Josh Ferko lives & breathes music. Either just sitting and really listening to music or quietly absorbing music by reading about it. Here’s an eclectic selection to have a go at. Stax of Trax is online as staxofsoul on Ebay.
Joel Selvin$17.95 $16.51
"I don't know where he's buried, but if I did I'd piss on his grave." -Jerry Wexler, best friend and mentor. Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues is both a definitive account of the New York rhythm and blues world of the early '60s, and the harrowing, ultimately tragic story of songwriter and record producer Bert Berns, whose meteoric career was fueled by his pending doom. His heart damaged by rheumatic fever as a youth, doctors told Berns he would not live to see twenty-one. Although his name is little remembered today, Berns worked alongside all the greats of the era - Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, Burt Bacharach, Phil Spector, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, anyone who was anyone in New York rhythm and blues. In seven quick years, he went from nobody to the top of the pops - producer of monumental r&b classics, songwriter of "Twist and Shout," "My Girl Sloopy" and others. His fury to succeed led Berns to use his Mafia associations to muscle Atlantic Records out of a partnership and intimidate new talents like Neil Diamond and Van Morrison he signed to his record label, only to drop dead of a long expected fatal heart attack, just when he was seeing his grandest plans and life's ambitions frustrated and foiled.
The definitive biography of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, with fascinating findings on his life as a Civil Rights activist, an entrepreneur, and the most innovative musician of our time Playing 350 shows a year at his peak, with more than forty Billboard hits, James Brown was a dazzling showman who transformed American music. His life offstage was just as vibrant, and until now no biographer has delivered a complete profile. The One draws on interviews with more than 100 people who knew Brown personally or played with him professionally. Using these sources, award-winning writer RJ Smith draws a portrait of a man whose twisted and amazing life helps us to understand the music he made. The One delves deeply into the story of a man who was raised in abject-almost medieval-poverty in the segregated South but grew up to earn (and lose) several fortunes. Covering everything from Brown's unconventional childhood (his aunt ran a bordello), to his role in the Black Power movement, which used "Say It Loud (I'm Black and Proud)" as its anthem, to his high-profile friendships, to his complicated family life, Smith's meticulous research and sparkling prose blend biography with a cultural history of a pivotal era. At the heart of The One is Brown's musical genius. He had crucial influence as an artist during at least three decades; he inspires pity, awe, and revulsion. As Smith traces the legend's reinvention of funk, soul, R&B, and pop, he gives this history a melody all its own.
Noted jazz author Ashley Kahn brings to life the behind-the-scenes story of Impulse Records, one of the most significant record labels in the history of popular music. Kahn mingles engaging stories of corporate politics with insider accounts of music-making and anecdotal takes on particular albums. His history of Impulse is also the story of the genesis of an American art form and the evolution of the record industry through the tumultuous 1960s and will compel readers to seek out this label s masterful albums, says Publishers Weekly in a starred review. Kirkus Reviews calls the book a swinging read, adding that Kahn covers all the aesthetic, business, social, and historical bases with crisp economy. Don t miss the exciting inside scoop behind some of the most enduring masterpieces of jazz "
Alan Lomax$29.99 $26.99
A self-described "song-hunter," the folklorist Alan Lomax traveled the Mississippi Delta in the 1930's and '40s, armed with primitive recording equipment and a keen love of the Delta's music heritage. Crisscrossing the towns and hamlets where the blues began, Lomax gave voice to such greats as Leadbelly, Fred MacDowell, Muddy Waters, and many others, all of whom made their debut recordings with him. The Land Where the Blues Began is Lomax's "stingingly well-written cornbread-and-moonshine odyssey" (Kirkus Reviews) through America's musical heartland. Through candid conversations with bluesmen and vivid, firsthand accounts of the landscape where their music was born, Lomax's "discerning reconstructions . . . give life to a domain most of us can never know . . . one that summons us with an oddly familiar sensation of reverence and dread" (The New York Times Book Review). The Land Where the Blues Began captures the irrepressible energy of soul of people who changed American musical history. Winner of the 1993 National Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, The Land Where the Blues Began is now available in a handsome new paperback edition.
