Sounds of Summer: 14 books about music that will get you grooving this summer

With the summer solstice last week, we are hot off the beat with this note-able list of music books coming out this summer! We’ve got pop; we’ve got punk; we’ve got rock’n’roll, rave, bass — we’ve got it all! Unless you’re a golf club, in which case I’m afraid we don’t have your favourite music — swing.

Adventures In Wonderland by Paul Charles
Hot Press Books, 9780957611498, PB, £13.99, 19/5/2023

Ok, strictly speaking, this may not have come out in summer, but according to the Celtic Calendar it does, so let’s go with that. If you’re recovering from Glastonbury, or holding onto hope that you’ll get there someday, this is the perfect book for you.

For so many of us, music shapes our world. It becomes part of our DNA. In our hearts we aspire towards writing the great song or stepping out on stage in front of a packed arena. But it is part of the mystery of music that we don’t know how — or why — a particular song will seem to get right inside our heads, or why one artist will scale the highest heights, while another just can’t get beyond the local pub gig. In telling the personal story of a world-leading agent, promoter, manager and songwriter, Adventures in Wonderland answers those questions in a way that no book has ever done before. Paul Charles has lived the life, loved the music, dreamt the dreams, and been manager and confidante to some of the world’s biggest — and most artistically credible — artists and songwriters, like The Beatles, The Kinks, Robert Plant, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, Carly Simon, The Police, U2, The Waterboys, Shakespeare’s Sister and dozens more.

Thank You for a Lovely Day by Gunther Buskies; Jonas Engelmann & Robert Forster
Ventil Verlag, 9783955751821, HB, £25, 9/6/2023

Pop music and comic culture — somehow, they have always been siblings. So, what could be more natural than to have the great songs of one of the most legendary bands transformed into comic strips by fantastic illustrators and cartoonists?

So here it is: The Go-Betweens Song Comic — Thank You For A Lovely Day. Eleven songs from the entire creative period of the legendary Australian band interpreted by eleven international cartoonists and artists. As diverse, colourful, and complex as the band’s nine studio albums.

Super Sharp Shooter: A Spectral Photographic Journey Through Bass Music
by Sarah Ginn
Velocity Press, 9781913231330, PB, £40, 13/6/2023

After picking up a camera in 2006 to shoot events at London superclub Fabric, Sarah Ginn started her journey of documenting the dance music scene.

With exclusive, behind-the-scenes access at the likes of Fabric, Ultra Festival, Boomtown, Glastonbury, Outlook, Printworks, Creamfields and Hospitality, Sarah captured the sights of UK rave and dance culture in the 2000s and 2010s. Super Sharp Shooter is a super deluxe coffee table book, carefully curating a selection of over 800 photographs from Sarah’s extensive archives, many never before seen. Spanning drum & bass, dubstep, house and techno, the book showcases festivals, clubs, press shots and record covers, providing an unsurpassed document of electronic music in a colourful and dazzling celebration of beats and bass. Set in colour in order to reflect the visible light spectrum, this gorgeous book is a must-have for all music and photography enthusiasts.

Don’t Call It Hair Metal: Art in the Excess of ’80s Rock by Sean Kelly
ECW Press, 9781770416437, PB, £20.99, 15/6/2023

A love letter to the hard-rocking, but often snubbed, music of the era of excess: the 1980s. Removing the guilt from the pleasure, Kelly invites readers to experience a critical examination of a time when big hooks, big hair, and big fun ruled the airwaves.

Don’t Call It Hair Metal analyses the sonic evolution, musical diversity, and artistic intention of ’80s commercial hard rock through new interviews with members of such hard rock luminaries as Twisted Sister, Def Leppard, Poison, Whitesnake, Ratt, Skid Row, Quiet Riot, Guns N Roses, Dokken, Mr. Big, and others.

Estrus: Shovelin’ the Shit Since ’87 by Chris Alpert Coyle & Scott Sugiuchi
Korero Press, 9781912740116, HB, £34.99, 22/6/2023

Shovelin’ The Shit Since ’87 is the complete, as-yet-untold story of US garage rock powerhouse Estrus Records, which for nearly two decades churned out hundreds of releases from some of the biggest garage, trash, surf, and punk bands worldwide. Estrus is one of the few record labels whose cover art and other graphics match the brilliance of its music, and the book is packed with many of its iconic visuals. It also draws on lively, extensive interviews, never-seen-before archival photos, oddball artefacts and more.

Tori Amos: Piece By Piece by Tori Amos & Ann Powers
Plexus, 9780859655606, PB, £14.99, 29/6/2023

Written with acclaimed music journalist Ann Powers, Piece By Piece is a revelatory account of the most intimate details of Tori Amos’s private and public lives. Tori reveals the specifics of her creative process and the way in which she balances her life as a writer and performer with the demands of family life. With exclusive photos taken especially for this book by award-winning photographer Loren Haynes, Piece By Piece is a rare treat for all Tori devotees.

Tupac Shakur by Vibe Magazine
Plexus, 9780859655613, PB, £14.99, 29/6/2023

Tupac Shakur was one of rap music’s brightest and most controversial stars. With exclusive interviews and extensively illustrated with over 100 full-colour photographs throughout, this is the new, revised, and updated edition of the first book to pay tribute to an extraordinary life.

The Inner Ear of Don Zientara: A Half Century of Recording in One of America’s Most Innovative Studios, Through the Voices of Musicians by Antonia Tricarico
Akashic Books, 9781636140926, HB, £35, 29/6/2023

A photo-filled oral history of the music studio that brought us some of the most iconic recordings by Bad Brains, Bikini Kill, Fugazi, and so many more.

