Rock Reads Edition Part 1 - Bowie- Beatles- Allman- More

If you have someone on your holiday gift list who loves music and loves reading about the folks who make it, here are some new books that they'll absolutely love! All titles are available from Amazon.

"Bowie @75" - Martin Popoff - Motorbooks/The Quarto Group

Bowie @75

David Bowie would have turned 75-years-old this year but what the title of this book refers to are the 75 milestones in Bowie's life and career that author Popoff expounds on within. Milestones #1 and #75 bookend Bowie's life, with #1 being about his birth and #75 being about the release of his final album Blackstar and his death two days later. Fans know that there was a fantastic journey in between and Popoff takes readers through all of it: every album, all the collaborations from Iggy Pop to Lou Reed, from Freddie Mercury and Queen to John Lennon, Bing Crosby and so many more, all the great sidemen like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Slick and Mick Ronson; the list of the famous and celebrated that interacted with Bowie is long and impressive. Other milestones that Popoff explores include Bowie's work on stage in "The Elephant Man," appearing on "Saturday Night Live," his appearances in films including "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence," the suicide of his half-brother and performing with Mick Jagger at Live Aid; again the list goes on and on. Popoff's informed commentary on each milestone will give even the most fervent Bowie fan a new outlook. Tons of photos and shots of ephemera accompany the words and the book also contains a gatefold timeline, a gatefold reproduction of the painting "A Party of Bowies" and, in an envelope separate from the book, a Frank Kozik-designed gig poster and a previously-unpublished 8 X 10 black & white glossy print of Bowie at the microphone. Already a luxe package, the book comes with an impressive hard cardboard slipcase that's perfect for protecting and displaying this treasure. Order here.

"Shot! by Rock: The Photography of Mick Rock" - Edited by Laura Buller - Weldon Owen

Shot by Rock

Chances are, ironically, that you would not recognize a picture of photographer Mick Rock. But if you're a music fan you know his work. The fabled lens man, who left us last year, created some of the most iconic images of the last 40-years or so. Having shot a veritable who's who of star musicians, Rock's work was particularly ubiquitous in the 1970s although shots here are also drawn from his more recent portfolio. So along with photos of favorite subjects like David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Queen from back in the day you'll also find shots of more contemporary artists like Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Lana Del Ray, Karen O and dozens more. Rock provides informative captions for each shot and also pens a brief essay for each themed chapter. Rock 'n' roll eye candy at its best. Order here.

"Elvis Forever: Looking Back on the Legacy of the King" - Boze Hadleigh - Riverdale Avenue Books

Elvis Forever

Hadleigh has come up with a novel way to tell Presley's story here as The King's life unfolds through a series of short quotes from those who knew the star, both from the music side of his career and from the acting side of his career. Hadleigh pens a one or two page intro to each chapter then all the others get their say. And the opinions go both ways on Presley's personality and his work. The negative comments flowed freely near the singer's end; Elton John said, after seeing a 1976 concert about a year before Presley's death, "He had dozens of people around him, apparently looking after him, but he already seemed like a corpse." And about Presley's often-panned film career, critic Pauline Kael said, "He starred in 31 movies which ranged from mediocre to putrid, and just about in that order." Of course the kudos are piled high here too, but somehow the barbs make the read more interesting. Among the hundreds of luminaries that offer commentary are David Bowie, Frank Sinatra Jr., Mary Tyler Moore, David Cassidy, Robin Williams, Kevin Spacey, John Lennon, George Harrison, Andy Warhol and one-time Elvis girlfriend Linda Thompson. There are also a few pages of quotes from the man himself. A fast and fun read for most although hardcore Elvis fans may find themselves getting steamed over the negative bits. Order here.

"Take a Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of "Hey Jude" - James Campion - Backbeat Books

Take a Sad Song

It is amazing to think that the orchestra that played on the enduring Beatles hit "Hey Jude" didn't want to perform on the cut. One of the orchestra's members even stormed out, saying, "I'm not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney's bloody song!" We all know that everything, minus the one naysayer, worked out in the end. And continues to work out on oldies radio and Beatles playlists today. The incident in the studio is but one example of the "emotional currency" that author Campion refers to. The book is not just a treatise on "Hey Jude;" it is a long and in-depth look at the times, and delves into things like how the Beatles were slowly disintegrating, thanks in part to heroin use by Lennon and the fact that Ringo, Harrison and Yoko One all felt disregarded by McCartney, who felt for sure that "Hey Jude" would be a massive hit single. There was controversy over the song's length and its endless chorus, which was eventually proven to be one of the greatest sing-alongs of all time. Today there are those who frantically change the station when "Hey Jude" comes on the radio and there are those who can't wait for the song to get to the chorus so they can sing along. Folks in either of these groups probably don't think much about the making of the song but if they read this book they'll hear "Hey Jude" in a whole different light. Well researched and nicely presented, the book also includes a few rare photographs. Order here.

"Play All Night! Duane Allman and the Journey to Fillmore East" - Bob Beatty - University Press of Florida

Play All Night

Here's a very-well researched book that essentially explains what made Duane Allman "tick." The slide guitarist founded the Allman Brothers Band and everything author Beatty expounds on here sets the groundwork for the making of the band's landmark 1971 live recording At Fillmore East. Readers will learn how Duane was as set in his ways as he was talented; he was dead set against trying to have hit singles and follow standard record business practices and he would walk away from anything that went against his ethos. Obviously that mindset worked and although Duane died at the young age of 24 in October of 1971, his ideas continued to motivate the band for decades. The early part of the book touches on early bands Hour Glass and the Allman Joys, Duane's session work in Muscle Shoals and beyond, the Allman's attachment to Daytona Beach, how Duane first picked up the slide and much more. Drawing from various archival materials Beatty is able to use quotes from Duane, younger brother Gregg Allman and other ABB members throughout the book (as well as the brothers' mother, Geraldine.) The final chapters cover the breakthrough of At Fillmore East, Duane's death and the band carrying on without him. A great story for all fans of the ABB and rock in general. Order here.

"Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave" - Bill Kopp - Hozac Books

Disturbing the Peace

This book really delivers on what its title indicates as it chronicles the rise of the San Francisco-based imprint 415 Records, founded by Howie Klein and Chris Knab in the late 1970s. 415 never achieved big financial success but the label earned its gravitas and place in rock history by working with artists like Romeo Void, the Nuns, Roky Erickson, Translator, Wire Train, Red Rockers and Pearl Harbor and the Explosions. The first few chapters are about the personalities of those connected to bringing the label to fruition but then the entire midsection of "Disturbing the Peace" tackles the bands on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Beyond those already mentioned, featured here are groups like the Offs, the Mutants, SVT, Times 5, the Readymades, the Donuts and the Symptoms. Each chapter features an in-depth look at the respective band with lots of quotes from those who were there (Kopp conducted nearly 100 interviews to glean this material.) Eventually 415 became part of the CBS/Columbia family of labels and a later portion of the book looks at that era in conjunction with releases by Romeo Void, Translator, Wire Train, Until December and the Red Rockers. Lots of ephemera from the era is pictured in the book. Whether you were there or just want to learn more about this moment in time "Disturbing the Peace" is a very rewarding read. Order here.

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