All About Superstars – New books on Popular Music

Our selection of new books on popular music is all about superstars. It includes Sir Paul McCartney, Tom Jones and the jazz legend Herbie Hancock, and gives you incredible insight into their musical achievements as well as their even more intriguing personal lives. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverConversations with McCartney / Paul du Noyer.
“In June 1989, Paul Du Noyer was contacted by Paul McCartney’s office in London and asked to interview the star as they had met once before and enjoyed a good rapport. In the years that followed, Paul Du Noyer continued to meet, interview and work for Paul McCartney on a regular basis, producing magazine articles, tour programmes, album liner notes, press materials and website editorial. It’s likely that Du Noyer has spent more hours in formal, recorded conversation with McCartney than any other writer. Conversations with McCartney is the culmination of Du Noyer’s long association with McCartney and his music. It draws from their interview sessions across 35 years, coupling McCartney’s own, candid thoughts with his observations and analysis.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKate : inside the rainbow / John Carder Bush.
Kate is a collection of beautiful images from throughout Kate Bush’s career. It includes outtakes from classic album shoots and never-before-seen photographs from The Dreaming and Hounds of Love sessions, and rare candid studio shots and behind-the-scenes stills from video sets. These stunning images will be accompanied by two new essays by John Carder Bush: “From Cathy to Kate”, describing in vibrant detail their shared childhood and the early, whirlwind days of Kate’s career, and “Chasing the Shot”, which vividly evokes John’s experience of photographing his sister. Each of these images forms part of a golden thread that shoots through the visual tapestry of Kate’s remarkable career.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJohnny Marr : the Smiths & the art of gun-slinging / Richard Carman.
“1) This is the world’s first and only biography of Johnny Marr. 2) This year sees the 20th anniversary of the seminal Smiths album, The Queen Is Dead, which will guarantee a high profile for all Smith-s related books and artists. 3) Similar books on Morrissey are proven strong sellers and The Smiths’ fanbase remains fanatical. 4) This title will also appeal to fans of the artists Marr has collaborated with as well as music fans in general.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverHerbie Hancock : possibilities / Herbie Hancock with Lisa Dickey.
“This brilliant memoir looks at musician and composer Hancock, whose life and career spans some seven decades. It reveals the method behind this remarkable jazz performer, from his beginnings as a child prodigy to his work with the Miles Davis Quintet and his later career forming his own band and providing music for films such as Harlem Nights and ‘Round Midnight. Hancock relates anecdotes about his musical influences, his happy marriage, and how Buddhism inspired his music. This book’s message is that people can turn any adversity or struggle into something of value.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverMarianne Faithfull : a life on record / editors, Marianne Faithfull & François Ravard ; introduction, Salman Rushdie ; essays, Will Self & Terry Southern ; creative direction, Marc Ascoli.
“A tribute to the life and work of one of the great musical icons of the twentieth century, reflected through the lenses of the world’s greatest photographers. Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the release in 1964 of her ground-breaking debut single As Tears Go By, this is the definitive book on Faithfull, one of the most beloved singers of the twentieth century.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverOver the top and back / Tom Jones.
“Jones tells of his life and his work as a singer and puts it all in the context of the importance of family. Sure, there are the name checks, including his encounters and relationships with Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Engelbert Humperdinck, Stevie Wonder, and Sting, to name a few, but this book is really all about Jones: what he experienced and felt on the way to superstardom in the 1960s, on through the subsequent waxing and waning of his popularity. The honesty and openness with which Jones shares his life and career make it a must-read.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe universal tone : bringing my story to light / Carlos Santana with Ashley Kahn and Hal Miller.
“An intimate account by the rock music artist traces his hardscrabble youth in Mexico and early days as a promising guitarist through his influential collaborations with fellow Latin stars.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSam Phillips : the man who invented rock ‘n’ roll / Peter Guralnick.
“The author emphasizes Phillips’s contributions to rock and roll’s 1950s emergence in the racially charged South and his personal and professional relationships with not only the many famous singers and musicians who benefited commercially and artistically from his vision, encouragement, and technical skills but also the obscure rockabilly, blues, country, and pop artists who were given an opportunity to express themselves on vinyl. Drawing primarily from new interviews with Sun musicians, family members, and even a few former girlfriends, Guralnick presents a well-told, well-rounded biography of an innovative and influential pop culture pioneer with an unorthodox and oftentimes rocky personal life.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverLee Brilleaux : rock ‘n’ roll gentleman : the adventures of Dr Feelgood’s iconic frontman / Zoë Howe.
“Lee Brilleaux, the uniquely charismatic star of proto-punk R&B reprobates Dr Feelgood, was one of rock’n’roll’s greatest frontmen. But he was also one of its greatest gentlemen – a class act with heart, fire, wanderlust, and a wild streak. Exploding out of Canvey Island in the early 1970s – an age of glam rock, post-hippy folk and pop androgyny – the Feelgoods, with Lee Brilleaux and Wilko Johnson at the helm, charged into London, grabbed the pub rock scene by the throat and sparked a revolutionary new era, proving that you didn’t have to be middle class, wearing the ‘right clothes’ or living in the ‘right place’ to succeed.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSinatra : the chairman / James Kaplan.
“The great singer-actor contains multitudes in this vast, engrossing biography of Frank Sinatra’s mature years. Completing his bestselling Frank: The Voice, Kaplan follows the 17-year span from Sinatra’s Oscar-winning role in 1954’s From Here to Eternity to his (first) retirement in 1971, a period when he was a commanding Hollywood star. Kaplan delves with gusto into Sinatra’s seething contradictions: swagger and insecurity; sensitivity and callousness; deep loneliness amid a perpetual throng of cronies; an omnivorous sexual appetite that encompassed polar opposites Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow; lordly generosity combined with tyrannical control and a violent compulsion to push people around.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

New Books on Popular Music

A lot of fascinating studies have been added to our collection of books on popular music. They include Vinyl : the art of making records (history and current trends of vinyl records) and The song machine (an interesting insight into making hit songs). As always, biographies, including about Grateful Dead and Ronnie Wood offer great reads. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverVinyl : the art of making records / Mike Evans.
“In our increasingly digital world, audiophiles know that the real recording is on vinyl. That’s why sales of vinyl continue to soar. Mike Evans offers a sumptuous visual celebration of this medium’s fascinating history and triumphant rebirth. From weighty 78s to feisty 45s, from eccentric EPs to legendary LPs, he brings vinyl recordings off the shelves and out of the crates.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rap year book : the most important rap song from every year since 1979, discussed, debated, and deconstructed / by Shea Serrano ; foreword by Ice-T ; illustrated by Arturo Torres.
“The Rap Year Book takes readers on a journey that begins in 1979, widely regarded as the moment rap became recognized as part of the cultural and musical landscape, and comes right up to the present. Shea Serrano deftly pays homage to the most important song of each year. The Rap Year Book is both a narrative and illustrated guide to the most iconic and influential rap songs ever created.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover1001 songs you must hear before you die / general editor, Robert Dimery ; preface by Tony Visconti.
“From Tin Pan Alley to the Brill Building, Bob Dylan to Kurt Cobain, and Joni Mitchell to Amy Winehouse, gifted songwriters have crafted a cherished body of music that has become part of our lives. 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die picks through nearly a century of music to bring you an inspiring selection of some of the greatest recordings ever made.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe song machine : inside the hit factory / John Seabrook.Proxy Error
“There’s a reason hit songs offer such guilty pleasure–they’re designed that way. Over the last two decades a new type of hit song has emerged, one that is almost inescapably catchy. Pop songs have always had a “hook,” but today’s songs bristle with them: a hook every seven seconds is the rule. Painstakingly crafted to tweak the brain’s delight in melody, rhythm, and repetition, these songs are highly processed products. Going beyond music to discuss money, business, marketing, and technology, The Song Machine explores what the new hits may be doing to our brains and listening habits, especially as services like Spotify and Apple Music use streaming data to gather music into new genres invented by algorithms based on listener behavior.” (Adapted from book jacket)

Syndetics book coverMagical musical tour : rock and pop in film soundtracks / K.J. Donnelly.
“The popular music industry has become completely interlinked with the film industry. The majority of mainstream films come with ready-attached songs that may or may not appear in the film but nevertheless will be used for publicity purposes and appear on a soundtrack album. In many cases, popular music in films has made for some of the most striking moments in films and the most dramatic aesthetic action in cinema. Kevin Donnelly explores the history of the intimate bond between film and music, from the upheaval that rock’n’roll caused in the mid-1950s to the more technical aspects regarding ‘tracking’ and ‘scoring’.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJazz / John Fordham.
“The jazz paradox: why has an art that has so transformed the world’s music in barely 100 years, remained so widely misunderstood? This book shines light on the subject for those intrigued by its influence and creativity, but also mystified by its occasionally esoteric habits.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Now that’s what I call music book / Pete Selby and Andy Healing.
“Everyone remembers their first NOW!
Each edition of the NOW That’s What I Call Music series captures the essence of the pop charts at that precise moment in music history, striking a chord with music fans since 1983.
Charting the story of NOW through album covers, detailed track listings and interesting trivia about each album all the way up to NOW 91, The NOW That’s What I Call Music Book is the perfect nostalgic gift for music lovers!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bag I’m in : underground music and fashion in Britain 1960-1990 / Sam Knee ; with a foreword by Bobby Gillespie.
“Youth subculture in twentieth-century Britain was a unique phenomenon. Throughout the decades, young people sought to define themselves sartorially, reflecting their identity in terms of regionalism, class and crucially, musical taste, through their clothes. This book is a comprehensive survey of forty-five “tribes” that roamed the streets of Britain from the ’60s to the ’90s. From Mod to Skinhead and Rocker to Rudeboy, the look of each movement is captured in meticulously researched, previously unpublished archive photography. Explanatory texts by Sam Knee as well as an illustrated “look-book” appendix make this an important resource for fashion students, musos and cultural historians.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe B side : the death of Tin Pan Alley and the rebirth of the great American song / Ben Yagoda.Proxy Error
“Everybody knows and loves the American Songbook. But it’s a bit less widely understood that in about 1950, this stream of great songs more or less dried up. All of a sudden, what came over the radio wasn’t Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin, but “Come on-a My House” and “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” Elvis and rock and roll arrived a few years later, and at that point the game was truly up. What happened, and why? In The B Side, acclaimed cultural historian Ben Yagoda answers those questions in a fascinating piece of detective work.” (adapted from publisher’s web site)

