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Next Week in Music | April 12-18 • New Books: 10 Titles For Your Reading List

This week's most musical biographies, memoirs, comics and discographies.

Guns N’ Roses or gospel? The Doors or Dire Straits? Led Zeppelin or Lennon? These are your musical reading choices of the week — in the form of memoirs, biographies, comics and track-by-track discographies. Take your pick:


Goodbye, Guns N’ Roses: The Crime, Beauty, and Amplified Chaos of America’s Most Polarizing Band
By Art Tavana

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Goodbye, Guns N’ Roses is a genre-rattling attempt to explain the appeal of America’s most divisive rock band. While it includes uncharted history and the self-lacerating connoisseurship of a Guns N’ Roses fetishist, it is not a recycled chronicle ― this book is a deconstruction of myth, one that blends high and low art sketches to examine how Guns N’ Roses impacted popular culture. Unlike those who have penned other treatments of what might be considered a clichéd subject, Art Tavana is not writing as a GN’R patriot or former employee. His book aims to provide an untethered exploration that machetes through the jungle of propaganda camouflaging GN’R’s explosive appeal. After circling the band’s three-decade plundering of American culture, Goodbye, Guns N’ Roses uncovers a postmodern portrait that persuades its viewer to think differently about their symbolic importance. This is not a rock bio but a biography of taste that treats a former “hair metal” band like a decomposing masterpiece. This is the first Guns N’ Roses book written for everyone; from the Sunset Strip to a hyper-digital generation’s connection to “Woke Axl,” it is a pop investigation that dodges no bullets.”

Prisoner of Love: Inside The Dakota With John Lennon
By Peter Doggett

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:John Lennon’s five-year retirement from the world of music, his brief comeback in 1980, and his brutal murder outside his New York home have become the stuff of legend. But the reality of his daily life during that period has been obscured by the mythology Lennon sold to the press in his final interviews, and which his widow Yoko Ono has maintained to this day. Acknowledged Beatles expert Peter Doggett is a lifelong fan of Lennon, and the author of The Art And Music Of John Lennon, a detailed commentary on his entire artistic output. Several years ago, a mysterious set of circumstances led him to a room where he was able to read several of the ex-Beatle’s private diaries — never revealed to the public or represented accurately in other books about Lennon. What he learned forced him to confront everything he believed he knew about his hero, and also the profound influence that the musician had wielded over his own life — especially in the wake of Lennon’s death on Dec. 8, 1980. Prisoner Of Love is both a revelatory account of Lennon’s final years, based on the author’s access to the musician’s personal writings; and also a poignant memoir of a diehard fan who depended on Lennon for his sense of sanity during the darkest years of his life. The book brings together the tortured artist and the bereaved fan, in an account that will touch the heart of everyone who has ever fallen under the spell of this most charismatic of rock icons.”

The Glory Road: A Gospel Gypsy Life
By Anita Faye Garner

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Anita Faye Garner grew up in the South — just about every corner of it. She and her musical family lived in Texarkana, Bossier City, Hot Springs, Jackson, Vicksburg, Hattiesburg, Pascagoula, Bogalusa, Biloxi, Gulfport, New Orleans, and points between, picking up sticks every time her father, a Pentecostal preacher known as “Brother Ray,” took over a new congregation. Between jump-starting churches, Brother Ray took his wife and kids out on the gospel revival circuit as the Jones Family Singers. Ray could sing and play, and “Sister Fern” (Mama) was a celebrated singer and songwriter, possessed of both talent and beauty. Rounding out the band were the young Garner (known as Nita Faye then) and her big brother Leslie Ray. At all-day singings and tent revivals across the South, the Joneses made a joyful noise for the faithful and loaded into the car for the next stage of their tour. But growing up gospel wasn’t always joyous. The kids practically raised and fended for themselves, bonding over a shared dislike of their rootless life and strict religious upbringing. Sister Fern dreamed of crossing over from gospel to popular music and recording a hit record. An unlikely combination of preacher’s wife and glamorous performer, she had the talent and presence to make a splash, and her remarkable voice brought Saturday night rock and roll to Sunday morning music. Always singing, performing, and recording at the margins of commercial success, Sister Fern shared a backing band with Elvis Presley and wrote songs recorded by Johnny Cash and many other artists. In her touching memoir The Glory Road, Anita Faye Garner re-creates her remarkable upbringing. The story begins with Ray’s attempts to settle down and the family’s inevitable return to the gospel circuit and concludes with Sister Fern’s brushes with stardom and the family’s journey west to California where they finally landed-with some unexpected detours along the way. The Glory Road carries readers back to the 1950s South and the intersections of faith and family at the very roots of American popular music.”

Morrison Hotel: Graphic Novel
By Leah Moore

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Morrison Hotel anthology written by Leah Moore, in collaboration with the surviving members of the legendary rock band and drawn by artists from around the comic book world, will weave the band’s influence into some of the lore that led to their status as the architects of counterculture, influencing artists, poets, and outsiders for generations to come, set against the backdrop of the close of the free spirit of the 1960s into the tumultuous 1970s. A decade in which women, African Americans, Native Americans, gays, lesbians and other marginalized people continued their fight for equality, and many Americans joined the protest against the ongoing war in Vietnam.”

Rock and Roll Comics: Led Zeppelin
By Spike Steffenhagen

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The Led Zeppelin saga is one of the wildest in rock history, and this graphic novel pulls no punches in dramatizing the backstage, behind-the-scenes story. From their early days as the New Yardbirds, on through their rise to superstardom (and controversy), all five issues of the original Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics series are collected in one rockin’ volume, with art by Scott Pentzer (Razor), Marshall Ross (Deepest Dimension), David Neer (Sports Superstars), Francois Escalmel (Frank Zappa: Viva La Bizarre) and others.”

