Legends, Icons & Rebels — Music that Changed the World

Written by October 9th, 2013 at 9:57 am

robbie robertson book
Legends, Icons & Rebels-Music that Changed the World
(Tundra Books)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This beautifully constructed, intelligently written and sumptuously illustrated book/CD set might be aimed at a younger generation, but it’s a wonderful package that can be enjoyed by music lovers regardless of age. Inspired and co-authored by Robbie Robertson’s son Sebastian who realized that young children he was working with responded energetically to classic pop and rock songs, this oversized 12”x12” record album sized hardcover tome cherry picks 27 of the titular names that impacted music, and often cultural, history in a variety of ways.

Each gets a large, colorful and often playful two page painting by one of 15 talented illustrators followed by another two pages with a biography in large type clearly explaining why they are important. The text is occasionally bolded to highlight certain phrases (Frank Sinatra’s is both “original teen idol” and “elder statesman of cool”) and the four authors do a splendid job succinctly summarizing the performer’s career, often delving into the hardships they had to overcome early in their lives. Each bio also has a few suggested songs to follow up with.

Obvious choices such as Elvis, the Beatles, James Brown, Bob Marley, Ray Charles and Hank Williams, show the range of music covered. Slightly more unusual selections like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Curtis Mayfield and Louis Jordan find the compliers digging slightly deeper to present a wide variety of talent that crosses gender, race and cultural lines. The acts are presented in no discernible order, but the layout seems to emphasize their musical differences with Joni Mitchell sandwiched between Buddy Holly and Ray Charles. There is also no explanation on why the number 27 was decided on, and sure, the predominantly American list is open to controversy (no Muddy Waters, Fats Domino or Rolling Stones?), but few will quibble with the choices that made the final cut.

Robertson pens a few pithy sentences to open each capsule and explains what the artist’s music meant to him, and why. The writing is aimed at a younger audience who may be learning about many of these people for the first time. It’s simple but never simplistic and along with the marvelous paintings, captures the spirit of these renowned musicians.

Additionally, two CDs featuring one hit song from each performer provides audio accompaniment while you peruse the writing and images. It’s a gorgeous, lovingly assembled package, created with care by people who are passionate about music. More than just a coffee table addition, it’s as classy and classic as the musical legends, icons and rebels it pays tribute to.

  • Melody Harding

    Perfect. I got my copy yesterday, and I’m totally in love with it…the book is not just for kids, that’s for sure. The two cd’s had me bopping around my apartment last night (singing along, of course), and I was completely enthralled with the book (I love the little ‘Robbie Blurb’ at the beginning of each . I have heard rumour that there are additional volumes to come – I certainly hope so! :) Check out https://www.facebook.com/legendsiconsandrebels if you want more info on the book and the authors!

  • Linda Cadman Quzts

    This book is amazing! Beautifully written and illustrated, it’s a must-read for everyone, children and adults. The accompanying CDs are just the icing on the cake. I’m looking forwaRd to the next volume, and the next, and the next….. A definite 5 stars!

  • Kevin Leo Harrington Jr.

    gotta get me one… when i know when/ if any money is going to come in!

  • http://www.dccardwell.com/ DC Cardwell

    Excellent! Both of our kids were into exactly the real music (of all eras) that we loved since they were toddlers and they were so much better for it – in fact our family as a unit was better for it. We’ve always listened to – and played – music together and still do now that they’re grown up. I think it’s patronizing to expect your kids to listen to bad “kid’s music”. (Of course there’s lots of great, artistic kids music that adult’s can and do enjoy – most of it from another era!)

    I don’t think I can imagine having kids who only listened (or listened at all!) to Disney/Lion King/Wiggles/Rihanna/One Direction…

  • DP

    i must admit I am very disappointed by this book.

    i bought it after hearing it talked about on NPR and thought it would be a great chance to introduce my kids to some of the greatest modern music, and to help them understand the connections and the influences of these fantastic individuals.

    now, the book is well done, the text is interesting and the track selection is very nice, both in terms of the artists selected and the tracks to represent them. But..

    BUT the way it is put together is an enormous wasted opportunity.

    The authors discuss how difficult and laborious was to decide an order and to select the tracks, but we are given absolutely NOTHING about this process.

    there are no connections. At all.

    It reads and plays like a random compilation of tidbits and track about the authors favorite artists.

    no insight at all on why they where put in this order, and why a specific track was selected. In fact, in many case there is a lot of talk about one specific track, and then we are presented with a different one in the cd.

Tags: , , , ,

Related Articles