Syndetics book coverThis is all a dream we dreamed : an oral history of the Grateful Dead / Blair Jackson and David Gans.
“In This Is All a Dream We Dreamed , two of the most well-respected chroniclers of the Dead, Blair Jackson and David Gans, reveal the bands story through the words of its members, their creative collaborators and peers, and a number of diverse fans, stitching together a multitude of voices into a seamless oral tapestry. You’ll hear stories you haven’t heard before, possibly from voices that may be unfamiliar to you, and the tales that unfold will shed a whole new light on a long and inspiring musical odyssey.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow can it be? : a rock & roll diary / Ronnie Wood ; foreword by Charlie Watts.
“Before he was a Rolling Stone, a Face, or a member of the Jeff Beck Group, Ronnie Wood flew the nest aged just 17 with his first band, the Birds. Featuring cameos by legends such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart and Pete Townshend, Ronnie’s adventures on the road to superstardom were handwritten in his private diary of 1965. Now, celebrating 50 years in rock ‘n’ roll, Ronnie Wood guides us through the pages of his rediscovered journal. With his entertaining new commentary, hand-drawn illustrations, and rare photos and memorabilia, Ronnie’s trip through the Sixties is introduced by his Stones bandmate Charlie Watts. A download code for Ronnie’s accompanying ‘How Can It Be?’ single is included. ‘A chance to witness music history.’ – The Sunday Times” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Who : the official history / Ben Marshall with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.
“The only official history of The Who–created with the full cooperation of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, and spectacularly illustrated with rare photographs and memorabilia–published in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the band’s first album, My Generation, and their celebratory world tour. The Who includes approximately 500 color and black-and-white photos, band and fan memorabilia, and archive material; Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are writing the captions, providing an extra layer to the book; and there is a special pullout feature spreads providing vivid background social history and context.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSugar man : the life, death and resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez / Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman.
“In the summer of 1972, during a compulsory stint in the South African military, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman heard the music that would forever change his life. A decade later, on yet another military base, Craig Bartholomew Strydom heard the same music. It would have a profound effect. Who was this folk singer who resonated with South Africa’s youth? No one could say. All that anyone knew was his name — Rodriguez — and the fact that he had killed himself on stage after reading his own epitaph. After many years of searching in a pre-internet age, Strydom with support from Segerman found the musician not dead but alive and living in seclusion in Detroit. Even more remarkable was the fact that Rodriguez, no longer working as a musician and struggling to eke out a blue-collar existence, had no idea that he had been famous for over 25 years in a remote part of the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOlly Murs : on the road / words by Matt Allen.
“Go backstage with Olly Murs. This official, illustrated book is filled with hundreds of exclusive pictures and tales from behind the scenes of life on the road. This book will show a side to Olly that we have not seen before and provides an in-depth and intimate portrait of one of the UK’s biggest artists filled with intellegence, honesty and humour. With exclusive uncensored access, we learn how Olly copes with being on tour: the preparation, how he deals with the pressure to perform, what it is like being away from his family and friends, how he manages his nerves and lots more. A must for all of Olly’s fans, On The Road is fly-on-the-wall look at his time on the road, and taking you closer to Olly than ever before.” (Syndetics summary)

New Books on Popular Music

New books on popular music feature fascinating inside stories of stars, from the current diva Beyoncé and Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein to rock legends such as Lou Reed and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, and offer a great summer read. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverBecoming Beyoncé : the untold story / J. Randy Taraborrelli.
“Beyoncé Knowles is a woman who began her career at the age of eight performing in pageant shows and talent contests, honing her craft through her teenage years until, at the age of 16, she had her first number one record with Destiny’s Child. That hit-making trio launched Beyoncé’s successful solo career, catapulting her, as of 2014, to #1 on Forbes annual list of most wealthy celebrities–the same year she made the cover of Time. Becoming Beyoncé is not only the story of struggle, sacrifice, and what it takes to make it in the cut-throat record industry, it’s the story of the great rewards of such success and the devastating toll it often takes on the human spirit.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNotes from the Velvet Underground : the life of Lou Reed / Howard Sounes.
“In this in-depth, meticulously researched and very entertaining biography, respected biographer Howard Sounes examines the life and work of this fascinating man, from birth to death, including his time as the leader of The Velvet Underground. Written with a deep knowledge and understanding of the music, Sounes also sheds entirely new light on the artist’s creative process, his mental health problems, his bisexuality, his three marriages, and his addictions to drugs and alcohol. This book brings Lou Reed and his world alive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHunger makes me a modern girl : a memoir / Carrie Brownstein.
“Bookended with sea changes in the life of Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein’s memoir is as much about the band as it is about herself (minus her Portlandia fame). Brownstein flips easily from brainy ruminations on nostalgia, fandom, and record labels to trenchant stories about sexism, music journalism, and how a soy allergy not drugs or alcohol brought her to her knees on tour. Sleater-Kinney fans went nuts late last year when the trio broke their years-long hiatus, and Brownstein’s memoir will give them more to salivate over.” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverFrank & Ava : in love and war / John Brady.
“Their wild affair broke all the rules of the prudish era as Frank left his wife and children and pursued Ava on an international stage. They became romantic renegades, with the press following them from location to location. The love story of this couple has never been fully explored or explained until now. Frank & Ava delves deeply into the lives of these two iconic stars and their turbulent lifelong relationship. More than anything else, this is the story of a romance lived out under battlefield conditions.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFoo Fighters : learning to fly / Mick Wall.
“Everyone from Sir Paul McCartney and Jimmy Page to Queens of the Stone Age now relishes the chance to share a stage with Dave Grohl and his legendary Foo Fighters. With exclusive testimony from true insiders (including Krist Novoselic, Grohl’s bass-playing partner in Nirvana, ex-girlfirends, record company executives, tour photographers and confidantes), this book is an exploration of the real story behind Grohl and the Foo Fighters – the only serious literary biography of the group and its leader, one of the most famous and critically bulletproof rock figures of the 21st century.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnfaithful music & disappearing ink / Elvis Costello.
“This memoir, written entirely by Costello, offers his unique view of his unlikely and sometimes comical rise to international success, with diversions through the previously undocumented emotional foundations of some of his best-known songs and the hits of tomorrow. It features many stories and observations about his renowned cowriters and co-conspirators, though Costello also pauses along the way for considerations of the less appealing side of fame. The idiosyncratic memoir of a singular man, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink is destined to be a classic.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPetty : the biography / Warren Zanes.
“An exhilarating and intimate account of the life of music legend Tom Petty, by an accomplished writer and musician who toured with Petty. This is a book for those who know and love the songs, from “American Girl” and “Refugee” to “Free Fallin'” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and for those who want to see the classic rock and roll era embodied in one man’s remarkable story. Dark and mysterious, Petty manages to come back, again and again, showing us what the music can do and where it can take us.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLong promised road : Carl Wilson, soul of the Beach Boys : the biography / Kent Crowley.
“No life in popular music touched on as many major musical milestones as that of The Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson. While he is often unjustly overlooked as a mere adjunct to his more famous brothers Brian and Dennis, Carl was a major international rock star from his early teens. This major new biography reveals the true story of modern rock’n’roll, lived from the center of the most important decades of popular music.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOn the road with Janis Joplin / John Byrne Cooke.
“From 1967 to 1970, Cooke was the tour manager for Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company, giving him a first-hand view of Joplin’s ascent to stardom, her reaction to fame, and her untimely death from a drug overdose. As someone who worked for and also befriended Joplin, Cooke has a unique perspective, writing both about his own experiences on the road and painting a picture that covers the full spectrum of Joplin’s personality as an artist and a person, as well as the world she lived in. The key to Cooke’s success in writing about such a dynamic character lies in the fact that he, too, is a strong presence.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

