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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Get the Lester Bangs books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chuck berry's autobiog

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

Looks like a guy you can't trust.

flappy bird, Monday, 27 November 2017 00:18 (five months ago) Permalink

Looking for recommendations on books on electronic music, preferably from a 'historical sonic evolution' type of angle or just anything that will give me a fundamental understanding of the genres and subcultures with the right amount of mythological titillation, too.

damosuzuki, Monday, 27 November 2017 05:41 (five months ago) Permalink

How about Energy Flash by Simon Reynolds?

Moodles, Monday, 27 November 2017 06:34 (five months ago) Permalink

Wazzabout the book by Matos, The Underground Is Massive?

Modern Zounds in Undiscovered Country (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 27 November 2017 11:34 (five months ago) Permalink

that's more about how the rave scene specifically developed in the united states but yes it's very good

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 27 November 2017 11:48 (five months ago) Permalink

both look pretty cool, thanks. I'll give Energy Flash a read first.

damosuzuki, Monday, 27 November 2017 16:19 (five months ago) Permalink

Sticky Fingers got much better after the intro--the more the author removes himself and just tells the story, the better it is. (He uses the phrase "sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll" in the intro, the biggest and reddest of red flags.) It's a sobering book. Not that I had any illusions about Rolling Stone, and whatever I've taken from the magazine (which amounts to a bunch of 40+-year-old record reviews and Rob Sheffield today) remains, but not an inspiring saga.

Funniest part by far is the 10th-year-anniversary TV show they put together. I don't remember watching this, for which I'm sincerely sorry.

Binder booked Ted Neeley, the star of Jesus Christ Superstar, to perform an elaborate Beatles dance medley called "A Decade in the Life," which included performers in foam strawberry suits and black leggings doing a psychedelic maypole dance as Neeley, dressed as Father Time, sang "Strawberry Fields Forever." The sequence also featured two men in rubber Nixon and Kissinger masks singing "I'm a Loser," inspired, no doubt, by a famous SNL skit of Aykroyd and Belushi praying in the Oval Office on the eve of impeachment. Binder said the Beatles sequence cost over $100,000 to shoot.

clemenza, Monday, 4 December 2017 00:22 (five months ago) Permalink

In other words, Steve Binder was unable to recapture that Elvis Comeback Special magic

Anne Git Yorgun (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 4 December 2017 00:36 (five months ago) Permalink

That Matos book is really good! It talks more about subcultures and communities than it does sounds and sonics, but it's an entertaining read.

josh az (2011nostalgia), Monday, 4 December 2017 00:40 (five months ago) Permalink

(xpost) I might go a bit further--he was also unable to recapture that Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell magic.

clemenza, Monday, 4 December 2017 00:42 (five months ago) Permalink

Terry Graham's Punk Like Me finally arrived after a lengthy delay. I payed into the Kickstarter dcampaign about 5 years ago.
Have read first couple of chapters and it seems pretty decent. Traces his path as a musician from childhood through to him walking outon the Gun club in 1984. Must get through thsi. Quite good so far.

Dr John Under A hoodoo Moon his memoir which its taken me about 20 years to get a copy of. He's just tried smack for teh first time after one of his guitar mentors lost patience with him continually asking about it. He's also a possibly prepubescent teen at the time.
Again really well written and i wish I had more time to devote to it. It's my transport book currently.

Blondie by lester Bangs. very odd as a mass media coffee table book on a popular band.
Loving it, gives a lotof insight into the background etc. & the New York scene of the time.