Robert Palmer$18.00 $16.56
Blues is the cornerstone of American popular music, the bedrock of rock and roll. In this extraordinary musical and social history, Robert Palmer traces the odyssey of the blues from its rural beginnings, to the steamy bars of Chicago's South Side, to international popularity, recognition, and imitation. Palmer tells the story of the blues through the lives of its greatest practitioners: Robert Johnson, who sang of being pursued by the hounds of hell; Muddy Waters, who electrified Delta blues and gave the music its rock beat; Robert Lockwood and Sonny Boy Williamson, who launched the King Biscuit Time radio show and brought blues to the airwaves; and John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner, B. B. King, and many others. "A lucid . . . entrancing study" -- Greil Marcus "Palmer has a powerful understanding of the music and an intense involvement in the culture." -- The Nation
Long before Elvis Presley entered Sam Phillips's Sun Records studio in 1954, rock 'n' roll was being performed and recorded by the likes of Big Joe Turner, Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, the Clovers, the Dominoes, the Midnighters, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Wanda Jackson, and Johnny Ace. More than just a series of shrewd and evocative portraits of these and sixteen other performers, this book is also a paean to a forsaken time of relentless excess, sudden ruin, and fierce music. For this edition, the author has contributed a new listing of recent CD reissues. From 1945 to 1955, from Chinese hillbillies to Elvis's long-lost twin brother, here are the Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll.
Robert Gordon$20.00 $18.00
The story of Stax Records unfolds like a Greek tragedy. A white brother and sister build a monument to racial harmony in blighted south Memphis during the civil rights movement. Their success soon pits the siblings against each other, and the brother abandons his sister for a visionary African-American partner. Under integrated leadership, Stax explodes as a national player until, Icarus-like, the heights they achieve result in their tragic demise. They fall, losing everything, and the sanctuary they created is torn to the ground. A generation later, Stax is rebuilt brick by brick and is once again transforming disenfranchised youth into stellar young musicians. Set in the world of 1960s and '70s soul music, Respect Yourself is a character-driven story of racial integration, and then of black power and economic independence. It's about music and musicians--Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, and Booker T. and the M.G.'s, Stax's interracial house band. It's about a small independent company's struggle to survive in an increasingly conglomerate-oriented world. And always at the center of the story is Memphis, Tennessee, an explosive city struggling through volatile years. Told by one of our leading music chroniclers, Respect Yourself is the book to own about one of our most treasured cultural institutions and the city that created it.
Charles Mingus was one of the most innovative jazz musicians of the 20th century, and ranks with Charles Ives and Duke Ellington as one of America's greatest composers. By temperament, he was a high-strung and sensitive romantic, a towering figure whose tempestuous personal life found powerfully coherent expression in the ever-shifting textures of his music. Now, acclaimed music critic Gene Santoro strips away the myths shrouding "Jazz's Angry Man," revealing Mingus as more complex than even his close friends knew. Written in a lively, novelistic style, Myself When I Am Real draws on dozens of new interviews and previously untapped letters and archival materials to explore the intricate connections between this extraordinary man and the extraordinary music he made.
Patti Smith$16.99 $15.63
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation. Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-Second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous, the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years. Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.
Peter Guralnick$19.99 $18.39
From the author of the critically acclaimed Elvis Presley biography: Last Train to Memphis brings us the life of Sam Phillips, the visionary genius who singlehandedly steered the revolutionary path of Sun Records. The music that he shaped in his tiny Memphis studio with artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Ike Turner, Howlin' Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, introduced a sound that had never been heard before. He brought forth a singular mix of black and white voices passionately proclaiming the vitality of the American vernacular tradition while at the same time declaring, once and for all, a new, integrated musical day. With extensive interviews and firsthand personal observations extending over a 25-year period with Phillips, along with wide-ranging interviews with nearly all the legendary Sun Records artists, Guralnick gives us an ardent, unrestrained portrait of an American original as compelling in his own right as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, or Thomas Edison.