1594480184_02___SCMZZZZZZZ_The Wu-Tang manual / the RZA with Chris Norris.
“The enigmatic State Island hip-hop collective offers a definitive introduction to the mysteries and complexities of the Wu-Tang Universe, revealing the intricate web of personalities and alter egos, warrior codes, numerological systems, and Eastern spiritual and philosophical concepts that define their world. Original.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLive wire : Bon Scott : a memoir by three of the people who knew him best / Mary Renshaw, John D’Arcy and Gabby D’Arcy.
“From his early days with The Valentines, through to the rise of AC/DC, Live Wire gives us the real story of what it was like to be Bon Scott’s friend, tour with him, and be part of the close-knit world out of which one of biggest bands of all time emerged. With Bon, there was always sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, but this deeply personal insight also shows the humor, intelligence, and warmth of the man. From dilapidated apartments in inner Melbourne, through to the legendary early years of AC/DC, Live Wire is a revealing portrait of Bon, told by three of the people who knew him best.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJohn Farnham : the untold story / Jane Gazzo.
“John Farnham is nothing less than an Aussie icon. In a career spanning almost five decades, the likeable, charismatic star has entertained countless Australians of every generation, selling millions of records along the way. But his extraordinary story is as much about tackling adversity as it is about topping the charts. Former teen idol, Australian of the Year, the man known across the nation as ‘The Voice’, John Farnham has earned his reputation as a genuine legend of the local entertainment industry.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCan I say : living large, cheating death, and drums, drums, drums / Travis Barker ; with Gavin Edwards.
“Travis Barker’s soul-baring memoir chronicles the highlights and lowlights of the renowned drummer’s art and his life, including the harrowing plane crash that nearly killed him and his traumatic road to recovery–a fascinating never-before-told-in-full story of personal reinvention grounded in musical salvation and fatherhood. His pulsating memoir is as energetic as his acclaimed beats. It brings to a close the first chapters of a well-lived life, inspiring readers to follow the rhythms of their own hearts and find meaning in their lives.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSounds like me : my life (so far) in song / Sara Bareilles.
“Sara Bareilles shares the joys and the struggles that come with creating great work, all while staying true to yourself. Imbued with humor and marked by Sara’s confessional writing style, this collection tells the inside story behind some of her most popular songs. More than a privileged view inside the experience of a remarkable musical talent–this is a moving tribute to the universal search for growth, healing, and self-acceptance.” (Syndetics summary)

New Books on Popular Music

A wide variety of new books on popular music feature the marvellous study of Krautrock (Future Days), which our staff member Neil highly recommends, and Republic or Death offers the unique read about national anthems. Always popular biographies include Eric Clapton, Jewel and Pauly Fuemana. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverFuture days : Krautrock and the building of modern Germany / David Stubbs.
I’m a bit tardy reviewing this and apologies if someone else has beaten me to it, but it takes some time to savour a work like this. A brilliant overview of post-War Germany and its creative evolution, the book shows how the Krautrock cosmic warriors shied away both from the country’s tainted past and the new American cultural imperialism in a determined effort to forge something fresh. The music of the major bands – Can, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Amon Düül, Faust, Cluster, Neu!, etc. – is discussed in detail, and the author summons up the spirit of an age when radical young Germans were throwing off the past and heading bravely towards a new dawn, the echoes are which are still heard today. (Neil)

Syndetics book coverMotherless child : the definitive biography of Eric Clapton / Paul Scott.
“Eric Clapton has achieved the status of bona fide living legend and enduring icon. Now in his sixth decade in the music business, he occupies an exulted position at the pinnacle of the rock world thanks to songs like Layla , Wonderful Tonight and Tears In Heaven, and for many is considered the greatest guitarist who ever lived. This book will chart his rise to stardom in the 60s and his unparalleled success since walking out of the Yardbirds as a 20-year-old to follow his chosen path of the blues with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and later with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in supergroup Cream, as well as his successful solo career. This is essential reading for any Clapton fan.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI’ll never write my memoirs / Grace Jones as told to Paul Morley.
“Born in 1948 into a family of ministers in Kingston, Jamaica, the statuesque and strikingly beautiful Grace Jones lived with her family in Syracuse, NY, before launching a career as a model in New York City. She is as known for her unique look as she is for her music and has influenced the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Annie Lennox. In the book, Grace takes us on a journey from her religious upbringing in Jamaica to her heyday in Paris and New York in the 70s and 80s, all the way to present-day London, where she is working on a new album.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNever broken : songs are only half the story / Jewel.
“When Jewel’s first album, Pieces of You, topped the charts in 1995, her emotional voice and vulnerable performance were groundbreaking. Drawing comparisons to Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, a singer-songwriter of her kind had not emerged in decades. Now, with more than thirty million albums sold worldwide, Jewel tells the story of her life, and the lessons learned from her experience and her music. She writes lyrically about the natural wonders of Alaska, about pain and loss, about the healing power of motherhood, and about discovering her own identity years after the entire world had discovered the beauty of her songs.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow bizarre : Pauly Fuemana and the song that stormed the world / Simon Grigg.
“Pauly Fuemana of the group Ōtara Millionaires Club (OMC) was the charismatic singer and creator, with producer Alan Jansson, of the hit record How Bizarre. After the record’s release in 1995 it stormed to number one in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and European countries and Fuemana appeared twice on Britain’s top-rated TV show Top of the Pops. Despite the song’s phenomenal success, Fuemana was deeply troubled and found fame hard to handle. His friend, mentor and music publisher Simon Grigg gives a riveting blow-by-blow account of the singer’s life and the song’s beginnings, runaway success, and effect on Fuemana and the people around him. Along the way there are fascinating and often shocking insights into the ruthlessness of the music industry. This is an inside story never told before.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark days : a memoir / D. Randall Blythe.
“Lamb of god vocalist D. Randall Blythe finally tells the whole incredible story of his arrest, incarceration, trial, and acquittal for manslaughter in the Czech Republic over the tragic and accidental death of a concertgoer in this riveting, gripping, biting, bold, and brave memoir. Blythe is a natural storyteller and his voice drips with cutting humor, endearing empathy, and soulful insight. Much more than a tour diary or a prison memoir, Dark Days is D. Randall Blythe’s own story about what went down–before, during, and after–told only as he can.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAC/DC : the story of the original monsters of rock / Jerry Ewing.
AC/DC tells the story of the world’s biggest band. All of its members are analysed and tracked such as the Young brothers and the late, great Bon Scott. This definitive AC/DC experience pores over every album the band ever released, from 1974’s groundbreaking High Voltage through 2008’s monster Black Ice.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverElectric shock : from the gramophone to the iPhone – 125 years of pop music / Peter Doggett.
“Ambitious and groundbreaking, Electric Shock tells the story of popular music, from the birth of recording in the 1890s to the digital age, from the first pop superstars of the twentieth century to the omnipresence of music in our lives, in hit singles, ringtones and on Spotify. Over that time, popular music has transformed the world in which we live. Peter Doggett takes us on a rollercoaster ride through the history of music. Within a narrative full of anecdotes and characters, Electric Shock mixes musical critique with wider social and cultural history and shows how revolutionary changes in technology have turned popular music into the lifeblood of the modern world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRepublic or death! : travels in search of national anthems / Alex Marshall.
“There are a couple of hundred songs that are sung by millions across the world each day, that school children know by heart and sports fans belt out perfectly even after eight beers. And they aren’t pop songs – they are national anthems. These are songs which inspire the fiercest of feelings: for some they are a declaration of nationalistic pride; for others a rallying cry for revolution; and for others still they serve as a shameful reminder of past wrongs. And yet, despite the fact that for many of us they form a fundamental part of our national consciousness, the fascinating stories underlying the creation and adoption of each national anthem have rarely, if ever, been told.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe land where the blues began / Alan Lomax.
“A self-described “song-hunter,” the folklorist Alan Lomax traveled the Mississippi Delta in the 1930’s and ’40s, armed with primitive recording equipment and a keen love of the Delta’s music heritage. Crisscrossing the towns and hamlets where the blues began, Lomax gave voice to such greats as Leadbelly, Fred MacDowell, Muddy Waters, and many others, all of whom made their debut recordings with him. The Land Where the Blues Began captures the irrepressible energy of soul of people who changed American musical history.” (Syndetics summary)

Stories They Tell – New Books on Popular Music

Rock legends always have stories to tell. New books on popular music this month feature fascinating real stories about incredible artists such as The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, the one-of-a-kind artist Robert Wyatt and Kanye West. Amy Winehouse is the latest musician who joined the infamous ‘27 club’, named after the fact that many superstars (Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison. Kurt Cobain etc.) died at the age of 27, and Dead god$: the 27 club offers a unique read. There are a lot more. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverReckless : my life as a Pretender / Chrissie Hynde
“Chrissie Hynde, for nearly four decades the singer/songwriter/ undisputed leader of the Pretenders, is a justly legendary figure. Few other rock stars have managed to combine her swagger, sexiness, stage presence, knack for putting words to music, gorgeous voice and just all-around kick-assedness into such a potent and alluring package. Now, in her no-holds-barred memoir Reckless, Chrissie Hynde tells, with all the fearless candor, sharp humor and depth of feeling we’ve come to expect, exactly where she came from and what her crooked, winding path to stardom entailed. Her mesmerizing presence radiates from every line and page of this book.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDifferent every time : the authorised biography of Robert Wyatt / Marcus O’Dair.
“Robert Wyatt started out as the drummer and singer for Soft Machine, who shared a residency at Middle Earth with Pink Floyd and toured America with Jimi Hendrix. He brought a Bohemian and jazz outlook to the 60s rock scene, having honed his drumming skills in a shed at the end of Robert Graves’ garden in Mallorca. His life took an abrupt turn after he fell from a fourth-floor window at a party and was paralysed from the waist down. He reinvented himself as a singer and composer with the extraordinary album ‘Rock Bottom’, and in the early eighties his solo work was increasingly political. Today, Wyatt remains perennially hip, guesting with artists such as Bjork, Brian Eno, Scritti Politti, David Gilmour and Hot Chip. Marcus O’Dair has talked to all of them, indeed to just about everyone who has shaped, or been shaped by, Wyatt over five decades of music history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKanye West : god & monster / Mark Beaumont.
“Featuring quotes from all of the major players in Kanye’s life, Kanye West: God And Monster traces his life from the suburbs of Chicago through art school and rap apprenticeships to recording in the coolest studios of New York and Hawaii with the biggest names in music, revolutionising hip-hop at every step of the way. It documents every rumour and revelation, details the wildest extravagances and biggest ego blow-ups of this true rap original. Exploring his life, music and controversies like never before, Kanye West: God And Monster is the ultimate profile of this legendary pop culture titan.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn search of Pharrell Williams / Paul Lester.
“First substantial overview of the life and career of Pharrell Williams, the foremost producer of the modern era, and performer in his own right. It follows him from his days growing up in Virginia, his meeting with musical partner Chad Hugo and formation of The Neptunes, through his collaborations with the great and the good of pop, rap and R&B, including Jay-Z, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Nelly and Kelis. It assesses his ground-breaking work with the radical rap-rock-pop band N*E*R*D, and his emergence as a solo superstar. It delves behind the immaculate facade to find out what makes Williams one of the most driven and inventive musicians of the last 20 years.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTragedy : the sad ballad of the Gibb brothers / Jeff Apter.
“The rise and fall of the brothers Gibb is perhaps the greatest saga in Australian, even world, music history. As ubiquitous as the falsetto harmonies, flares and multi-platinum record sales were the tragedies: the highs, the lows, the highs again. And then the brothers fell, one by one. Not long before his death, Robin made it clear that he believed the Gibbs had been forced to pay the highest possible cost for their success. ‘All the tragedies my family has suffered . . . is a kind of karmic price we are paying for all the fame and fortune we’ve had.’ This is the story of all four brothers’ incredible careers, lives and influence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDead god$ : the 27 club / Chris Salewicz.
“Robert Johnson. Brian Jones. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. They were inspirational, controversial, talismanic and innovative. They lead lives full of myth, scandal, sex, drugs and some of the most glorious music that has ever heard. Though each of their lives were cut tragically short at the age of 27, they would all leave the world having changed it irrevocably. Chris Salewicz tells, in intimate detail, the stories behind these compelling figures.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDown under / Trevor Conomy.
“‘Down Under’ made Men at Work the biggest band on the planet in the early 1980s. The band split soon after, but ‘Down Under’ never stopped working. It became an unofficial national anthem, and was as unstoppable as the fried-out Kombi of its opening line. Decades later, ABC’s Spicks and Specks innocently revealed a similarity between the song’s flute riff and an old nursery rhyme about a laughing Kookaburra. It sparked an epic legal stoush that shook the music world and will forever be associated with tragedy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKris Kristofferson : country highwayman / Mary G. Hurd.
“Singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson has maintained a career in music and film for more than forty years. He was the oldest son in a military family that planned for him to continue the tradition of military service, but he resigned his commission to pursue a career in songwriting. In Kris Kristofferson: Country Highwayman, Mary G. Hurd surveys the life and works of this highly respected American songwriter. For many, Kristofferson’s songs remain the gold standard of modern songwriters, and Kris Kristofferson follows the commitment to freedom of expression that has characterized his songwriting and struggles with the music industry.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRock, a life story : the illustrated encyclopedia of albums, artists and great songs / foreword by Brian May.
“This is the ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day. Rock is the enduring sound of music, once just the preserve of the rebellious young, now the rock gods of the 60s and 70s are still playing, to both their old audiences and new generations of avid fans. Divided into eras, from Roots, through the Sixties and Seventies to the Noughties, learn about the development of rock, the key artists, albums, inspirations and legacies. This brilliant new book offers a glorious slice of rock, the story of our lives, for fans of The Who, The Sex Pistols, Led Zep, Muse, Radiohead, Jack White and more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBritish pop invasion : how British music conquered the world in the 1960s / edited by Alan J. Whiticker.
“The Beatles paved the way for countless British bands and performers to find international success during the 1960s, taking the US charts by storm and charming a generation of baby boomers in the process. The British Pop Invasion is a photographic record of that era using hundreds of rare Daily Mirror images, many of them unpublished or locked away for decades, in a hardcover book. At more than 300 pages, this book is a must for baby boomers of the period, music lovers of any age and pop culture historians.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLouder than hell : the definitive oral history of metal / Jon Wiederhorn & Katherine Turman.
Louder Than Hell is the definitive oral history of heavy metal, crafted from more than four hundred interviews with icons of the genre from its inception to today, including Ozzy Osbourne, Eddie Van Halen, Tommy Lee, Lars Ulrich, Vince Neil, Axl Rose, Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Dimebag Darrell. From groundbreaking innovations such as the dawn of distortion and the birth of cookie monster vocals to amazing tales of destruction and wild sexcapades, Louder Than Hell is packed with raw, unflinching stories, eye-opening admissions, and the truth behind some of metal’s wildest moments.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIt’s one for the money : the song snatchers who carved up a century of pop & sparked a musical revolution / Clinton Heylin.
“A cross between Hollywood Babylon and The Hitmen, It’s One For The Money rips the lid off Pop’s own Pandora box and explicates just what it is that makes the world of sound go round in song publishing.” (Syndetics summary)

