In each issue of Loud And Quiet Lee and Janine Bullman share a handful of books of interest to fans of music and new fiction. Here are their top 10 reads of the year, making your Christmas shopping a little bit easier.
Michael Stewart. Bluemoose.
As the eighties were drawing to a close, best friends Nick and Andrew were enjoying a golden moment in their lives. They were dancing to the Cramps and getting fucked up on MDMA, crashing student parties and squeezing every last drop of life out of the night. One night though, something went badly wrong and someone died. Which meant that someone had to take the blame.
Having spent twenty-two years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, Nick Smith is out of prison, facing a brand new world and looking to Andrew, by now in possession of what appears to be a perfect life, to make things good.
Café Assassin is a riveting, stunningly executed modern noir novel. In it, author Michael Stewart artfully explores love and friendship, guilt, innocence and revenge, and the constant pull the past exerts on the present.
Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain’s Great Lost Punk Band
Andrew Matheson. Ebury Press.
Sick On You is a brutally funny and searingly honest memoir in which Andrew Matheson recounts the story of his journey to mid ’70s London in order to search out the sequins and satin of Rock’n’Roll. On his arrival, however, he found that at that time in that town, Rock’n’Roll still meant Elvis Presley and Teddy Boys.
Operating in the cultural wasteland that existed pre-punk, Matheson had something far more fucked up, frilly and flared in mind and so formed the almost legendary Hollywood Brats, part band part car crash, who looked and sounded like a proto new York Dolls and went on to influence many of the faces who would go on to provide punk rock’s first wave.
Without the Moon
Cathi Unsworth. Serpent’s Tail.
Following from 2013’s stunning Weirdo, Cathi Unsworth steps back further in time and introduces us to DCI Edward Greenaway as he negotiates the labyrinth of London during the blitz and attempts, against all the odds, to catch up with the murderer leaving mutilated corpses all over the city.
Real-life characters and crimes are mixed so deftly throughout Without the Moon that it becomes impossible to tell where truth ends and Unsworth’s spooky imagination begins. Against the backdrop of a bombed out city we are introduced to spivs and gangsters, mediums and scandal journos as the most dimly lit corners of the war-torn capital are illuminated.
Without the Moon is yet another killer book from Unsworth, perhaps her best yet, and offers more proof, if any were needed, that she is the best noir writer we have.
Girl in a Band
Kim Gordon. Faber and Faber.
As a member of Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon defined for a generation what New York Cool looked and sounded like. As part of one of modern counter-culture’s golden couples she offered credence to the belief that you could have it all.
To offer her take on her life and career thus far, Gordon has written an anti-rock memoir as steeped in the visual arts, where her background lies, as it is in the swirl and drama of Sonic Youth’s music.
Girl in a Band reveals Gordon as insightful, smart and thoughtful and the book captures beautifully the downtown artistic atmosphere of the only city in the world that could have spawned Sonic Youth. Read it with shades on.
Journey to the Centre of The Cramps
Dick Porter. Omnibus.
The Cramps grew out of Poison Ivy Rorschach and Lux Interior’s shared obsessions: driving cross country to a score of wild rockabilly 45’s and sixties surf instrumentals, Creepy Worlds comic books, trashy b-movie ephemera and unhinged psychedelic chemistry. When they finally got a band together and got their first gig at CBGB’s, they thought they’d made it.
In Journey to the Centre of The Cramps, Dick Porter lovingly tells the story of a band who resolutely stuck to their machine guns from day one. He follows The Cramps from their surprisingly hippie origins on the West Coast all the way to the bottom of the black leather lagoon. Porter’s excellent book bears witness to the group as true believers in a savage faith, whose legacy lives on in gore-hounds everywhere.
Jean Claude Gautrand. Taschen.
Robert Doisneau is acknowledged as one of the most extraordinary photographers of his generation and judging by this beautifully bound and artfully presented collection of over 400 of his images, it’s easy to see why.
Almost exclusively shot in black and white, the photographs capture Paris of the 1950s, framing entire stories and extraordinary characters, life, death and all points in-between.
The Paris recorded in Doisneau’s pictures is a very sad and beautiful world filled with ballet dancers and funerals, nightclub singers and chain-smoking romantics. Doisneau’s pictures breathe live into a time long past and Gautrand’s book offers the most comprehensive overview of the photographer’s oeuvre yet assembled, capturing its joy, its melancholy and its defiant, irrepressible humanity.
Andy Warhol: The Complete Commissioned Record Covers
Paul Merchal. Prestel.
Think of Andy Warhol and record covers and chances are that you’ll picture the Velvet Underground’s bright yellow screen-printed banana that takes pride of place on the cover of this lovingly curated and fascinating collection. Open the thing up and there are more than a few surprises in store.
The artist famed for repetition and soup cans began life as a commercial artist; a brush for hire. During the early period of his career Warhol was responsible for an astonishing array of beautiful, stylish and evocative album covers for everyone from Count Basie to Tennessee Williams, via Mozart, Blue Note and Thelonius Monk. The book’s generous format allows three decades worth of covers to be viewed in all their glory, ensuring that you’ll never look at Warhol the same way again
Lee, Myself and I: Inside the Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood
Wyndham Wallace. Jawbone Press.
Lee, Myself and I tells the story of the relationship that grew between the writer of this quirky take on the rock bio, and his equally quirky subject.
You know Lee Hazlewood even if you don’t know him. His is the wondrous, slow, smoky voice that accompanies Nancy Sinatra through the sublime Psych weirdness of ‘Some Velvet Morning’; his is the pen that helped write the iconic ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’’; and his is the back catalogue covered by acts as diverse as Lydia Lunch and Primal Scream and Kate Moss.
Wyndham Wallace’s book picks up Hazlewood’s career in 1991, and ends with his death in 2007. Lee, Myself and I offers unique insight into the humanity behind the image of one of the true rock’n’roll outsiders.
What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches
Peaches & Holger Talinski. Akashic Books.
When Holger Talinski approached Peaches in order to collaborate on some photographs, the singer thought they would get together and see how it went. Six years later the relationship is still going strong and Talinski’s pictures of the Canadian electro assassin offer an insight into the fun, chaos, hard work, theatre and artistry that goes into presenting Peaches on stage and to the world.
The resulting book is a riot. What Else is in the Teaches of Peaches, reveals an artist with a vision and a photographer with full access. The dazzling images collected in the book range from the intimate to the epic and are accompanied by written pieces by collaborators and admirers ranging from Michael Stipe to Yoko Ono.
The Bag I’m In
Sam Knee. Cicada.
Sam Knee’s The Bag I’m In beautifully captures the movements and moments that felt like they would last forever; the fleeting zeitgeists, youth cults and street tribes that defined entire generations. The pictures included in the book are all previously unpublished, painstakingly collected by the author, of the people who took part – the goths, the mods, the punks and rockabillies from cities and towns the length and breadth of the nation.
The attention to detail is startling, as is the fact that many of the hip young things at the book’s outset will be pensioners by now. The Bag I’m In is wonderful and important, and should be owned by everyone who ever lost themselves to music and clothes.