Good books about music

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I'm going to Delaware for spring break to look at colleges, and it's going to be pretty boring. I'm making a run to Best Buy and Barnes and Noble's tomorrow to get stuff, and I was wondering if anyone knew of good books about music. We're going for fun to read here, since I need something that doesn't take too long to get into. I've already read Never Mind the Pollacks (which was great), and my closest Barnes and Noble's has Our Band Could be Your Life and that uncensored oral history of punk book that was on the OC three weeks ago.

WillSommer, Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:18 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Perfect Sound Forever
The Music's All That Matters
What Rock Is All About
Lipstick Traces
Just Kill Me
Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung
The Aesthetics of Rock

little ivan, Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Get the Lester Bangs books.

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

and Please Kill Me: The Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Please Kill Me was on the OC?

Please kill me.

Oh well. Read it anyway. It's amazing. And Our Band Could Be Your Life. If you're interested in criticism, check out Psychotic Reactions and Carbeurator Dung or anything by Lester Bangs or one or two Greil Marcus books (The Basement Tapes). I'd stay away from Camden Joy, contrary to popular opinion.

I need something that doesn't take too long to get into

But you're going to college, man! Just buy Adorno's Essays on Music and accept that the next 4+ years of your life are going to be like that mwahahaha...

poortheatre (poortheatre), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Dave Marsh, The Heart of Rock & Soul (his 1,001 most important singles of the rock era, in bite-size nuggets)

Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:43 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Love Saves the Day and Can't Stop Won't Stop by Tim Lawrence and Jeff Chang, respectively.

I also enjoyed Last Night a DJ Saved My Life and there's the ever-classic Generation Ecstasy.

deej., Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:49 (eleven years ago) Permalink

conflict of interest, but whatever:
Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music
featuring Eno, Cage, Stockhausen, Merzbow, Reynolds, lots of other luminaries, and some jerk named Sherburne

philip sherburne (philip sherburne), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:51 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll- Tosches
Faithfull: An Autobiography- Marianne Faithfull
Chronicles v.1- Dylan
Black Monk Time- Eddie Shaw
I, Tina- Tina Turner
Uptight: the VU story,
Transformer- Bockris
Planet Joe- Joe Cole

Elisa (Elisa), Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

John Cage's Silence is a great book about music and other things.

Mark (MarkR), Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:15 (eleven years ago) Permalink

All of the above, and Sidney Bechet's autobio (blanking on the title, but he only wrote one); Miles by Miles Davis; Rip It Up: The Black Experience in Rock 'N' Roll (Kandia Crazy Horse, ed.)

don, Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:17 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Also, Robert Palmer (not the singer)'s Deep Blues, Christgau's 70s Consumer Guide (yeah you can look up all the Consumer Guide entries at, 'cept maybe the *most* recent, which are at, but unless you just love typing in Subjects and hitting Enter and know exactly what to look for, the book is a lot more fun). Also most anything by Peter Guralnick (although I woouldn't start with the Elvis stuff)(if you want to get strung out ona good sick Elvis book, try Evis Aron Presley, by Alanna Nash with the Memphis Mafia) Most anything by Frith, Toop; Charles Keil' Uran Blues; Tom T. Hall's The Storyteller's Nashville (one of the funniest books I've read re musos, and good serious stuff too); Nelson Goerge's Seduced: The Life And Times Of A One Hit Wonder; Pamela Des Barres' I'm With The Band; Ruth Brown's Miss Rhythm (an epic!)

don, Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Ahh yeah Rap Attack by Toop. Does Greg Tate have any books out there worth picking up?

deej., Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Does Greg Tate have any books out there worth picking up?

I had never heard of Tate until I saw him speak not long ago. He is a BAD. ASS. Does he still write for The Voice? I feel like I never see him in there. Does he have a blog?

poortheatre (poortheatre), Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:56 (eleven years ago) Permalink

He definitely still writes for the voice, unbelievable writer too, sort of a marxist approach to hip-hop these days (as SFJ pointed out) which seems to distance him from discussing how the music moves him but which does raise significant points regarding hip-hop and the way it is being used both positively and negatively; I got sort of nuts at him during the "great tate debate" when he criticized people for celebrating the 30th anniversary of hip-hop and while I don't share his lack of enthusiasm/engagement with the current music, I do think he's absolutely right about what hip-hop's significance is (paraphrasing, renders African-Americans "all but invisible" in a cultural sense) and that unfortunately the advancement of African-American cultural capital has not resulted in economic justice or any kind of justice, really.