Roy Wood: Every Album, Every Song
By James R. Turner

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “From the heart of the country, and the vibrant musical scene that rotated around Britain’s second-largest city Birmingham, came in the middle of the 1960s a plethora of innovative and creative rock groups. Roy Wood, together with several well-known Birmingham faces, left their respective bands to form The Move (so-named after their musical chairs) with Roy’s distinctive song writing style, and the bands unique harmonies. They became regulars on famed British TV show Top of the Pops, having the first ever single to be played on BBC Radio 1. Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Roy’s replacement in The Nightriders had established a group of his own, taking his musical vision into psychedelic territories. He was Jeff Lynne and his band were The Idle Race.These two brilliant songwriters were also close friends, and Wood persuaded Lynne to join The Move and disband it in favour of a new project, the Electric Light Orchestra, before a parting of the ways led to Wood forming Wizzard. This book looks at the music recorded by Roy Wood, The Move, early ELO, The Idle Race, and Wizzard, taking in genres including rhythm and blues, psych pop, progressive rock and glam, as Roy Wood set the musical blueprint for the early ’70s.”

Kate Bush: Every Album, Every Song
By Bill Thomas

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Kate Bush started her career at the top, the spellbinding Wuthering Heights giving her a number one hit single with her first release. Yet from there, artistically at least, the only way has been up. For while the sales of both singles and albums over the five decades since have had their peaks and troughs, every new release has seen Bush refuse to be boxed in by past success but instead continue to take the musical chances that have characterised her career from day one. Across 10 studio albums, including director’s cut reassessments of two of them, and a live record of the 2014 Hammersmith Apollo residency, Kate Bush has constantly sought new ground, reinventing her sound time and again. She has often strayed from the commercial path of least resistance to examine the less travelled musical byways that have provided the inspiration for an extraordinary body of work, quite unlike anyone else’s. With a string of platinum albums and hit singles to her credit, Kate’s is a fascinating journey. This book examines her entire recorded catalogue from The Kick Inside through to Before The Dawn, hoovering up all the B-sides and the rarities along the way. It’s a comprehensive guide to the extraordinary music of Kate Bush.”

Dire Straits: Every Album, Every Song
By Andrew Wild

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “1979 was an amazing time for U.K. post-punk pop. At the end of March, a fresh new sound entered the British top 20. Sultans of Swing, a very wordy song with lots of driving guitar, a tight rhythm section and some killer musicianship. Dire Straits, unlikely pop stars led by a balding 29-year-old Geordie who could play guitar brilliantly, had finally arrived. Six years later, they were, for a time, the biggest band in the world. Brothers in Arms sold by the truckload, one of the first massive sellers on CD. Since then, however, their star has fallen. Overexposure as the safe, boring champions of the CD age, has resulted in Dire Straits becoming, to many, the embodiment of a certain sort of benign, homogenised music. Mark Knopfler, their singer, guitarist, producer and songwriter, became a caricature of the middle-aged rocker in the minds of many. Their music remains stubbornly unfashionable, but retains its huge fanbase. This book revisits, re-evaluates and contextualises the band’s six studio albums and two live albums, as well as EPs and archive releases. Seven ex-members of Dire Straits have been interviewed for this book, providing fresh perspective and insight. The band made a lot of good music. It’s time we remembered why.”

Renaissance: Every Album, Every Song
By David Detmer

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Renaissance, a much beloved but highly underrated English progressive rock band, began life in 1969 as an offshoot of The Yardbirds. Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, who had recently left that iconic blues-rock group, decided to put together a new band that would differ from its predecessor by being more influenced by classical and folk music. After releasing two albums in 1969 and 1971, The band then quickly underwent a 100 percent turnover in personnel, resulting in an entirely new Renaissance. The new band was distinguished by the astonishingly beautiful five-octave-range vocals of their lead singer Annie Haslam, their lengthy, multi-movement, classically inspired compositions, and their unusual instrumentation. Renaissance released six classic studio albums, and one live double album, between 1972 and 1978, even scoring a UK hit with Northern Lights. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the band commercialize with limited success before folding. The 21st century, with Haslam continuing as the band’s distinctive voice, Renaissance has returned to its orchestral/symphonic rock roots with two studio albums of new material and multiple live releases featuring contemporary treatments of its 1970s classics. This volume, the first ever published on Renaissance, assesses their entire career, covering every song on every album. It is the essential guide to the recorded works of a group that deserves to be ranked among the greatest in the progressive rock genre.”

Joni Mitchell: Every Album, Every Song
By Peter Kearns

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In her long career, Canadian songstress Joni Mitchell has been hailed as everything from 1960s folk icon to 20th century cultural figure, artistic iconoclast to musical heroine, extreme romantic confessor to outspoken commentator and lyrical painter. While some criticised what they viewed as her seeming dismissal of commercial considerations, she simply viewed her trajectory as that of any artist serious about the integrity of their work. But whatever musical position she took, she was always one step ahead of the game, making eclectic and innovative music. Albums like The Ladies Of The Canyon, Blue, Hejira and Mingus helped define each era of the 1970s, as she moved from exquisitely pitched singer songwriter material towards jazz. Her past influence was obvious in the 1980s when hoards of assuming successors (some highly respectable) gathered her exotic breadcrumbs with a view to distilling their illusive compounds, while Joni simultaneously forged ahead. This book revisits her studio albums in detail from 1968’s Song to a Seagull to 2007’s Shine, providing anecdote and insight into the recording sessions, an in depth analysis along with a complementary level of lyrical and instrumental examination.”