Nothing But The Blues: The Music and the Musicians. Lawrence Cohen
Great coffee table book on the blues which I picked up for €3 from a local charity shop.
I want to read this through after having just read Elijah Wald's book on the Delta Blues

Stevolende, Monday, 4 December 2017 12:58 (five months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

read the two elijah wald books that i ordered recently: escaping the delta and how the beatles...

they were both really great reads. for quite some time lately i had actually been trying to find good books describing the many shifts occurring in 1920s popular music (the early blues and 'hillbilly' markets, advent of electric recording, influence of film etc.). others i had found before wald's writings were either too focused on recordings, which were just one (non-dominant) facet of the pop music industry, or interpreted the landscape from a non-contemporary lens that i found suspect. by contrast, wald very clearly put a lot of effort into providing a broad and comprehensive overview of pop music that emphasized how the eras' musicians made their living, how consumers and amateur musicians (people were often both especially in the early days) enjoyed music, how other industries became big players in pop music as technology shifted, etc. i especially appreciated that he touched upon the role of dance in pop music, which was particularly indispensable for his chapter on the early 60s. i also enjoyed the clear effort he made to convey how people conceptualized, categorized, and thought about pop music in its various forms at the time instead of trying to retrospectively slot things into dubious boxes that barely even make sense today, as many histories unfortunately do.

there were some moments that were clearly a little more speculative than others. one in particular: he describes the mid-50s period when songs like "patricia", "purple people eater", "tom dooley", "at the hop" and "volare" were all hits getting major exposure through radio, but suggests that, well, probably no one actually liked/bought all those records, different as they were, but they certainly would have heard all of them! but then there's a footnote attached to that statement which literally says that multiple readers of the manuscript told him that at the time they actually enjoyed and owned most of those records he mentioned. i find it so odd that he didn't bother to reformulate that paragraph a bit given that he had some decent indication of being slightly off-base! but moments like that are not common, as most of the time he was careful to cite his speculations of typical behavior/taste with carefully interpreted contemporary sources.

anyway, do read them if you've been curious and would be interested in broad but informative/detailed surveys of those periods.

dyl, Monday, 25 December 2017 02:04 (four months ago) Permalink

Yeah, Wald is fantastic and I love both those books.

I'm currently reading Graham Lock's Forces In Motion: The Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton, which is a combination tour diary and mega-extended interview transcript with Braxton; Lock spent two weeks traveling with him on tour to write it, and it's giving me a clearer understanding of how he thinks, how he feels about his own work, what he's trying to accomplish and why, and so much more (it's giving me a much better understanding of other AACM dudes, too, just based on Braxton's thoughts about them). It seriously is unlocking Braxton's music for me in a way that's perfectly timed, since I've been in a real mood to listen to a lot more of his stuff lately.

grawlix (unperson), Monday, 25 December 2017 03:23 (four months ago) Permalink

Just finished the Song Machine, which was informative and a good overview of current music trends, but lacked something I can't quite put my finger on...I think maybe i thought the track and hook vs melody and lyrics was perhaps underexplored.

anyway, I have read a lot of the pre-war Blues books and Escaping the Delta is probably the best. In search of the blues was criticized in some quarters, but that's a book that asks some tough questions as well, and I thought it made it's case well:

campreverb, Monday, 25 December 2017 07:59 (four months ago) Permalink

Wald is one of my favorite music historians. Huge fan of “Beatles”

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 26 December 2017 00:24 (four months ago) Permalink

i liked the song machine too! the narrative it sketched out was pretty compelling, it made some very solid/intriguing points about how pop evolved over the years he covered, and the details he uncovered in interviews were often fascinating.

one thing that was a bit distracting about it was that there were a lot of minor factual errors. almost all were harmless to the broader points/thesis, but it did leave me wondering just how thorough his research outside of his own interviews actually was (not to mention how so many people who looked over the manuscript failed to notice). and in some cases it seemed he was ignoring some information in service of a more compelling narrative. (like, saying tricky stewart had never scored a big hit before the mega-smash "umbrella" sure makes the story more exciting, but it just wasn't true!) and in general his blind spots were in the predictable directions (overemphasis on rock, little awareness of hip hop that wasn't inspiring pop that would come later, etc.).

