Best Music Books, 2013

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Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion (hardcover)Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion (hardcover)

“A propulsive page-turner.” – Nashville Scene

Set in the world of 1960s and ‘70s soul music, Respect Yourself is a character-driven story of racial integration, and then of black power and economic independence. It’s about music and musicians—Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, and Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Stax’s interracial house band. It’s about a small independent company’s struggle to survive in an increasingly conglomerate-oriented world. And always at the center of the story is Memphis, Tennessee, an explosive city struggling through volatile years. Told by one of our leading music chroniclers, Respect Yourself will be the book to own about one of our most treasured cultural institutions and the city that created it. SEE: Respect Yourself Film Trailer

Brian Eno: Visual MusicBrian Eno: Visual Music (hardcover)

Essential voyage through the art of light and sound, an Eno masterwork!

This comprehensive monograph celebrates the visual art of renowned musician Brian Eno. Spanning more than 40 years, Brian Eno: Visual Music weaves a dialogue between Eno’s museum and gallery installations and his musical endeavors—all illustrated with never-before-published archival materials such as sketchbook pages, installation views, screenshots, and more. 480 pps, full color.


Yé-Yé Girls of '60s French Pop (paperback)Yé-Yé Girls of ’60s French Pop (paperback)

“This lavishly illustrated compendium is like a passport to another time and place…a window into an era in which one could switch on the TV & see Bridget Bardot singing about Harley Davidson motorcycles while wearing thigh-high boots and a black leather mini-skirt. This book may well be the Bible of Yé-Yé .” —Boyd Rice

WATCH: Ye-Ye Girls film trailer

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division (paperback)Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division (paperback)

“The most colorful and intimate account of Joy Division ever written . . . Hook evokes the spirit of the age with a bluff authenticity that no outsider could hope to emulate…explaining the creation of his band’s remarkable music with all the passion and insight it deserves.” – (Keith Cameron, MOJO)

“…a raw, detailed chronological account of those days with an admirable directness, Hook tells his story without any preciousness — in fact, he seems to revel in his abrasiveness throughout this sometimes heartbreaking, always engrossing memoir…..” –LA Times

Verve: The Sound of America (hardcover)Verve: The Sound of America (hardcover)

“Richard Havers does an excellent job of contextualising the story of Verve within the broader development of jazz, from its birthplace in the bordellos of New Orleans’s Storyville to its place on the world stage.

The assemblage of glorious archive photographs, tour posters, album sleeves and ephemera is eye-poppingly beautiful, incidentally reminding you of two cardinal rules about jazz musicians in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. Everybody looked ineffably cool, and everybody smoked.” —Mick Brown, The Telegraph,UK


Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation (Hardcover)Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation (Hardcover)

‘The hippest trip in America’

“Everything about the old TV show feels tailor-made for the coffee-table format: gleaming grooves, stunning dance moves, amazing outfits, beautiful—or, at the very least, sweaty—stars. So now we have such a book… The only thing this book lacks? A pair of speakers—or better yet, speakers connected to a video screen. –Elias Leight, pastemagazine

Punk 45Punk 45

a sumptuous 360+ page tome

As well as original artwork, the book also includes interviews and articles on designers such as Peter Saville, Jamie Reid, Malcolm Garrett and Gee Voucher, and interviews with record label founders such as Geoff Travis (Rough Trade), printing pressers and more. Punk 45 is an exhaustive, thorough and exciting celebration of the stunning artwork of punk music, including everything from the most celebrated and iconic designs through to the stark beauty of the cheapest do-it-yourself lo-fi obscurities.

Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker (Hardcover)Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker (Hardcover)

a book about a jazz hero written in a heroic style; it’s a tall tale, a bebop Beowulf.

“I think that the major achievement of this book is to present to people the world of the jazz player, the atmosphere of the 1930s where people seemed to live in two different spheres, and also introduce the idea that Charlie Parker embodied more than just the American Dream — he embodied the American dreamer…Hermann Broch said, “The civilization of an epoch is its myth in action.” If it must come down to one line, that is what Kansas City Lightning is all about: the book itself is the myth in action.” –Stanley Crouch, interview

The Birth of Bird: Interview with Stanley Crouch on npr radio

“He’s worked on this book, off and on, for more than 30 years. He’s done his share of interviews. But Mr. Crouch is not about getting his knees dirty, rooting around in old tax bills and manila folders and yellowing box-office receipts. He’s about aesthetics and ideas. His book is a 365-page riff on Charlie Parker, on America in the first half of the 20th century and on black intellect and feeling.” — Dwight Garner, New York Times

