2018 has not only been a good year for music but also a good year for music books. Our own Louder Than Words music and books festival in Manchester sold double the number of tickets than the previous year (early bird tickets for 2019 are available now from here) and the great books kept coming and yet we had some clear winners with the following books being voted for by our team.
* Beastie Boys Book by Mike Diamond and Adam Horowitz
The Beastie Boys were always smarter than the average bear and their book is a fantastic ride through the band’s thrilling back pages with added guest essays. It’s as funny as would expect but also tainted with an unexpected melancholy as the ghost of the late Adam Yaunch hangs over each page.
* All in the Downs: Reflections on Life, Landscape, and Song Shirley Collins
As beautiful, poetic, deep and mesmerising as the woman herself. Ther now 84-year English folk singer shows just how to write a great autobiography with the added depth of the music and the very soil of the land that it grew out of for her second memoir that deals with her fascianting life.
* To Throw Away Unopened: Viv Albertine
The follow up to Viv’s now classic debut autobiography explores family, relationships and what happened next with Viv’s honest , open style and perfect prose. Yet another example of how to write a memoir perfectly.
* Trouble Songs, Music & Conflict in Northern Ireland: Stuart Bailie
From its tightly knit and renowned punk scene to its deeper roots in Van Morrison and to the present day, Northern Ireland is a musical powerhouse and former NME writer, Stuart Bailie, now moved back to his home city is the perfect person to explain this and how its entwined in the region’s noisy history.
* Jimmy Page, The Definitive Biography: Chris Salewicz
Chris Salewicz yet again immerses himself deep into a subject and like on his classic Joe Strummer and Bob Marley books finds all kinds of new angles and new reflections on an iconic presence we thought we already knew everything about.
* Ripped & Torn, 1976-79 The loudest punk fanzine in the UK: Tony Drayton
Xerox culture was a prime thread in punk rock and Tony D’s ‘Ripped And Torn’ fanzine was one of the key zines in the period, covering the grassroots explosion of punk from the fan level as it zipped away from the Pistols and into the new underground of Adam and the Ants and a whole plethora of new bands. Tony’s original fanzines are faithfully reprinted and full of the machine gun prose and bricolage graphics that now look like an art form.
* Morrissey, Alone & Palely Loitering: Kevin Cummins
The greatest music photographer of his generation and the most self-aware pop star was always going to be a great combination and the collection of photos is a guide to the art of the perfect portrait.
* Glam Rock: Simon Philo
Glam rock was, for many teens, the key music form of the pre-punk era and this book explains the madness and the resounding power of the music.
* Mars By 1980, the story of electronic music: David Stubbs
A riveting read from the great David Stubbs who combines an academic detail with an in-depth appreciation of the form and a fan’s enthusiasm for the music that makes this a thrilling read.
Martin Ryan – Friends Of Mine – Punk in Manchester 1976-78
Manchester was the second city of punk but quickly moved to create its own narrative – driven by the late and great Pete Shelley who modestly shared his new found fame with a whole host of characters from the local scene – it pretty well invented post-punk with Joy Division and this book captures the energy and the madness as a post industrial city built the foundations with music for the future city we have today.
Graham Jones – The Vinyl Revival and the Shops That Made It Happen
Like a stubborn antique, vinyl just refuses to go away and this book explains why we have more than a hundred more record shops than we had in 2009 with the entertaining and witty warmth of a true fan.
New Dawn Fades – A Graphic Novel About Joy Division and Manchester by Brian Gorman
The Manchester book of the year – brilliant illustrations somehow still twist something out of the most told story from the city
Brett Anderson’s ‘Coal Black Mornings’
Often singers are the worst people to write their own memoirs. Brett Anderson breaks the rules here with ane exquisitely written reminisce. (recomended by Andu Vaughn)