BUT nevertheless it was a very compelling read! i was a little apprehensive about it at first, because i remember its release precipitated some really silly/wrong-headed reviews in the press.

dyl, Tuesday, 26 December 2017 00:32 (four months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Nothing on Trouble Boys here--must be something on one of the Replacements threads. I'm about 100 pages in. I like that Westerberg tried to write a song once that sounded like Wishbone Ash's "Blowin' Free." Love that Creem's Rick Johnson was an influence. The stuff on the Replacements/Husker Du rivalry is good. Where did I hear about them first...almost positive it would have been via Christgau's Sorry Ma blurb.

clemenza, Tuesday, 13 March 2018 14:15 (two months ago) Permalink

Possibly the most depressing music book I've ever read

Number None, Tuesday, 13 March 2018 18:53 (two months ago) Permalink

does anyone have any post #100 (or so) recommendations from the 33 and 1/3 series?

campreverb, Tuesday, 13 March 2018 21:28 (two months ago) Permalink

Really enjoyed Terry Graham's Punk Like Me which covers the LA punk scene and time in the Gun club.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 13 March 2018 21:50 (two months ago) Permalink

Possibly the most depressing music book I've ever read
― Number None

Just on the epilogue--it is, in a way. And exhausting.

I always took the sideshow aspect of the band to be just that, something that existed apart from the records--I didn't realize the extent to which it was the central fact of their lives. The first couple of records, sure; they're young, and they're getting attention, act out. But 200 pages and four or five albums later, why are they still pouring beer over their heads and pointlessly ruining vans and sabotaging every step forward with two steps back? I understand their hostility to any industry people who tried to change them and didn't know anything about them. By they seemed outnumbered in the book by industry people who actually loved the band and wanted to help them. I know that's a simplification of complicated lives--they're really afraid of success, their addictive and sometimes abusive backgrounds, etc.--but like I say, exhausting. I'll never not love my favourite Replacements songs (played the "I'll Be You" video for my class today and it sounded as great as ever), but halfway through, I wanted to be reading about R.E.M. or some other band who boringly tried to stay focused and more or less do the right things.

clemenza, Friday, 23 March 2018 01:14 (one month ago) Permalink

i've had morley's "words and music" on my coffee table for *years* now and i've barely cracked it

has anyone read it? any good? plax?

the late great, Friday, 23 March 2018 01:16 (one month ago) Permalink

a few i can cosign

john szwed's sun ra biography
caetano veloso's tropical truth

and i've never gotten tired of the uh rough guide to reggae. really!

the late great, Friday, 23 March 2018 01:18 (one month ago) Permalink

another one i've had for years but not read - "the aesthetics of rock". surprisingly little discussion on that one on this thread.

the late great, Friday, 23 March 2018 01:18 (one month ago) Permalink

One additional thing on the Replacements book. I think I got one good laugh for the longest stretch: when the band told Benmont Tench to tell Tom Petty how much they loved his song "Running Down a Drain."

clemenza, Friday, 23 March 2018 01:18 (one month ago) Permalink

Any word on This is Memorial Device yet?

Whiney On The Moog (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 23 March 2018 01:21 (one month ago) Permalink

I have the Morley book, didn't read it cover to cover, but read a good chunk. Can't say it really stuck with me though. Lots of talk about Kylie Minogue. Couldn't really relate a lot to his POV.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Friday, 23 March 2018 01:33 (one month ago) Permalink

hard-line poptimism?

i bought it cause i heard it had some good writing on electronic music (kraftwerk, moroder, new order, human league etc)

the late great, Friday, 23 March 2018 01:36 (one month ago) Permalink

Perhaps, he strikes me as someone who likes very specific things and gives thgem primacy way out of proportion with their place in the overall musical landscape. Also, the quirks and eccentricities of his writing tend to overshadow the subject matter.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Friday, 23 March 2018 01:40 (one month ago) Permalink

ah that's interesting

i was planning to approach it not as informative nonfiction but as critical theory, maybe? but i guess i haven't enjoyed reading critical theory for a long time now

the late great, Friday, 23 March 2018 01:45 (one month ago) Permalink

I could see all the odd stylistic stuff being some kind of pop music Deleuzian project, but it didn't really hit for me.

