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Next Week in Music | May 2-8 • New Books

You'll need to get down to work if you plan to make a dent in next week's reads.

Ronnie has the last word, Duke takes a spin through the Tops, Greil revisits the wilderness, Kim gets down to work — and you’ll need to get down to work too if you plan to make a dent in next week’s slate of music books. Read all about ’em:


Be My Baby: A Memoir
By Ronnie Spector

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Be My Baby is the behind-the-scenes story ― newly updated, and with an especially timely message ― of how the original bad girl of rock ’n’ roll, Ronnie Spector, survived marriage to a monster and carved out a space for herself amid the chaos of the 1960s music scene and beyond. Ronnie’s first collaboration with producer Phil Spector, Be My Baby, shot Ronnie and The Ronettes to stardom. No one sounded like Ronnie, with her alluring blend of innocence and knowing, but her voice would soon be silenced as Spector sequestered her behind electric gates, guard dogs, and barbed wire. It took everything Ronnie had to escape her prisonlike marriage and wrest back control of her life, her music, and her legacy. And as shown in this edition, which includes a 2021 postscript from Ronnie, her life became proof that our challenges do not define us and there is always the potential to forge a fuller life. In Be My Baby, the incomparable Ronnie Spector offered a whirlwind account of the ever-shifting path of an iconic artist. And, more than anything else, she gave us an inspiring tale of triumph.”

I’ll Be There: My Life with the Four Tops
By Duke Fakir

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Spanning decades, this is the remarkable, heartfelt memoir from Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, the last surviving member of The Four Tops. Amidst a backdrop of Detroit, I’ll Be There features revealing anecdotes from the group’s formation, their early days as backup singers for the likes of Jackie Wilson, and their years working with Berry Gordy at the legendary Motown Records. With era-defining number ones like I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) and Reach Out I’ll Be There came stardom and also a more enduring reward: the love of four men who become tighter than brothers. Together they comprise one of the most celebrated R&B groups of all time. But remarkable musical success didn’t spare Fakir the pain of marital distress, soured investment deals, struggles with sobriety, and the sudden loss of his brothers, all of which he covers in this confessional, unmissable book.”

More Real Life Rock: The Wilderness Years, 2014-2021
By Greil Marcus

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “For the past 35 years, celebrated author Greil Marcus has applied his unmatched critical apparatus to everything from music, television, radio, and politics to overheard comments, advertisements, and happenstance street encounters — an eclectic collection of what he calls “everyday culture and found objects.” This book collects hundreds of items from the crisscrossing spectrum of culture and politics throughout the tumultuous past six years of American life, an essential travel guide to the scorched landscape of recent history. Tracking the evolution of national identity during the Trump administration, Marcus spotlights the most whip-smart cultural artifacts to compose a mosaic portrait of American society, replete with unexpected heroes and villains, absurdity and its consequences, humor and despair, terror and defiance — as seen through media, music, and more. Bursting with Marcus’s effortless, no-nonsense, unapologetic verve, this book features 73 columns from 2014 through February 2021.”

This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music
By Kim Gordon & Sinead Gleeson

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This book is for and about the women who kicked in doors, as pioneers of their craft or making politics central to their sound: those who offer a new way of thinking about the vast spectrum of women in music. This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music is edited by iconic musician Kim Gordon and esteemed writer Sinéad Gleeson and features an array of talented contributors, including: Anne Enright, Fatima Bhutto, Jenn Pelly, Rachel Kushner, Juliana Huxtable, Leslie Jamison, Liz Pelly, Maggie Nelson, Margo Jefferson, Megan Jasper, Ottessa Moshfegh, Simone White, Yiyun Li and Zakia Sewell. In this radical departure from the historic narrative of music and music writing being written by men, for men, This Woman’s Work challenges the male dominance and sexism that have been hard-coded in the canons of music, literature, and film and has forced women to fight pigeon-holing or being side-lined by carving out their own space. Women have to speak up, to shout louder to tell their story — like the auteurs and ground-breakers featured in this collection, including: Enright on Laurie Anderson; Jasper on her ground-breaking work with Sub Pop; Jefferson on Bud Powell and Ella Fitzgerald; and Bhutto on music and dictatorship. This Woman’s Work also features writing on the experimentalists, women who blended music and activism, the genre-breakers, the vocal auteurs; stories of lost homelands and friends; of propaganda and dictatorships, the women of folk and country, the racialized tropes of jazz, the music of trap; of mixtapes and violin lessons.”

