10 books about music that are worth reading

February 22, 2009

Hey finally a list.

Every blog has to have a list doesn’t it? After all aren’t the majority of bloggers Aspergerish men?

Well here’s a list of 10 (sort of) music books that are worth reading (and a couple that aren’t). And I’ve even included the publisher’s details – how anal is that!

1. Young and FoolishAlastair Fitchett (Stride 1998)

A fellow traveller in the indie underworld. Reads like a blog before we’d heard of blogs. Musings on the sound of young Scotland and much, much more. Essential

2. 45Bill Drummond (Little Brown 2000)

“As I entered my 45th year, I decided to write a book that contained snapshots of the world from where I was standing”. Bit like me and my blog. Bill’s ramblings on fame, life and tea. Lots of tea.

3. ParadoxiaLydia Lunch (Creation 1997)

Lydia was writing the sexual confessional years before the tepid “I was a middle class hooker in Hampstead” genre. Raw, visceral, brutal and compelling.

4. The Complete LyricsNick Cave (Penguin 2007)

Ought to be a GCSE set text. 

5. Altered States Matthew Collin (Serpent’s Tail 1997)

The best book ever written about Ecstasy and dance music.

6. Wreckers of CivilisationSimon Ford (Black Dog 1999)

‘the story of Coum Transmissions & Throbbing Gristle’ follows the journey of those lovable monkees Gen, Chris, Cosey and Pete. Not for the squeamish.

7. Joy Division Piece by Piece Paul Morley (Plexus 2008)

Paul Morley writes the same article about Joy Division 5000 times. It’s a good article though.

8. Rip It Up and Start AgainSimon Reynolds (Faber 2005)

Reading this made me realise I wasn’t the alone in thinking ‘this music is important’. 

9. Renegade Mark E Smith (Penguin 2008).

The Hip Priest in his own words. Well not quite. The Hip Priest with the help of a ghost-writer. Interesting to read about his childhood – I’d imagined Mark emerging snarling and fully formed from the womb. All the band members were wrong – of course.

10. GigSimon Armitage (Penguin 2008)

The poet who wanted to be a rock star all along. We both grew up in Yorkshire at the same time, listening to the same music,  seeing the same gigs. And he’s obsessed with Iceland. We could be brothers. Actually he’s a bit annoying when he keeps referring to his wife as ‘Speedy Sue (of Sue and the Speedy Bears fame)’ and his daughter as ‘the Tudge’. His editor really should have said “you may think that’s cute Simon, but actually it’s just nauseating.

Worth mentioning in dispatches:

Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail – Christopher Dawes. Not a music book at all, but a book about the Rat man’s obsession with the mystery of Berenger Sauniere and Rennes le Chateau. Actually, one of the best books about Rennes le Chateau.

Bad Wisdom – Bill Drummond and Mark Manning. Bill and Z’s road trip to plant a bust of Elvis at the North Pole. Crazy.

Waking Up in Iceland – Paul Sullivan. Probably for Iceland obsessives only

24 Hour Party People – Tony Wilson. The Factory story told by the man himself. Worth reading for the hilarious Keith Joseph anecdote.

And a couple definitely to avoid:

Who Killed Martin Hannett? – Colin Sharp.This is a truly awful book. The blurb on the back describes the author as “Martin’s best friend” – but he hadn’t seen him since 1982 (Hannett died in 1991). The publisher (Aurum) ought to be ashamed.

Torn Apart: the Life of Ian Curtis– Mick Middles. With no access to members of New Order the book becomes the memoirs of a roadie with a grudge. Watch Grant Gee’s excellent Joy Division documentary instead.





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