On “the unruly curiosity of the UK music press” (new book edited by Mark Sinker)

Recently finished reading A Hidden Landscape Once a Week: The Unruly Curiosity of the UK Music Press in the 1960s-80s, which Wire magazine has helpfully reprinted excerpts from. Carefully compiled and edited by Mark Sinker, funded through Kickstarter, this bulky compendium of essays, interviews, and panel discussions opens up the story of the British music press during its pre- and post-punk heyday, focusing primarily (though … Continue reading On “the unruly curiosity of the UK music press” (new book edited by Mark Sinker)

Appetite for Definition

Appetite for Definition: An A-Z Guide to Rock Genres Ian King HarperCollins My eyes rolled when I saw this book come in. The proliferation of alleged microgenres, particularly when applied to music made long before the critiques were composed, has produced some of the most boring and trite rock writing (not to mention everyday talk) that has ever been, and I am no innocent in this regard … Continue reading Appetite for Definition

Rock Critic Laws

In his new book, Rock Critic Law: 101 Unbreakable Rules for Writing Badly About Music, Michael Azerrad takes on the clichés that pervade rock writing. His mode is tongue-in-cheek, with the book written as a sort of satirical ‘Strunk & White’ manual for album reviewers, to be followed at the writer’s peril. If you’ve written about music, you’ll find yourself nodding along in recognition at … Continue reading Rock Critic Laws

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion Edited by Barney Hoskyns The Overlook Press, 2018. Reviewed by Vic Perry “You can always look in the Steely Dan Listener’s Companion,” says Donald Fagen, helpfully answering a question about a lyric in an expansive 1977 interview with Sylvie Simmons originally published in Sounds, a British music paper.  It was a good joke, but maybe Fagen just saw the … Continue reading Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion

Why the Beach Boys Matter (Tom Smucker)

Release date, Oct. 2, and breathlessly awaited by some (i.e., me). Table of contents is here, and is fetching (“Harmony and Discord,” “Innocence and the Second-Best Pop Album Ever,” “Summer’s Gone, the Endless Summer”). The Beach Boys matter to me enormously–more than the Beatles, more than the Velvets, more than Prince, Chuck Berry, Elvis Costello, and many others (well, at least if “mattering” is best … Continue reading Why the Beach Boys Matter (Tom Smucker)

“Wenners and Losers”

Jessica Hopper reviews Joe Hagan’s Jann Wenner bio in Bookforum: “Sticky Fingers opens with the sort of scene that becomes its defining feature: Jann Wenner sells someone out, transacting on a relationship for whatever gain could be exacted. We meet Wenner as he is poisoning his friendship with no less than John Lennon, betraying Lennon’s trust for a $40,000 book advance. This is grimglorious rock … Continue reading “Wenners and Losers”