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 (twelve 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
Krautrocksampler

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

Get the Lester Bangs books.

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

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

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

Hellfire,
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
hahahha

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

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

Mark (MarkR), Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:15 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 robertchristgau.com, 'cept maybe the *most* recent, which are at villagevoice.com, 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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
Soulsville

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

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

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

chuck berry's autobiog

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 March 2005 12:26 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (?!?)...it's a massacree!

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

Scott Miller, the late frontman for Game Theory, compiled his personal best-of singles lists from 1957 to 2011 into a book called Music: What Happened that is pretty slight, but really struck me at the time i bought it on a whim and has stuck with me for the past few years. great, kind writer, even though his and my tastes don't align that much.

austinb, Thursday, 25 May 2017 00:11 (two months ago) Permalink

I'm in the middle of reading that Scott Miller book. Still in the 60s but I like the focusing on the ten-songs-a-year aspect of the book's structure.

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Sunday, 28 May 2017 00:10 (two months ago) Permalink

I liked the Scott Miller book, but that undoubtedly has a lot to do with loving Scott Miller. His selections do get a little too strictly Amerindie from the 90s onward, but he writing is so creative and engaging that I enjoy reading him no matter what the subject.

some sad trombone Twilight Zone shit (cryptosicko), Sunday, 28 May 2017 00:16 (two months ago) Permalink

Shea Serrano's Rap Year Book is a good read, if you're not allergic to a certain amount of hahaha rap lyrics but like all stodgy and proper english

Finished Barry Miles' Macca bio which was good but imo could be vastly improved upon by excluding most of the stuff about 1) Indica 2) Apple 3) Movies after AHDN 4) Who Paul thinks wrote what percentage of some b-side

niels, Sunday, 28 May 2017 15:37 (two months ago) Permalink

This looks like fun (if you're into 00s-indie like I am)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0062233092/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1NZUS22LS2SXP&colid=37BC7UITIYJNR

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Sunday, 28 May 2017 23:12 (two months ago) Permalink

hmmm:

This book is not at all what I expected. I had actually heard of it through an ad and it sounded really interesting. The way it's presented is that it's stories from these bands/artists. I expected a chapter or at least a page from each. But it's not like that at all. Every single page (there are well over 500), is basically quotes from people. Some times the quotes are very very short and seem irrelevant to the chapter they're placed in. Example: In the chapter titled "I don't know who was paying for the drugs. It wasn't me." There's a quote saying, "Gordon Raphael: We recorded Is This Is between March and April 2001 at Transporterraum in Alphabet City." That's it. That's the end of the quote...
They all just seem like extremely random thoughts. So far, I'm very unimpressed and a bit bummed. Given the size of the book, I was pretty stoked to read some first hand accounts (who doesn't love having a peak into the mind of someone famous?). But this is just a let down :/ Every single page looks like the picture provided (except for a few photograph inserts). There is literally zero story anywhere in the book, just quotes.

niels, Monday, 29 May 2017 07:11 (two months ago) Permalink

this oral history has too many quotes

President Keyes, Tuesday, 30 May 2017 14:15 (two months ago) Permalink

if you're not allergic to a certain amount of hahaha rap lyrics but like all stodgy and proper english

oh boy, i sure am

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Tuesday, 30 May 2017 14:34 (two months ago) Permalink

Yeah, I'm used to reading these oral history style books, so the "bunch of quotes" complaint doesn't bother me as much.

