Essential Rock Books not on that Pitchfork List, #2


July 21, 2011 by admin

Sign of the Times: Last week, Pitchfork published their 60 essential rock books list, and not only did the music blog-o/tumbl-o/twit-o-sphere not implode in a mass of gritted teeth fury, almost no one said much of anything about it (we r all dead — what do you expect?).

Two small exceptions:

1) Tom Ewing (who contributed a couple picks to the Pitchfork list), posted some alternate picks on his Tumblr, including books by: George Melly, Greil Marcus, Simon Garfield, Chuck Eddy, Dave Rimmer, Fred and Judy Vermorel, and Nik Cohn.

2) David Moore wondered why “a school of critical thought” (adding, “what kind I’m not sure”) was duly ignored, and he names names: Frank Kogan, Chuck Eddy, Simon Frith. (All three of them occurred to me right away as well… as did Nik Cohn from Ewing’s list.)

Very briefly, non-exhaustively (in recognition of the sad fact that most of my music books are actually packed in boxes right now, in preparation for a move), here’s a bunch more suggestions, not including any authors already represented by Pitchfork, Moore, or Ewing. Not all of these are favourites. Some I don’t remember all that well, some I may not have even read yet from start to finish (shhh, don’t tell anyone). But all are worth your investigation if you haven’t done so already (I’m pretty sure I’ve printed variations on this list here before, but what the hell).

  • Billboard’s Top Pop Singles (Whitburn)
  • New Rolling Stone Record Guide (blue edition) (Marsh/Swenson)
  • Heart of Rock and Soul (Marsh) (I don’t consider this a duplicate-author pick with the last one) (and btw, it bugged me a little that for such a short list — 60 — Pitchfork did have two duplicate author picks, Marcus and Simon Reynolds)
  • Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History (Robert Draper)
  • Flyboy in the Buttermilk (Greg Tate)
  • 1988: The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion (Caroline Coon)
  • Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson (Kevin Avery)
  • Christgau’s Record Guide, 70s edition (Pitchfork‘s justification for not picking this was rather moronic, no?)
  • Paperback Writer (Mark Shipper)
  • Kill All Your Darlings (Luc Sante)
  • Hellfire (Tosches)
  • ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky (David Henderson)
  • Let it Blurt (DeRogatis) (about some guy)
  • Will Pop Eat Itself (Jeremy J. Beadle)
  • The Rick Johnson Reader
  • Will You Still Love me Tomorrow (Charlotte Grieg)
  • Black Music (Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka)
  • Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia
  • New Sounds (John Schaefer) (really interesting title I found used about a year ago… hoping to write something about it here at some point)
  • Sonata for Jukebox (Geoffrey O’Brien)
  • 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About (Joshua Clover)
  • The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll (Jim Miller)
  • Tell Me Why (Tim Riley)
  • I Wanna Be Sedated: Pop Music in the Seventies (Dellio/Woods) (Chinese edition)
  • Pet Shop Boys Literally (Chris Heath)
  • Just Kids (Patti Smith)
  • Running the Voodoo Down (Philip Freeman)
  • All American Music (John “Somebody’s Watching Me” Rockwell)
  • Another Green World (Geeta Dayal)
  • Sign ‘O the Times (Michaelangelo Matos)
  • Frank Zappa’s Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play (Ben Watson)
  • Rock and the Pop Narcotic (Guido Sarducci)
  • The Crawdaddy Book

One thought on “Essential Rock Books not on that Pitchfork List, #2

  1. Frank Kogan says:

    Interesting slip you made: they don’t call it a list of 60 essential rock books, but rather “Our 60 Favorite Music Books,” which makes the list seem far more insular. Which doesn’t make the list uninteresting, especially given that I haven’t read most of what’s on it, and there are a few authors I’d never even heard of.

    I’ve drifted away from reading what I’ll vaguely call “the music press” (as opposed to the gabworld online, which I spend far too much time on).

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