Isn’t Her Grace Amazing!: The Women Who Changed Gospel Music
By Cheryl Wills

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Nothing in the world soothes the soul better than gospel music. From the foot-stomping, hand-clapping melodies of yesterday to the head-bobbing, bass-thumping hits of today, gospel ignites the spirit and delivers the inspiration that takes us from the rough side of the mountain to the peak of grace. That feeling of joy, peace, love, and contentment is amplified when it’s ringing through the voice of a sister who can SANG, Cheryl Wills reminds us. The remedy for a tough day at work can be alleviated with Mary Mary’s uplifting jam Shackles, the answer to your heart’s desires can be found in the harmonies of The Clark SistersName It, Claim It, and if you need a reminder of God’s love, there is nothing more timeless that Aretha Franklin’s stirring rendition of Amazing Grace. Many women in the gospel industry go unnoticed, unpaid, and underappreciated for their contributions, yet it is these women who are often the bedrock for songwriting, arranging, directing, and developing singers. Wills, the granddaughter of a gospel singer, at last shines a spotlight on these spectacular women of song. The only book of its kind, Isn’t Her Grace Amazing! showcase the talents, gifts, and skills of women in gospel. It celebrates these heroines, chronicles their journeys from the choir loft to the world’s largest stages, and reveals how they revolutionized this sacred music that is beloved worldwide. From the matriarchs of this movement to today’s chart-topping divas, Wills offers in-depth portraits of 25 amazing women of gospel music.”

The Sonic Swagger of Elvis Presley: A Critical History of the Early Recordings
By Gary Parker

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Elvis Presley’s clever manipulation of his numerous interests remains one of the music world’s great marvels. His synthesis of country, rhythm and blues and gospel resulted in an inventive mixture of hair-raising rock ’n’ roll and balladry. This book focuses on the music of Presley’s groundbreaking early years and includes a comprehensive analysis of every Presley recording session from the 1950s. Chapters show how Presley, with one foot in delta mud and the other in a country hoedown, teamed with Scotty Moore and Bill Black to fuse two distinctly American musical forms — country and blues — to form what would come to be known as rockabilly. Also detailed is Presley’s influence on music and how his contributions are still celebrated today.”

The Golden Road: The Recorded History of the Grateful Dead
By John Kilbride

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Over their 30-year career as one of the most influential and successful bands in the world, The Grateful Dead released a series of studio albums and live albums. But with a reputation built on their stellar live performances, it was only in their later years and after the death of their iconic frontman Jerry Garcia, that they began the release of over 100 recordings from their vaults that documented the magic they produced on stage. This book charts the history of the band through these hundreds of releases, as well as their studio recordings and their key solo albums, that show what made this pioneering band unique. From the heady days of the San Francisco underground in the 60s to the stadiums of the ’90s, via Woodstock, Altamont, Europe and Egypt, the recorded history of The Grateful Dead covers their constantly evolving music as they changed the way that music was played, recorded and experienced. With former members of the band continuing to attract new audiences both live and online, the magic created by The Grateful Dead remains a vital ingredient in contemporary rock, and this book uncovers and celebrates the recordings that capture the band at their best.”

My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song
By Emily Bingham

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:My Old Kentucky Home, from its enormous success in the early 1850s, written by a white man, considered the father of American music, about a Black man being sold downriver, performed for decades by white men in blackface, and the song, an anthem of longing and pain, turned upside down and, over time, becoming a celebration of happy plantation life. It is the state song of Kentucky, a song that has inhabited hearts and memories, and in perpetual reprise, stands outside time; sung each May, before every Kentucky Derby, since 1930. Written by Stephen Foster nine years before the Civil War, My Old Kentucky Home made its way through the wartime years to its decades-long run as a national minstrel sensation for which it was written; from its reference in the pages of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind to being sung on The Simpsons and Mad Men. In My Old Kentucky Home, Emily Bingham explores the long, strange journey of what has come to be seen by some as an American anthem, an integral part of our folklore, culture, customs, foundation, a living symbol of a “happy past.” But My Old Kentucky Home was never just a song. It was always a song about slavery with the real Kentucky home inhabited by the enslaved and shot through with violence, despair, and degradation. Bingham explores the song’s history and permutations from its decades of performances across the continent, entering into the bloodstream of American life, through its 21st-century reassessment.”

Sergei Rachmaninoff
By Rebecca Mitchell

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Unquestionably one of the most popular composers of classical music, Sergei Rachmaninoff has not always been so admired by critics. Detractors have long perceived Rachmaninoff as part of an outdated Romantic tradition from a bygone Russian world, aloof from the modernist experimentation of more innovative contemporaries such as Igor Stravinsky. In this new assessment, Rebecca Mitchell resituates Rachmaninoff in the context of his time, bringing together the composer and his music within the remarkably dynamic era in which he lived and worked. Both in Russia and later in America, Rachmaninoff and his music were profoundly modern expressions of life in tune with an uncertain world. This concise yet comprehensive biography will interest general readers as well as those more familiar with this giant of Russian classical music.”

