Chronologies, discographies, biographies and a few words from the professor. Welcome to your reading options for the week. Let’s get started:
Sonic Boom: The Impossible Rise of Warner Bros. Records, from Hendrix to Fleetwood Mac to Madonna to Prince
By Peter Ames Carlin
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “From journalist Peter Ames Carlin ― the New York Times bestselling music biographer who chronicled the lives and careers of Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, The Beach Boys, and Paul Simon ― Sonic Boom captures the rollicking story of the most successful record label in the history of rock ’n’ roll, Warner Brothers Records, and the remarkable secret to its meteoric rise. The roster of Warner and its subsidiary labels reads like the roster of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Prince, Van Halen, Madonna, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers and dozens of others. But the most compelling figures in the Warner story are the sagacious Mo Ostin and the unlikely crew of hippies, eccentrics, and enlightened execs who were the first in the music business to read the generational writing on the wall in the mid-1960s. By recruiting outsider artists and allowing them to make the music they wanted, Ostin and his staff transformed an out-of-touch company into the voice of a generation. Along the way, they revolutionized the music industry and, within just a few years, created the most successful record label in the history of the American music industry. How did they do it? It all goes back to the day in 1967 when the newly tapped label president Ostin called his team together to share his grand strategy for the struggling company: “We need to stop trying to make hit records. Let’s just make good records and turn those into hits.” With that, Ostin ushered in a counterintuitive model that matched the counterculture. His offbeat crew reinvented the way business was done, giving their artists free rein while rejecting out-of-date methods of advertising, promotion, and distribution. And even as they set new standards for in-house weirdness, the upstarts’ experiments and innovations paid off, to the tune of hundreds of legendary hit albums. It may sound like a fairy tale, but once upon a time Warner Brothers Records conquered the music business by focusing on the music rather than the business. Their story is as raucous as it is inspiring, pure entertainment that also maps a route to that holy grail: love and money.
Neil Peart: The Illustrated Quotes
By David Calcano & Lindsay Lee
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The first — and only — official collection of illustrated quotes from the Rush drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart: The Illustrated Quotes pairs elegant illustrations with some of Neil’s greatest remarks to bring the poignant words of one of the world’s greatest drummers to life. Before his untimely death in 2020, Neil Peart was considered to be one of the greatest drummers to have ever lived. As the drummer and primary lyricist for the multi-platinum selling rock band, Rush, Neil charmed the world with his introspective and eclectic writing. Heavily inspired by science fiction, fantasy, philosophy, and his many cross-country trips on his motorcycle, Neil crafted universal lyrics that encapsulated the social and humanitarian issues of the time. While Neil is said to have inspired famous bands — like the Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, and Rage Against the Machine — with his lyrical chops, he contributed far more to the world than just lyrics. Neil also penned nine books, many that recount his trials and triumphs from decades spent on the road, giving the world affecting, memorable thoughts about life, loss, and inspiration. Pairing striking black-and-white illustrations from the acclaimed artists at Fantoons with some of the drummer’s greatest quotes, Neil Peart: The Illustrated Quotes keeps the beautiful words and musings of Neil Peart alive.
Fallen From The Moon: Robert Edward Juice Wilson | His Life on Earth: A Dossier
By Anthony Barnett
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Juice Wilson, born 1904, was a truly remarkable violinist and reed player, who grew up alongside Eddie South in Chicago. He recorded just two violin solos with the Noble Sissle Orchestra in London in 1929. He then worked, as far as the wider jazz community is concerned, in some obscurity, in France, Italy, Spain, North Africa, Malta, before returning to USA, via Paris, to Chicago, for the first time, in the mid 1960s. He died in 1972, whatever wildly inaccurate date may be read elsewhere. This dossier collects accounts of him by those who knew him, including in Barcelona and Malta, and other documents, such as letters from him. Many previously unpublished photos are included, along with transcriptions of his two solos. The title of the book is drawn from an article in which Antoni Tendes, who knew him in Barcelona in the 1930s, said: “He gave me the impression of a man who had fallen from the moon.” Tendes could not have known of our cover photo, taken later in Malta, yet there is the moon.”
Kansas: Every Album, Every Song
By Kevin Cummings
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Progressive rock is generally considered an English affair, focusing on the likes of Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson. However, in America, the best-known exponents of progressive rock are Kansas. Though the band is known mainly for their radio staples Carry On Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind, the band’s musical range runs much deeper. A unique blend of European prog rock and American blues, Kansas are capable of an extended symphonic epic followed by a shorter, gritty blues song. Yet even those songs are never simple three-chord tunes. Virtually everything the band recorded has a progressive touch. Such is the beauty of Kansas’ music. Despite personnel changes, including the departure of three lead singers, they continue to flourish. Recent years have brought a new line up, a new album, and a rejuvenated outlook, resulting in acclaimed live shows. Their legacy will no doubt continue as they approach their half-century mark. Kansas: Every Album, Every Song follows the band from their first album to their most recent. Each song is carefully considered in context, along with comments from the author and key figures in the band’s history. Hardcore fans and casual listeners alike will gain a renewed appreciation of America’s premier progressive rock band.”
Van Der Graaf Generator: Every Album, Every Song
By Dan Coffey
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “No progressive rock band could ever be said to be a household name, but Van der Graaf Generator — who celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2018 — rarely enjoyed that distinction even in the households of many prog fans. VdGG, and the band’s main creative force, Peter Hammill, only really had one foot in prog — the other pivoted between more straight-ahead rock, wild experimentation, and at times, brutal noise. While VdGG’s initial run ended prematurely, the band eventually came full-circle, reforming in 2005 and still going strong. Both Hammill and VdGG have been lauded as musicians’ musicians by such luminaries as Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Julian Cope, Mark E. Smith and Johnny Rotten. This book will explore what these musicians, and legions of dedicated fans, found so inspiring over the years: all of the VdGG albums, including Pawn Hearts and Godbluff as well as several solo Hammill albums crucial to the VdGG story, are discussed in these pages, including a handful of essential live recordings, experiments, and collaborations. Nothing like this analysis of the band has been published before, and this book will prove an invaluable guide for navigating the Van der Graaf Generator sonic labyrinth.”