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Tuesday, 30 May 2017 18:16 (two months ago) Permalink

i was so ready to rip into meet me in the bathroom but listening to and reading some interviews with lizzy i'm really excited now, i feel like it's everything besides the "nostalgia for the hype" book i thought it might be

austinb, Wednesday, 31 May 2017 00:21 (two months ago) Permalink

*gonna be everything besides, i haven't read it yet so i can't know for sure

austinb, Wednesday, 31 May 2017 00:21 (two months ago) Permalink

I just finished Meet Me In the Bathroom. It's made me dig up a lot of my old emails and mailing list posts and post them to facebook as I partake in debates with other early 00s NY scenesters. I really liked the book, it's not everything to everybody, but it worked for me on several levels. A lot of those people I'm fans of and friends with and I was there so that's great (even though I only got one brief mention and not the chapters I deserve), and the other half I never met and didn't care for musically or whatever but even that stuff is interesting in the way that I'll watch just about any biopic ever made and enjoy watching the journey to success, or the flame-out. There's a lot of interesting talk about the changes of the time and how various folk dealt with them. You might agree this was something important and if you don't it's an interesting story about people who think it was. Or you can just accept that this is somebody else's story and take it for that. I'm planning on writing something longer about the book, both a reflection of it as well as my personal addendum.

dan selzer, Sunday, 11 June 2017 22:17 (two months ago) Permalink

And I love Oral Histories but I feel like they need to have people's bios after their name every single time because I couldn't keep up with it.

dan selzer, Sunday, 11 June 2017 22:17 (two months ago) Permalink

I'm about ~150 pages into it and yeah it's a ton of fun. All the characters are really interesting and she does a good job of sketching out the scene through interviews. I've never been to New York but this book makes it sound like quite the experience (though it's probs very different now).

This is the first oral history I've read, do they usually have bios after the names? It's a chore to keep up with it all but I'm just trying to get used to it

josh az (2011nostalgia), Monday, 12 June 2017 02:31 (two months ago) Permalink

No I don't think they usually have bios. I actually never read Please Kill Me but I read the one about the LA punk scene, We've Got the Neutron Bomb. This book just covers a big enough scope that if you can't remember the name of the dude from The National you might get confused.

Here's Kid from Oneida's take:

http://www.talkhouse.com/was-this-it/

His interest kind of points to one of the things missing from the book. If I was to simplify it greatly, I think the book could've spent more time on the Brooklyn scene, and also more discussion of the dance music scene(s) and how they related. But even both of those things at least got their shout-out at some points. A lot of is just about the author's perspective and where she and her friends were coming from. Namely they were manhattan-based bloggers and Spin and Rolling Stone writers, so it's not surprising they'd miss out on some of that. Reading Rob Sheffield talk about Brooklyn like it was some scary foreign land says a lot. There's no question that manhattan was more important than brooklyn at that point, 90% of the shows and parties and bars etc were all still in the east village and lower east side, but most of us living in brooklyn and whatever underground scene had been there for many years was bubbling over. The book does talk about that, especially in the TV on the Radio section, but not enough. I'm also surprised Animal Collective didn't come up once.

I can't totally speak to how different New York is now as I don't get out that much, but it's hard to explain what was exciting. I mean New York is always New York and there's always 1,000 things to do and a million new people moving here every year to make it or whatever, but the book is right that things were dull in a way for a while, and I always go on about what I felt was boring, you had noise rock indie rock bands in the Sonic Youth to Blonde Redhead type world and people would go to those shows and stand around and you had techno parties where they just played a specific kind of techno and house clubs and it was all very separate and what the book touches on, about that time when the Strokes hit and the DFA started up, it coincided with/caused all these bands to move to New York. Maybe the year before is SF or Portland or Chicago, but suddenly it was New York again and I met a new band every day, and the scene isn't that big, like, maybe in other cities you go to one party than maybe you drive to some other party, but in NY you just walk out the door and down the block to the next party. And disco-punk and electroclash and who knows what else started breaking down those walls between styles and you would find yourself dancing to disco after a night of noise bands or whatever.

