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

Halfway through "Born to Run." Reminds me of Knausgaard.

dinnerboat, Tuesday, 10 July 2018 19:42 (five months ago) Permalink

just finished how to wreck a nice beach, it is prob the best book about music i've ever read

This it may indeed be. Certainly one of the best designed.

Pwn Goal Picnic (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 10 July 2018 23:58 (five months ago) Permalink

New Viv Albertine book may be even better than the first one, if that’s possible. Not really about music though.

Isora Clubland (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 16 July 2018 23:04 (five months ago) Permalink

i'm enjoying it too! she is so frank. i love it.

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Tuesday, 17 July 2018 00:16 (five months ago) Permalink

Yeah, unbelievably so.

Isora Clubland (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 17 July 2018 00:41 (five months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Super looking forward to this, his Krautrock book was excellent:,204,203,200_.jpg

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Friday, 3 August 2018 08:33 (four months ago) Permalink

Ooh looks good

paolo, Friday, 3 August 2018 09:11 (four months ago) Permalink

Oh nice! Thanks for the heads up, just bought it.

MaresNest, Friday, 3 August 2018 11:52 (four months ago) Permalink

I'm thoroughly enjoying Seymour Stein (of Sire Records)'s memoir, Siren Song. I'm halfway through, and it's already offered great character studies of people like Syd Nathan of King Records and Mo Ostin of Warner Bros. Records. It's particularly informative on the inter-relations between independent labels and major labels in the '60s and '70s. It's got the typical artless "dictated to" tone, but it's quite good nevertheless.

Josefa, Sunday, 5 August 2018 02:34 (four months ago) Permalink

Halfway through Walsh’s Astral Weeks 68 and while it is pretty fascinating, I’m disappointed. It’s a lot of anecdotes strung together via Boston, rather than a narrative thread. Lotta cul de sacs :/
But overall am enjoying it

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 5 August 2018 03:14 (four months ago) Permalink

Have my eye on both of these last two books, thanks for heads up.

Suspicious Hiveminds (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 5 August 2018 06:56 (four months ago) Permalink

Wayne Kramer's memoir is about to drop in a couple of weeks time. Looking forward to that one.

Stevolende, Sunday, 5 August 2018 08:58 (four months ago) Permalink

I also blew through Trouble Boys last week. Depressing as fuck, but excellent writing & research, a really unputdownable read. Had no idea the depths of Bob’s mental issues.
It’s also stunning how for all their talent the band sorta boils down to a runaway train fueled by fear.

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 5 August 2018 18:40 (four months ago) Permalink

David Toop's Ocean of Sound is back in print via Serpent's Tail.

grawlix (unperson), Sunday, 5 August 2018 19:05 (four months ago) Permalink

ive read many good music books, mostly autobiographies, recently:

Full Moon: The Amazing Rock and Roll Life of the Late Keith Moon by his personal assistant Dougal Butler
The Most Incredible Elvis Presley Story Ever Told by G.B. Giorgio
Elvis and Me by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley with Sandra Harmon
Long Time Gone: The Autobiography of David Crosby by Croz
Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells by TJ and Martin Fitzpatrick

MTMATM was the last book I read and it was fantastic. next i plan to read through His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra by Kitty Kelley. Sinatra and Tommy James almost met but Tommy James blew it (Ed McMahon was involved, ofc):

After we performed at the Hollywood Bowl with the Rascals, I went back to the Century Plaza, where we were staying, and because I was still flying from my pills, I called Capitol Records and booked time at one of their recording studios... When I got back late to my hotel, the front desk clerk was all atwitter. Ed McMahon had dropped by my hotel with Frank Sinatra, and I'd missed him because I was so high I forgot about our date. I never could get with him again to make my apologies. I can just hear Sinatra mumbling, "Fucking kids," while he cooled his heeled in the lobby waiting for Tommy James, who had stiffed him.

- Tommy James, p. 142

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Sunday, 5 August 2018 19:27 (four months ago) Permalink

I’m reading Music: What Happened?, by Scott Miller, on vacation (the Kindle version is only a few bucks). His comments/observations are interesting, and I’ve been highlighting a lot of passages to remind me to check out specific tracks later.

