Janine and Lee Bullman have their say on some notable new books.


Title: Jack White: How He Built an Empire from the Blues
Author: Nick Hasted
Publisher: Omnibus

According to legend, a 16-year-old John Gillis, the youngest of ten siblings from Mexicotown in Detroit, once found a copy of Iggy and the Stooges’ ‘Fun House’ in a skip. He went on to become Jack White and ‘Fun House’ might have been the catalyst for the stripped-down, freaked-out six-string motor city blues that have become White’s stock in trade. Nick Hasted’s book plots White’s course thus far from the nascent Detroit scene to Glastonbury Festival, via Bond themes, furniture upholstery and the founding of Third Man Records, the label that allows him to indulge his fetish for very desirable vinyl. It tells the first half of the story of one of the last true believers.

Title: Shock And Awe
Author: Simon Reynolds
Publisher: Faber and Faber

After the hippies’ denim yawn came glam rock, the cultural movement that gave us Roxy Music, platform boots, the New York Dolls and mainstream androgyny. This is what’s investigated within Shock And Awe with all of the insightful analysis and attention to detail that Simon Reynolds has previously applied to post-punk, rave culture and hip-hop. As with his previous books, Reynolds’ immersion in his subject is obvious and his passion infectious. Over six hundred and something pages, Shock And Awe offers a definitive, smart and celebratory account of glam from its (dyed) roots to its ongoing and far-reaching influence, covering all of the main players and key moments in this outrageous and occasionally hilarious scene.

Title: I Am Brian Wilson
Author: Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman
Publisher: Coronet

Genius is a word that gets used far too often when discussing pop music, but in the case of Brian Wilson, the epithet fits. As chief songwriter for the Beach Boys, Wilson was responsible for the writing and, crucially, the recording of some of the most beautiful, original and game-changing pop music of the 20th century. His ride was anything but easy, though, and in I Am Brian Wilson, Wilson is unflinching in his rendering of the euphoric highs and chaotic lows that have made up the last seven decades. His and the Beach Boys’ story has been told many times before and is one we may think we know already, but it has never before been voiced with the clarity, honesty and insight on offer here.