriters and arrangers behind some of our most enduring songs, Stanley paints an aural portrait of pop music's formative years in stunning clarity, uncovering the silver threads and golden needles that bind the form together.
Bringing the eclectic, evolving world of early pop to life—from ragtime, blues and jazz to Broadway, country, crooning, and beyond—Let's Do It is essential reading for all music lovers.
"An encyclopaedic introduction to the fascinating and often forgotten creators of Anglo-American hit music in the first half of the twentieth century."—Neil Tennant (The Pet Shop Boys)
About the Author
Bob Stanley, author of the acclaimed Let’s Do It: The Birth of Pop Music and Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé, has worked as a music journalist, DJ, and record-label owner, and he is the cofounder and keyboard player for the band Saint Etienne. He lives in London.
"For those who wish to enjoy a compelling musical mystery tour of the first half of the twentieth century—written with insight, thoroughly researched stories, and compelling opinions—this book is well worth the trip. It’s a deep-dive into an era I love and know well, and in devouring this tome I learned a thing or two along the way!”
— Michael Feinstein, author of The Gershwins and Me and the founder of the Great American Songbook Foundation
“An encyclopedic introduction to the fascinating and often forgotten creators of Anglo-American hit music in the first half of the twentieth century.”
— Neil Tennant, The Pet Shop Boys
"Totally delicious and [full of] why-didn’t-I-think-of-that connections. We’re incredibly lucky to have this detailed map." — David Kirby, Wall Street Journal
"An immensely entertaining pop-music survey course. Engagingly opinionated and often very, very funny. Joyful, smart, and addictive, just like the best pop songs, and a must for music fans everywhere." — Booklist (starred)
"Bob Stanley loves and finds surprising connections between a thousand kinds of pop. He makes me want to run to the nearest record store and move in." — Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields
"Tells the story of American and British pop music almost as engagingly as the songs themselves." — Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
"An ambitious undertaking. Stanley’s bold positions connect pop’s many dots in fresh and fascinating patterns." — Christian Science Monitor
“Bob Stanley's brilliantly entertaining book reveals how pop trends were made, and how racism has skewed the narrative. Dauntingly ambitious . . . Let’s Do It is an essential book for lovers of popular music.” — The Telegraph, “Forget everything you think you know about pop”
"Stanley does an inspired job of identifying and describing all the tangled roots of pre-rock popular music . . . a vast amount of it is far too good to be forgotten.” — The Times of London
“I know a lot about popular music. I didn't know half of this.” — David Hepworth, author of 1971: Never a Dull Moment
“Magnificent! Bob Stanley is in a league all his own.” — Nik Cohn, author of Yes We Have No: Adventures in the Other England and The Heart of the World
“An absolute landmark/joy/gossip-fest/door to Narnia: the history of pop music BEFORE rock’n’roll. SO fascinating. Can’t recommend enough.” — Caitlin Moran, author of More Than a Woman