It seemed new at the time. Maybe it was just because it was my mid 20s and I was part of it but also knew my history enough to get that it was cyclical and we were academic about it. We'd sit around and talk about The Mudd Club and Danceteria (Madonna played with A Certain Ratio! Let's do that!) or we'd talk about madchester or whatever. I know I was going out in NY in the late 90s and I felt the difference, and I specifically remember being at an art opening w/ Nick Zinner, who was older and who'd been struggling in NY bands for a few years and saying "is it me or are things just getting better? I know I wasn't going out that much before but now it seems like there's cool stuff all the time" and he said "no you're right, it's changed and it's definitely better".

Not to say there was nothing special going on, but like, I was more interested in seeing Elliott Sharp at the Cooler or something. The young rock bands weren't that exciting. I mean there was some good indie/noise rock stuff and a lot of what I keep referring to as the Johnny thunders poseurs, a kind of new york cool rock band vibe that was really lame and boring. So when you suddenly had all this stuff happening at once, it was pretty exciting. And there was a lot of dancing. And you didn't have to do any drugs, despite what most of the people in the book say.

dan selzer, Monday, 12 June 2017 04:03 (two months ago) Permalink

rereading that post I will say that some of what made NY special during that period has been lost because of gentrification and real estate...namely, that ability to just hop from party to party in the east village is kind of fading away as all the cool stuff is spread out through ridgewood or some other distant locals. Parts of bushwick might have that feeling now and some of Williamsburg, but I can't imagine anything like what it was like when manhattan was still fun, and I can't imagine that existing in most other cities.

dan selzer, Monday, 12 June 2017 04:07 (two months ago) Permalink

Great posts, dan. Thanks!

hardcore dilettante, Monday, 12 June 2017 19:46 (two months ago) Permalink

Great posts, dan. Thanks!

hardcore dilettante, Monday, 12 June 2017 19:46 (two months ago) Permalink

He said, twice.

hardcore dilettante, Monday, 12 June 2017 19:46 (two months ago) Permalink

thanks. there's a lot more where that came from. I covered a lot of that from my perspective here some years ago: http://acuterecords.com/blog/?p=32

dan selzer, Monday, 12 June 2017 21:23 (two months ago) Permalink

I'm reading Elijah Wald's How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll, which (so far at least, and I'm about halfway into it) is not about the Beatles at all, mercifully. It's about what was actually popular throughout the 20th century in America, vs. what critics prefer to remember about the music of the 1920s-1950s. One major example: Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings are commonly regarded as his best/most important work, but those groups were entirely assembled for the studio, and never played live. In many ways, his reputation was established entirely on the back of records, but what he was actually doing most of the time in the 1920s (playing as a featured soloist with big dance bands and orchestras) is forgotten.

grawlix (unperson), Monday, 12 June 2017 21:51 (two months ago) Permalink

Forgotten by whom? His live activity is noted in bios---for instance, the night he got to be the first black man introducing a jazz band/speaking on live radio in Louisiana, because the white announcer couldn't bring himself to do it--and fairly well documented recording-wise, especially in later decades of course.

dow, Monday, 12 June 2017 22:35 (two months ago) Permalink

Prob not that many live recordings from the 20s, given tech-related odds.

dow, Monday, 12 June 2017 22:36 (two months ago) Permalink

Great post dan! Does the book cover Motherfucker, or any of those parties that mixed dance and rock and pop? I feel like MF was crucial to that changing feeling of scenes starting to mix. Along with a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting now. Plant Bar? A Wednesday night party at Sway? It all blends together. Anyway sounds like the book would be fun to read.

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 12 June 2017 22:48 (two months ago) Permalink

Yeah, Motherfucker gets a fair amount of coverage and Justine D. is a regular voice. It definitely sat in a weird crossover, primarily it grew out of that Jackie 60/Mother gay/drag/glam scene, crossed with the Tiswas/britpop parties but with an ear to electroclash/dancepunk/techno etc. They absolutely did not need to book me and Simonetti twice but they did. The idea was to have Michael T play David Bowie or whatever (or Dave P play more banging stuff) in the main room and I'm in the basement playing house and post-punk or whatever.

