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Books

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Books

  • An epic book that begins with The Cotton Club and ends at Studio 54. In between there's jazz, mambo, folk, doo wop, rock'n'roll, the Brill Building, girlgroups, the Velvets, disco, punk and hip hop. Is there another city in the world that could lay claim to such a bewildering variety of music? Told with the emigrant's zeal of his adopted city (Fletcher is British), this is a love letter to NYC.
  • 7 out of 10 tourists go to Berlin for rave tourism, or as it is commonly known: to get battered in Berlin. Rapp's book delves deep into the city's nocturnal playground, it's not primarily about music, instead it investigates the explicit social dynamics of a city where a club like Berghain can exist and where Bar 25 could stay open for so long on land owned by the Berlin sanitation department.
  • “We had a fookin' blast, if only we'd known it was our own money.” Hooky manages to rewrite this sentence enough times to fill a whole book. There are great anecdotes and much detail (a complete events list, including some DJ set lists). But as he sets the record straight, and you wade through talk of licensing boards, bar managers and operating costs, you realise you kind of preferred the legend.
  • This book confirms that Arthur Russell could be a reet pain in the backside to work with. Who spends an entire day getting a drum sound just right? Arthur Russell does. Undoubted genius, small town boy, bright lights big city, amazing music! It's all here and Lawrence tells a tale rammed with anecdotes and with passion and gusto. Russell was disco's revenge, a true character and a great read.
  • From Aldous Huxley sitting around like a right gent tripping on mescaline, to depictions of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters dressed like proto nu-ravers causing a ruckus wherever they went. Intellectual study, College parties, Buddhist retreats and getting “bemushroomed” in Mexico, Stevens tells a truly terrific tale, reminding us that a Tab was once more than a can of pop.
  • Vol 2 meets more of the powerhouse musicians who've been dug and sampled, plus the intense-looking beatmasters who’ve done the digging and sampling. Collector-stiffening pieces on Sun Ra, Deodato, Randy Muller, rap A&R wunderkind Dante Ross, and much more. Danny Krivit picks out 12s and DJ Premier confesses he’s a Smiths fan. Mind you, I still think “Wax Poetic” would have been a cleverer name.
  • If DJhistory smoked bigger doobies, knew Pete Rock, lived in Fort Greene and did capoeira at the weekend it would be Wax Poetics. We’d be kicking back with Idris Muhammad, Bernard Purdie, the RZA, Prince Paul, cats like that. We’d have James Brown’s drummers, graffiti nostalgia, and acres of record porn. The best of the studious magazine’s first six years. Fine, detailed, earnest and pure.
  • The author’s passion is clear, so it’s a shame he’s written this epic two-volume history in a style so neutral it might be aimed at Vulcans (at one point he even defines “house party”). From 1607 up to the twist, it’s an unbeatable academic reference, packed with social context and cultural insight. There’s not much thread to pull you along however, and it creaks badly once it reaches disco.
  • “All recorded music has run its course...” writes Drummond in his latest philosopho-biographical ramble, attempting a Year Zero in the face of music’s devalued digital ubiquity. He aims to reconnect us with the primal force of improvised communal singing, with Soviet male voice choirs ringing in his mind. The experience sounds marvellous but he fails to entice enough people (the reader included).
  • I was a wanker when I was a student; this book has much the same faults: it believes everything that it’s read on the subject, adds nothing new, regurgitates it with the best pseudo-intellectual vocabulary it can lay its hands on, and expects you to admire it for being original. Anyone who references Hegel and Descartes to explain DJing is not really at the same party as everyone else.
  • Captured or created? The real thing? Or better? The story of our relationship with recorded music, filled with great thoughts and amazing tales. As well as a very human perspective on the history there's great war-reporting from the digital vs analogue crusades, and a warning that the industry’s obsession with volume is marching us into a world of over-compressed flatness. Fascinating and poetic.
  • Once they'd hoodwinked the country into banning alcohol, America’s fundamentalists targeted dancing. Lincoln Nebraska outlawed eye contact between dance partners, while many cities banned “animal" (ie black) dances, like the scandalous Charleston. Forgive the lifeless academic prose, this is a book of amazing revelations, leaving no doubt that jazz culture was more threatening than punk.
  • The least inviting book I own – actually a “multi-media exploration.” If martians read this they’d think dance music was an industrial process done in vacuum chambers by academics in white coats and Polyveldt shoes. There might be some interesting things in it: interviews with Robert Moog and Giorgio Moroder perhaps, but the layout is designed to appeal to barcode machines so I have no idea.
  • I saw him “give birth” at Heaven. Some Italian boys were so horrified they were flicking lit cigarettes at him. Now that’s an impact! From Club Kids to nu-ravers, so many have fingered Bowery’s ideas, we lose sight of how revolutionary he was. A fearless explorer, he did for dressing up what Picasso did for painting, or the drum machine did for dance music. An affectionate biog by his best friend.
  • Debonair Vanity Fair hack Haden-Guest details the monied world of upper-crust New York clubbing in a history that climaxes the day Bianca Jagger rode a horse into Studio 54. It's the full saga of Studio itself, populated largely by people with titles, racehorses and Truman Capote’s phone number; then Palladium, Limelight and other gossipy spots. Best picture caption: “Andy Warhol is in the rear.”
  • “It's for a magazine/website/really important wank – could you pull your knickers off, snog your friend and smear vodka on your boobies.” For Merlin Bronques it not only gets him laid, but thanks to lastnightsparty.com it’s made him famous. Slutty images of kids wasted at Williamsburg parties; with better tattoos, stronger drugs and skinnier, more expensive genes than you'll ever fit into.
  • “Yeah, I used to be a superstar DJ... Do you want fries with that?” Ex-Mixmag Editor Dom knows where the bodies are buried. A personal record-bags-to-riches-to-ditches tale, with great confessions from the moneypigs and king caners on when things finally went all Paul Oakenfold. Sasha mislaying a car, his mate Sparrow burying squillions in the garden, and how drugs actually keep Dave Beer alive.
  • DJ philosophising of a higher fidelity. Beatty cracks post-racial satire like no other, and his third novel does for music what ‘Perfume’ did for stink. Trying to erase notions of ‘negritude’, Los Angeles DJ Darky gets his blackness caressed as “jukebox sommelier” in wall-time Berlin while tracking missing jazz ghost ‘the Schwa’, whose chops are destined to wail over his perfect beat.
  • Old white music writer (he inspired Saturday Night Fever), dying with hepatitis, settles in New Orleans, city of his personal demons, and as a musical last rites tries to connect with local rappers. It’s all doomed; their styles are too local and they don’t want to be helped. Filled with scenes of poverty, struggle, hope, despair, and that’s even before Katrina hits. Beautiful in its futility.
  • Compton high school yearbooks have full-page ads for funeral parlours. Brit William Shaw’s South Central travelogue brings you kids with lives shaped by gangs, riots, drive-bys and, above all, hip hop. Demo tapes, rip-off talent shows, scraping a living putting up Alkoholics stickers. Characters and scenery vivid enough for a novel, plus great insight from Cube, Tupac and others who made it.