Friday, January 15, 2016

Titles shed light on seminal studios, Taylor Guitars, King of Pop, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and more

Last year saw the release of a slew of noteworthy new books focused on much-loved corners of the music universe, including British recording studios, Southern California-based Taylor Guitars, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and more. Here is an overview of several of the essential titles now available.

Title: The Great British Recording Studios (Hal Leonard Books)
Author: Howard Massey
Tell me more: Fans of the Beatles and other bands who comprised the British Invasion won't be the only ones interested in grabbing "The Great British Recording Studios." With a foreword by Sir George Martin's providing a kick-off, Howard Massey's wonderful book provides an in-depth review of the growth of England's recording studio industry following World War II, and looks at specific facilities including Abbey Road (EMI Studios), Decca, IBC and others. There are specifics about equipment used at the various studios and key recordings that were made at each. There are also stories from some of the sessions and a myriad of other points about the British studios that are detailed enough to thrill audiophiles and musicologists, but readable enough for the music fan without the technical background of a studio engineer or record producer. There are a wealth of historical color and black & white photos captured inside the studios too. Information:

Purchase 'The Great British Recording Studios' here

Title: The Taylor Guitar Book (Backbeat Books)
Author: Teja Gerken
Tell me more: Neil Young, Jason Mraz, Damon Albarn, Zac Brown and Dave Matthews are among the countless musicians who play Taylor guitars. Now the story of Taylor Guitars (based in San Diego, CA) is revealed via the wonderful Teja Gerken-penned "The Taylor Guitar Book." Founded in 1974 (long after companies such as Gibson, Fender, Guild, Martin and Rickenbacker had seemingly cornered the market), Taylor has grown to be among the leaders of the industry while attracting the loyalty of guitarists around the globe. This colorfully-illustrated 160-page book will appeal to both casual and hardcore fans of Taylor-made acoustic and electric instruments. Information:

Get 'The Taylor Guitar Book: 40 Years of Great American Flattops' here

Title: Michael Jackson FAQ (Backbeat Books)
Author: Kit O'Toole
Tell me more: Writer Kit O'Toole has taken a straight-forward, but effective path in providing a bigger picture of Michael Jackson's long career, which included the King of Pop's work and influence in the worlds of music, film, dance and pop culture. Looking at a long career spanning his work with the Jackson 5, the Jacksons and groundbreaking solo career, Jackson's work with Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, and even his posthumous successes (notably the 2009 documentary film "This Is It") are also covered by O'Toole in an illustrated book stretching across 464 pages. Information:

Buy 'Michael Jackson FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the King of Pop' here

Title: Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth (Viking)
Author: John Szwed
Tell me more: A former professor of music and director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, John Szwed proved to be the perfect author to pen the well-researched and involving "Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth." Released in paperback in early 2015, the biography sheds light on Holiday's groundbreaking role as jazz singer and early champion in the fight against racism. What emerges is that despite the troubles and challenges Holiday faced in her all-too-brief life (the New York native died at the age of 44 in 1959) was she was an artist of tremendous talent who influenced countless contemporaries and musical descendants. Information:

Buy 'Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth' here

Title: Sinatra: The Chairman (Doubleday)
Author: James Kaplan
Tell me more: At 992 pages, the hardcover edition of James Kaplan's "Sinatra: The Chairman" picks up where the author left off with 2010's "Sinatra: The Voice" and fully paints a portrait of the 20th century icon beginning with the day after he picked up his Academy Award in 1954 (for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "From Here to Eternity"). This biography is a ripe with insights into Sinatra's last act ("Ol' Blue Eyes" died in 1998, but would have celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 12, 2015) that was filled with incredible highs and lows. It takes a lot to capture one of the last century's most dynamic and significant entertainers, and Kaplan has done that masterfully in "Sinatra: The Chairman." Information:

Purchase 'Sinatra: The Chairman by James Kaplan' here

Title: Don't All Thank Me At Once: The Lost Pop Genius of Scott Miller (125 Books)
Author: Brett Milano
Tell me more: In a world filled with under-the-radar musical heroes, few loom larger than Scott Miller. A groundbreaking indie rocker who fronted Game Theory in the '80s and The Loud Family in the '90s. Although Miller's insightful and intelligent style of literate songcraft has drawn comparisons with the celebrated likes of Elvis Costello and Big Star, his lost place is just now being fully realized thanks to several recent (and upcoming) reissues as well as Brett Milano's fantastic appreciation "Don't All Thank Me At Once: The Lost Pop Genius of Scott Miller" released in October 2015. Information:

Buy 'Don't All Thank Me At Once: The Lost Pop Genius of Scott Miller' here

Robert Kinsler

No comments: