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As festival season is in full swing, we're shining the spotlight on our recommended music-themed reads. 

 

Save up to 25% off RRPs until 26/08/24



Headliners

Nirvana (Hardback)
A Detailed Guide to the Band that Changed Everything
After Nirvana, everything changed. Kurt Cobain and his band ushered in a new era in music, bringing the authenticity of US underground punk to mainstream rock audiences. Award-winning biographer and music critic Marc Burrows dives into the world of Nirvana, providing an exhaustive day-by-day account of the lifespan of the band, from their early days touring the dive bars of the Pacific North-West through the release of ’Smells Like Teen Spirit' and Nevermind, the dark masterpiece of In Utero and Kurt Cobain’s tragic death in 1994. The timeline is augmented by hyper-detailed footnotes, diving deep into the songs and albums, the impact and the fascinating unexplored corners of one of the most exciting and impactful bands that have ever been.
Elvis: The King of Fashion (Hardback)
A highly engaging homage to the iconic style of Elvis Presley, who shook up the world of music and fashion, triggering a cultural revolution that stopped 1950s America in its tracks.

Born into poverty, his voice of liquid gold and show-stopping appearance propelled him into a life of extreme wealth.

Elvis’s extraordinary story – told through a fashion lens – celebrates the shy, lonely boy who awakened an entire generation to forbidden fruit.

The defiant hair, the sultry good looks, the gender-ambivalent outfits – even the famous sideburns of the man who would be King – are all considered in loving detail.

From impoverished scamp and teenage antihero in pink, through Hollywood heartthrob and sensual leather-clad rock star, to caped superhero in Vegas jumpsuits, the author describes his clothes with as much joy as she does his journey through the decades.

A contemporary take on the evolution of Elvis the Showman, featuring interviews with people who knew, met and dressed him, and analysis of the 2022 hit movie, Elvis.

A rags-to-riches tale, forged in the hardship and music of the poor South, it personifies the American Dream, retold with style by an author raised on Elvis’s songs and movies and who walked in his shoes through Memphis to discover they really were two-toned.

Set in a fascinating period in time, it looks at his powerful legacy, preserved by his devoted fans, and the films and tributes still being produced in his honour today.
Kylie Minogue: Album by Album (Hardback)
Stick or Twist
Kylie Minogue is an Australian pop icon who has sold over 80 million records worldwide. The pint-sized pop princess showed us she had the 'wow' factor when she first graced our screens as Charlene Mitchell in Neighbours in 1986. She 'did it again' (and again and again) through her numerous incarnations. From her early days as PWL's pop puppet, to the ultimate puppet master that she has transformed into today. Kylie achieved a massive musical milestone in 2020—being the first woman to top the album charts in five consecutive decades. She is one of our nation’s most beloved pop princesses, or arguably - if you ask her legion of fans (me included) - THE most beloved Pop Queen.

Kylie Minogue: Album by Album explores in detail Ms Minogue’s extensive repertoire, spanning more than three decades. It commemorates this unique artist's genuinely exceptional, unmatched, and often under-appreciated career. The author is both a fan and a music critic, who examines Kylie’s life and career from both perspectives. You will discover how Kylie became a pop icon, how she reinvented herself over the years, and how she influenced the music industry with her style and sound. This book is not just another biography, or discography critique; it is a unique analysis of Kylie’s musical legacy and cultural impact. Whether you are a die-hard fan or curious listener, this book will give you a deeper appreciation of Kylie Minogue and her music.
The Real Sinéad O'Connor (Hardback)
Sinéad O’Connor achieved worldwide success as an angel-voiced, shaven-headed Irish singer of heartfelt songs, but she was far more than just a pop star – she was also an activist and a survivor. Reeling from a troubled childhood at the hands of her violent mother, she spent 18 months living in a former Magdalene Laundry due to her truancy and shoplifting, and suffered her mother’s death in a car crash – all by the age of 18.

Her pain, anger and compassion would turn her into one of the world’s greatest protest singers and activists. She would release ten studio albums during her 36-year music career - the second of which (I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got) would reach number 1 across the world and earn her ten million pounds, half of which she gave to charity. During this time, she would also advocate for survivors of child abuse and racism, and stand up for the LGBT community and women’s reproductive rights.

Most notably, she would tear up a picture of Pope John Paul II during an episode of Saturday Night Live in order to protest at child sex abuse within the Catholic church, creating headlines around the world and derailing her career.

