Home Read News Next Week in Music | Nov. 21-27 • New Books

Next Week in Music | Nov. 21-27 • New Books

You load 16 tons of books and whaddaya get? Another day older and more well-read.

You load 16 tons of books and whaddaya get? Another day older and more well-read — thanks to memoirs from Merle Travis and Simon Napier-Bell, bios of Albert Ayler and Peter Green, the last words of Kurt Cobain, deep dives into KISS and Van Morrison‘s ’70s albums and more. Read all about ’em:


Sixteen Tons: The Merle Travis Story
By Merle Travis & Deke Dickerson

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Sixteen Tons is the story of Country Music Hall of Fame member Merle Travis, a brilliant, multi-talented, and deeply troubled artist who is widely considered a genius. A world-class guitarist who dazzled audiences with his Kentucky thumb-picking style, Merle was also a pioneering country songwriter who wrote such classics as Dark As A Dungeon and Sixteen Tons. Additionally, he was responsible for early electric guitar innovations in the 1940s, and was a gifted actor, writer, and cartoonist, among many other talents. This definitive portrait of Travis’s life and career is the result of a recently-discovered treasure trove of Merle’s unpublished autobiographical writings, which have been fleshed out with an immersive deep-dive biography by researcher and musical historian Deke Dickerson. It details the highs of a career that began with a string of nine straight Top 5 singles in the 1940s, and the lows of a lifelong struggle with alcoholism that developed into an addiction to pills that nearly killed Merle when he was running with Johnny Cash in the late 1950s. Travis ultimately reemerged to become a Grammy-winning artist who inspired millions and became a music legend.”

Sour Mouth, Sweet Bottom: Lessons from A Dissolute Life
By Simon Napier-Bell

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The legendary music impresario (and producer of bands like The Yardbirds and Wham!) tells his life story in a series of mesmerizingly candid vignettes. Sour Mouth, Sweet Bottom: Lessons From A Dissolute Life is the book Simon Napier-Bell’s fans have always hoped he’d write. From 1940s London where he listened to wartime hits like ‘Mairzy doats and dozy doats’ in the air-raid shelter; to talking about Wham! with Deng Xiaoping, head of Communist China, or getting stoned with Elaine May and Jack Lemmon by the pool in ’60s Beverly Hills, Sour Mouth, Sweet Bottom makes most memoirs look like thin gruel by comparison. This is a high-octane explosion of a book, a kaleidoscopic sequence of more than 60 ‘lessons’ drawn from a life lived to the full: frank, funny, freewheeling and honest. There are anecdotes of the acts he managed (Yardbirds, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Marc Bolan, Japan, Sinitta, Boney M, Candi Staton, Ultravox, Asia, Wham!, George Michael and Sinead O’Connor) but there’s also the wisdom gathered from a louche life of clubs, restaurants, gigs, arrests, awards, bankruptcies, bereavements, booze, coups and sex, both gay and straight.”

Holy Ghost: The Life & Death Of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler
By Richard Koloda

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Albert Ayler synthesized children’s songs, La Marseillaise, American march music, and gospel hymns, turning them into powerful, rambunctious, squalling free-jazz improvisations. Some critics considered him a charlatan, others a heretic for unhinging the traditions of jazz. Some simply considered him insane. However, like most geniuses, Ayler was misunderstood in his time. His divine messages of peace and love, apocalyptic visions of flying saucers, and the strange account of the days leading up to his being found floating in New York’s East River are central to his mystique, but, as Richard Koloda points out, they are a distraction, overshadowing his profound impact on the direction of jazz as one of the most visible avant-garde players of the 1960s and a major influence on others, including John Coltrane. A musicologist and friend of Don Ayler, Albert’s troubled trumpet-playing brother, Koloda has spent over two decades researching this book. He follows Ayler from his beginnings in his native Cleveland to France, where he received his greatest acclaim, to his untimely death on Nov. 25, 1970, at age 34, and puts to rest speculation concerning his mysterious death. A feat of biography and a major addition to jazz scholarship, Holy Ghost offers a new appreciation of one of the most important and controversial figures in 20th-century music.”

Peter Green: The Biography
By Martin Celmis

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “One of England’s greatest blues guitarists, Peter Green was the founder of Fleetwood Mac. Considered an enigma as well as a brilliant musician, he quit the band in 1970. Written by Green’s close associate Martin Celmins, this fourth edition of the biography first published in 1995 challenges the accepted narrative about why he left Fleetwood Mac and what happened next. Revised and updated, the book also includes unseen photographs.”

Kurt Cobain: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
By Melville House

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “As the lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain changed American music as few musicians ever have. His instantly identifiable raspy croon, his slash-and-burn guitar playing, and his corrosive and poetic lyrics made him a hero to a generation of lost souls. In interviews Cobain was funny, thoughtful, sarcastic, impassioned, and even kind. This collection of interviews provides a look at a man who was too often misunderstood.”

