FEATURE: Between the Sheets: The Best Music Books of 2018




Between the Sheets


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The Best Music Books of 2018


MANY people assume the most potent musical offerings...


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arrive from artists themselves. We focus a lot on albums and singles but, when we need to detach away from the Internet and find some calm, a great music-related book is essential. I am finding, as so many of us are slaves to the lure of social media and our phones; books are actually being read more and it provides that much-needed sense of relief. If you are a big music fan, you will be drawn to the wonders and sheer variety of a music-themed book. Whether it is a biography, an encyclopaedia or a great one-off – how can one resist the page-turning pleasures?! As it is Christmas, and you might still be looking for that great gift for the music lover in your life; here are some epic music books that are guaranteed to...


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KEEP them quiet and engrossed for a very long time.

ALL IMAGES: Getty Images/Publishers


Matt Everitt - The First TimeStories & Songs from Music Icons


Release Date: 5th November, 2018

Publisher: Laurence King Publishing

Type of Book: Interview series with a selection of musical greats, all conducted by Matt Everitt

Author: Matt Everitt

Pages: 336

Page Turn-ability: 4.8/5

Price: £13.93 (Amazon.co.uk)


“Just published is an absorbing new book which brings together some of the biggest names in music to talk about their First Time. Using transcripts of interviews conducted by him over a number of years for his BBC Radio 6 Music show, Matt Everitt's book, "The First Time: Stories & Songs from Music Icons", reveals things like the subject's first gig, first record, and such like.

With a diverse list of interviewees as David Gilmour, Alice Cooper, John Lydon, Charlie Watts, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Elton John, Lars Ulrich, Michael Stipe, Brian Wilson and Jarvis Cocker, there are some dramatically different responses, and some very interesting insights. Some of the subject's "firsts" are endearingly cheesy or embarrassing, yet others have rather cool experiences they relate. The reality for most people, of course, if they are honest, is that their first gig, record or whatever can tend to be a little difficult to reveal to others! In the introduction, Matt has the tables turned and is interviewed by Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) who reveals his first gig was U2 in 1987, whereas Norman's was none other than The Wombles!

Each chapter starts with an introduction by Matt about his memories of meeting the subject, accompanied by newly created collage artwork and finishes with a Spotify link that will lead readers straight to the bespoke playlist of songs that are discussed in the interviews. The book compiles 40 interviews, and each reveal some great insights into the artist.

David Gilmour's interview takes a look at his earliest experiences of music - hearing, seeing and playing. He also touches on his early rehearsals with Pink Floyd, including the legendary "Have You Got It Yet?" that Syd was trying to get the rest of the band to learn... He reflects on Dark Side (coming out just five years after he joined the band) and life after the band. He also talks about his feelings about the late Richard Wright.

For anyone interested in music, and the influences that shaped the musicians and their sounds, the book is definitely worth checking out. As with all interviews, some subjects are more guarded than others, but nonetheless, their reticence or "political" answers can prove subtly revealing too” Brain Damage

Buy: https://www.laurenceking.com/product/the-first-time/

Kate BushHow to Be Invisible


Release Date: 4th December, 2018

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Type of Book: A collecting of lyrics from the great Kate Bush

Author: Kate Bush, David Mitchell (foreword)

Pages: 223

Page Turn-ability: 5/5

Price: £8.30 (Amazon.co.uk)


“Essentially this is a book for fans, and fans of the Great Kate are as legion as we are loyal. The collection ends with Lake Tahoe, which includes one of my favourite images from her songs. An old dog, asleep on the floor, “his legs are frail now, but when he dreams – he runs”. I can never hear that line without welling up and, like all of the lyrics contained within Bush’s work, it loses none of its power by being separated from the melody. Maybe the Academy got it right with Dylan after all” – The Irish Times

Buy: https://www.waterstones.com/book/how-to-be-invisible/kate-bush/9780571350940

Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin


Release Date: 9th October, 2018

Type of Book: Career retrospective and photo collection

Publisher: Reel Art Press

Author: Led Zeppelin

Pages: 400

Page Turn-ability: 4.7/5  

Price: £32.46 (Amazon.co.uk)


“A fantastic coffee table book of quite possibly the greatest rock band in history. There's little text to go with the hundreds of photos contained in this mighty tome, but that's what this book is, a photographic history and not another unauthorised biography. Layout wise, it's very similar to Jimmy Page's photo autobiography - a bit of text here & there explaining where & what each photo is, all laid out in chronological order. The book is bound in a cotton card cover, which feels very luxurious to the touch and appears hardwearing. The pages are of reasonably thick, high quality semi-gloss paper that has an equally luxuriant feel. In my opinion this book is aimed at those who not only want an attractive display piece but also want to see how the band looked in their glory days. In other words, it's a nostalgia trip for the over sixties or a reference book for the younger generation who want to visualise what all the fuss was about. Personally I love this type of book, as you can gaze over a few pages, go back a few days later and find something new. I would highly recommend this book, but only if you need to fill a gap in your image memory bank or want to be transported back to the hedonistic 60's and '70's. It also makes for a great display piece on your coffee table” – Dave Disley (Amazon.co.uk)  