Less happy is how heavily the Beatles weigh down his p.o.v., at least in the sections on the early ‘60s — he reviews entire tracks (by other artists) by talking almost entirely about the Fab Four! Maybe somewhat unavoidable for a guy born in 1960?

empire bro-lesque (morrisp), Monday, 6 August 2018 13:15 (four months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

i'm kinda surprised that this has never been mentioned in this thread:

Michael Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond (1974)

Karl Malone, Monday, 27 August 2018 03:00 (three months ago) Permalink

not that i know it well - i'm only a third of the way through. but i guess it's one of the most prominent texts on the subject? there's an interesting bit early on where he's trying to explain the difference between avant garde and experimental, which is an interesting question, and one i hadn't even thought about before

Karl Malone, Monday, 27 August 2018 03:06 (three months ago) Permalink

This is a from a book only tangentially about music, but I loved the quote (the protagonist is hearing Glen Gould's recording of the Goldberg Variations for the first time):

"How can haphazard nubbiness of grooves pressed into synthetic polymer, read and converted into equivalent electric current, passed through an electromagnet and that isomorphically excites speaker paper, sucking it back and forth in a pulsing wave that sets up a sympathetic vibration in thin, skin membrane tickling nerve-bursts simulate not only all the instruments of the orchestra but this most cerebrally self-invested device, the hammer-struck, vibrating string?"
Richard Powers, The Gold Bug Variations

enochroot, Friday, 7 September 2018 01:41 (three months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

I'm 5 chapters in to Stubbs' Mars By 1980, and it is indeed fantastic. Really interesting. And he's also just a great writer; there's one bit where he's writing about the impact of a particular music teacher who introduced him to Frank Zappa and how he was:

Trying to impress on us that there were worlds of intrigue in contemporary sound that had extended well beyond what we then considered to be the apex of modern excitement: facing each other on the dancefloor at the school disco, thumbs in belt loops and leaning into each other rhythmically like glam-rock stags to the stomping beat of Mud's 'Tiger Feet'.

which is an image that has been in my head all week. Shout out to Tiger Feet though.

triggercut, Monday, 15 October 2018 10:00 (two months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Finishing up the "Beastie Boys Book" which is excellent and hilarious. I gather the audiobook features a cast of thousands.

Alex in NYC, Thursday, 8 November 2018 19:30 (one month ago) Permalink

bumped the Blonde on Blonde thread for this but Daryl Sanders' That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound is really good if you're into books that exhaustively detail every hour of the recording of an album.

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 November 2018 19:35 (one month ago) Permalink

Currently reading a biography of Dexter Gordon written by his widow. It contains material from an autobiography he never completed, and also a bunch of stuff he planned on leaving out (about drugs, etc.). It's nontraditional but very interesting, especially if you're a fan like me.

grawlix (unperson), Thursday, 8 November 2018 19:38 (one month ago) Permalink

that Sanders book sounds interesting!

was thinking the other day about how Dylan was 24 years old when he wrote Like a Rolling Stone, wtf

niels, Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:34 (one month ago) Permalink

How does it feel?

too busy or too stoned (morrisp), Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:35 (one month ago) Permalink


he was still 24 when he recorded Blonde on Blonde, too - that was mentioned in the book and I went a bit o_O

almost done with the book, another tidbit: six of the songs on the album were recorded in one night. can you guess which ones?

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:36 (one month ago) Permalink

Wild stab: Pledging My Time, Pill-Box Hat, Temporary Like Achilles, Sweet Marie, Fourth Time Around, 5 Believers.

too busy or too stoned (morrisp), Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:44 (one month ago) Permalink

You got half: Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat, Temporary Like Achilles, Obviously 5 Believers.

Pledging My Time and Absolutely Sweet Marie were recorded the previous night. Fourth Time Around was the first song they recorded in Nashville.

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:47 (one month ago) Permalink

Most Likely You'll Go Your Way, Rainy Day Women, and I Want You were the other three.

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:48 (one month ago) Permalink

How many takes did they record of "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands"?

too busy or too stoned (morrisp), Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:50 (one month ago) Permalink

only four!

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:51 (one month ago) Permalink

Finishing up the "Beastie Boys Book" which is excellent and hilarious

otm, really enjoyable. Ad-Rock funnier than Mike D (unsurprisingly)

Οὖτις, Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:51 (one month ago) Permalink

this book also cleared up drummer Kenneth Buttrey's famous comment about building to a climax two minutes in because he didn't know how long the song was - I never heard that aborted buildup. Apparently, he was referring to the first take they did. By the time they cut the master, everyone knew how long the song was.

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:53 (one month ago) Permalink

Currently reading a biography of Dexter Gordon written by his widow. It contains material from an autobiography he never completed, and also a bunch of stuff he planned on leaving out (about drugs, etc.). It's nontraditional but very interesting, especially if you're a fan like me.