I'm curious about this Aesthetics of Rock one, not familiar with it.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Friday, 23 March 2018 02:18 (one month ago) Permalink

honestly i just couldn't resist the cover

the late great, Friday, 23 March 2018 02:33 (one month ago) Permalink

the Morley is more of a book-length ZTT sleevenote than analysis or critical theory

just noticed tears shaped like florida. (sic), Friday, 23 March 2018 08:00 (one month ago) Permalink

Any word on This is Memorial Device yet?

Borrowed a copy from the local library here in Glasgow recently. It is basically Bolano's Savage Detectives recast as an oral history of 'outsider' Scottish music in the early 1980s - as entertaining, and as limited, as that sounds. Too many of the voices start to sound like the author, but maybe that's the point. Keenan has good fun with made-up band names, albums, limited edition cassettes etc. It did made me want to visit Airdrie, which is quite an accomplishment in its own way.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 23 March 2018 08:45 (one month ago) Permalink

It did made me want to visit Airdrie, which is quite an accomplishment in its own way.

:-O Please tell me you will not go to Airdrie.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Friday, 23 March 2018 08:59 (one month ago) Permalink

I've been to Coatbridge - also featured in the book - I think I can handle Airdrie in the daytime (I asked a friend up here what Airdrie was like and he just said, "rough place"!)

Ward Fowler, Friday, 23 March 2018 09:02 (one month ago) Permalink

“Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize.”

Leslie “POLLS” Hartley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 23 March 2018 13:46 (one month ago) Permalink

Valerie Wilmer's ultra-essential jazz book As Serious As Your Life has been reissued.

grawlix (unperson), Friday, 23 March 2018 13:59 (one month ago) Permalink

Next question: what about this biography of Larry Norman, who I never heard of until I saw the book in the store

Leslie “POLLS” Hartley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 25 March 2018 01:47 (one month ago) Permalink

The great irony of Norman's career, Thornbury says, is that secular musicians like Bono and Pixies' Black Francis embraced his message, but the Church largely rejected it.

Not sure i want to read a whole book about the guy.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 25 March 2018 22:36 (one month ago) Permalink

Have to admit the Black Francis blurb intrigued me.

Leslie “POLLS” Hartley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 26 March 2018 02:01 (one month ago) Permalink

464 pages lol

the late great, Tuesday, 3 April 2018 17:48 (one month ago) Permalink

Viv Albertine has a new memoir out. Doesn't sound like it has much (if anything) to do with music this time around, but worthy of note based on her first book

Number None, Tuesday, 3 April 2018 18:23 (one month ago) Permalink

Jessica Hopper has a new memoir out too, Night Moves -- haven't seen it, would read

The book I bought about Akron punk kinda sucks, not very well written
The new CAN book by Rob Young (and Irmin Schmidt) is GREAT so far but I haven't had much time to read it :(

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Tuesday, 3 April 2018 22:52 (one month ago) Permalink

psyched for the CAN book ...
just finished the Astral Weeks book that just came out (which covers a lot more ground than just van morrison). highly recommended.

tylerw, Tuesday, 3 April 2018 22:56 (one month ago) Permalink

Was wondering about that one.

What’s the Wire book Tom D was going on about on other thread?

Rudy’s Mood For Dub (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 3 April 2018 22:56 (one month ago) Permalink

the astral weeks book is really more of a history of late 60s counterculture in boston — lots of cool connections.

tylerw, Tuesday, 3 April 2018 23:03 (one month ago) Permalink

Oh Read & Burn

Rudy’s Mood For Dub (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 3 April 2018 23:11 (one month ago) Permalink

Do the Velvets make an appearance in that book, Tyler?

Rudy’s Mood For Dub (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 3 April 2018 23:12 (one month ago) Permalink

There's a long chapter about the Velvets, the Boston Tea Party, and Jonathan Richman in the Astral Weeks book. Lots of crazy stories.

that's not my post, Wednesday, 4 April 2018 04:42 (one month ago) Permalink

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