Buy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Led-Zeppelin/dp/1909526509

John Lennon, Yoko OnoImagine John Lennon


Release Date: 9th October, 2018

Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd

Type of Book: A complete and authoritative inside look at the album, Imagine

Authors: John Lennon, Yoko Ono

Pages: 320

Page Turn-ability: 4.8/5

Price: £21.66 (Amazon.co.uk)


“This book is a complete inventory of the period during the making of Imagine in 1971. Not only does it cover all the processes of the making of the album, but everything to do with John and Yoko's world at the time. It's so exhaustive, and it's difficult to find fault really. The couple took a lot of stick at the time, and things have mellowed over the years. Fabulous pictures and information. My only complaint.. that we had to wait nearly 50 years for something as good as this to come out! Would please any John (and Yoko) fan!” – RM Jones (Amazon.co.uk)  

Buy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Imagine-John-Yoko-Lennon/dp/0500021848

Philip Norman - Slowhand: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton


Release Date: 9th October, 2018

Publisher: W&N

Type of Book: A biography of Eric Clapton

Author: Philip Norman

Pages: 448

Page Turn-ability: 4.2/5

Price: £17.50 (Amazon.co.uk)


“Ultimately one must trust the art, not the artist (Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes… voice your choice), and here Norman disappoints. His analysis of Clapton’s music is cursory and cliched (there is no discography to even mention those London Howlin’ Wolf sessions), and no analysis to justify Clapton’s inclusion in that bogus “topmost echelon – names that provoke instant, excited reaction in every country and culture”, a category for which, say, Bob Marley makes a better fit. Slowhand fails to drive one back to reassess either the highs or lows of Clapton’s career, be it his caustic brilliance with Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the tedious live recordings with Cream, the patchy venture of Blind Faith, dull solo albums like 1989’s Journeyman or the engaging acoustic sessions of 1992’s Unplugged. That’s another book entirely” – The Guardian  

Buy: https://www.waterstones.com/book/slowhand/philip-norman/9781474606554

Joan Morgan She Begat This: 20 Years of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill


Release Date: 23rd August, 2018

Publishers: Atria/37 INK

Type of Book: A twentieth anniversary celebration of Lauryn Hill’s seminal debut solo album

Author: Joan Morgan

Pages: 176

Page Turn-ability: 4.6/5

Price: £11.34 (Amazon.co.uk)


““Ex Factor” finally meant something to me when I had two relationships where we kept hurting each other because neither one of us wanted to be the first to say goodbye. “To Zion” was beautiful when I was childless black male, but after becoming a father the first time I loved what it pointed to about choices and sacrifices. “Tell Him” became my wake up song because I needed to conjure hope when joy didn’t come in the morning. I can go on and on about my love of Hill and how I came to love Miseducation. I will still buy tickets, because I want to be with other congregants reliving the moments when Hill’s music was salvific, even when the music don’t sound the same as I remember.

I also hope people will read She Begat This to learn another context for understanding the album and Hill. This book extended my belief that reducing Hill to crazy is a lie. We need better words, better analysis to understand this black woman who attempts to live life on her own terms, terms that we can’t understand and terms that are not fitting for consumer demands, but still her terms. She gave us a gift, but we don’t own her. We have to decide how we want to live with her terms without reducing another black woman to crazy” – Medium

Buy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/She-Begat-This-Miseducation-Lauryn/dp/1501195255/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr

Dan Hancox Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime


Release Date: 17th May, 2018

Publisher: William Collins

Type of Book: The definitive story and history of Grime

Author: Dan Hancox

Pages: 352

Page Turn-ability: 4.8/5

Price: £18.95 (Amazon.co.uk)


“He can look back from the vantage point of 2018, where this most underdog of genres has, after a period of pop dilution, finally started racking up airtime and awards on its own terms: Skepta’s Mercury for Konnichiwa in 2016, a No 1 album for Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer (2017), and an MBE for grime’s “godfather”, Wiley (born Richard Kylea Cowie), whose role as mentor, mogul and den mother could easily fill two books (his autobiography is out in paperback next month).

The journey to mainstream acceptance has been, not to put too fine a point on it, insane. It wasn’t just barriers such as Form 696, the Kafkaesque mechanism by which the Met made it impossible to stage live grime nights; Hancox dives deep into the riveting minutiae of how grime (realistic, dressed down) was frequently pitted against UK garage (aspirational, dressed up) and plots the arcs of individual players – such as Rinse FM’s Slimzee, who got an asbo and suffered a nervous breakdown when the pirate station was raided in 2004 (it is now legal).

Ironically, Britain actually had the new punk rock on its hands. But while not averse to giving the heritage treatment to 1977, its (often white and middle-class) cultural gatekeepers could not, or would not, recognise it as such. And the powers that be did everything to conspire against it. The notion of “inner city pressure” was certainly operational when junglist Goldie released Inner City Life in 1995, but successive governments presided over more than two decades of social cleansing, gentrification and the closure of youth centres and defunding of offending prevention programmes. It wasn’t long, Hancox argues persuasively, before the student demonstrations of November and December 2010 turned into the riots of 2011.

