What if the end of the world ended not with a bang or a whimper, but a streaming of Andy Weatherall’s massive mellow mix cassette rip on YouTube? Here’s our best books on the power of music, with not a shite celebrity singing Imagine in sight.
Red Set: A History of Gang of Four
“The definitive history of Gang of Four, along the way explaining why their music meant so much for the embryonic leftwing ideas of their dedicated followers…” —openDemocracy
Blending revelations from interviews with the band conducted by the author with snippets from newspaper articles and record reviews, Jim Dooley tells the history of Gang of Four as they remember it. From their days at art school through countless tours, records and reunions, Red Set is the definitive history of one of Britain’s greatest and most influential bands.
Post-Punk Then and Now
Edited by Gavin Butt, Kodwo Eshun and Mark Fisher
“Skilfully maps a range of critical perspectives on post-punk, particularly those that fit into the vein of Capitalist Realism.”
— Guy Mankowski, 3am Magazine
Focusing upon the production of post-punk art, film, music, and publishing, Post-Punk Then and Now offers new perspectives on an overlooked period of cultural activity, and probes the lessons that might be learnt from history for artists and musicians working under 21st century conditions of austerity.
Justify My Love
“A tender and corporeal autobiography of what it means to express yourself as a female musician when everything feels bound by the playful but taut restrictions of love, sex and power.”
— Hannah Ewens, Noisey
Ballerina and the Bull
“A vital testament to the fragile utopias that inhabit our precarious present.”
— Benjamin Noys, author of Malign Velocities
In The Ballerina and the Bull Johanna Isaacson explores the occult history of US punk, hardcore, queercore, and riot grrrl, DIY culture, and alternative subcultures to trace a new politics of “expressive negation” that both contests the present order and gives us a sense of the impasses of politics in an age of depoliticization.
Smile If You Dare: Politics and Pointy Hats with the Pet Shop Boys
A creative analysis of the band’s fifth album Very, Smile If You Dare examines topics as diverse as technological paradise, sexual paranoia and representations of class in British pop music.
“There’s a touch of Pynchon in this complex, woozily dream-like novel about music, mystery and imagined worlds…”
— Ian Rankin
Alan Bradshaw and Linda Scott
“A fascinating study of a key episode in our recent cultural history.”
— Jeremy Gilbert
Ashes to Ashes
“The best David Bowie writing bar none.”
— Bob Stanley
From the ultimate David Bowie expert comes this exploration of the final four decades of the popstar’s musical career, covering every song he wrote, performed or produced from 1976 to 2016.
The Turkish Psychedelic Music Explosion
“As a knowledgeable and thoughtful overview to a scene which is now more accessible than ever, this serves as a perfect introduction.”
— The Wire
The Turkish Psychedelic Music Explosion tells the story of a musical movement that was brought to an end by a right-wing coup in 1980, largely forgotten and only recently being rediscovered by Western crate-diggers. It’s a tale of larger-than-life musical pioneers with raging political passions and visionary ideas ripe for rediscovery.
Under My Thumb
Edited by Rhian E Jones, Eli Davies
“Broad and interesting… a necessary and enlightening read.”
— The Wire
Under My Thumb: Songs that Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them is a study of misogyny in music through the eyes of women. It brings together stories from journalists, critics, musicians and fans about artists or songs we love (or used to love) despite their questionable or troubling gender politics, and looks at how these issues interact with race, class and sexuality.