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Books



The holidays are a great time to cuddle up by the fireplace with a hot toddy and a good book. We can't supply the fire or the beverage but we can suggest some very cool books for your reading list, all of which are non-fiction.

Miles Copeland III- "Two Steps Forward - One Step Back: My Life in the Music Business"


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Copeland's resume includes being the manager of big acts like the Police (his brother Stewart Copeland played drums in that band), Sting solo, the Bangles and many others. He also co-founded the vaunted IRS label that released records by the Go-Go's, R.E.M., the Alarm, Let's Active and Wall of Voodoo. Besides seeming to have a handle on all things cool, Copeland and the acts he worked with are responsible for shaping the musical tastes of multiple generations. As chronicled in the early part of the book, his life could have taken him down a completely different path, albeit one perhaps as exciting. Copeland's father was a CIA operative and while living in Beirut, Lebanon, Copeland himself had interactions with others in the spy agency. So the first chapters of the book are full of intrigue as well as how Copeland got known for throwing good parties in his college days, where his initial music business actions are also explained. And while this provides a fun beginning for his story, a few chapters later Miles is recounting the ups and downs of managing bands like Wishbone Ash and the Climax Blues Band, and in the case of Wishbone Ash one of the downs was when guitarist Ted Turner left the band to go to South America to find the Lost City of Moo. Amusing now, the disruption it caused was surely not funny at the time. Anecdotes abound here, about the Sex Pistols, Danny Elfman (Oingo Boingo), Jools Holland, the Cramps, members of the Go-Go's and, woven through it all, the Police. Well written and free of excess prose, "Two Steps Forward - One Step Back" is without doubt one of the year's best music-related memoirs. Fourteen pages of photos from Copeland's archives are included.

Peter Frampton with Alan Light - "Do You Feel Like I Do?"


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Frampton recently stopped touring due to health issues and now is the time that makes sense that he come forth with a memoir. Frampton had a significant career long before he became a major star with the 1976 release of Frampton Comes Alive! and that era is well-documented here. As most memoirs do, "Do You Feel Like I Do" begins with a bit about the artist's youth, his first guitar and such. Perhaps most significant about this era is Frampton's schooldays friendship with David Bowie, who at the time was still going by his birth name David Jones; that friendship endured until David passed away. Peter tells of his first time in a recording studio with a group called the Preachers and cutting two songs that never went anywhere, being star struck meeting the Rolling Stones and developing a friendship with Bill Wyman, and getting turned on to and learning from great jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery and George Benson. These early chapters of the book do an excellent job of showing how Frampton was grooming himself for the fame to come, even if he didn't know it. There's coverage of early rock band the Herd, Peter's week as a member of Small Faces, a real taste of success with Humble Pie then his departure from that band to focus on session work, famously playing with George Harrison on sessions for All Things Must Pass. Of course the better part of the book is about Peter's solo career, and while he mostly leaves his ego out of the story he can't help but rightfully brag that at one point he was selling "a million records a week" and that he was the first to sell a million cassettes. There are horrifying stories, like Frampton's car wreck in the Bahamas that had him in hospital for an extended stay. There's the story of his guitar that was thought lost in the crash of a cargo plane in Venezuela, which amazingly he recovered three decades after the fact. Mostly though the story here, while peppered with stories of famous pals, drugs and drinking and ups and downs is one of positivity. Chock full of anecdotes and interesting factoids, "Do You Feel Like I Do?" is an entertaining read all the way through.

"The Simpsons Secret" - Lydia Poulteney and James Hicks


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You've probably heard about how certain real life events were "predicted" in various episodes of "The Simpsons." There is, for example, the horrifying incident from a 1993 episode where tiger trainers Gunter and Ernst, a parody of real life Las Vegas stars Siegfried and Roy, get ripped to pieces by a tiger; 10-years later it happened in real life as Roy was seriously mauled by a tiger while on stage. Then there was the three-eyed fish from a 1990 episode and a three-eyed catfish found in New York in 2015, another 1990 episode (the writers were really tuned in to something that season) portrays statues being beheaded, which came true in 2020 and is still coming true, and even a 2010 episode where the show portrayed the U.S. Olympic curling team as winning a gold medal, something they surprisingly actually did eight years later. And so it goes with dozens of incidents, broken down into chapters about sports, politics and law, science and technology, arts and entertainment and animals, three-eyed and otherwise. There are chapters titled "The Rise of Fake Predictions" and "How 'The Simpsons' is Able to Predict Everything" and there's a chapter dedicated to musings on "What State is Springfield In?" where one thought has the mythical cartoon city in Australia. An especially fun chapter examines the evidence for whether bar owner Moe knows that Bart is his persistent prank call tormentor. So yes, the book has more to it than the conspiracy theories about the "predictions" but like the show itself, this is off-the-wall entertainment and fans of "The Simpsons" will love it.

"Ultimate Visual History of the World" - Jean Pierre Isbouts


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This very comprehensive book is from the folks at National Geographic so you can bet they mean it when they subtitle the work "The Story of Humankind from Prehistory to Modern Times." Sound like something you might have slept through in history class in high school? Well nothing of the sort will happen as you follow Isbout's journey through time, from early chapters about the rise of homo sapiens (that's us) to the scientific and technological developments of today. Isbout's commentary provides information in a precise manner but not dryly; you'll find out things like why the Philistines were such great warriors and that Philistine enemy Saul from the tribe of Benjamin was often entertained by a singing and harp playing shepherd named David. Chapters have sidebars, like "The Invention of Gun Powder" in the "The Religions of the East" chapter, and each chapter has a list of notable dates pertaining to the era being chronicled. As the book title indicates, this is a visual history and there are stunning photos and illustrations on every page so on the days when you don't feel like reading the history lesson you can just geek at Cairo's 10th century mosque of al-Hakim, a depiction of Yu the Great, founder of China's Xia Dynasty, Peru's magnificent Machu Picchu, a lithograph of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary or maybe just the enigmatic grin of the Mona Lisa. The book is over 400 pages in hard cover in an oversize format so the graphics are large and captivating.

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