Oh yeah, believe I told you about that and you got an advance copy. Guess it is out now to the general public

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 8 November 2018 22:17 (one month ago) Permalink

xp there were some good articles online about the recording of Blonde on Blonde too, I guess it's true that Rainy Day Women was the most difficult song to record and they did +20 takes?

niels, Friday, 9 November 2018 10:10 (one month ago) Permalink

No, Rainy Day Women was quick - master take was cut so fast that Robbie Robertson went down to the lobby to get cigarettes and by the time he came back they were done. The one they spent the most time on was Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat, at least 20 takes and attempted at three separate sessions.

flappy bird, Friday, 9 November 2018 16:26 (one month ago) Permalink

thanks for clarifying that! still a relatively straightforward blues, interesting that would be the difficult one

niels, Friday, 9 November 2018 17:46 (one month ago) Permalink

there are a bunch of weird leopard skin takes in nashville where they try to do a goofy traffic noise breakdown and add phone sounds ... bizarre to imagine it being released — it could've been a left-field novelty hit that made everyone hate Bob Dylan.

tylerw, Friday, 9 November 2018 17:56 (one month ago) Permalink

yeah haha they spent so much time on the novelty version... it was first attempted at the New York sessions, then in the middle of the Nashville sessions (honk version), and then eventually redone on the last day. Nashville players to Robbie Robertson after they cut the master: "The whole world'll love you for that one, Robbie."

flappy bird, Friday, 9 November 2018 18:33 (one month ago) Permalink

i haven't read the sanders book but i understand he says that robertson *didn't* play lead on the blonde on blonde version of "visions of johanna"? I've always thought it was him — and held that performance up as one of Robbie's greatest moments! haha oh well.

tylerw, Friday, 9 November 2018 18:36 (one month ago) Permalink

yeah! Robertson is not on Visions of Johanna - it was a Nashville player that came in and only played on that one song. I don't have the book on me and everywhere I look online incorrectly states that Robertson plays lead. I'll take a look when I get home... but listening to the lead on VOJ vs. Robertson's playing on Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat and Pledging My Time, they're not the same at all. Robertson is much dirtier.

flappy bird, Friday, 9 November 2018 19:59 (one month ago) Permalink

"Led Zeppelin All The Songs The Story Behind Every Track". Just WOW. Amidst the usual band history stuff and occasional dopey sidebars there is a feast of nerdy studio facts ( instruments and effects, mixing boards, studio engineer and Page anecdotes on mic placements et al) and great photos. I love this shit. Probably my favorite Zep book after "Trampled Underfoot".

An Uphill Battle For Legumes (Capitaine Jay Vee), Wednesday, 21 November 2018 22:14 (four weeks ago) Permalink

What about When Giants Walked the Earth by Mick Wall? Haven't read it myself, but it's supposed to be the definitive Zep bio.

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Wednesday, 21 November 2018 22:36 (four weeks ago) Permalink

Haven't read that one, either.

An Uphill Battle For Legumes (Capitaine Jay Vee), Wednesday, 21 November 2018 22:56 (four weeks ago) Permalink

Has anyone read David Weigel's The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock? Wondering about asking for it for Christmas.

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Tuesday, 27 November 2018 08:12 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Yeah, it’s good.

grawlix (unperson), Tuesday, 27 November 2018 10:10 (three weeks ago) Permalink

if crimson's your favorite prog band you should totally ask for it. fripp comes off as the central figure in the whole scene

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 27 November 2018 13:13 (three weeks ago) Permalink

TBF, he also comes off as a gaping asshole, though.

grawlix (unperson), Tuesday, 27 November 2018 13:22 (three weeks ago) Permalink

"Led Zeppelin All The Songs The Story Behind Every Track". Just WOW. Amidst the usual band history stuff and occasional dopey sidebars there is a feast of nerdy studio facts ( instruments and effects, mixing boards, studio engineer and Page anecdotes on mic placements et al) and great photos. I love this shit. Probably my favorite Zep book after "Trampled Underfoot".

― An Uphill Battle For Legumes (Capitaine Jay Vee), Wednesday, November 21, 2018 4:14 PM (six days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I flipped through this at a bookstore the other day and it looked awesome, but didn't have a good chance to really look at though as my daughter has no interest in reading up on Zep with me ("yeah hold on sweetie Dada is reading about how many takes of "Stairway" they did"), but if it is in league with the Hoskyns book that is high praise indeed.

chr1sb3singer, Tuesday, 27 November 2018 18:25 (three weeks ago) Permalink

There's a few books like that about. The Grateful Dead one isn't bad. That is song by song, album by album.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 28 November 2018 00:30 (three weeks ago) Permalink

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