Featuring six exclusive interviews with friends and peers who knew her, this is the true story of her extraordinary and courageous journey.
Taylor Swift for Adults (Hardback)
Taking Swift Seriously
Taylor Swift for Adults is a tantalising opening salvo in Swiftology - the study of the work of Taylor Swift. While Swift's private life has been covered to death, her talent as a lyricist has rarely been analysed. Until now. Swifties are well aware that she's a lyricist par excellence but this book makes that case to the unbelievers. Swift's gift as a songwriter is not merely sentimentality and circumstance - and this book takes a deep look at her 10 albums to isolate what makes her a beloved lyricist for millions.

Any serious study of a lyricist or poet needs to establish what are the tropes, the patterns, and the style of that artist, and this book does precisely that. With careful attention to poetic detail, the scansion, flow, and form of her writing, this brings out those details that pass by in a flash on the radio, bringing them fully into focus. Many have made the argument that Swift is a gifted lyricist - in online forums and YouTube comments - but this is the first time in writing those arguments have been given shape and serious attention.

It's a book aimed at adults but not po-faced bores - taking a subject seriously can also mean laughing at swearwords and sex metaphors. Rather than po-faced and straitened, this is a lightly witty book expressing, at its core, a deep affection for this generation's favourite songwriter.
How The Beatles Rocked The World (Hardback)
When the Beatles burst onto the pop scene in 1962, they not only took the music world by storm but they also brought with them a counter culture that was to have far-reaching effects. With their long hair, humour and irreverent attitude towards authority, they were a breath of fresh air to a generation who had grown weary of the greyness of the post-war years.

Beatlemania was to unleash a revolution against an outdated age. The 1950s with its oppressive and authoritarian attitudes was ready for change and young people, desperate to escape suburbia with its stifling formality, were set to lead that rebellion.

In politics, fashion, education, the arts, religion, television, women’s rights and universities, the time had come to challenge the old order. And in came the swinging sixties with its more liberal attitudes offering hope of change and a more peaceful and just world. The introduction of the contraceptive pill, legalized abortion, gay rights, easier divorce and the relaxing of censorship were all part of this social revolution.

And it wasn’t just in Britain. The influence of the Beatles reverberated across Europe and, most of all, in America where teenagers not only campaigned against a war in Vietnam but also for civil rights in their own country.

This book tells the story of the Sixties and how the Beatles’ influence had such an impact on British society. It’s a social history of Britain told by Stephen Kelly who regularly watched the Beatles at the Cavern and experienced first hand the changes that were to take place.
Neil Young: Album by Album (Hardback)
With an illustrious career stretching back almost six decades and encompassing 50 solo studio albums alone, Neil Young is one of the most prolific, compelling figures in the history of popular music, equally revered as both an acoustic singer-songwriter and as the force of nature frontman of rock legends Crazy Horse. As he enters his late seventies, Young remains as energetic and relevant as ever, locking horns with streaming giant Spotify in protest against their alleged promotion of COVID-19 misinformation and continuing to release new music when many of his contemporaries have long since faded away into comfortable retirement.

Neil Young: Album by Album is the most complete retrospective of the great Canadian’s discography ever written. Covering his entire solo career from his 1968 debut to 2023's Before and After, the book offers in-depth, track-by-track reviews of every Young studio album, providing an engaging insight into the restless creativity that gave the world classics like After the Goldrush, Harvest and Rust Never Sleeps.

Also including detailed timelines covering the different phases of Young’s life, sections on the artist’s early years and his live and archive releases, and an entertaining essay ranking his solo albums from worst to best, this comprehensive book is equally indispensable for both diehard Young fans and those listeners seeking to discover more of his formidable body of work.
R.E.M. Album by Album (Hardback)
From cowering, introverted founders of the alternative rock movement to one of the twenty best-selling American bands of all time, the story of R.E.M. covers three decades, two generations and the passions of millions. First, they lifted a humble, Southern college town into myth, re-calibrating rock music at the moment that it threatened to reach the point of terminal excess, and then, unsatisfied, they carried their progressive ideology right into the heart of mainstream popular culture, selling over 85 million records and winning universal acclaim along the way, totally without compromise.