New Books on popular music in September

From fantastic photography of pre-famous Bob Dylan to fascinating memoirs by Ringo Starr and John Lydon, to handy guitar instruction books, new books on popular music, once again, offer a great read. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverBob Dylan : NYC 1961-1964 / photography by Ted Russell with Chris Murray ; foreword by Donovan.
“It was in late 1961, photographer Ted Russell recalls, that he first heard about an “up-and-coming young fellow who was coming out with his first album.” A freelance photographer on the lookout for good subjects, Russell was intrigued by a rave review from The New York Times of the raw-voiced folk singer. Russell’s subject was a twenty-year-old Bob Dylan, a young folk singer whom nobody knew, and Russell photographed Dylan in 1961. The book contains photos of Dylan in his tiny Greenwich Village apartment, writing and practicing; snuggling with girlfriend Suze Rotolo; and performing at celebrated folk club Gerde’s.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverRingo : with a little help / Michael Seth Starr.
With a Little Help is the first in-depth biography of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, who kept the beat for an entire generation and who remains a rock icon over fifty years since the Beatles took the world by storm. With a Little Help traces the entire arc of Ringo’s remarkable life and career, from his sickly childhood to his life as The World’s Most Famous drummer to his triumphs, addictions, and emotional battles following the breakup of the Beatles as he comes to terms with his legacy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnger is an energy : my life uncensored / John Lydon with Andrew Perry.
“John Lydon has secured prime position as one of the most recognizable icons in the annals of music history. As Johnny Rotten, he was the lead singer of the Sex Pistols – the world’s most notorious band. With his next band, Public Image Ltd (PiL) Lydon expressed an equally urgent impulse in his make-up – the constant need to reinvent himself, to keep moving. From their beginnings in 1978 he set the groundbreaking template for a band that continues to challenge and thrive in the 2010s. The book will be a fresh and mature look back on a life full of incident from his beginnings as a sickly child of immigrant Irish parents who grew up in post-war London, to his present status as a vibrant, alternative national hero.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfter the dance : my life with Marvin Gaye / Jan Gaye with David Ritz.
“A riveting cautionary tale about the ecstasy and dangers of loving Marvin Gaye, a performer passionately pursued by all—and a searing memoir of drugs, sex, and old school R&B from the wife of legendary soul icon Marvin Gaye. Primarily silent since Marvin’s tragic death in 1984, Jan at last opens up, sharing the moving, fervently charged story of one of music history’s most fabled marriages. Unsparing in its honesty and insight, illustrated with sixteen pages of black-and-white photos, After the Dance reveals what it’s like to be in love with a creative genius who transformed popular culture and whose artistry continues to be celebrated today.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverConfessions of a heretic / Adam Nergal Darski with Mark Eglinton and Krzysztof Azarewicz & Piotr Weltrowski ; foreword by D. Randall Blythe (Lamb of God).
“Rebellion is a part of youth. Sometimes it’s dangerous. Instead of a sword, I hold a guitar in my hands. I’m in the same, rigid world but instead of Molotov cocktails, I’ve got a computer. It’s a much more powerful weapon.”
Confessions Of A Heretic is the forthright and erudite memoir of the front man and driving force behind the Polish heavy-metal group Behemoth, currently at the top of their game following the release of their 2014 US Top 40 album “The Satanist”. Presented as a series of interrogations by friends and associates, the book reveals a complex man of great contrast–a health-conscious, highly personable intellectual known for his extreme views and even more extreme music.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYour band sucks : what I saw at indie rock’s failed revolution (but can no longer hear) / Jon Fine.
“Jon Fine spent nearly thirty years performing and recording with bands that played various forms of aggressive and challenging underground rock music, and, as he writes in this memoir, at no point were any of those bands “ever threatened, even distantly, by actual fame.” In it, Fine tracks how the indie-rock underground emerged and evolved, how it grappled with the mainstream and vice versa, and how it led many bands to an odd rebirth in the 21st Century in which they reunited, briefly and bittersweetly, after being broken up for decades. Like Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Your Band Sucks is a unique evocation of a particular aesthetic moment.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverX (songbook)/ Ed Sheeran.
“The sophomore album from this Grammy Award-nominated British singer shot to #1 on the Billboard 200 Album charts. Our folio features guitar arrangements of all 16 tracks from the album, including the hot single “Sing” plus: Afire Love * Bloodstream * Don’t * Even My Dad Does Sometimes * I’m a Mess * The Man * One * Photograph * Runaway * Thinking Out Loud * and more.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverGirl / Pharrell Williams.
“(Piano/Vocal/Guitar Artist Songbook). Grammy Award winning producer and artist Pharrell released this, his second solo album, in 2014. Featuring the mega-hit “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 , the album reached as high as #2 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. Our matching folio includes all the tracks from the CD: Brand New (featuring Justin Timberlake) * Come Get It Bae * Gush * Gust of Wind * Happy * Hunter * It Girl * Lost Queen * Marilyn Monroe * Know Who You Are (featuring Alicia Keys).” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover15 Disney vocal duets from the stage and screen : for two voices and piano accompaniment.
“(Vocal Duet). A selection of 15 original duets from classic through contemporary Disney films and Broadway stage musicals. For various voice combinations and printed in original keys. Includes: Can You Feel the Love Tonight * Feed the Birds * I See the Light * Love Is an Open Door * No Matter What * Something There * Sweet Child * A Whole New World * and more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPlay better guitar in ten minutes a day / Phil Capone.
“How often should I practice? And what should I work on? These are the two questions that guitar students will ask more often than anything else related to learning to play. This book provides the answers, with a set of quick and efficient workout routines for learner guitarists who want to get the most out of their practice time. It includes a unique ‘Workout Builder’ that allows readers to create their own custom-built routines for picking hand, fretting hand, fretboard fluency, or any combination of the three-at varying degrees of skill level as they progress.Pitched as the beginner guitarist’s second book, following these regular practice sessions of just 10 minutes each day will give players real improvements in a matter of just a few weeks.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverLearn how to play the acoustic guitar : a complete practical guide with 750 step-by-step photographs, illustrations and musical exercises / Ted Fuller.
“Acoustic guitars are very popular with beginners, and this book will help musicians to master the instrument, from buying the right guitar and learning the necessary chords to trying out advanced techniques. It introduces the different genres of music played using the guitar, such as blues, country, jazz, classical and flamenco, and features a helpful chordfinder to help you understand the guitarist’s basic vocabulary.With expert step-by-step instructions from professional guitarists, 300 chords and over 750 photographs and musical exercises, this comprehensive manual is a must for anyone interested in learning this universally loved instrument.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBrazilian guitar / by Carlos Arana.
“Everything you need to know to learn Brazilian guitar. This book uses popular Brazilian songs to teach you the basics of the Brazilian guitar style and technique. Learn to play in the styles of Joao Gilberto, Luiz Bonfa, Baden Powell, Dino Sete Cordas, Joao Basco, and many others. Songs include: Aquarela Brasileira * Chega De Saudade (No More Blues) * Desafinado * O Barquinho * Song of the Jet (Samba do Aviao) * and more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJazz improvisation for guitar : a melodic approach / Garrison Fewell ; edited by Susan Gedutis Lindsay.
“Melodies based on triads and melodic extensions sound more natural and musical than ones developed exclusively from scales. Triads, the fundamental building blocks of harmony, are a simple and effective remedy for scale dependency in improvisation. In Jazz Improvisation for Guitar: A Melodic Approach, explore the potential of triads and their melodic extensions and learn to connect them using guide tones. You’ll learn to create solo phrases in the style of some of the world’s finest jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, and Pat Martino.” (Syndetics summary)

New Books on Popular Music

Check out our exciting new books on popular music. They include How music got free which is the intriguing study of digital music industry today, and In the all-night café in which Stuart David, co-founder of musical collective Belle and Sebastian, tells all about their early days. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverHow music got free : the end of an industry, the turn of the century, and the patient zero of piracy / Stephen Witt.
“Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet. Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online — when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry–it’s a must-read history of the Internet itself.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe first collection of criticism by a living female rock critic / Jessica Hopper.
“Jessica Hopper’s music criticism has earned her a reputation as a firebrand, a keen observer and fearless critic not just of music but the culture around it. With this volume spanning from her punk fanzine roots to her landmark piece on R. Kelly’s past, The First Collection leaves no doubt why The New York Times has called Hopper’s work “influential.” Not merely a selection of two decades of Hopper’s most engaging, thoughtful, and humorous writing, this book documents the last 20 years of American music making and the shifting landscape of music consumption. Through this vastrange of album reviews, essays, columns, interviews, and oral histories, Hopper chronicles what it is to be truly obsessed with music.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRockwiz decades : the greatest songs of our time / Toby Creswell.
“Rockwiz Decades is a comprehensive guide to, and documentation of, the best songs of each decade dating as far back as the 1950s. Author Toby Creswell reminds us of the great songs that the last 65 years have offered us, delving into the untold stories behind some of the best songs of all time_from Bob Dylan to Joan Baez, Pulp to Leonard Cohen, Pet Shop Boys to Beach Boys to Beyonce_no rolling stone is left unturned.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn the all-night café : a memoir of Belle and Sebastian’s formative year / Stuart David.
“”One afternoon in 1994, I had an idea.” So begins Stuart David’s charming, evocative memoir about the indie pop band Belle and Sebastian. Determined to make his living writing stories and songs, Stuart had spent several years scraping by on the dole in his small, industrial hometown. Then he had the fateful idea to learn bass guitar, and to head for Glasgow in search of likeminded artists. In the All-Night Café describes his fortuitous meeting with the group’s cofounder Stuart Murdoch in a course for unemployed musicians. It tells of their adventures in two early incarnations of Belle and Sebastian and culminates in the recording of their celebrated debut album, Tigermilk . This portrait of the group and its origins will resonate with anyone who has put together–or thought of putting together–a band.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeing Conchita : we are unstoppable / as told to Daniel Oliver Bachmann.
“With the song “Rise Like a Phoenix,” Thomas Neuwirth–better known to the world as Conchita Wurst–stormed to victory in 2014’s Eurovision Song Contest. The bearded drag queen’s winning words, “We are unity and we are unstoppable,” were a pointed riposte to overt Russian hostility and Eastern European homophobia, and a watershed moment for LGBT campaigners. Her victory stirred massive support right across the continent in the gay community and beyond, and Conchita’s inspirational book will undoubtedly attract that same support and goodwill. This is Conchita’s full story from rural childhood to recording artist, Gaultier Couture model and cultural icon.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe big midweek : life inside The Fall / Steve Hanley and Olivia Piekarski.
“The first insider’s account of life inside seminal British rock band, The Fall. Hanley’s story unfolds like a novel; from 1979 when he joined The Fall with his schoolmates Marc Riley and Craig Scanlon, up to and including an infamous on-stage fight.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPsychedelic bubble gum : Boyce & Hart, the Monkees, and turning mayhem into miracles / Bobby Hart with Glenn Ballantyne.
“From the man who wrote the songs that outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in 1967-1968, comes the story of the first decades of his life in Hollywood and New York . Immerse yourself in Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Award nominated songwriter Bobby Hart’s world as he shares the story behind his success; from humble beginnings comes a musical goliath. Psychedelic Bubble Gum is a rollercoaster ride through the 1960s and 1970s during America’s whirlwind era of free speech, mysticism, and psychedelic pop culture , and, of course, rock ‘n’ roll.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAllen Klein : the man who bailed out the Beatles, made the Stones, and transformed rock & roll / Fred Goodman.
“The story of notorious manager Allen Klein, revealing new, behind-the-scenes details about some of the biggest rock bands in history Allen Klein was like no one the music industry had seen before. The hard-nosed business manager became infamous for allegedly catalyzing the Beatles’ breakup and robbing the Rolling Stones, but the truth is both more complex and more fascinating. As the manager of the Stones and then the Beatles–not to mention Sam Cooke, Donovan, the Kinks, and numerous other performers–he taught young soon-to-be legends how to be businessmen as well as rock stars.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMusical wit : quips and quotes for musicians and music lovers / with text contributed by Vicky Edwards ; illustrations by Kath Walker.
“Whether you’re a regular Rolling Stone or bananas about Beethoven, this cacophony of quips and quotes will have your ears ringing with laughter. Perfect for when you’ve hit too many bum notes and need a little harmony.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageNice work if you can get it : notes from a musician’s diary / Don Franks.
Tales from a NZ musician. Don has played at restaurants, dances, pubs, festivals, weddings and funerals. He’s taught music in schools, night classes, prisons, and to private students. He’s performed at protests and picket lines and recorded two albums of his protest songs. Don produces a weekly Access Radio programme of music and social commentary.