Paul Youngquist$27.95 $25.16
Paul Youngquist teaches English at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is the author or editor of six books, including Cyberfiction: After the Future, Monstrosities: Bodies and British Romanticism, and Race, Romanticism, and the Atlantic. He now devotes much of his energy to studying the histories, written and oral, of resistance and creativity in the Caribbean.
Kent Hartman$17.99 $16.55
Winner of the Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction and Los Angeles Times bestseller "It makes good music sound better."-Janet Maslin in The New York Times "A fascinating look into the West Coast recording studio scene of the '60s and the inside story of the music you heard on the radio. If you always assumed the musicians you listened to were the same people you saw onstage, you are in for a big surprise "-Dusty Street, host of Classic Vinyl on Sirius XM Satellite Radio If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early '70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew-whether you knew it or not. On hit record after hit record by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves in Los Angeles, California as the driving sound of pop music-sometimes over the objection of actual band members forced to make way for Wrecking Crew members. Industry insider Kent Hartman tells the dramatic, definitive story of the musicians who forged a reputation throughout the business as the secret weapons behind the top recording stars. Mining invaluable interviews, the author follows the careers of such session masters as drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Larry Knechtel, as well as trailblazing bassist Carol Kaye-the only female in the bunch-who went on to play in thousands of recording sessions in this rock history. Readers will discover the Wrecking Crew members who would forge careers in their own right, including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, and learn of the relationship between the Crew and such legends as Phil Spector and Jimmy Webb. Hartman also takes us inside the studio for the legendary sessions that gave us Pet Sounds, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the rock classic "Layla," which Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon cowrote with Eric Clapton for Derek and the Dominos. And the author recounts priceless scenes such as Mike Nesmith of the Monkees facing off with studio head Don Kirshner, Grass Roots lead guitarist (and future star of The Office) Creed Bratton getting fired from the group, and Michel Rubini unseating Frank Sinatra's pianist for the session in which the iconic singer improvised the hit-making ending to "Strangers in the Night." The Wrecking Crew tells the collective, behind-the-scenes stories of the artists who dominated Top 40 radio during the most exciting time in American popular culture.
Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña (Anniversary)
Tenth Anniversary Edition The story of how four young bohemians on the make - Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez, and Richard Farina - converged in Greenwich Village, fell into love, and invented a sound and a style that are one of the most lasting legacies of the 1960s When Bob Dylan, age twenty-five, wrecked his motorcycle on the side of a road near Woodstock in 1966 and dropped out of the public eye, he was recognized as a genius, a youth idol, and the authentic voice of the counterculture: and Greenwich Village, where he first made his mark as a protest singer with an acid wit and a barbwire throat, was unquestionably the center of youth culture. So embedded are Dylan and the Village in the legend of the Sixties--one of the most powerful legends we have these days--that it is easy to forget how it all came about. In Positively Fourth Street, David Hajdu, whose 1995 biography of jazz composer Billy Strayhorn was the best and most popular music book in many seasons, tells the story of the emergence of folk music from cult practice to popular and enduring art form as the story of a colorful foursome: not only Dylan but his part-time lover Joan Baez - the first voice of the new generation; her sister Mimi - beautiful, haunted, and an artist in her own right; and her husband Richard Farina, a comic novelist (Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me) who invented the worldliwise bohemian persona that Dylan adopted--some say stole--and made as his own. The story begins in the plain Baez split-level house in a Boston suburb, moves to the Cambridge folk scene, Cornell University (where Farina ran with Thomas Pynchon), and the University of Minnesota (where Robert Zimmerman christened himself Bob Dylan and swapped his electric guitar for an acoustic and a harmonica rack) before the four protagonists converge in New York. Based on extensive new interviews and full of surprising revelations, Positively Fourth Street is that rare book with a new story to tell about the 1960s. It is, in a sense, a book about the Sixties before they were the Sixties--about how the decade and all that it is now associated with it were created in a fit of collective inspiration, with an energy and creativity that David Hajdu captures on the page as if for the first time.