R.E.M. Album by Album tells that story, tracing the band from its formation in 1980 when four young men sought respite from the difficulties of real life by starting a covers band, right up until their eventual split in 2011, shedding new light on the lyrical and musical development of the band as artists, from their esoteric early masterpieces to the moment that they signed the world’s largest ever recording contract. For the very first time, too, we examine the first decade after the band’s demise, scrutinising the shifting sands of their legacy as the dust settles on one of pop music’s most extraordinary careers.
The London Boys (Hardback)
David Bowie, Marc Bolan and the 60s Teenage Dream
Rock n roll fanatics, mods, beat group wannabes, underground hippies, glam rock icons: David Bowie and Marc Bolan spent the first part of their careers following remarkably similar paths. From the day they met in 1965 as Davie Jones and Mark Feld, rock n roll wannabes painting their manager's office in London’s Denmark Street, they would remain friends and rivals, each watching closely and learning from the other. In the years before they launched an unbeatable run of era-defining glam rock masterpieces at the charts, they were both just another face on the scene, meeting for coffee in Soho, hanging out at happenings and jamming in parks. Here, they are our guides through the decade that changed everything, as the gloom of post-war London exploded into the technicolour dream of the swinging sixties, a revolution in music, fashion, art and sexuality. Part duel-biography, part social history, part musical celebration of an era, The London Boys follows the British youth culture explosion through they eyes of two remarkable young men on the front lines of history.
The Birth and Impact of Britpop (Hardback)
Mis-Shapes, Scenesters and Insatiable Ones
"The Byron of Britpop does not disappoint! A sparklingly delicious, spiky tribute to outsiderdom. Made me want to don the war paint and start a band again." – Gary Cosby, signer with Lick.

"An impressive take on the musical and cultural phenomenon tagged "Britpop". Paul goes deep into the causes and roots of the scene, often with surprising revelations." – Stephen Street, producer of Blur, Sleeper and many others.

"Laird's voice sings from the page, bursting with energy and attitude. His stated aim was to write "something honest, something passionate, something that captured what it meant to be young, to be an outsider and to be part of something." He's succeeded, in style. A triumph." – James Cook, member of The Flamingoes and author of Memory Songs and In Her Room.

"A both-barrels blazing account of the last great musical movement. Full of insight, energy and love - this is the definitive book on Britpop." – Jude Cook, member of The Flamingoes and author of Jacob's Advice and Byron Easy.

"Brilliantly written, this really is the Britpop book that is missing. I am in awe." – Nick Amies, author of Where Did It All Go Wrong - Oasis and the Millenium Meltdown, 1995-2000 and She's Electric.

Remember the ninteties? Of course you do. Cool Britannia, New Labour, Blur vs Oasis, Geri Halliwell’s Union Flag dress, TFI Friday, “wasssssuuuuuuppppppp”, Opal Fruits turning into Starburst without anyone asking your permission…crazy times. This book doesn’t have anything to say about Geri’s dress or Opal Fruits but it has lots to say about Britpop. But this isn’t a book about the Britpop you think you know about, this is the story of a truly remarkable period of creativity in British guitar music told through the experiences of someone who was there from the first note of “Popscene” through to the run out groove of “This is Hardcore”. This is the story of the Britpop that didn’t make it onto the evening news or the cover of The Face. This is the story of the bands nobody remembers but that everybody should. This is the story of what it was like to be an outsider in 1991 and be too cool for school by 1994. This is the story of a magnesium flash in British popular music that has, for good or ill, defined British guitar music ever since. Here are Flamingoes and Pimlico, Strangelove and David Devant and His Spirit Wife, The Weekenders and Thurman…and Blur, Pulp, Oasis, Sleeper and Elastica too. These are Britpop memories from someone who was actually there. The definitive story of Britpop…
Manic Street Preachers: Album by Album (Hardback)
In a career that’s spanned thirty-five years and generated fourteen albums, fifty-three singles (two of them UK number ones), four Brit Awards, two Ivor Novellas and inspired literally hundreds of university dissertations, quite a few PhD’s and the odd specialist subject on Mastermind, Manic Street Preachers have become, in the words of their 2011 singles collection, national treasures. The Welsh trio (who, to many, will always be a quartet) have a uniquely intense impact on their fans; educating them as much as they entertain and inspire. This book collects fourteen brand new essays, one for each Manics album, from fourteen different writers from diverse backgrounds, tracing the band’s impact on fans and culture and setting each of their works, from 1992’s Generation Terrorists to 2018’s Resistance Is Futile and beyond, into context. The essays are linked by a detailed month-by-month biography by music critic and Manics fan Marc Burrows (The Guardian, The Quietus, Drowned In Sound), who compiled and edited the book, tracing the band’s development from glamourpuss upstart intellectuals to the elder statesmen of British indie rock, via an era-defining run of hits, an historic trip to Cuba and one vanished genius. Manic Street Preachers: Album by Album includes a complete discography and is sourced from in-depth archival research, making it one of the most comprehensive and detailed works devoted to the band yet compiled.

Music in history

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