Image from Steele RobertsJack! : celebrating Jack Body, composer / edited by Jennifer Shennan, Gillian Whitehead & Scilla Askew.
Internationally renowned composer and ethnomusicologist Jack Body is 70 — celebrate his birthday and unswerving commitment to New Zealand music with this beautiful volume. Featuring more than 120 contributions, Jack! is an astounding collection of memories, photos, paintings, art and music from friends and colleagues such as Vincent Ward, Slamet A Sjukur, Geoff Chapple, Martin Lodge, Tan Dun, Charles Te Ahukaramu Royal, Gao Ping, Ian Wedde, Gareth Farr, Budi Putra, Jose Evangelista and Richard Nunns. Woven between the stories is a transcript of Jack’s comprehensive Radio NZ ‘Composer of the Week’ interview with Elizabeth Kerr. A must for lovers of contemporary New Zealand music.

New Books on Popular Music

Along with biographies, new books on popular music this month offer something unique. How to write about music is essential for those who want to be a music writer whereas The concise guide to hip-hop music offers everything you should know about hip-hop music. As always, a number of biographies have arrived on our shelves which include Billie Holiday (2015 is the centennial of her birth), Neil Young and Alex Chilton. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverHow to write about music : excerpts from the 33 1/3 series, magazines, books and blogs with advice from industry-leading writers / edited by Marc Woodworth and Ally-Jane Grossan.
“How to Write About Music offers a selection of the best writers on what is perhaps our most universally beloved art form. Selections from the critically-acclaimed 33 1/3 series appear alongside new interviews and insights from authors like Lester Bangs, Chuck Klosterman, Owen Pallet, Ann Powers and Alex Ross. How to Write About Music includes primary sources of inspiration from a variety of go-to genres such as the album review, the personal essay, the blog post and the interview along with tips, writing prompts and advice from the writers themselves. How to Write About Music is an invaluable text for all those who have ever dreamed of getting their music writing published and a pleasure for everyone who loves to read about music.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe concise guide to hip-hop music : a fresh look at the art of hip-hop, from old-school beats to freestyle rap / Paul Edwards.
“In 1973, the music scene was forever changed by the emergence of hip-hop. Masterfully blending the rhythmic grooves of funk and soul with layered beats and chanted rhymes, artists such as DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash paved the way for an entire new genre and generation of musicians. In this comprehensive, accessible guide, Paul Edwards breaks down the difference between old school and new school, recaps the biggest influencers of the genre, and sets straight the myths and misconceptions of the artists and their music. Fans old and new alike will all learn something new about the history and development of hip-hop, from its inception up through the current day, in The Concise Guide to Hip-Hop Music.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBillie Holiday : the musician and the myth / John Szwed.
“When Billie Holiday stepped into Columbia’s studios in November 1933, it marked the beginning of what is arguably the most remarkable and influential career in twentieth-century popular music. Her voice weathered countless shifts in public taste, and new reincarnations of her continue to arrive, most recently in the form of singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele. Most of the writing on Holiday has focused on the tragic details of her life—her prostitution at the age of fourteen, her heroin addiction and alcoholism, her series of abusive relationships—or tried to correct the many fabrications of her autobiography. But now, Billie Holiday stays close to the music, to her performance style, and to the self she created and put into print, on record and on stage.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverNaked at the Albert Hall : the inside story of singing / Tracey Thorn.
“In her bestselling autobiography Bedsit Disco Queen , Tracey Thorn recalled the highs and lows of a thirty-year career in pop music. But with the touring, recording and extraordinary anecdotes, there wasn’t time for an in-depth look at what she actually did for all those years: sing. She sang with warmth and emotional honesty, sometimes while battling acute stage-fright. Part memoir, part wide-ranging exploration of the art, mechanics and spellbinding power of singing, Naked at the Albert Hall takes in Dusty Springfield, Dennis Potter and George Eliot; Auto-tune, the microphone and stage presence; The Streets and The X Factor. It offers a unique, witty and sharply observed insider’s perspective on the exhilarating joy and occasional heartache of singing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYoung Neil : the Sugar Mountain years / Sharry Wilson.
“Young Neil is a detailed chronological narrative of the early life of iconic Canadian musician Neil Young. Exploring a time in this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s life that has yet to be documented with such depth of research, Young Neil is an exhaustive document of his “Sugar Mountain” years, from 1945 to 1966. From his birth in Toronto through his school years in Florida, Ontario, and Manitoba, the book examines the development of Young’s unique talent against a backdrop of shifting postwar values, a turbulent family history, and a musical revolution in the making. Includes many previously unseen photos, memorabilia, and set lists.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTom Jones : the life / by Sean Smith.
“From bestselling biographer Sean Smith comes the fascinating and tumultuous true story behind Sir Tom Jones, the nation’s treasure, sage of The Voice and living music legend. Now approaching his 75th birthday, Tom Jones’ life has been an unforgettable rollercoaster ride. From starting out in a little Welsh mining town where he married his sweetheart at just 16, who could have known that seven years later he would go on to become a major musical hit that would propel him to Bel Air? Through intimate interviews, Smith uncovers all this and more, including the years Tom spent as little more than a Vegas lounge singer, before being rediscovered in the late ’80s and becoming a maestro on the music scene once again. As revealing as it is entertaining, this is the definitive story of a great talent who is showing no signs of slowing down.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last balladeer : the Johnny Hartman story / Gregg Akkerman.
“Just after recording with John Coltrane in 1963, baritone singer Johnny Hartman (1923 1983) told a family member that something special occurred in the studio that day. He was right the album, containing definitive readings of Lush Life and My One and Only Love, resides firmly in the realm of iconic; forever enveloping listeners in the sounds of romance. In The Last Balladeer, author Gregg Akkerman skillfully reveals not only the intimate details of that album but the life-long achievements and occasional missteps of Hartman as an African-American artist dedicated to his craft. In the first full-length biography and discography to chronicle the rhapsodic life and music of Johnny Hartman, the author completes a previously missing dimension of vocal-jazz history by documenting Hartman as the balladeer who crooned his way into so many hearts.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRock & roll’s hidden giant : the story of rock pioneer Charlie Gracie / Charlie Gracie with John A. Jackson.
“Charlie Gracie’s hit song “Butterfly” topped the American and British music charts in 1957, selling over three million copies. Charlie was part of the birth of rock & roll, and his unique style influenced some of the most important artists in rock history, including The Beatles, Cliff Richard, Van Morrison, and countless others. Rock & Roll’s Hidden Giant uncovers Charlie’s inspiring story, tracing his rise to the top of the charts through to his fall from fame. From his upbringing on the streets of Philadelphia to the tragic death of his friend Eddie Cochran to experiencing the dark side of Dick Clark and the early days of the music industry, we learn that Charlie’s unfaltering integrity and talent were the constant guides in his life. Rock history would not be the same without Charlie Gracie, and this remarkable, uplifting account is essential for all fans of rock & roll.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA man called destruction : the life and music of Alex Chilton, from Box Tops to Big Star to backdoor man / Holly George-Warren.
“A brilliant and influential songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, the charismatic Alex Chilton was more than a rock star; he was a true cult icon. Award winning music writer Holly George-Warren’s book is the first biography of this enigmatic artist, who died in 2010. Covering Chilton’s life from his early work with the chart-topping Box Tops and the seminal power-pop band Big Star to his experiments with punk and roots music and his sprawling solo career, this is the story of a musical icon and a richly detailed chronicle of pop music’s evolution.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeal : my three decades of drumming, dreams, and drugs with the Grateful Dead / Bill Kreutzmann with Benjy Eisen.
“The Grateful Dead are perhaps the most legendary American rock band of all time. For thirty years, beginning in the hippie scene of San Francisco in 1965, they were a musical institution, the original jam band that broke new ground in so many ways. Bill Kreutzmann, one of their founding members and drummer for every one of their over 2,300 concerts has written an unflinching and wild account of playing in the greatest improvisational band of all time. Everything a rock music fan would expect is here, but what sets this apart is Bill’s incredible life of adventure that was at the heart of the Grateful Dead experience. Bill’s life is a chronicle of American music and pop culture history and his epic personal journey is one of sonic discovery and thrilling experiences.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJourney to the centre of the Cramps / Dick Porter.
“Based upon work and materials compiled for the acclaimed and now much sought after 2007 Cramps biography A Short History of Rock’n’Roll Psychosis, Journey To The Centre Of The Cramps goes far beyond being a revised and updated edition” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBowie on Bowie : interviews and encounters with David Bowie / edited by Sean Egan.
“Bowie on Bowie presents some of the best interviews David Bowie has granted in his near five-decade career. Each featured interview traces a new step in his unique journey, successively freezing him in time in all of his various incarnations, from a young novelty hit-maker and Ziggy Stardust to plastic soul player, 1980s sell-out, and the artistically reborn and beloved elder statesman of challenging popular music. In all of these iterations he is remarkably articulate and also preternaturally polite as almost every interviewer remarks upon his charm. The features in this book come from outlets both prestigious– Melody Maker, MOJO, New Musical Express, Q, Rolling Stone — and less well-known–t he Drummer, Guitar, Ikon, Mr. Showbiz –but no matter the renown of the magazine, newspaper, or website, Bowie lets us approach the nerve center of his notoriously creative output.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMr Mojo : a biography of Jim Morrison / Dylan Jones.
“In Paris’s Père-Lachaise cemetery, Jim Morrison’s graffiti-scrawled tombstone is a place of pilgrimage for local devotees, adolescent hedonists and wayward backpackers alike. Found dead in his bathtub aged only 27 having achieved worldwide stardom as lead singer of The Doors, Morrison was quickly immortalised amongst the rock and roll deity such as Hendrix and Joplin. In death, however, this debauched ‘rock poet’ remained more stubbornly enigmatic than ever. In this colourful and intimate biography, Dylan Jones strips bare the skin-tight leather suit of Jim Morrison’s Lizard King persona, and offers a frank and honest appraisal of a much beloved and often-romanticised counter-cultural icon. Mr Mojo is littered with little-known anecdotes from fellow stars, spurned lovers and industry moguls. It is a refreshingly honest portrait of a self-indulgent artist with a penchant for pageantry and public self-destruction.” (adapted from