Lots of discussion of Plant Bar. Plant, DFA, the Rapture etc get as much ink as the Strokes. She really shoulda talked to me! Anyway, I never really went to Sway though it's best remembered for the sunday night Smiths night hosted by Ben Cho, who's getting a lot of memorials this week due to his recent loss from an overdose. Smiths night was Ben and Brian Degraw from Gang Gang Dance started around the time or just after Brian was doing monday nights at Plant Bar after me. I used to see Ben there but didn't know him. As I mention in that blog post, Luke and I really thought some of that fashionista scene would dig our music and start spending more time and earlier nights at Plant, but they'd still just show up for Brian and Leo Fitzpatrick, and when they left for Lit, any chance we had of Chloe Sevigny being a regular went out the window.

Wed nights scene was prepartying at Black and White where Parker Posey would always be hanging out then going to Spa which was hosted by Justine D as well.

dan selzer, Monday, 12 June 2017 23:40 (two months ago) Permalink

Yeah I don't think that was Parker Posey, I think it was a girl named Carolyn who was sometimes mistaken for her

Josefa, Monday, 12 June 2017 23:52 (two months ago) Permalink

Ha yes it was Wednesdays at Spa! Of course.

I fondly remember Lit (and "The Hole"?) as two of the only places you could still smoke..

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 13 June 2017 06:39 (two months ago) Permalink

I'm Reading Elijah Wald's Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues which is pretty interesting. I think I've come across a lotof his argument before but nice to have this in detail.
The whole idea of what got recorded, what the limitations on recording were and what the other contributing factors as to what was represented were. So a bluesman was probably a more diverse musician but only certain things were of interest to those recording. & the idea of somebody being a 'songster' being a different category being utterly artificial since it was just another way of saying one who sings songs.
Those recording didn't think there was a market for more primitive or whatever versions of show tunes when there were much more professional ones available so that whole area wasn't represented when ity might have made up a large part of any local musicians repertoire.
Interesting book so far. & we haven't even met Robert johnson yet.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 13 June 2017 07:36 (two months ago) Permalink

Still find his take on Robert Johnson somewhat infuriating.

Guidonian Handsworth Revolution (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 13 June 2017 11:20 (two months ago) Permalink

Lizzy Goodman was on Seth Myers tonight. I am thinking of picking up her book as even the critical stuff about it still makes it sound interesting to me.

And I like oral histories.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Thursday, 15 June 2017 05:46 (two months ago) Permalink

I always wished for a "This Band Could Be Your Life" version for the Aughts. I know that's not what this is, but it may scratch that same itch a bit.

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Friday, 16 June 2017 23:12 (two months ago) Permalink

The Richard Morton Jack Psychedelia arrived yesterday after I was let down on a different order of it last month.
It's subtitled 101 Iconic Underground Rock Albums 1966 - 1970 and does work as a bit of a 101 intro to the music.
Only 1 lp per artist but covers a lot of ground and if you get all of these it might trigger further investigation.
I actually don't have a few after buying in the area for decades.
Also first time I've seen a large size repro of SRC's s/t lp sleeve.
Nice.

Stevolende, Friday, 16 June 2017 23:57 (two months ago) Permalink

Excited for this one:

http://www.harpercollins.ca/9780062463692/good-booty

― some sad trombone Twilight Zone shit (cryptosicko), Friday, June 16, 2017 7:14 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Oh, nice. Wish listed that one. I haven't read a book by Powers yet, just articles now and then.

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Sunday, 18 June 2017 00:39 (two months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Don't know about 'good' but Peter hook's Joy Division book is 99p on Amazon.co.uk at the moment

(kindle version)

koogs, Saturday, 8 July 2017 11:41 (one month ago) Permalink

Noel Monk's Runnin' with the Devil is really good. He was Van Halen's manager from 1978-1985, and he gives up everything: how shitty their initial contract was (and how he got them out of it), how fucked up they were and how much they grew to hate each other, how badly the brothers and Roth fucked over Michael Anthony...it's totally fascinating if you're at all interested in the music business.

