Music Books: Any recommended reading?

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Piet
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Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby Piet » 15 May 2004, 07:19

Probably no other genre in the bookstore ranges from the sublime to the abysmal in terms of quality.

What musical tomes should be gracing any self-respecting music lovers bookshelf?

Me, I'd submit the following, all I think worthy and vital examples of their style.

1 Peter Guralnick - Sweet Soul Music

2 Karen O'Brien - Joni Mitchell: Shadows and Light

3 Nick Tosches - Country

4 Nik Cohn - Rock From The Beginning

5 Lauren St John - Steve Earle: Hardcore Troubador.

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Postby atomic loonybin » 15 May 2004, 09:05

Well, as I always do, I'll big up Deke Leonards two books Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics and I Wish I'd Stayed in Bed. They are laugh out loud hilarious, and absolutely catch the 'what a piece of piss being a very minor rock star is' mood.

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Postby Phil T » 15 May 2004, 09:14

I'd recommend three:

'Beefheart' by Mike Barnes.
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'Chalkhills and Children' by Chris Twomey:
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and a very readable take on the management side, 'Black Vinyl, White Powder' by Simon Napier-Bell:
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Last edited by Phil T on 15 May 2004, 09:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby The Write Profile » 15 May 2004, 09:15

For me, there are three which are my favourites

Lester Bangs- Psychotic Reactions and Carboreutter Dung (sp?)

Superb, infuriating, enlightening and downright invograting anthology of most of Lester Bangs' more famous work. Especially worth reading for his part interview series with Lou Reed, in which the two of them reveal their own personal failings as the conversation gets increasingly barbed.

Mainlines, Blood Transfusions and Bad Taste, the second Bangs anthology isn't as consistently good, but is worth it for his quite cogent assesment on the Beatles' solo careers 6 years after their split. That, and his Elvis obituary

Ian Macdonald- Revoloution in the Head

Wonderfully meticulous (sometimes anally so) analysis on every song that the Beatles recorded, managing to place their songs in a historical, musical and social context. Probably the last word on the Beatles, a band that has inspired more words than any other group.

Warren Zanes-Dusty in Memphis 33 1/3

Very short, racy account of one man's infatuation with this classic album, as well as a detailed chronology as to how this album was produced. Manages to summarise the album's appeal and timelessness better than any other critic before or since


Peter Garulnick- Sweet Soul Music

Utterly sublime trawl through some of the great records of the 1960s and 1970s, managing to pinpoint exactly how and what made the songs important. Perfect for all those relatively new to digging into soul music of this era (people like myself, in other words)

Gary Mulholland- This is Uncool

Although perhaps lacking the erudition of the other writers mentioned in this post, Mulholland's gift is his enthusiasm for pop music, in all its forms since 1977. One of the few critics to rightly keep up with the play, stating that the single has become reinvoigorated in terms of inspiration and in its socially embracing manner. He's still loving the music of now, and that's got to be encouraging

Will those do?
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Postby Phil T » 15 May 2004, 09:17

The Right Scarfie Profile wrote:
Ian Macdonald- Revoloution in the Head


Doh!! Why did I forget the most obvious one? :roll:

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Postby Magilla » 15 May 2004, 12:16

Julian Cope - Head On / Repossessed.
A hilarious read, regardless of if you like Cope and / or his music or not.

John Cale - What's Welsh For Zen?
Cale provides indepth overview of his life and music, never scared to make condemations of himself or others, tells lots of great anecotes, etc.

Patrick Humphries - Nick Drake.
Humphries expertly outlines the life and music of this unique individual. He explains Drake really well.

David Browne - Dream Brother (The Lives And Music Of Jeff and Tim Buckley).
Captures the father and son and their songs and circumstances really well. Isn't afraid to display the negative apects of either's personality.

At the moment I myself am about two-thirds of the way through Space Is The Place, John F.Szwed's mind-bogglingly enthralling biography of Sun Ra.
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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby borofan » 15 May 2004, 12:17

Daniele Milo wrote: Peter Guralnick - Sweet Soul Music


I'd also thoroughly recommend his two-book Elvis Presley biography (Last Train To Memphis and Careless Love) - meticulously researched and beautifully written.

And also:

Head on/Reposessed - Julian Cope's autobiography, very funny. I did wonder how he could remember much of it though, if he really was as out of it as he claims!

England's Dreaming - Jon Savage. Great book on the Sex Pistols in particular, and the punk scene in general.
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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby Nikki Gradual » 15 May 2004, 12:23

borofan wrote: England's Dreaming - Jon Savage. Great book on the Sex Pistols in particular, and the punk scene in general.


Indeed. An excellent book as long as you take it with a pinch of salt and allow for Savage's own prejudices and causes celebre. A bit of an Oliver Stone effort with regard to presentation of opinion as fact.

As well as that, and the others mentioned, I would heartily recommend:

Dury by Richard Balls

Miles by Miles and Quincy Troupe

Dear Boy (Keith Moon) by Tony Fletcher

A dysfuncional success by Wreckless Eric

Stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham
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Postby The Modernist » 15 May 2004, 12:30

As well as the ones already mentioned, I'd strongly recommend:
Wating For The Sun - Barney Hoskyns

This is an account of the LA music scene from the late fifties to the nineties. As well as writing about the music itself with real insight, Hoskyns also places the music within its socio-cultural context. Impressively researched too with many original interviews. The book inevitably peters off during the end as LA music loses its distinctiveness, but as the core of the book addresses the classic early 60's -early 70's years then this isn't really a problem.

