Hundred-word Reviews, February 2023: Books
These books are all worth your time. ‘Nuff said, but then here’s more.
Michael Goldberg – Addicted to Noise
Goldberg is a widely acclaimed music journalist who has been at his craft for decades. His first book for HoZac (full disclosure: they’re my publisher as well) was last year’s superb Wicked Game. Now – this time from BackBeat Books – comes Addicted to Noise, a compendium of Goldberg’s previous work, pieces that have appeared in various magazines over the years. From the hardcover’s wonderful pulp cover through to revelatory interviews with everyone from Captain Beefheart to Prince to Laurie Anderson and George Clinton, the dozens of features make plain Goldberg’s insight and understanding of popular music. Wide-ranging and essential reading.
Marty Perez – Kill a Punk for Rock & Roll
Don’t be put off by the provocative title: Kill a Punk for Rock & Roll is an eye-popping collection of photography, featuring concert shots by Chicago-based Perez. His skill with the camera has yielded excellent and timeless images capturing Peter Gabriel, The Mekons, Velvet Crush, Juliana Hatfield, Game Theory, Fleetwood Mac…you get the idea. Perez’s taste in subjects spans the entire spectrum of rock (and beyond), and many of his shots – variously in glorious color and evocatively grainy black and-white – captures the very essence of the artists. Save for Jim DeRogatis’ foreword, the book is all photos, all the time.
Jeff Drake – Guilty!
If you didn’t come of age in or around Los Angeles of that era, chances are good that you won’t know much – maybe not anything – about The Joneses. But you can keep up with their story by reading Jeff Drake’s often lurid account of his life and the band. And yes, as the book’s subtitle makes plain, Drake’s life story involves heroin addition, bank robbery and time in federal prison. Not for the faint hearted, Guilty! is a lively account of one of L.A’s preeminent “sleaze rock” bands. It’s written in an unflinching, first-person style, and lavishly illustrated as well.
Matt Rogers – Goodnight Boogie
Hound Dog Taylor inspired Bruce Iglauer to start his own record label, the venerable Alligator Records. For that alone, Taylor is of historical and cultural importance. But his raw, rough and ready brand of the blues is important in its own right as well. Rogers’ well-researched Goodnight Boogie traces the Chicago guitarist’s colorful (and often danger-filled) life form its start to the end. It’s a fascinating read that will send readers on the hunt for those great old records. Rogers’ writing style doesn’t make use of much in the way of firsthand quotes, but he tells the story vividly nonetheless.
Art Fein – Rock’s in My Head
Among his many other credits, Art Fein hosted Poker Party, a cable talk show that ran for nearly a quarter century. In the course of his career and with that program (clips of which can be viewed on YouTube – Fein came into close contact with a staggering parade of big names. Hi recollections form the core of this memoir, in which readers will expeirnece (once removed) up-close encounters with Phil Spector, Ringo Starr, John and Yoko, Brian Wilson, etc. Fein’s deep interest in (and understanding of) rock ‘n’ roll of the 1950s brings the book alive even more. Highly recommended.