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Wednesday
May092012

Quick review: 'I Want My MTV'

My first memories of MTV are sitting in my friend Ed's living room in Fresno and watching then-unknown Scandal perform the invigorating "Goodbye to You." I had seen music videos before but the idea of an all-video channel was nirvana for me, a musician, music geek slowly entering adulthood. These were the glory days, when MTV programmers played whatever they wanted before the algorithms got involved. 

I have many great memories of MTV so it was with great delight that I jumped into "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution."

Authors Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum deliver a lively history of perhaps the most important musical and pop cultural phenomenom of the late 20th century. And they do it with minimal original writing, instead patching together thousands of snippets from hundreds of interviews with former employees, musicians and industry legends. 

That presentation is a style I first saw in Jim Walsh's "The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting," and it's an approach that doesn't leave one with the feeling that they'd love to read the book again. But it's a style that makes for quick reading and understanding of the story, nothing to sniff at when you're talking about a 608-page book.

 "I Want My MTV" is loaded with sex, drugs, bloopers and real insight into a goofy idea that huffed, puffed and -- while on its last breath -- broke through and changed youth and cable television forever. Props to Marks and Tannenbaum for capturing stories that are surprisingly honest given the sheen MTV itself gave so many VJs and performers. 

The $30 hardcover price is hard to recommend, but don't hesitate to grab a used copy or chase one down from your cool local library. You'll find it hard to put down. 

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