Read ’em and leap

Whether soak­ing up the rays abroad or merely avoid­ing a soak­ing at home, a good book makes the sum­mer com­plete. Here, Tony Clay­ton-Lea runs through five of the best for mu­sic fans

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Books -

TIME OUT: 1,000 SONGS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Ebury Press £10.99 in UK 280pp Like the city guides and list­ings mag­a­zines with which this book shares part of its ti­tle, there are cer­tain things we can ex­pect: at­ten­tion to de­tail, a lit­tle bit of smart-ar­sery, solid writ­ing and some in­ter­est­ing opin­ions.

It’s good fun read­ing through a book that was pro­duced for en­thu­si­asts rather than afi­ciona­dos, and the trick that works here is the mix of con­trib­u­tors (in­clud­ing David Ca­vanagh, Garry Mul­hol­land and Bob Stan­ley) and the breadth of top­ics (love, loss, re­bel­lion, sex, hap­pi­ness, gen­der, early morn­ings), and we love its top 10 lists (smok­ing, drink­ing, and – yes! – awk­ward time sig­na­tures).

Ex­cerpt: “Three decades af­ter Paul Weller’s com­mit­ted but rather wordy tale of get­ting beaten up while wait­ing for the last tube home, you’re now more likely to be as­saulted by a Trans­port for Lon­don-ap­proved busker play­ing Weller’s Wild Wood on a li­censed busk­ing stage at the bot­tom of an es­ca­la­tor. Some peo­ple call this progress.”

SEX PIS­TOLS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

By Jim McCarthy; il­lus­trated by .Steve Park­house Om­nibus Press £12.95 in UK 90pp, If you don’t know any­thing about the Sex Pis­tols, but are look­ing for­ward to see­ing them in Ire­land at Elec­tric Pic­nic, then cop a jaun­diced eye over this pot­ted his­tory in graphic novel for­mat. Of its kind, the il­lus­tra­tion is pass­able, but the well-thumbed story is broadly out­lined in terms that in­sult the reader. As a primer for punk rock kids, it’s just about tol­er­a­ble, but for those who want a far more in­for­ma­tive telling, head straight to Jon Sav­age’s Eng­land’s Dream­ing.

Ex­cerpt: “Sirs, I have it that the An­glo-Saxon word ‘bol­locks’ found in most dic­tio­nar­ies is not in fact an ob­scen­ity but an old English term, both slang for ‘tes­ti­cle’ and ‘priest’ – but here it refers sim­ple to ‘non­sense’.”

ON SOME FAR­AWAY BEACH: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BRIAN ENO

By David Shep­pard Orion Books £20 in UK 470pp Eno has writ­ten his own (sort of) au­to­bi­og­ra­phy with the ex­cel­lent A Year With Swollen Ap­pen­dices (1995), but Shep­pard’s is the first se­ri­ous, crit­i­cal ex­plo­ration of Eno’s life and work. Writ­ten with the in­put of Eno , this is prob­a­bly as au­thor­i­ta­tive an in­sight into the work­ings of the man as we’re likely to get. Fresh in­ter­views with his wife Anthea, Bryan Ferry, John Cale and

17

David Byrne (but cu­ri­ously enough, not Bono), mixed with the au­thor’s as­sid­u­ous approach, give a rounded, in­tel­li­gent in­sight into one of the most in­no­va­tive sonic artists around. Or, as Wire’s Colin New­man might have it: “He’s a bril­liant opportunist . . . an in­cred­i­bly adept bull­shit­ter.”

Ex­cerpt: “His faith­ful black note­books would bulge with re­marks and strat­a­gems rang­ing from the plain di­dac­tic (‘aban­don nor­mal in­stru­ments’) to cryp­tic (‘Twist the spine’) . . . Other com­ments would take the form of rather grand, Zen-like apho­risms, the most fa­mous of which – ‘hon­our thy mis­take as a hid­den in­ten­tion’ or ‘rep­e­ti­tion is a form of change’ – have sub­se­quently be­come art-speak col­lo­qui­alisms.” By Bill Drum­mond Beau­ti­ful Books £14.99 in UK 410pp Bill Drum­mond is back, and that is al­ways a good thing. The man be­hind the likes of Echo & the Bun­ny­men, KLF and too many con­cep­tu­al­ist art scams to men­tion has writ­ten a diary-like book about his most re­cent art project, The17, which (briefly) con­cerns his at­tempts at cre­at­ing a new form of mu­sic us­ing pre-de­ter­mined in­struc­tions via a se­ries of choirs con­sist­ing of 17 peo­ple. Episodic in struc­ture and frus­trat­ingly un­fo­cused, 17 is also an in­vig­o­rat­ing, ques­tion­ing and provoca­tive book that should be in top 10 lists by the end of the year.

Ex­cerpt: “ Push The But­ton by The Su­gababes is my favourite pop record so far this decade. I would be quite happy to never hear an­other record by The Su­gababes in my life. Does my de­vo­tion to this record un­der­mine ev­ery­thing that I have writ­ten in this book so far?”

THE LONG PLAYER GOOD­BYE

By Travis El­bor­ough Scep­tre, £14.99 in UK 468pp Whither the hum­ble album? That’s the theme ex­plored by Travis El­bor­ough in his over­long yet il­lu­mi­nat­ing book. He has a point; what, pre­cisely, is the thrill of down­load­ing a song? What hap­pened to the an­tic­i­pa­tion of an album by your favourite mu­sic act, the bring­ing home of the record and play­ing it in full for the first time? Anti-nos­tal­gists might baulk at such a theme, but lud­dites like me think El­bor­ough is right: al­bums are deeply embed­ded in cul­tural his­tory, and if they dis­ap­pear, what, then, is left of the mu­sic ex­pe­ri­ence? Ah, YouTube. That’s al­right, then.

Ex­cerpt: “In the 1980s, se­cret mes­sages on LPs were sud­denly of burn­ing con­cern. The is­sue reared its head in 1982 when two Repub­li­can sen­a­tors, Robert Dorman and Phil Wy­man, sub­mit­ted a bill to Congress ask­ing for warn­ing la­bels to be placed on rock records that con­tained back­ward mes­sages ex­tolling the wor­ship of Satan.”

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