I'm mostly interested in reading a book of his since his prose is fairly magnificent.

deej., Thursday, 17 March 2005 06:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

r. crumb draws the blues - r. crumb
country - nick tosches (his other books too of course, but this is my favorite)
rythm oil and the true adventures of the rolling stones by stanley booth
awopbopaloobop by nik cohn

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Thursday, 17 March 2005 07:05 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Touching From A Distance
Bass Culture
Songs They Don't Play On The Radio
Revolution In The Head
Rotten: No Dogs, No Blacks , No Irish

wtin, Thursday, 17 March 2005 10:56 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"Wonderland Avenue" - Danny Sugerman - I can't stand The Doors but I loved this book. Also, "The Dirt", the Motley Crue book. Again, hate the band, but a cracking read.

bg, Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Tate's 1991 collection Flyboy in the Buttermilk is tremendous. His review/demolition of Bad ("I'm White! What's Wrong with Michael Jackson") is worth the price by itself, especially when he sez that the album's title "accurately describes its contents in standard English."

If you want a cracking funny read on hip-hop, though, pick up The Rough Guide to Hip-Hop by Peter Shapiro, which has just been updated and enlarged (it was a pocket-size the first time, now it's 8 x 10). Best line goes to the Bad Boy Records writeup, when he notes that Puff Daddy, having been responsible for 40% of all 1997's number ones, moved to the Hamptons "so he could live by the sea, just like his magic dragon namesake."

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

actually, strike that "though," Toop can be funny and obviously so can Tate.

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:42 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Neil McCormick's "Killing Bono" was a quick, fun read.

John Fredland (jfredland), Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:44 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"Wonderland Avenue" - Danny Sugerman - I can't stand The Doors but I loved this book. Also, "The Dirt", the Motley Crue book. Again, hate the band, but a cracking read.

Same here! (Of course there's also the Led Zep bio.)

nathalie barefoot in the head (stevie nixed), Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:46 (eleven years ago) Permalink

ooh, haven't read that led zep one. I just remembered a book called "Lost in Music" by Giles Smith, which was a hoot.

bg, Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:54 (eleven years ago) Permalink

chuck berry's autobiog

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 March 2005 12:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

George Jones, I Lived To Tell It All
Miles Davis, Miles: The Autobiography

Next week on "The O.C.": Seth and Ryan get into a fatal disagreement over "James Taylor: Marked For Death," while Summer meets a new hottie who shares her disgust of Nick Hornby.

Keith C (kcraw916), Thursday, 17 March 2005 14:06 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Nelson George's previously mentioned Seduced is said to roman-a-clef of sorts (Russell Simmons, on back cover of early edition, earnestly denies that one of the characters is based on him--that's his whole blurb). Some wicked bits about the early days of hip-hop, and the music biz overall. The sequel, Urban Romance, spotlights a minor Seduced charactor, who writes for Billboard and the Voice. Haven't read it yet, but it's next. Tate's Everything But The Burden, about whites biting black music, is another I've heard good stuff about.

don, Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

For a good time, read:

Dino by Nick Tosches (about Dean Martin; as deep as Catch a Fire by Timothy White, as entertaining as that Motley Crue book)

Backbeat: Earl Palmer's Story, by Tony Scherman (oral history/autobiography of the New Orleans drummer; had me at "Louis Armstrong was a pimp"...)

We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk by Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen (better than Please Kill Me, kind of like L.A. punk itself)

Pete Scholtes, Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:30 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Here's TSOL frontman Jack Grisham in We Got the Neutron Bomb, before he announced his run for governor against Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (and Gary Coleman, etc.):

I was torturing this guy in the garage of my mom's house in this nice suburban neighborhood with my whole family inside eating Easter dinner... and I'd got this guy tied up in the rafter with a rope around his legs and I'm beating him with a two-by-four. I said, "Hang on a minute," and put the two-by-four down and walked into the house and kissed my aunt and said like, "Oh hi, how you doing?" I grabbed a deviled egg, told them I'd be back in a minute, and I went back out, grabbed the two-by-four, and kept workin' on the guy. I finally had to get out of Vicious Circle 'cause of the violence. There were constant stabbings and beatings and people cruising by my house at night, shooting up the neighborhood....