Jack! : celebrating Jack Body, composer / edited by Jennifer Shennan, Gillian Whitehead & Scilla Askew.
“Internationally renowned composer and ethnomusicologist Jack Body is 70 — celebrate his birthday and unswerving commitment to New Zealand music with this beautiful volume. Featuring more than 120 contributions, Jack! is an astounding collection of memories, photos, paintings, art and music from friends and colleagues such as Vincent Ward, Slamet A Sjukur, Geoff Chapple, Martin Lodge, Tan Dun, Charles Te Ahukaramu Royal, Gao Ping, Ian Wedde, Gareth Farr, Budi Putra, Jose Evangelista and Richard Nunns. Woven between the stories is a transcript of Jack’s comprehensive Radio NZ ‘Composer of the Week’ interview with Elizabeth Kerr. A must for lovers of contemporary New Zealand music.”(Syndetics summary)

New Books on Popular Music

New books on popular music this month highlight great stories about ever popular Ed Sheeran, the Falls and Kate Bush. Also, unique studies on the legendary albums such as Can’s Tago Mago and Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson from popular 33 1/3 series, which give deep insight into the rock music masterpieces, have been added. Check them out.

Syndetics book coverEd Sheeran : a visual journey / by Ed Sheeran x Phillip Butah.
“Ed Sheeran is the soulful singer-songwriter from England who has captivated American audiences. With words by Ed Sheeran and illustrations by his childhood friend, artist Phillip Butah (who produces artwork for Sheeran’s albums and singles), and accompanying photos, Ed Sheeran: A Visual Journey is an exclusive, fully authorized, first-person account by Ed of how he became an internationally renowned singer-songwriter. The book reveals what drives and inspires Ed as he continues to evolve as an artist, while coping with stratospheric success.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe big midweek : life inside The Fall / Steve Hanley and Olivia Piekarski.
“The first insider’s account of life inside seminal British rock band, The Fall. Hanley’s story unfolds like a novel; from 1979 when he joined The Fall with his schoolmates Marc Riley and Craig Scanlon, up to and including an infamous on-stage fight.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe walrus & the elephants : John Lennon’s years of revolution / James A. Mitchell.
“In late 1971 John Lennon left London and pop stardom behind and moved to New York City, eager to join a youth movement rallying for social justice and an end to the Vietnam War. Settling in Greenwich Village, the former Beatle was soon on the front lines of the antiwar movement, championing causes and inspiring solidarity and suspicion. His story is told by the unlikely cast of friends, among them the members of Elephant’s Memory. Exclusive interviews include writer and feminist leader Gloria Steinem and Congressional Black Caucus co-founder Ron Dellums.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnder the ivy : the life & music of Kate Bush / Graeme Thomson.
“This latest edition of Under The Ivy is fully updated to include analysis of Bush’s stunning return to live performance in August 2014. Her run of London concerts was the most unexpected and eagerly awaited pop event of the 21st Century. An acclaimed study of one of the world’s most enigmatic artists, Under The Ivy combines a wealth of new research with rigorous critical scrutiny. Featuring over 70 new interviews with those who have viewed from close quarters both the public artist and the private woman, this compelling biography offers numerous fresh perspectives on a unique and elusive talent.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRay Davies : a complicated life / Johnny Rogan.
“Ray Davies, legendary frontman of The Kinks, is one of the all-time greatest rock ‘n’ roll musicians – and also one of its most troubled and enigmatic. Davies wrote a string of enduring classics – ‘All Day and All of the Night’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Lola’. But Ray’s journey from working-class Muswell Hill to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame was tumultuous in the extreme, featuring breakdowns, bitter lawsuits, spectacular punch-ups and a ban from entering the USA for almost four years. This richly detailed and revelatory biography presents the most frank and intimate portrait yet of Ray Davies, and promises to be the definitive biography of this most fascinating and complicated life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCollabro : our story / text writen by Martin Roach.
With exclusive access and behind-the-scenes photos, Collabro : our story is the first official look at how a restaurant worker, a labourer, a sales assistant, a kitchen salesman and a hospital worker converged to form one of the most exciting bands in pop history. Singing together for just one month when they entered Britain’s Got Talent, Collabro are now the biggest musical theatre group ever and well on their way to the top of the charts with their all-conquering covers of some of the greatest musical songs of all time.

Syndetics book coverSimply thrilled : the preposterous story of Postcard Records / Simon Goddard.
“They had just a few hundred pounds, one band missing a drummer, a sock drawer for an office, more dreams than sense, and not a clue between them how to run a record company. But when Alan Horne and Edwyn Collins decided to start their own label from a shabby Glasgow flat in 1979, nobody was going to stand in their way. Postcard Records was the mad, makeshift, and quite preposterous result. Launching the careers of Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, and cult heroes Josef K, the self-styled “Sound of Young Scotland” stuck it to the London music biz and, quite by accident, kickstarted the 1980s indie music revolution.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIt’s a long story : my life / Wille Nelson with David Ritz.
“The definitive autobiography of Willie Nelson “Unvarnished. Funny. Leaving no stone unturned.” …So say the publishers about this book I’ve written. What I say is that this is the story of my life, told as clear as a Texas sky and in the same rhythm that I lived it. It’s a story of restlessness and the purity of the moment and living right. Of my childhood in Abbott, Texas, to the Pacific Northwest, from Nashville to Hawaii and all the way back again. Of selling vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias while hosting radio shows and writing song after song, hoping to strike gold. It’s a story of true love, wild times, best friends, and barrooms, with a musical sound track ripping right through it. My life gets lived on the road, at home, and on the road again, tried and true, and I’ve written it all down from my heart to yours. Signed, Willie Nelson” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI found my friends : the oral history of Nirvana / Nick Soulsby.
“I Found My Friends recreates the short and tempestuous times of Nirvana through the musicians and producers who played and interacted with the band. The guides for this trip didn’t just watch the life of this legendary band-they lived it. Soulsby interviewed over 150 musicians from bands that played and toured with Nirvana, including&nbspwell-known alternative bands like Dinosaur Jr., The Dead Kennedys, and Butthole Surfers, as well as scores of smaller, but no less fascinating bands.In this groundbreaking look at a legendary band, readers will see a more personal history of Nirvana than ever before.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKurt Cobain : the last session / by Jesse Frohman ; contributions by Jon Savage, Glenn O’Brien.
“In August 1993, when Nirvana was in New York to perform at the legendary Roseland Ballroom, Jesse Frohman photographed them for the London Observer’s Sunday magazine–the last formal photo shoot in which Cobain participated before he committed suicide on April 5th, 1994. Over the course of ninety photographs, Cobain seems an almost feral creature, by turns gentle, playful, defiant, suffering, or absorbed in his music. There’s a diverse range of shots of Cobain with fellow band members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl and on his own, posing, performing, and greeting fans. Jon Savage’s original interview, which appeared with Frohman’s photographs in the Observer is also reproduced, giving us Cobain in his own words.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSelected ambient works volume II / Marc Weidenbaum.
“Extravagantly opaque, willfully vaporous — Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II , released by the estimable British label Warp Records in 1994, rejuvenated ambient music for the Internet Age that was just dawning. Faithful to Brian Eno’s definition of ambient music, Selected Ambient Works Volume II was intentionally functional: it furnished chill out rooms, the sanctuaries amid intense raves. Choreographers and film directors began to employ it to their own ends, and in the intervening decades this background music came to the fore, adapted by classical composers who reverse-engineer its fragile textures for performance on acoustic instruments. Simultaneously, “ambient” has moved from esoteric sound art to central tenet of online culture.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTago mago : permission to dream / Alan Warner.
“This hugely unique and influential album deserves close analysis from a fan, rather than a musicologist. Novelist Alan Warner details the concrete music we hear on the album, how it was composed, executed and recorded–including the history of the album in terms of its release, promotion and art work. This tale of Tago Mago is also the tale of a young man obsessed with record collecting in the dark and mysterious period of pop music before Google. Interviews with the two surviving members: drummer Jaki Liebezeit, keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and bassist Holger Czukay make this a hilariously personal and illuminating picture of Can.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHistoire de Melody Nelson / Darran Anderson.
“Gainsbourg was an eclectic, protean figure; a Dadaist, poète maudit, Pop-Artist, libertine and anti-hero. His masterpiece is arguably Histoire de Melody Nelson, an album suite combining many of his signature themes; sex, taboo, provocation, humour, exoticism and ultimately tragedy…  its score of lush cinematic strings and proto-hip hop beats, combined with Serge’s spoken-word poetry, has become remarkably influential across a vast musical spectrum; inspiring soundtracks, indie groups and electronic artists. In recent years, the album’s reputation has grown from cult status to that of a modern classic with the likes of Beck, Portishead, Mike Patton, Air and Pulp paying tribute.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSmile / Luis Sanchez.
“In the early 1960s, The Beach Boys rose from the suburbs of Hawthorne, California to become emissaries of a post-war American dream that fused middle-class aspiration and mobility with images of youth. By 1966, the encroaching counterculture added new dimensions of creative possibility to popular music. Looking to revise and expand, Brian Wilson sought collaboration with a brilliant musician named Van Dyke Parks. Together they began work on Smile , an ambitious album of music that refracted The Beach Boys’ naïveté into a visionary exploration of American consciousness. Smile edged so close to greatness it seemed destined to become one of the most significant musical advances of its time.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSigur Rós’s ( ) / Ethan Hayden.
“Words like “inspiring,” “expansive,” and “moving” are regularly used to describe Sigur Rós’s ( ) , and yet the only words heard on the record itself are a handful of meaningless nonsense syllables. The album has no title–or rather, its title is no title: just an empty pair of parentheses. The intention being that listeners will fill in the parentheses with their own title, their own interpretation of the sounds on the record. Ethan Hayden’s book doesn’t try to fill in the gaps between the album’s parentheses, but instead explores the ways in which listeners might attempt to do so. Examining the communicative powers of asemantic language, the book asks whether music can bring sense to nonsense.” (Syndetics summary)