The ABCs of The Grateful Dead
By Howie Abrams & Michael “Kaves” McLeer

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Featuring playful rhymes and glorious illustrations, The ABCs Of The Grateful Dead celebrates the band’s rich and dynamic history. Each letter of the alphabet highlights a significant moment, cultural contribution, or innovation along the band’s journey, from their groundbreaking release of American Beauty to their pioneering Wall of Sound, from the beloved dancing bears to their singular community of tape traders. This delightfully kaleidoscopic look back on The Grateful Dead will entertain first-time readers as well as diehard fans of all ages.”

KISS In The 1970s: Decades
By Peter Gallagher

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “They pulled on their platform boots and slapped on the makeup when everybody else was discarding theirs. Their albums were subject to poor production, scathing reviews, and commercial indifference. Other bands refused to have them as their opening act. Their record company was up against the wall. By all reasoning, they should have become one of the ‘lost’ bands of the 1970s, like The Harlots of 42nd Street or The Hollywood Stars. Yet in 1975 KISS unexpectedly came Alive! and by the following year, they were the biggest rock ’n’ roll band — and brand — in America. This is a journey through KISS’s first and most storied decade. It is the story of the four men behind the masks, and the music they made, the studio albums, the legendary live albums, and of one of the greatest rock follies in music history, the four simultaneously released solo album. Along the way, it tells of the costumes and the concerts, the merchandise and the Marvel comic books, the television appearances and the disastrous 1978 movie Kiss Meets the Phantom Of The Park. And having bestrode the 1970s like an unstoppable colossus, it ends with KISS under siege, beset by changing public taste without, and combustible personalities within.”

Van Morrison In The 1970s: Decades
By Peter Childs

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “After the singularity of Astral Weeks in 1968, the 1970s were the formative years for the solo career of one of the acknowledged giants of modern music. Van Morrison was one of the music legends who defined the decade, with every album bringing out different aspects to Morrison’s vast musical spectrum. His story in the 1970s is a chronicle of a Belfast artist coming to terms with the voice, the call, the dream of America. The decade saw Morrison work through the promise of the land of the blues and jazz, westerns and railroads, big cities and backwoods. It also saw his own spiritual quest and the reimagining of a nordic North European heritage and Caledonian Irish roots alongside the realisation of emigration and exile. Morrison forged a rich and complex artistic catalogue that continues down the years to the present day. Beginning with smash hit Moondance in 1970, his output in the decade continued through Tupelo Honey via Hard Nose The Highway to 1979’s Into The Music. By the end of the 1970s, he was again using Europe to recast his music and imagination for another half century in the business, but throughout most of the decade his songs centred on America as he created the foundation of an unparalleled legacy.”

Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions
By Francesca T. Royster

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “After a century of racist whitewashing, country music is finally reckoning with its relationship to Black people. In this timely work-the first book on Black country music by a Black writer — Francesca Royster uncovers the Black performers and fans, including herself, who are exploring the pleasures and possibilities of the genre. Informed by queer theory and Black feminist scholarship, Royster’s book elucidates the roots of the current moment found in records like Tina Turner’s first solo album, Tina Turns the Country On! She reckons with Black “bros” Charley Pride and Darius Rucker, then chases ghosts into the future with Valerie June. Indeed, it is the imagination of Royster and her artists that make this music so exciting for a genre that has long been obsessed with the past. The futures conjured by June and others can be melancholy, and are not free of racism, but by centering Black folk Royster begins to understand what her daughter hears in the banjo music of Our Native Daughters and the trap beat of Lil Nas X‘s Old Town Road. A Black person claiming country music may still feel a bit like a queer person coming out, but, collectively, Black artists and fans are changing what country music looks and sounds like — and who gets to love it.”

Totally Wired: The Rise and Fall of the Music Press
By Paul Gorman

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Totally Wired charts the coming of age of music publications covering the contemporary bands, trends, and scene. This book offers a history of the journalists who described the wild landscape of the rise of rock and its evolution from the 1950s to the 2000s, through R&B, pop, the Summer of Love, punk, and beyond. Author Paul Gorman chronicles the emergence of trailblazing music magazines in New York, Los Angeles, and London and their transformation into essential reading for anyone who cared about popular culture. Gorman captures the extraordinary rise of the inkies on the back of rock and roll’s explosion into the postwar American and British youth culture. He recounts the development of individual magazines from their Tin Pan Alley beginnings to Creem, Blender and Crawdaddy!, followed by the foundation of Rolling Stone, NME, Melody Maker and Sounds — as well as the emergence of dedicated monthlies such as Q, The Face and Mojo. Evoking the golden age of the music press, the book is illustrated with iconic magazine artwork and archival photography throughout. Writers such as Charles Shaar Murray, Greil Marcus, Nick Kent and Tony Parsons not only documented the wild excesses of Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Clash but also played an integral part in the development of the success of the bands themselves. Painting a complete picture of the scene, Gorman also tackles the entrenched sexism and racism faced by women and people from marginalized backgrounds as they tried to make it in the music industry, whether as musicians or journalists. An incisive and entertaining ride, this volume is perfect for anyone interested in popular culture, magazines, and underground cultural history. ”