I did something pretty bad to somebody and they retaliated with guns. It was a big deal, I had to split to Alaska for a while, they cut the lines on my car, blew up my car... fuck...I don't wanna say who they were, but they weren't punks... boy, they were pissed off.

Pete Scholtes, Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:34 (eleven years ago) Permalink

'Long Time Gone' the David Crosby (auto)biog is definitely the best music book i have ever read. the way he led his life and some of the decisions he made are genuinely stupefying. equal parts genius and retard. extraordinary when set against the soundtrack of the music he was making.

i went on holiday with the Deborah Curtis book and the Nick Drake biography once. happy times, let me tell you.

Lee F# (fsharp), Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

dino is so good that i've lent and lost TWO copies to (so-called) friends

if you ever find dave rimmer's "once upon a time in the east", abt berlin east and west b4 the fall of the wall, i utterly UTTERLY recommend it: tho it's only somewhat abt music - unlike his earlier (and also good) "like punk never happened"

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I've just got "Lost in the Grooves" by the editors of Scram (the same peeps who did "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth"), a collection of reviews of culty, forgotten or neglected albums. Some very ILM choices in there: Jandek, Poster Children, Bridgette Fontaine etc. If only slsk was working properly...

Richard C (avoid80), Thursday, 17 March 2005 23:00 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I wrote a few entries for Lost In The Grooves (Boogie Down Productions, Schoolly D, Sonny Sharrock).

Joe Carducci's Rock and the Pop Narcotic is being reissued sometime this year.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Thursday, 17 March 2005 23:02 (eleven years ago) Permalink

and how could i forget, the funniest rock-related book ever: the life and times of little richard by charles white.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Thursday, 17 March 2005 23:19 (eleven years ago) Permalink

xpost the David Crosby book has sections with different versions side by side, like the Synoptic Gospels: the Word according to St. David, his friends and ex-friends. But certainly not Gospel in the I-swung-naked-on-the-chandelier-but-now-I've-found-the-LORDuh (so send your dollars to my new friends today). He's got his regrets, but still the somae ornery critter ("Don't do crack, and also watch out for the CIA/Colobian Cartels, man," is more the POV)

don, Friday, 18 March 2005 00:01 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Bass Culture
Sadly retitled in America as The History of Jamaica's music or something like that, but it's excellent. The only disappointing aspect about it is that Lloyd Bradley doesn't cover any On-U-Sound releases in the book or even take them into account.

Quit glaring at Ian Riese-Moraine! He's mentally fraught! (Eastern Mantra), Friday, 18 March 2005 00:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I'm just finishing this, I like it, but it could have used a little bit more demographic and geographic background info on Jamaica and Kingston in particular.

JoB (JoB), Friday, 18 March 2005 01:32 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Nick Kent's "The Dark Stuff"
"Alt-Rock-o-Rama" (great on car trips!)
Brian Eno's "More Dark than Shark"
Motley Crue's "The Dirt" (well, not about music, per se)

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Friday, 18 March 2005 01:54 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Blissed Out is still my favorite Simon Reynolds book. Jon Savage's England's Dreaming (see recent thread on him); Chuck Eddy's Stairway To Hell and Accidental Evolution; a couple of good anthologies: ROck She Wrote and Trouble Girls.

don, Friday, 18 March 2005 06:37 (eleven years ago) Permalink

that book "Hip: A History" isn't strictly about music but it's also very good. I think the author's name is John Leland.

