Best of 2011: Books

Honestly, when I got into this reviewing gig I had no real plans to review music-related books. I sort of fell into it, and I’m glad I did. A number of titles that might have otherwise gone unnoticed instead landed on my desk. And I jumped at the chance to tell my readers about them.

I only just reviewed Joe Bonomo‘s Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found earlier this month. I can’t say enough good things about it. The short version of my rave would be that he’s brought a fresh perspective to an oft-covered subject, managing to be both personal and universal in appeal at once.

Little Willie John is one of those musical artists whose work is in danger of being lost in the mists of time. But former Creem writer Susan Whitall‘s Fever: Little Willie John makes sure that doesn’t happen. Her fascinating and well-researched book is co-authored with John’s son.

I Slept With Joey RamoneThere have been several books about The Ramones, but Mickey Leigh‘s is by far the best. As the brother of Joey Ramone, he saw things up close and personal, but with enough distance to allow useful perspective. Legs McNeil‘s contribution probably helps a lot in making this a must-read.

In The Resurrection of Johnny Cash, Graeme Thomson takes a detailed look at the later part of the Man in Black’s career, contextualizing it and offering up a critical asseesment of the hwole thing. He also makes a couple new points that are so obvious you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of them yourself. But then you didn’t, did you? Me neither.

One of my favorite music journalists, Richie Unterberger has most recently turned his attention toward the early 1970s output of The Who. Though Won’t Get Fooled Again could probably do with a revision in light of the months-later release of the “director’s cut” version of Quadrophenia, Unterberger’s history and analysis are – as always – essential reading.

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