New Books on Popular Music in April

A wide variety of books, from Rock guitar and drum heroes, to iconic rock photographs capturing 60s San Francisco, and fantastic biographies on George Harrison, Peter Tosh and more have all been added to our collection. Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon’s highly-anticipated first memoir gives a great read for both her fans and those who don’t know her. Also, the ever popular For Dummies musical instruction series offers interesting lessons on banjo, fiddle and more. Have a go!

Syndetics book coverThe Haight : love, rock, and revolution : the photography of Jim Marshall / written by Joel Selvin ; preface by Donovan ; foreword by Jorma Kaukonen ; afterword by John Poppy.
“Covering one of the most unforgettable moments in modern history – including images of The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Allen Ginsburg, and more – The Haight is an indispensable gallery of legendary photographer Jim Marshall’s Sixties-era San Francisco photography. In this one-of-a-kind book, the full extent of Marshall’s Haight-Ashbury photography is stunningly displayed. Written by bestselling music journalist Joel Selvin, the story behind each of these incomparable images is disclosed through a revealing narrative, lending the images a fascinating context and prospective.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRock guitar heroes : the illustrated encyclopedia of artists, guitars and great riffs / foreword by Brian May ; consultant editor Rusty Cutchin ; contributing authors Rusty Cutchin [and 4 others].
“Featuring over 180 of the world’s greatest guitar superstars, Rock Guitar Heroes is a definitive guide to those guitarists whose talents helped change the face of music forever and touched the lives of millions. From the heroes of classic blues rock with the likes of Hendrix, Clapton, Page and Beck to modern artists such as Jack White and Matt Bellamy, this comprehensive catalogue of guitarists covers a wide range of musical styles… this is the ideal book for any aspiring guitar hero, and will satisfy even the most die-hard of music fans.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBorn to drum : the truth about the world’s greatest drummers–from John Bonham and Keith Moon to Sheila E. and Dave Grohl / Tony Barrell.
“”What do you call the guy who hangs out with a group of musicians? The drummer.” There are lots of jokes about drummers, but drummers are no joke. They are often the hardest-working members of a band, maintaining the fundamental rhythm upon which the rest of the music depends. The author tries to find common traits these musicians may share, and how those characteristics influence other parts of their lives. He speaks with such luminaries as Phil Collins, Ginger Baker, and Butch Vig and discusses at length legends such as John Bonham, Keith Moon, and Ringo Starr.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverGirl in a band / Kim Gordon.
“Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth, fashion icon, and role model for a generation of women, now tells her story—a memoir of life as an artist, of music, marriage, motherhood, independence, and as one of the first women of rock and roll. Gordon takes us back to the lost New York of the 1980s and ’90s that gave rise to Sonic Youth, and the Alternative revolution in popular music. But at its core, Girl in a Band examines the route from girl to woman in uncharted territory, music, art career, what partnership means—and what happens when that identity dissolves.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverGeorge Harrison : behind the locked door / Graeme Thomson.
“Published to co-incide with what would have been the 70th anniversary of George Harrison’s birth. Explores Harrison’s work both within and without the Beatles and at the same time examining in detail his private and public passions, from Eastern spiritualism to horticulture, from comedy to film-making, from fast cars to working with UNICEF. His career renaissance in the 80s with the Travelling Wilburys. His last few years which were scarred by two bouts of cancer and a knife attack which almost killed him. His legacy, including his final album and memorial concert.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverDream weaver : a memoir : music, meditation, and my friendship with George Harrison / Gary Wright.
“Music legend Gary Wright reflects on his professional collaboration, friendship, and spiritual journey with “quiet Beatle” George Harrison, and releases for the first time a recording of a song they wrote together. Best known for his multiplatinum hits “Dream Weaver” and “Love is Alive,” Gary Wright came to prominence as a singer and songwriter during the golden age of rock in the 1970s. At the heart of this memoir is the spiritual conversion and journey that Wright experienced alongside his close friend George Harrison. Also available is a deluxe e-book featuring an audio recording of “To Discover Yourself”.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe life of Peter Tosh : steppin’ razor / John Masouri.
“One of reggae’s most extraordinary stories, the life of Peter Tosh came to an end when he was brutally murdered in 1987. Now revered second only to Bob Marley among reggae audiences worldwide, Tosh was awarded the Order of Merit as Jamaica celebrated 50 years of independence. Tracing his recording career, we learn of his encounters with Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker, and volatile relationships with Bob Marley and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Tosh’s darker side is also revealed in tales of the singer’s fascination with the occult and in unprecedented detail, his untimely and tragic demise.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJohnny Cash : walking on fire / Helen Akitt ; foreword by Paul du Noyer.
“Johnny Cash cuts an iconic figure in music history. With his humble demeanour, sombre outfits and that distinctive deep voice, he crossed multiple genres with great success – gospel, rock and roll and of course country. Known for legendary songs about regret and redemption, such as ‘I Walk the Line’ and ‘Ring of Fire’, his life was a whirlwind of music, passion, addiction and absolution. This book takes an in depth look at the enthralling life of one of America’s most influential artists.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverJerry Lee Lewis : his own story / Rick Bragg.
“Award-winning author Bragg could probably write about nearly anything, in his gorgeous and evocative prose, and readers would swoon. Here he writes about musician Jerry Lee Lewis, who made women swoon but also storm the stage and rip off his clothes, and who made men riot and swear and drink. Rocker Lewis was (with Elvis and a few notable others) the naughtily provocative face of rock ‘n’ roll from the 1950s onward, and, in a literary almost-conversation with Bragg, Fans of Lewis’ music will snap this up, but those seeking an unstinting exploration of a true phenomenon of American culture will find it a fine read as well.” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverFacing the music : and living to talk about it / Nick Carter.
“The author shares his experiences as a member of the boy band Backstreet Boys, the health and substance abuse problems that followed, his road to recovery, and the untimely death of his younger sister, as well what he learned from it all.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDrums for dummies / by Jeff Strong.
“Whether you’re dreaming of starting a band, striking the snares, or simply playing a hand drum, this interactive book-and-CD package makes it easy to pick up the basics. Complete with new information on contemporary rock styles and beats as well as rhythms from around the world, this guide is all you need to become a talented, versatile drummer. Book jacket.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPiano & keyboard all-in-one for dummies / by Holly Day, Jerry Kovarsky, Blake Neely, David Pearl, and Michael Pilhofer.
“Piano & Keyboard All-in-One For Dummies makes it easier and more fun than ever to make music! If you don’t know how to read music, this book explains in friendly, uncomplicated language all the basics of music theory, and applies it to playing the piano and keyboard. And if you’ve been playing for awhile?or took lessons when you were a child but haven’t played since?you can pick up some valuable tips to improve your playing, or use the book as a refresher course.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEasy piano songs for dummies / performance notes by Adam Perlmutter.
“Want to learn to play easy popular hits? Then this is the book for you! It’s an easy-to-use resource for the casual hobbyist or working musician. It includes 40 easy piano arrangements with guitar chords and lyrics plus performance notes for each song detailing the wheres, whats, and hows all in plain English! Songs include: Back to December * California Girls * Candle in the Wind * Defying Gravity * Fever * God Only Knows * Hey, Soul Sister * If I Were a Carpenter * Layla * Leaving on a Jet Plane * Let It Be” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverFiddle for dummies / by Michael Sanchez.
“Tackling a new instrument can be intimidating, but with this easy-to-use guide, you’ll have no trouble at all! From selecting, tuning, and caring for your fiddle to mastering various music styles, Fiddle For Dummies walks you step-by-step through everything you need to start playing the fiddle like a pro. The fiddle is a popular instrument across many continents, and is a favorite for many because it is small and portable. Playing the fiddle can expose you to a range of musical styles from all over the world, such as Irish, Scottish, Celtic/Cape Breton, country, folk, bluegrass, and more.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBanjo for dummies / by Bill Evans.
“Whether you’re a new picker or an experienced player looking for new ideas and styles, this guide have everything you need. From choosing a banjo that’s right for you to advanced right- and left-hand techniques, you’ll find advice and examples to help you enhance your playing.”(Syndetics summary)