Ashandeej, Friday, 18 March 2005 06:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Audio Culture (edited cox / warner) seconded, and limiting myself to the books next to my desk (library's in the hallway)

Electronic and Experimental Music by Thom Holmes
also; Wireless Imagination (d kahn / g whitehead)
Paul Griffiths - A Concise History of Avant-Garde Music
Paul Griffiths - Modern Music And Beyond
Curtis Roads
William Duckworth : Talking Music
Cage: Silence / A Year From Monday
Cage / Feldman: Conversations
James Tenney : Meta / Hodos
Karlheinz Stockhausen - Stockhausen on Music (Compiled by R Maconie)
Sound By Artists (ed. Dan Lander)
Chris Cutler - File Under Popular
Attali - Noise
Russolo - The Art of Noises (get a hold of a copy any way you can)
Trevor Wishart - On Sonic Art
Douglas Kahn - Noise Water Meat

milton parker (Jon L), Friday, 18 March 2005 07:13 (eleven years ago) Permalink

milton, has "modern music and beyond" been updated at all?: when i first read it (= in like 1977), i remember thinking "waddya mean beyond"!! it stops in 1968 with a sad thud!!

i think the attali book is lousy at book length—it's a good short polemic idea bulked out to a contradictory nonsense schema—and wireless imagination is patchy (which is a pity, cz it's a great idea for an essay collection)

mark s (mark s), Friday, 18 March 2005 09:11 (eleven years ago) Permalink

really good things I've read over the last few months were adorno's bk on mahler and morton feldman's 'give my regards to 8th street' essay comp.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 18 March 2005 09:55 (eleven years ago) Permalink

weird, I stopped reading Neutron Bomb halfway through--bored me for some reason, though the stories weren't in themselves boring. hmmm. (though it may be because I've never been all that into L.A. punk and like NYC punk way more.)

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Friday, 18 March 2005 10:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"Bass Culture" seconded - terminally readable, even if you don't much care about the stuff (which I do); as much of a cultural history as anything else. There's a certain integrity to his (not total, by any means, but pronounced) dismissal of Dancehall (and I do sometimes hear, say, Bounty Killer a bit differently now that I've read about the jamaican warlords and can't just pretend it's all fun "hey let's pretend we're Al Pacino" wackyness), but I do sorta wish he had just stopped when "his" age was over.

The Elvis Guralnick books - again, you don't have to care about the subject matter to enjoy them (personally, I was so-so on Elvis before readin' 'em, am now an unabashed fan), and the second one is one hell of a car wreck: the descent starts like twenty pages into it, and by the end of the book you can't even feel sorry for the guy anymore, you just wonder why he hasn't kicked the bucket already.

"Where Did Our Love Go?" by Nelson George has some nice anecdotes, and is probably the best book on Motown around, tho to be frank I didn't learn all that much from it.

"The Heart Of Rock & Soul" seconded, and throw in the "New Book Of Rock Lists" too, if only for the sheer joy of reading the sentence "Tragedy The Intelligent Hoodlum Lists..." over and over again (not that book of rock jokes, tho, that was awful.) And also "Fortunate Son: The Best Of Dave Marsh", great stuff on Elvis, Muddy Waters, latino rock, etc.

I remember reading Maryiln Manson's "The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell" in my early teens and being surprised by how good it was (I'd always loathed the guy's music.) Dunno if it holds up.

"Sweet Soul Music", hell yeah.

I've read the entirety of Christgau's consumer guide online, and there's some great, great stuff there. So the books are recommended, too.

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Friday, 18 March 2005 11:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Brother Ray by Ray Charles with David Ritz is fantastic and amazingly blunt and candid.

shookout (shookout), Friday, 18 March 2005 11:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

'Joe Carducci's Rock and the Pop Narcotic is being reissued sometime this year.'

yay I've been wanting to read that one for a while!

adding to my prev post here leroi jones 'blues people' which I just finished this morning: most gd bks on music accept that they aren't just abt notes and chords.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 18 March 2005 12:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i think the attali book is lousy at book length"

You mean it's not long enough? I loved the book. Should re-read it...

I also loved the Lexicon Devil (bio on Darby Crash) though it's certainly not essential...

nathalie barefoot in the head (stevie nixed), Friday, 18 March 2005 12:54 (eleven years ago) Permalink

All my obvious suggestions are covered here, so let me just say: even if you're a die-hard, passionate, blacked-out-yr-own-teeth Joe Strummer/Clash fan, AVOID AT ALL COSTS the pile of dung known as "Let Fury Have the Hour: the Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer." The superficial "analysis," the copious mistakes (London Calling wasn't recorded in New York, dumbshit!), the TYPOS (?!?)'s a massacree!

