Popdose at Kirkus Reviews: Music On Film

Written by Books, Kirkus Reviews

For more than 75 years, Kirkus Reviews has served as the industry bible for bookstore buyers, librarians, and ordinary readers alike. And every Monday, Popdose crashes the gates of this virtual salon of belles lettres to deliver a piping-hot espresso shot of pop culture.

Today we find a promising new publishing project that — on the face of it — bears a distracting resemblance to a more established venture, prompting the age-old question: Can you judge a book by its cover?

If there’s one eternal truth about the entertainment industry, it is that innovation engenders imitation — in format as in content. The new “Music On Film” Series from Limelight Editions, which kicks off with volumes on A Hard Day’s Night and Grease, hews closely to a single inspiration. These little paperbacks with their handsome trade dress, each focused on a single specimen of a populist artform — in this case, the movie musical — have a clear antecedent in Continuum Books’ “33⅓” collection, devoted to classic albums.

Like the 33⅓ books, the Music On Film series, with their hip-pocket size and singular scope, are them the perfect diversion for an airport layover, and the genially-obsessive schema tickles the brain’s trivia centers pleasantly. The results vary, of course. Ray Morton’s rundown of A Hard Day’s Night is quite fun, even when retreading well-ploughed ground — an occupational hazard, when adding to the vast canon of Beatles literature — while Stephen Tropiano’s volume on Grease is, by contrast, a rather dry affair.

But for all that the Music On Film books ape the outward particulars of the 33⅓ books, evidence suggests that they will lack the latter’s idiosyncratic ambition…

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