The Inner Ear of Don Zientara is an oral history of not just Inner Ear’s recordings, but the role that Don played in creating one of the most welcoming and nurturing recording studios the world over. Alongside 250 photographs, the volume includes testimonials from members of Fugazi, Scream, Fire Party, Shudder to Think, Jawbox, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Dismemberment Plan, as well as musicians like Kathleen Hanna, Henry Rollins, among other notables. The Inner Ear of Don Zientara pays tribute to this iconic studio, celebrating the man at the heart of this remarkable space.

Murder Ballads Old & New: A Dark & Bloody Record by Steven L Jones
Feral House, 9781627311335, PB, £21.99, 29/6/2023

A unique perspective on music history, and a compelling delve into the perennial American fascination with true crime. From Nick Cave to Lou Reed and Sonic Youth, many contemporary artists have recorded murder ballads.

This book is a graveyard stroll past tombs both well-kept and half-hidden. Murder Ballads Old & New excavates facts about killers, victims, and the folkloric storytellers who disseminated their tales in song. Murder Ballads Old & New includes a wide range of songs and performers from the relatively unknown (Boiled in Lead, Freakons, Nelstone’s Hawaiians) to the ironically famous (Johnny Cash, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth). Highlights include tales of Muddy Waters guitar sideman Pat Hare, whose incendiary blues boast “I’m Gonna Murder My Baby” proved grimly prophetic. And honky-tonk pioneer Eddie Noack, whose morbid stab at late-career rebirth, “Psycho,” couldn’t match the bottomless tragedy of his own life.  As well as Depression-era holdup man Pretty Boy Floyd, Schubert’s mythical Erlkonig, and the Manson Family.

B-Side: A Flipsided History of Pop by Andy Cowan
Headpress, 9781915316134, PB, £17.99, 6/7/2023

B-Side is the first of its kind to explore B-side’s role in revolutionising pop, allowing artists freedom of experimentation.

Music history is riven with songs deemed throwaway that revolted against their lowly status and refused to be denied. Be it rock’n’roll’s national anthem (‘Rock Around The Clock’), disco’s enduring game-changer (‘I Feel Love’) or hip-hop’s most notorious dis track (‘Hit ‘Em Up’), all three started life as the so-called ‘lesser’ track on releases primed for maximum chart impact. The B-side allowed many of the world’s greatest artists freedom to experiment with no commercial constraints in an age where physical product ruled the roost.

The Gospel of the Hold Steady: How a Resurrection Really Feels by Michael Hann
& The Hold Steady
Akashic Books, 9781636140957, HB, £40, 25/7/2023

An oral history (with photographs) of the greatest American bar band of the twenty-first century.

On January 22, 2003, four men stepped onto a stage in Brooklyn and did something no one else was doing at that time, in that place. They played rock ‘n’ roll: old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll with skyscraping riffs and sloppy solos, topped with extraordinary lyrics about an out-of-focus America, blurred by pills and powders, of crime and fear and desperation and redemption. Twenty years later, The Hold Steady are one of America’s most beloved rock bands, famed for live shows that turn unbelievers into converts, and for a catalogue filled with some of the most exciting yet poetic music of the twenty-first century. To mark those twenty years, The Hold Steady tell their full story in The Gospel of The Hold Steady: How a Resurrection Really Feels. This is a book for everyone who loves The Hold Steady, and anyone who understands that the magic of rock ‘n’ roll happens on a stage in a small room, with voices raised from the crowd.

Heroes of the Metal Underground: The Definitive Guide to 1980s American Independent Metal Bands by Alexandros Anesiadis & Yannis Skarpelos
Feral House, 9781627311403, PB, £42.99, 8/2023

The only encyclopedic and definitive book on American indie metal!

Heroes of the Underground profiles 600 American bands from every town and city in the United States who ever released a record. Metal bands exploded during the 1980s. Influenced by the heavy sounds coming out of Britain via Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, young guitar shredders turned the amps up and played harder and faster. Whether you’re an experienced or new metalhead, Heroes of the Underground will become your guide to all things metal.

Silence is No Reaction: Forty Years of Subhumans by Ian Glasper
PM Press, 9781629635507, PB, £23.99, 15/8/2023

A deep dive into forty years of the Subhuman’s punk rock legacy.

Formed in Wiltshire, England, in 1980, the Subhumans are rightly held in high regard as one of the best punk rock bands to ever hail from the UK. Over the course of five timeless studio albums and just as many classic EPs, they have blended serious anarcho punk with a demented sense of humour and genuinely memorable tunes to create something quite unique and utterly compelling. For the first time ever, their whole story is told, straight from the recollections of every band member past and present, as well as a dizzying array of their closest friends and peers, with not a single stone left unturned. Bolstered with hundreds of flyers and exclusive photos, it’s the definitive account of the much-loved band.

Highway To Hell (Third Edition): The Life & Death of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott
by Clinton Walker
Verse Chorus Press, 9781959163039, PB, £25.99, 15/8/2023

A freshly updated edition of the definitive biography of an iconic rock and roll figure.

Drawing on exclusive first-person interviews and featuring a gallery of rare images, Clinton Walker traces AC/DC’s career through the life of their original front man, from the Scottish roots he shared with the Youngs to small-time gigs to recording studios and international success — right up to Scott’s shocking death in 1980, just as the band were getting the worldwide recognition they’d worked for so tirelessly. For this edition, Walker again reviews the evidence, including new details that have come to light. The result underlines Highway to Hell‘s status as the authoritative version of the life — and untimely death — of one of rock’s greatest characters.

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