Jason Toon, Friday, 18 March 2005 16:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

African Rhythm and African Sensibility by John Miller Chernoff

the ONLY thing wrong with JMC's line is that he somewhat slightly seems to accept the assumption that the social dimension—the "dance"—isn’t also always part of all music in the West (though he does this in the context of getting ppl to see/hear/look for the fuller sense of the meaning of music): taking his insights abt Africa (Ghana, to be more accurate) and applying them everywhere else is revelatory

Most of it is a charming telling of him learning African drumming in Ghana

mark s (mark s), Friday, 18 March 2005 18:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

The only two lengthy reads on Led Zep - Stephen Davis' Hammer of the Gods and roadie Richard Cole's 'Stairway to Heaven,' are both pulpy and full of dirt and invented mythology. Not to say I don't recommend them though.

And I hope someone someday undertakes a lengthy Sabbath bio.

57 7th (calstars), Friday, 18 March 2005 19:01 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i recently read two books by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka which I would highly recommend: Blues People and Black Music.

Blues People is just as much about sociology/history as it is about music, describing how blues developed as an expression of the traumatic displacement of slavery. he draws clear lines between the music that black people were making during the slavery and postbellum periods and the popular music of the early 20th century in America, which was interesting to me because the kinds of cross-generation connections i read about are between early 20th century blues/jazz to mid-century R&B/rocknroll.

Black Music is a compilation of his writing about jazz in the late 50s/early 60s, some of them record reviews or profiles for Down Beat and the like, others more experimental or informal pieces for lesser known publications. it's thoughtfully pieced together, though, so that musicians who are introduced as new people on the scene in the context of pieces about other musicians are later given their own feature later in the book. it's hard to explain, but the flow of the book is very organic and it makes you feel like you're gradually getting familiar with the NYC jazz scene in the early 60s (through Baraka's eyes of course) - who the most talented young players are, where the cool clubs are, why brilliant musicians are having trouble finding paying gigs, who's underachieving and who has just lost it completely. you get a long profile of someone like ornette coleman when he was first breaking in and freaking everyone out, but you also get short profiles of jazz drummers who are completely forgotten now. it doesn't come across like Baraka is sitting in an apartment listening to records and writing reviews - it sounds like he's in the middle of the scene and he knows everyone and everyone knows him and he's invested in it - it really comes through in his writing.

1992 ball boy (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 11 August 2015 15:10 (one year ago) Permalink

I half considered taking the library copy of Blues People and getting it signed by him when he did a reading at NUIG a few years ago but then didn't.
Think it was just pretty pure coincidence that I happened to have their copy of that out when I heard he was reading.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 11 August 2015 17:01 (one year ago) Permalink

christgau's memoir 'going into the city' is way more about his love life than music but when he condescends to consider music you sorta feel like you're at ground zero for the establishment of predominant critical shibboleths

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 11 August 2015 19:48 (one year ago) Permalink

Does anyone have a shareable version of that Dennis Wilson book mentioned above?

calstars, Tuesday, 11 August 2015 19:59 (one year ago) Permalink

take it to "bad books about music" xp

killfile with that .exe, you goon (wins), Tuesday, 11 August 2015 20:01 (one year ago) Permalink

Those xpost Leroi Jones collections are eloquent and elegant; he really made the most of his word limit for the columns. At the same time, some of the You Are There aspect incl. settling scores with squares and worse, like the club owner who not only refuses to hire an avant pioneer, but is pissed that he can find a gig anywhere. Also the relatively mainstream star who admits just now saw the free jazz light---Jones: "That's a noble confession and all," but what took him so long? Harsh, but understandable in historical contect, and not too ranty (esp. compared to some other writing).
Think these books might have influenced young Bangs, Tosches and others.

dow, Tuesday, 11 August 2015 21:44 (one year ago) Permalink

christgau makes a thing out of how ishmael reed's 'mumbo jumbo' had a huge influence on him

