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The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture &…

by Nelson George

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233722,895 (3.14)1
"When it debuted in October 1971, seven years after the Civil Rights Act, Soul Train boldly went where no variety show had gone before, showcasing the cultural preferences of young African-Americans and the sounds that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel music. The brainchild of radio announcer Don Cornelius, the show's producer and host, Soul Train featured a diverse range of stars, from James Brown and David Bowie to Christine Aguilera and R. Kelly; Marvin Gaye and Elton John to the New Kids on the Block and Stevie Wonder. The Hippest Trip in America tells the full story of this pop culture phenomenon that appealed not only to blacks, but to a wide crossover audience as well. Famous dancers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, performers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, and Cornelius himself share their memories, offering insights into the show and its time--a period of extraordinary social and political change. Colorful and pulsating, The Hippest Trip In America is a fascinating portrait of a revered cultural institution that has left an indelible mark on our national consciousness"--Publisher's web site.… (more)

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This was a wonderful glimpse into the world if Soul Train. I am amazed by how many people were influenced by this iconic show. I supplemented reading this book with watching the Best of Soul Train DVDs we have at the library and it brought the whole Soul Train world to life for me. ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Soul Train and Don Cornelius are an epoch in 20th century African American culture. Don's mission to bring the fantastic funk and soul music of the era to the public his way is a landmark importance. This show iconically touched millions, and still does today. The influence this show had on music, television, dance, fashion and style is immeasureable and long lasting. As a kid, I was raised on this, every Saturday, watching artists come do their hits while a swarm of terrific dancers did their thing. It was mesmerizing and funky as all get out.

That being said, this book comes across as a mixed bag of nostalgia and biography. I certainly appreciate the vibe of the book, and it really is a quick read indulgence. Some moments in the book, George addresses the struggle Cornelius made to get black produced music television on the air, other times the author interviews various dancers and their experience working on the set. It is a decent balance, but not fantastic. Some of the unnecessary bits are when he asks some random artists about their nostalgia for the show. While I guess the point of it is to let readers know the impact it made on a lot of famous people, it is not something I need to read about since I experienced it. The point here is that it not only affected rappers and DJs, but America and the world. Duely noted.

Overall, the book is a fun light read and it really REALLY make you want to watch some old episodes. ( )
  noblechicken | May 28, 2014 |
As an aficionado of R&B from my teenage years in Chicago, I thought this book about Don Cornelius and his TV show, "Soul Train" would be interesting, and it was - to an extent.

It is an interesting story about how Cornelius worked his way up at the great WVON radio station in Chicago to launch "Soul Train" that was the black community's answer to "American Bandstand." I used to catch the show at odd times in the 1970's when I was just out of college and used to enjoy the music and the kids' wild dancing. I had no idea that the how lasted until 2006, although in its later years it had a much smaller impact on the music scene than it did at the beginning.

Conelius, too, faded as the years went by and he failed to keep up with both trends in music and and modern media marketing techniques. Still he had a tremendous inlfuence on R&B music, and.his death by suicide was very sad.

The book tends to go into way too much detail on dancers on the show that will only appeal to die hard fans. Maybe the author was trying to pad his pages to meet his book contract, but these profiles do not add anything substantial to the book. ( )
  etxgardener | Apr 18, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nelson Georgeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dale, RonChapter opener illustrationsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, AdamCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stokes, LisaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To all who have danced on a Soul Train line anywhere in the world
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"When it debuted in October 1971, seven years after the Civil Rights Act, Soul Train boldly went where no variety show had gone before, showcasing the cultural preferences of young African-Americans and the sounds that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel music. The brainchild of radio announcer Don Cornelius, the show's producer and host, Soul Train featured a diverse range of stars, from James Brown and David Bowie to Christine Aguilera and R. Kelly; Marvin Gaye and Elton John to the New Kids on the Block and Stevie Wonder. The Hippest Trip in America tells the full story of this pop culture phenomenon that appealed not only to blacks, but to a wide crossover audience as well. Famous dancers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, performers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, and Cornelius himself share their memories, offering insights into the show and its time--a period of extraordinary social and political change. Colorful and pulsating, The Hippest Trip In America is a fascinating portrait of a revered cultural institution that has left an indelible mark on our national consciousness"--Publisher's web site.

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