BTW what's the best Dylan book? I've got Down The Highway by Howard Souness but I found it a bit descriptive. It didn't really offer any great insight into the man or his music for me.

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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 15 May 2004, 12:33

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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby The Modernist » 15 May 2004, 12:35

Nikki Gradual wrote:
borofan wrote: England's Dreaming - Jon Savage. Great book on the Sex Pistols in particular, and the punk scene in general.


Indeed. An excellent book as long as you take it with a pinch of salt and allow for Savage's own prejudices and causes celebre. A bit of an Oliver Stone effort with regard to presentation of opinion as fact.



I like the way Savage can really pinpoint the social context which creates music. He brings a real sociological insight without ever getting into academic waffle.
However I know what you mean Nikki, I've heard one or two stories on how he expects certain "favours" from musicians which shapes how they're presented in the book. I'd better leave it there..

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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby The Fish » 15 May 2004, 12:40

Nikki Gradual wrote:Miles by Miles and Quincy Troupe


I love in that book the way Miles refers to everything under the sun as "motherfucker".

There's one great bit where he describes an oversized musician (may have been Fats Navarro ?) with a fairly petite wife by saying...

He was fat as a motherfucker and she was small as a motherfucker

Which has left me wondering to this day, just what is the standard size for a motherfucker.

I think everyone should read the book, who has Miles pegged as some kind of arrogant racist (paging Slider). It's very telling when other musicians were giving him grief for putting Holland and McLaughlin in his band. His response was, find me a black guy who can play as well as McLaughlin and I'll put him in my band and McLaughlin.
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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby bhoywonder » 15 May 2004, 12:43

borofan wrote:
Daniele Milo wrote: Peter Guralnick - Sweet Soul Music


I'd also thoroughly recommend his two-book Elvis Presley biography (Last Train To Memphis and Careless Love) - meticulously researched and beautifully written.


I'll second that. Halfway through the second volume at the minute, fascinating stuff.

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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby Nikki Gradual » 15 May 2004, 12:43

The Fish wrote: Which has left me wondering to this day, just what is the standard size for a motherfucker.


Officially, very slightly taller than me, I believe.
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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby The Fish » 15 May 2004, 12:46

Nikki Gradual wrote:
The Fish wrote: Which has left me wondering to this day, just what is the standard size for a motherfucker.


Officially, very slightly taller than me, I believe.


Would this be your roundabout way of finally admitting defeat ?
We're way past rhubarb

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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby The Modernist » 15 May 2004, 12:51

The Fish wrote:
Nikki Gradual wrote:Miles by Miles and Quincy Troupe


I love in that book the way Miles refers to everything under the sun as "motherfucker".

There's one great bit where he describes an oversized musician (may have been Fats Navarro ?) with a fairly petite wife by saying...

He was fat as a motherfucker and she was small as a motherfucker

Which has left me wondering to this day, just what is the standard size for a motherfucker.

I think everyone should read the book, who has Miles pegged as some kind of arrogant racist (paging Slider). It's very telling when other musicians were giving him grief for putting Holland and McLaughlin in his band. His response was, find me a black guy who can play as well as McLaughlin and I'll put him in my band and McLaughlin.


The craziest story in there is when he's describing driving through New York in an open top. It starts snowing and he's so wired he imagines the snow in the car is coke, so worried he's going to get nicked he stops the car in the middle of 5th Avenue and runs into an appartment. He jumps into an elevator, but when a woman gets into the elevator at the next floor he actually forgets he is in an elevator and pulls a switchblade on her saying "get out of my car bitch". Scarey stuff.
It's one of the most honest autobiographies I've read. His attitudes aren't for the faint-hearted, but the numerous accounts of the appalling racism faced by black musicians in the forties,fifties and sixties does give you some insight into why Davis held such strident views.

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Re: Music Books: Any recommended reading?

Postby Nikki Gradual » 15 May 2004, 12:54

The Fish wrote:
Nikki Gradual wrote:
The Fish wrote: Which has left me wondering to this day, just what is the standard size for a motherfucker.


Officially, very slightly taller than me, I believe.


Would this be your roundabout way of finally admitting defeat ?


Not at all. It is my roundabout way of calling you a motherfucker my piscine chum.
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Postby Piet » 15 May 2004, 21:03

TheModernist wrote:As well as the ones already mentioned, I'd strongly recommend:
Wating For The Sun - Barney Hoskyns

This is an account of the LA music scene from the late fifties to the nineties. As well as writing about the music itself with real insight, Hoskyns also places the music within its socio-cultural context. Impressively researched too with many original interviews. The book inevitably peters off during the end as LA music loses its distinctiveness, but as the core of the book addresses the classic early 60's -early 70's years then this isn't really a problem.

BTW what's the best Dylan book? I've got Down The Highway by Howard Souness but I found it a bit descriptive. It didn't really offer any great insight into the man or his music for me.


Try Song & Dance Man III : The Art Of Bob Dylan by Michael Gray.

It's endlessly fascinating. A prodigiously researched book that covers everything from his sources of pre-war blues, Hollywood film influenced lyrics and may sharp and comic passages as his writing is analysed album by album.

Would especially appeal to lovers of the Ian MacDonald school of writing.

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Postby Megh » 15 May 2004, 23:16

I hear This Band Could Be Your Life is a good one. I have it, but haven't read it. I started reading Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones, but haven't finished it yet.