Our regular Their Library column is an excuse for artists to show off the contents of their bookshelves, revealing new points of inspiration in the process.
With Christmas fast approaching Clash thought it would turn the tables – so here are a few book recommendations from our very own shelves…
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Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
The rock star memoir is well-worn path, and it’s normally a sign that a career has begun to fade, with memories of former glories eclipsing any hope of a new album. Not so Bruce Springsteen. The Boss spent years writing this new tome, and it’s about authoritative as you can get: brave, honest, and packed with the sort of detail that will delight fans and send newcomers scurrying off to absorb his back catalogue.
From his political concerns to his frank admission of mental illness, Born To Run seems to enthral and surprise at every chapter – it’s everything we hoped it would be, and a little more.
Tim Burgess – Tim: Book Two
Or, as its more detailed sub-title has it: Vinyl Adventures From Instanbul To San Francisco. The genial Charlatan and solo artist sets out to uncover a series of vinyl gems, nominated by some of his own personal heroes. The book works on numerous levels – a love letter to the record shop, it also allows Tim Burgess to get closer to some iconic artists while revealing a few more details about himself. As ever, he’s the perfect host – knowledgeable, self-deprecating, and with a neat turn of phrase. A recommended stocking filler.
Will Carruthers – Playing The Bass With Three Hands
Spacemen 3 infamously chose the slogan ‘Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To’ so it’s a wonder anyone in the seminal Rugby collective can remember much at all. Thankfully, bass player Will Carruthers can, and his expertly laid out book details the life and crimes of much-loved lysergic rock cosmonauts Spacemen 3.
The band’s own EPs often stretched out past the hour mark, but Will Carruthers have an ear for a sharply defined sentence – breezy, humorous, and rather droll, Playing The Bass With Three Hands is a real joy.
Sylvia Patterson – I’m Not With The Band
Without doubt one of the most respected British music journalists of the past few decades or so, Sylvia Patterson’s book caused no small degree of fuss on its release earlier this year. Little wonder: on one level it features passing appearances by everyone from Cypress Hill to Rick Astley, Westlife to a pissed up Liam Gallagher, and on another it’s a touching ode to music as escape, music as a force of life.
Marked by Sylvia’s memorable encounters with some true greats – Prince, Johnny Cash, and David Attenborough all whizz past – what really stands out is her own life, touchingly re-telling a traumatic adolescence, the decadent 90s and even her own miscarriages. A courageous book, one that will have you endlessly flipping backwards and forwards through the chapters.
Stuart Cosgrove – A Personal History Of Northern Soul
When did Perth become a hotbed for musical memoirs?! Sylvia Patterson owes her roots to the Fair City, while fellow NME veteran Stuart Cosgrove also grew up in the city. A dyed in the wool soulie, A Personal History Of Northern Soul is exactly as it says on the sleeve: a history of the scene, and those who made it.
It works wonderfully. With an awareness of the wider social issues impacting on the scene, Stuart Cosgrove is able to match a vast historical sweep against some beautifully told personal vignettes, while also bringing the often neglected stories of the musicians themselves back out of the shadows. A devoted crate-digger, this is packed with information but never feels overloaded, carrying all the balance of a Wigan Casino raver doing yet another back-drop to an exquisitely rare 45.
The Jesus And Mary Chain – ‘Psychocandy’ (Paula Mejia, 33 And A 1/3rd)
Due to their size and price the 33 And A 1/3rd series make perfect stocking fillers, but we’ve decided to go for this recent tome on The Jesus And Mary Chain’s debut album. ‘Psychocandy’ remains a nigh-on perfect statement of bubblegum pop nihilism, an album that can – at times – feel slightly over-exposed. Returning to the people and circumstances that bore it, Paula Mejia adds fresh perspective to this classic record, dusting off mythology and revealing new truths underneath.
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