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 11 August 2015 22:41 (one year ago) Permalink

christgau's memoir 'going into the city' is way more about his love life than music but when he condescends to consider music you sorta feel like you're at ground zero for the establishment of predominant critical shibboleths

ikr and when he manages to tear himself away from his relationship w/ellen willis and condescend to consider journalism in the mid/late 60s it's pretty interesting like you're at ground zero for the establishment of well, rock criticism. too bad he goes into this "then i reviewed that and it was good if i say so myself and i do" mode for the rest of the book - an insider's overview of the village voice during its 70s heyday would've been something. what the old boy's book totally lacks is any larger perspective/longview on the revolutionary times he lived through. like all those years of micro-reviewing ruined him for macro analysis. he's a good guy for all his quirks, though, reading this made me feel glad and lucky i got to work w/him.

got the club going UP on a tuesday (m coleman), Wednesday, 12 August 2015 11:13 (one year ago) Permalink

i came away from 'going into the city' liking christgau much more than i went in. it reminded me a lot of donald fagen's 'eminent hipsters' and i wasn't surprised one bit when he quoted himself and his wife carola dibbell at length reviewing steely dan

pairing 'going into the city' with james wolcott's 'lucking out' fleshes out the 'voice' during its 70s heyday a little better

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 12 August 2015 12:34 (one year ago) Permalink has a good amount of his 60s writing (incl mid-60s Times account profile of a young woman, known for being an early adopter, way before that term was coined, who starved to death on a groovy diet; ends with a speculation that she may have suffered from something called anorexia nervosa---italics his, I think---a condition then mostly known, as such, by medical professionals---it's a time trip). Also in the stash:many other longform pieces,from the 60s, 70s, later, mostly on music, where he has to develop his themes more than in the Guide, with various results (but always thought the 70s and 80s Guide entries hit the peak of compressed insight).
His joint review of the Ellen Willis and Paul Nelson collections is astute, re the achievements and limitations of those writers, ditto the first decades of rock writing.

dow, Wednesday, 12 August 2015 13:00 (one year ago) Permalink

Ellen Willis' Out of the Vinyl Deeps is sooooooooooooooo good

I've also been reading Ian MacDonald's The People's Music, which is not nearly as good.

droit au butt (Euler), Wednesday, 12 August 2015 13:05 (one year ago) Permalink

Can anyone here recommend any good books about classical harmony/harmonic analysis etc? Finished a music degree eight years ago and would now like to brush up/expand on my knowledge as I haven't looked at that stuff much since. Any books with interesting analyses of composers/works?

mirostones, Wednesday, 12 August 2015 14:37 (one year ago) Permalink

Turn back, you poxy fule!

Eternal Return To Earth (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 12 August 2015 16:09 (one year ago) Permalink

Charles Rosen - the classical style
Same author - the romantic generation

Corn on the macabre (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 12 August 2015 18:06 (one year ago) Permalink

Hm. Had seen those books before and was intrigued but never investigated further

Eternal Return To Earth (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 12 August 2015 23:15 (one year ago) Permalink

Rosen is amazing

Corn on the macabre (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 13 August 2015 02:13 (one year ago) Permalink

Actually now I remember, this book is pretty good, I came across it last year: Revisiting Music Theory: A Guide to the Practice, by Alfred Blatter

Eternal Return To Earth (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 19 August 2015 11:44 (one year ago) Permalink

Is the David Byrne one worth reading?

the joke should be over once the kid is eaten. (chap), Wednesday, 19 August 2015 11:46 (one year ago) Permalink

someone gave it to me as a gift so i guess i'll find out soon enough (once i read the million other books i wanted to read first)

dyl, Wednesday, 19 August 2015 14:51 (one year ago) Permalink

I didn't enjoy the Byrne book at all. IIRC there is a glaring error in the first chapter which put me off completely.

suffeeciant attreebution (aldo), Wednesday, 19 August 2015 14:57 (one year ago) Permalink

I finished the Byrne one to make sure it was as awful as I thought halfway through. it was.

campreverb, Wednesday, 19 August 2015 15:03 (one year ago) Permalink

Ah that's a shame, I like the idea of a music theory book written by David Byrne.

the joke should be over once the kid is eaten. (chap), Wednesday, 19 August 2015 15:15 (one year ago) Permalink