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 12 July 2017 02:16 (one month ago) Permalink

Ooh that sounds good

or at night (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 12 July 2017 11:23 (one month ago) Permalink

This review of NPR music critic Ann Powers new book,GOOD BOOTY
Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music, is kinda mixed --

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ann-powers/good-booty/

excerpt:
The author then settles into her occasionally diffuse narrative that connects Congo Square to Beyoncé and bemoans the devolution of Ma Rainey’s bawdy to the pornified, auto-tuned hip-hop of today. Where Powers successfully connects the dots, light bulbs flash: it is fascinating to watch her join the gay subculture of disco to the success of the sisters Labelle, nee the Blue Bells, remade in “a previously unexplored space where glam met funk met soul via strictly female interplay.” (Well, perhaps not strictly female, since, as Powers notes, the designer of Labelle’s outrageously flamboyant costumes went on to invent the costumes of the swaggering cartoon band KISS.) Even where she does not successfully make those connections, as with her notes on the apache (“pronounced A-POSH, not like the Native American tribal name”) dance and its not-so-subtle masochism, which never quite caught on in the larger culture, she ventures interesting theses. Mostly, the author strings together bright tidbits of cultural trivia to reconstruct and deconstruct the kinship of dirty blues and gospel, the shared underage girlfriends of now-iconic British rock stars, and other points of prurient interest.

A mixed bag, sometimes entertaining, sometimes arid, but full of useful insights; readers won’t look at Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj the same way

curmudgeon, Thursday, 13 July 2017 03:21 (one month ago) Permalink

Finished "How the Beatles Destroyed Rock and Roll" today.

A well researched and convincing history of popular music in America circa 1890-1970, often taking a materialistic approach stressing the importance of sheet music, dancing, publishing, radio etc and focusing on continuity between genres often described as oppositional.

Perhaps relies a bit much on familiarity with the 'standard narrative' it challenges. Slightly academic but full of good quotes and fresh perspective.

Best and chunkiest parts describe early jazz, Beatles take up a minimum of space despite the provocative title. If you're wondering how the Beatles destroyed rock and roll, they did it by inventing a hegemonic genre uninterested in singles and dancing, segregating white rock (music for listening) from black soul (music for dancing) in a hitherto unseen degree.

Great fun to read a book like this with Spotify handy, wish I'd made a playlist along the way.

niels, Thursday, 13 July 2017 10:16 (one month ago) Permalink

Looks like most of the Elijah Wald books are at least interesting. I need to finish the blues one, got an eye on the Dylan and electricity one since its around locally.
& that Beatles/R'n'r one sounds like it should be worth checking out.

Stevolende, Thursday, 13 July 2017 10:26 (one month ago) Permalink

that book sounds fascinating. just ordered myself a copy.

dyl, Thursday, 13 July 2017 17:51 (one month ago) Permalink

look forward to hearing your thoughts on it

niels, Thursday, 13 July 2017 18:25 (one month ago) Permalink

How the Beatles... made me want to read (hell, write) a full-on biography of Mitch Miller.

grawlix (unperson), Thursday, 13 July 2017 19:59 (one month ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan is not a book about music per se but has great essays on Christian Rock, Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, John Fahey, pre-war blues and Bunny Wailer

niels, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 11:01 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I wish he would come out with something new, I read Pulphead quite a few years ago I think and it was outstanding.

evol j, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 13:53 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Has he written anything after that Sunday NY Times blockbuster?

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 13:56 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Christian Rock piece is all time

Number None, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 14:15 (two weeks ago) Permalink

He was supposed to be working on a book about this guy

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Gottlieb_Priber

But haven't heard anything about it in a while

Number None, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 14:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

His journalistic methods in that Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie story on 78s, kinda turned me off a bit

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:34 (two weeks ago) Permalink

That's the NY Times one

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink


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