On Jazz: A Personal Journey
By Alyn Shipton

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Few musical genres inspire the passionate devotion of jazz. Its mystique goes far beyond the melodies and rhythms, with its key players and singers discussed by aficionados with a respect that borders on reverence. Some books on jazz offer little more than theory or dry facts, thereby relinquishing the ‘essence’ of the music. This book is different. One of the most influential and internationally known writers on the subject describes, through vivid personal contacts, reminiscences and zesty anecdotes, his life in jazz as a player, broadcaster and observer. Alyn Shipton recalls friendships with legendary musicians, while revealing fresh discoveries about such luminaries as Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Abbey Lincoln and Geri Allen. On Jazz powerfully evokes the atmosphere of clubs and dancehalls, and takes us behind the scenes and up onto the stage, so that this electrifying world is unforgettably spotlighted as never before.”

Musical Migration and Imperial New York: Early Cold War Scenes
By Brigid Cohen

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “From the urban street level of music clubs and arts institutions to the world-making routes of global migration and exchange, this book redraws the map of experimental art to reveal the imperial dynamics and citizenship struggles that continue to shape music in the United States. Beginning with the material conditions of power that structured the cityscape of New York in the early Cold War years, Brigid Cohen looks at a wide range of artistic practices (concert music, electronic music, jazz, performance art) and actors (Edgard Varèse, Charles Mingus, Yoko Ono, Fluxus George Maciunas) as they experimented with new modes of creativity. Cohen links them with other migrant creators vital to the city’s postwar culture boom, creators whose stories have seldom been told (Halim El-Dabh, Michiko Toyama, Vladimir Ussachevsky). She also gives sustained and serious treatment to the work of Ono, something long overdue in music scholarship. Musical Migration and Imperial New York is indispensable reading, offering a new understanding of global avant-gardes and American experimental music as well as the contrasting feelings of belonging and exclusion on which they were built.”

Distillation of Sound: Dub and the Creation of Culture
By Eric Abbey

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Jamaican music has always been about creating with what is at hand. Taking what is around you and making it into something great is the key to dub and Jamaican culture. Dub music in Jamaica started in the early 1970s and by the end of the decade had influenced an entire population. The music began to use the rhythm track of a song as a song itself and spread quickly throughout the sound systems of the island. This book reflects on the importance of dub music and its influence on the music world with the rise and spread of dub in New York, England, and Japan. Eric Abbey discusses the separation between dub as a product and dub as an act of the engineer. Distillation of Sound focuses on the original music of Jamaica and how dub reggae expanded and shifted Jamaican culture. It will further the discussion on dub music, its importance to Jamaican culture, and its creative influence on the music world.”

Britpop: Decades
By Peter Adams & Matt Pooler

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Britpop: Decades covers the ten-years that witnessed the birth, boom and bust of Britpop — a period in which home-grown indie guitar music from across the U.K. went mainstream, pop stars were cut from the most unlikely of cloth, and British culture made its voice heard with some incredibly bombastic choruses. Delving deep into the 75 key albums that defined a decade, the book includes full band biographies, detailed track-by-track discussion, recommendations for further listening and some personal reminiscences by the authors who together came of age during the ’90s. Also featuring a year-by-year review of the era, highlighting all the key historical, cultural and pop-cultural changes that took place, this is your guide to one of the most exciting, vibrant and sensational periods British music had witnessed since the 1960s. Part of the Decades series, the book offers a window into the ’90s for those that want to understand the time and a memory box for those that were there, but had too much fun to remember it.”

1973: The Year In Progressive Rock
By Geoff Feakes

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “During a decade that defined progressive rock, 1973 was a pivotal year. Influential bands like Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull and King Crimson released some of their best-selling albums and there was a plethora of releases from less well known, but equally worthy acts. This book is a journey through this creative period; stopping off on route to explore symphonic rock, the Canterbury scene, Krautrock, fusion, progressive folk, art rock, space rock, album artwork and much more.The author was in his late teens in 1973 with an insatiable appetite for music and remembers the period with affection but this book is much more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It’s a comprehensive and knowledgeable guide to an era when music with multiple sections, rich textures, intricate time signatures, inspired arrangements and diverse influences performed by skilled musicians was a universal language. For the discerning music lover, it was possible to journey to the dark side of the moon, take a dip in topographic oceans, encounter pot head pixies from a distant planet and still be home in time for larks’ tongues in aspic.”

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