I enjoyed it, especially the first few chapters. Maybe it depends a bit on whether you find the ideas he presents about music's relative value etc banal or relevant. There's also a fair bit of autobiography so added value if you care about byrne/th and don't know his bio by heart.

niels, Wednesday, 19 August 2015 16:26 (one year ago) Permalink

I came it with relatively little in the way of preconceptions about Byrne (I consider myself a modest fan of the Talking Heads). After finishing it though that minor fandom was considerably diminished by the overall arrogance. who knows, maybe that's the Asperger's. But within this broad category of good books about music, probably the ones I have disliked most have been memoirs (Joe Boyd, Dean Wareham, Byrne), with the Levon Helm book being a notable exception.

I tend to like critical/music history books more, so to be a bit more positive, I loved The Chitlin Circuit by Preston Lauterbach. It starts off a bit dense, setting up the major management groups/crime bosses in Indiana, but by the time it weaves in Texas blues joints with everything that was happening in Memphis and eventually Macon, I was hooked.

campreverb, Wednesday, 19 August 2015 20:02 (one year ago) Permalink

After finishing it though that minor fandom was considerably diminished by the overall arrogance. who knows, maybe that's the Asperger's

His Asperger's is self-diagnosed, thus perhaps non-existent, and further evidence of arrogance.

corbyn's gallus (jim in glasgow), Wednesday, 19 August 2015 20:06 (one year ago) Permalink

The first chapter seemed a bit stiff, though maybe because he was self-consciously trying not to turn out yet another ageing white rocker memoir (as he declared up front), but soon took off, once he got into got into describing the experience of recording and performing live--from middle school on---and how these were affected by changing biz models (about production, distribution, developing an image) and venues (the Heads dropped out of art school and moved into a friend's apartment, almost directly across the street from CBGB, and he analytically recalls the whole thing, but still wonders why that music-friendly setting become a Scene, when others didn't?). Also, for instance, describes an early solo tour, with the players teaching the dancers how to play, and the dancers teaching the musos how to dance. And the ending is great edutainment, as he sympathetically goofs on and celebrates man's quest to get in tune with the music of the spheres, from ancient times til Now.

dow, Wednesday, 19 August 2015 23:38 (one year ago) Permalink

Chris Richards in the W. Post likes Houston rapper Scarface's new autobiography "Life of A Madman"

The book also is filled with laugh-in-disbelief anecdotes; illuminating notes on craft; meditations on the molten intersection of race, class and hip-hop; and a few juicy loose ends, including claims of a lost trove of Scarface tunes produced by Kanye West. If you love rap, you’ll devour this stuff — meaning, you still have time to add it to your summer reading list.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 1 September 2015 14:25 (eleven months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

I want to read the Grace Jones book and the Charles Hughes Country soul one. Maybe some others too

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 30 December 2015 18:30 (seven months ago) Permalink

thanks for posting that-really want to read the 'Country Soul' book. There's a new Preston Lauterbach that I need to get as well. His 'Chitlin Circuit' was amazing.

campreverb, Thursday, 31 December 2015 15:07 (seven months ago) Permalink

The Hughes book very good. Own a copy of the latest PL book but have not sat down and read it properly. Went to high school with a descendant of the main guy he talks about.

Instant Karmagideon Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 31 December 2015 17:54 (seven months ago) Permalink

20 jazz funk greats by drew daniel. 33 1/3 series

flappy bird, Thursday, 31 December 2015 18:59 (seven months ago) Permalink

The latest Preston L book is less music-focused but still an interesting read.

Here's author/critic Richie Unterberger on his fave 2015 books about musicians (mostly rock and soul from the 50s and 60s to early 70s). A few are from 2014

curmudgeon, Thursday, 31 December 2015 22:45 (seven months ago) Permalink


Instant Karmagideon Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 1 January 2016 02:19 (seven months ago) Permalink

Now I want to read Unterberger's book on unknown legends!

campreverb, Friday, 1 January 2016 03:18 (seven months ago) Permalink

I like it, although I think there are some folks here who dislike his writing.

curmudgeon, Friday, 1 January 2016 19:59 (seven months ago) Permalink

He has certain blind spots. But he is usually very good on the stuff he likes.