How Music Works (paperback)How Music Works (new revised paperback)

“A supremely intelligent, superbly written dissection of music as an art form and way of life… Highly recommended—anyone at all interested in music will learn a lot from this book.”
Kirkus Reviews

“How Music Works gave me insight into parts of my life as diverse as my email style to how I write fiction to how I parent my daughter (it was a relief to read Byrne’s discussion of how parenting changed him as an artist). I’ve been a David Byrne fan since I was 13 and I got a copy of Stop Making Sense. He’s never disappointed me, but with How Music Works, Byrne has blown through my expectations, producing a book that I’ll be thinking of and referring to for years to come. — Cory Doctorow, review on Boing-Boing

Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years (Hardcover)Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years (Hardcover)

“I think it is a triumph… not only an enthralling account of the group’s origins, far superior to anything that has gone before, but also an essential piece of social history” –Daniel Finkelstein, The Times, UK

“What Lewisohn brings is background and foreground – context, which gives point to the trainspotter detail. He’s not a great stylist but he has written a game-changing study which raises the bar in a genre characterised by pap or pretension. It is a meticulous piece of work which takes Epstein’s “boys” to the brink of stardom, 31 December 1962. I can’t wait for volume two.” –Liz Thompson, Independent, UK

Pass Thru Fire: The Collected Lyrics (Paperback)Pass Thru Fire: The Collected Lyrics (Paperback)

“This paperback collection of Reed ruminations is not only a lyrical walk on the wild side, it’s a typographic wonder– we’d expect nothing less from the bard of New York. Some song lyrics look fuzzily out of focus; others seem as if you’re looking at them through a fisheye lense. Still others are upside down or overlapping. It makes you concentrate all the harder..” –New York Post

In a 1987 interview, Mr. Reed talked about seeing his record albums as chapters in one huge, long novel: ‘They’re all in chronological order,’ he said. ‘You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there’s my Great American Novel.’ Pass Thru Fire, the recent volume of Reed’s collected lyrics—dedicated to ‘L.A.,’ Laurie Anderson—provides another version of that novel, and even without the essential soundtrack, the lyrics possess a remarkable organic coherence, charting a harrowing journey through the bohemian underworlds of New York City, through the ravages of heroin and speed, and emotional terror, fury and aloneness—and toward something like grace.” –New York Times, GOODBYE LOU REED

Morrissey: AutobiographyAutobiography by Morrissey (hardcover)

“Practically every paragraph has a line or two that demands to be read aloud to the mirror, tattooed on foreheads, carved on tombstones.”–Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

“[Morrissey] is at his very best as he conveys what it was, and is, to be a youth lifted free by the sense of possibilities glimpsed in pop music and films and TV and poetry. He also writes as though he has a clear sense that Autobiography could provide the same kind of beacon, the same kind of life raft, for its most impressionable readers as he found in others. And that’s exactly how he should write, for one of the main reasons Morrissey matters as he does is because he has always been that kind of artist.”–GQ

It has been said “Most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status that Morrissey has reached in his lifetime.”

Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD

Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD (hardcover)

The first official account of the iconic record label: This Mortal Coil, Birthday Party, Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Pixies, Throwing Muses, Breeders, Dead Can Dance, Lisa Germano, Kristin Hersh, Belly, Red House Painters.

“The book is an exquisite reflection of 4AD itself—extravagant, atmospheric, and rich in texture and timbre.” PITCHFORK

“4AD get the lavish label history they deserve” – MOJO

“Facing The Other Way represents one of the greatest stories to emerge from rock and roll’s modern history” – DROWNED IN SOUND

Black Metal: Evolution of a CultBlack Metal: Evolution of the Cult

“Dayal’s knack for a riveting, conscientious narrative – combined with a lifelong knowledge of the scene and a rare level of trust from all involved – leaves behind the sensationalism and various agendas so many authors and documentary makers have brought to bear on black metal, and treats it instead as the still vibrant and turbulent artform all genuine fans will recognise first and foremost, while still providing revelatory insights for fans both old and new.” -Metal Hammer

“Anyone who has picked up any UK metal mags over the past few years would recognise Dayal’s writing. And anyone who has ran into him at a gig over the past few years will recognise the burden of putting together a phone-book sized history of a metal subgenre that has thrived on half-truths, legend and scandal. Said burden could have—should have turned Dayal all shades of Senator Palpatine, but it looks like it has gone to press just in time.” – Decibel Magazine

“Offering an unparalleled level of detail, and spanning 600 pages, ‘Black Metal: Evolution Of The Cult’ captures the progress of one of metal’s most dangerous and exciting genres.” -Terrorizer

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