If all this sounds overly professorial, it isn’t: Hancox’s love for the music – for its socially unacceptable, alien sound, its hyper-local reference points, and its refusal to become Americanised rap – cuts through like a siren” – The Guardian

Buy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inner-City-Pressure-Story-Grime/dp/0008257132/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544517410&sr=8-1&keywords=dan+hancox+inner+city+pressure

Michael Diamond, Adam HorovitzBeastie Boys Book


Release Date: 30th October, 2018

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Type of Book: An authoritative and complete history of Beastie Boys from its two surviving members

Authors: Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz (Beastie Boys)

Pages: 592

Page Turn-ability: 5/5

Price: £22.40 (Amazon.co.uk)


“Diamond’s voice is lapidary, droll. Horovitz comes on like a borscht belt comedian, but beneath that he is urgent, incredulous, kind of vulnerable. There is an almost Caulfieldian sense of grief about the irretrievable past. Both are collectors — they kept the hydraulic penis for 30 years, after all. And this book is their attempt to uncover the details of their lost civilization — a pre-smartphone era where serendipity ruled — to today’s youth.

“Pre-cellphone/smartphone, kids had to call each other’s houses,” Diamond explains in a lengthy aside that goes on, wonderfully, to describe the ultimate agony: “When my mom picked up and started dialing before she realized I was already on the phone.”

Really, it’s a fascinating, generous book with portraits and details that float by in bursts of color. The fact that a Black Flag show served as a kind of Big Bang for New York’s punk scene is a revelation. Then there’s the unusual genesis of the lyric that opens their song “Paul Revere”: “Here’s a little story I got to tell.” I always considered this, in tone and syntax, to be the most explicitly Yiddish of their lyrics, and assumed that Horovitz, who delivers the line on the record, was the one who wrote it. But it turns out that he first heard it from Run of Run-DMC, of all people, while sitting on a stoop before a recording session. As Horovitz recalls that day, it was also one of the first moments the band felt they had arrived. “Just a couple years ago, me and Dave Scilken got busted for writing graffiti, so we ran and hid from the police in a stairwell leading to the basement, two doors down from where we are sitting now,” he remembers thinking as they waited for Run-DMC to show up. “And here we were, waiting to record a song with the greatest of all time” – The New York Times

Buy: https://www.waterstones.com/book/beastie-boys-book/michael-diamond/adam-horovitz/9780571308040

Dez Dickerson, Jim Walsh - Prince: Before the Rain


Release Date: 1st November, 2018

Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Type of Book: A collection of revealing and intimate photos of the late Prince by photographer Allen Beaulieu

Authors: Dez Dickerson (Foreword), Jim Walsh (Introduction)

Pages: 224

Page Turn-ability: 4.7/5

Price: £20.22 (Amazon.co.uk)


“A picture paints a thousand words, so the saying goes. And Prince, a man of few words publicly at least, understood this better than any other artist of his generation. Some of his most iconic imagery comes from the formative period between success and superstardom, and those images were captured by photographer and friend Allen Beaulieu.

Allen’s book Prince, Before The Rain is a unique window into Prince’s world. Beautifully produced and lovingly curated. Before The Rain is a visual Aladdin’s cave. Packed with a mix of live and studio shots, many previously unseen, the intimacy of the images is palpable. No previous Prince book has revealed so much of Prince the man, before the mega stardom, before the rain.

The accompanying text includes contributions from Dez Dickerson, Lisa Coleman, Booby Z and Jim Walsh but it’s Allen’s stories that enthusiasts will find most insightful, giving background and context to the stunning images. Covering the period from 1979 to 1984 (with a few later pictures from 1986), Before The Rain illustrates Prince ’s transition from Doe-eyed disco soul boy, through Punk, New Wave and onto to a style all his own. This book bares witness to the birth of a true icon, loved by millions around the globe.

Published by Minnesota Historical Society Press (mnhspress.org) and available via Amazon worldwide, no Prince collection is complete without a copy of Prince, Before The Rain
” – Stephanie B. (Amazon.co.uk)

Buy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prince-Before-Rain-Dez-Dickerson/dp/1681341212/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544518282&sr=8-1&keywords=prince+before+the+rain

Evelyn McDonnellWomen Who Rock: Bessie to Beyoncé. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl.


Release Date: 6th December, 2018

Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal

Type of Book: A stellar and unprecedented celebration of 104 musical artists; the most complete, up-to-date history of the evolution, influence and importance of women in music

Author: Evelyn McDonnell

Pages: 416

Page Turn-ability: 4.9/5

Price: £25.00 (Amazon.co.uk)


“This book is perfect: essays written by women, about influential women in the landscape of the music industry who all overcame some type of adversity to get their music heard, along with stunning artwork for each essay (also all by women). I confess I haven't finished the book yet, because there is so much information and music to digest! Each essay comes with a recommended playlist, and listening to these women as I read about their lives and their careers is a transformative way to read. Highly recommended to anyone who loves music and wants to diversify their listening habits” – Tamara..L..M.. (Amazon.co.uk)

Buy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Women-Who-Rock-Bessie-Beyonce/dp/0316558877