Green Dolphin Street Hassle (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 1 January 2016 20:11 (seven months ago) Permalink

At the risk of damning with faint praise: he does a lot of research, takes pains to organize it properly, and doesn't rely on bombast to convert the unbelievers.

Anyway, just now skimming the first few chapters of the Johnny Rogan Ray Davies bio and I am hooked.

Green Dolphin Street Hassle (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 January 2016 18:40 (seven months ago) Permalink

Anyone plunked down for this epic looking Hawkwind book The Spirit of Hawkwind? It's expensive...

One bad call from barely losing to (Alex in SF), Sunday, 3 January 2016 21:23 (seven months ago) Permalink

I'm wondering about that Suicide bio from 2015. "Dream Baby Dream: Suicide: A New York Story by Kris Needs

Kris Needs is a former NME journalist and Zigzag editor. He has written several rock biographies about Blondie and George Clinton (both published by Omnibus Press), Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash, The Scream: The Music Myths and Misbehaviour of Primal Scream and Trash! The Complete New York Dolls. H. He is a regular contributor to Record Collector and Mojo.

curmudgeon, Monday, 4 January 2016 15:09 (seven months ago) Permalink

xgau re recent books by Patti Smith and Carrie Brownstein, one of his best on books:

dow, Thursday, 14 January 2016 14:45 (seven months ago) Permalink

Another fave: "PIoneer Days," on Paul Nelson and Ellen Willis (I still need to get the Willis collection Out of the Vinyl Deeps):

dow, Thursday, 14 January 2016 14:49 (seven months ago) Permalink

Evis Aron Presley, by Alanna Nash with the Memphis Mafia

Currently enjoying this.

YOLO Versus Powerball on the Moneygoround, Part One (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2016 17:27 (seven months ago) Permalink

Currently reading Unterberger's very technical ( and therefore heaven for me ) book on the making of The Who's "Lifehouse"/"Quadrophenia". It basically asserts the genius of Pete Towshend, Solo Auteur.

Acid Hose (Capitaine Jay Vee), Sunday, 24 January 2016 20:23 (seven months ago) Permalink

xxxpost I've read the Suicide bio. It's excellent. Recommend it!

Acid Hose (Capitaine Jay Vee), Sunday, 24 January 2016 20:26 (seven months ago) Permalink

Gathering oF promises about psychedelia in Texas is pretty great.

& Always in Trouble the Oral History of ESP-Disk is great too. would like to read an lp by lp overview but what's here is very interesting.

Facing The Other Way on 4Ad by Martin Aston is very interesting too. I haven't read any other histories of the label if there are any so I don't have anything to compare it to. & I think the authopr said a couple of things on the Birthday party that i wouldn't agree with

Stevolende, Sunday, 24 January 2016 20:33 (seven months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Recommending a
collection put out by a friend, Jeff Pike's Index. (Long-distance friend--we've never met.) Jeff wrote for my fanzine 20 years ago, and also put his own, Tapeworm, where people were invited to make a mixtape for Jeff and send in some writing on whatever was on there. The book's about half music, with the rest split between movies and books. Novels--I vaguely remember what they are.

clemenza, Saturday, 2 April 2016 02:12 (four months ago) Permalink

The audiobook of Miles Davis' autobiography is currently blowing me away. It's like he's in my car next to me discussing all of the jive motherfuckers he dealt with

beamish13, Saturday, 2 April 2016 05:21 (four months ago) Permalink

à propos miles davis, "miles ahead", the new film by and with don cheadle about two days in his dark period in the arly 80s when he was lost in drugs and stuff is pretty good. it comes over really authentic and the music is of course excellent. there is a young trumpet player in there incarnated by keith stanfield who literally blows away miles davis who then wakes up and plays again.

it's the distortion, stupid! (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 2 April 2016 05:56 (four months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

the kindle version of viv albertine book is £1.09 on at the moment

koogs, Friday, 8 July 2016 21:20 (one month ago) Permalink

Still slowly working my way through David Whiteis Southern Soul-Blues

curmudgeon, Monday, 11 July 2016 17:38 (one month ago) Permalink

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