Friday, December 16, 2016

Music Books Gift Guide

Those whose interest in music extends beyond merely listening have plenty of choice books to choose from this holiday season. From in-depth explorations of '60s favorites the Monkees and country-western hero Buck Owens to groundbreaking Americana outfit The Band, here is a list of some noteworthy 2016 titles available now.

Title: The Monkees, Head and the 60s (Jawbone Press)
Author: Peter Mills
Paperback: 336 pages
Tell me more: When four young actors were cast to portray an aspiring rock band on "The Monkees" TV series in 1965, it isn't likely anyone would have believed the enduring power of not only the group's hit NBC show, but the lasting appeal of the quartet's musical recordings and influence of their 1968 film "Head." Peter Mills' The Monkees, Head, and the 60s is a serious and thoughtful look at how Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones went from being an imaginary band to becoming a bona fide music outfit and ultimately establishing the blueprint for how the music industry uses marketing and the media to establish the career of a mainstream artist. This is an essential book for not only Monkees fans, but those who want to understand the myriad of forces that often determine why an artist is successful. Information:

Title: Back to Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece (Backbeat Books)
Author: Donald Brackett
Softcover: 272 pages
Tell me more: Amy Winehouse's life itself was tragic; she died of alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27. And while much of the focus on Winehouse over the past five years has focused on her battles with drug and alcohol addiction, author Donald Brackett's Back to Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece puts the focus on her second and most brilliant album, Back to Black. The 2006 release spawned a number of hits and has had a lasting impact with the subsequent success of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and Adele. The songs, producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi and musicians who contributed to that album are the focus of the important and fast-moving study. Information:

Title: Buck 'Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens (Backbeat Books)
Authors: Buck Owens with Randy Poe
Paperback: 360 pages
Tell me more: During the late 1990s, singer-guitarist-songwriter Buck Owens recorded nearly 100 hours of his memories onto cassette tapes in what would ultimately provide the text for Buck 'Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens. Now available in paperback, the autobiography covers his years as a hit maker (he was the biggest country music star of the 1960s), host of the country TV show "Hee Haw," influence on greats such as Dwight Yoakam (who wrote the books preface) and his legendary business acumen. Information:

Title: Sex, Drums, Rock 'n' Roll! The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business (Backbeat Books)
Author: Kenny Aronoff
Hardcover: 320 pages
Tell me more: Kenny Aronoff is among the greatest and most influential drummers of his generation, having recorded and performed with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, and many more. Now Aronoff's first-person account of his one-of-a-kind tale is documented in Sex, Drums, Rock 'n' Roll! The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business. In colorful and conversational language, Aronoff details events throughout his rich life; the lesson here is ultimately about having a dream and working everyday to make it come true. The book's forward was penned by drummer-author Neil Peart of the band Rush. Information:

Title: The Band FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Fathers of Americana (Backbeat Books)
Author: Peter Aaron 
Paperback: 400 pages
Tell me more: The musical landscape explored by The Band in the late 1960s and early '70s somehow fused folk, blues, gospel, country, soul and rock 'n' roll in ways never heard before. Often cited as creators of the roots rock genre and arguably the first Americana rock ensemble, The Band's profound influence and terrific legacy is highlighted throughout The Band FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Fathers of Americana. Author Peter Aaron digs deep into the individual and collective contributions of Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson, the names behind classic songs including "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Up On Cripple Creek." Information:

Title: The Clash FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Clash City Rockers (Backbeat Books)
Author: Gary J. Jucha
Paperback: 400 pages
Tell me more: One of punk rock's earliest and most important champions is celebrated throughout The Clash FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Clash City Rockers. The book provides all kinds of interesting and informative information on the English band that was founded by guitarist Mick Jones and fronted by the late Joe Strummer. The band's complex history is explored clearly, with the group's changing lineup, tours and legendary concert dates, bootlegs and official releases revisited during the 400-page run. Information:

Title: A Perfect Union of Contrary Things (Backbeat Books)
Author: Sarah Jensen with Maynard James Keenan
Hardcover: 274 pages
Tell me more: Life is as much about the decisions we make as those we don't. The authorized biography of Tool lead singer-songwriter Maynard James Keenan (A Perfect Union of Contrary Things) is a story of hard work and good luck, passion and friendships, music and wine beautifully told by author Sarah Jensen. Even those with little knowledge of Tool or A Perfect Circle will want to read this volume cover to cover. The edition includes a number of photos from his childhood and his music career. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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