The time of year is upon us to attempt to find the perfect gift for those in our lives, be it loved ones, in-laws, frenemies or co-workers. Over the next couple weeks here at Rock Music Menu, we’ll try to alleviate some of the stress that comes with the holiday season by providing some gift ideas when it comes to the music end of things.
This week we’re looking at some of the books that have come out over the past several months from a legendary rock band to an iconic frontman to a trailblazing rap group and more.
‘LED ZEPPELIN’ BY LED ZEPPELIN
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of Led Zeppelin, and the surviving members are celebrating in a big way, with the official illustrated book ‘Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin’ covering the group’s unparalleled musical career chronologically from their first gig in September 1968 through the 2007 one-off reunion show.
The stunning, 400-page, hardback tome features photographs of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham on and offstage, in candid moments and in the recording studio and includes previously unpublished photos, artwork from the Led Zeppelin archives and contributions from photographers around the world.
There’s also a running commentary from the bandmembers – along with archival quotes from the late Bonham – which give an insight into what the experience meant to each of them. A telling example comes from Plant where he says, “There were no instructions inside the box we opened, no preparation for the journey, no clues, no destinations. So rough and ragged, joyous and ecstatic, and gone.”
‘BRING IT ON HOME: PETER GRANT, LED ZEPPELIN, AND BEYOND – THE STORY OF ROCK’S GREATEST MANAGER’ BY MARK BLAKE
Taking a look at the history of Led Zeppelin through another lens, ‘Bring It On Home’ focuses on their notorious manager Peter Grant, known for his strongarm tactics and ruthless protection of the band. His story has appeared in fragments across countless Zeppelin biographies, but none has explored the flawed and often dangerous man as a whole.
Blake presents an uncensored look at Grant, in authorized form no less, with cooperation from the late manager’s two children as well as those who worked for him. The result is a for the most part balanced take on the man, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions as to how much is myth and how much of Grant’s actions make Suge Knight look like a petulant amateur when it comes to handling things.
‘BEASTIE BOYS BOOK’ BY ADAM “ADROCK” HOROVITZ AND MICHAEL “MIKE D” DIAMOND
The Beastie Boys never played by the rules with their music, so it comes as no surprise that when it came time to putting together a memoir, they’d go against the grain – and then some. The nearly 600-page ‘Beastie Boys Book’ is so much more than a typical biography. Alongside Horovitz and Diamond’s personal recollections are a ridiculous assortment of rare photos and original illustrations, a cookbook by chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys’ New York, mixtape playlists and much more.
Featuring additional contributions from Amy Poehler, Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, noted critic Luc Sante and more, the book is a panoramic experience that tells the story of the Beastie Boys for the first time in the band members’ own words. Horovitz and Diamond offer accounts of their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers, their early collaboration with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin and a debut album that became the first hip hop record ever to hit No. 1, ‘Licensed to Ill,’ followed by the messy fallout as the band broke with Def Jam. Also detailed is the trio’s move to Los Angeles and rebirth with the genre-defying masterpiece ‘Paul’s Boutique’ and evolution as musicians and social activists over the course of the classic albums ‘Check Your Head,’ ‘Ill Communication’ and ‘Hello Nasty’ as well as the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits conceived by the late Adam “MCA” Yauch.
‘THANKS A LOT MR KIBBLEWHITE’, BY ROGER DALTREY
It’s taken a longtime for The Who frontman Roger Daltrey to put together the account of his life, but ‘Thanks A Lot Mr. Kibblewhite’ was so worth the wait. The result of the powerhouse singer is introspective, captivating, and a funny and frank, accounts from a legendary and raucous life that spans a tumultuous time of change in Britain and America.
Daltrey reveals how he fought his way – literally – through school and poverty and began to assemble the band that would become The Who while working at a sheet metal factory in 1961. He tells the stories from a unique perspective how the group got into smashing up their instruments, the notorious infighting, trashed hotel rooms, the drugs and mayhem that came with them, late-drummer Keith Moon’s antics and how the band has managed to survive all these years through all of it.
The only problem with ‘Thanks A Lot Mr. Kibblewhite’ – the title a reference to a headmaster who threw him out of school at the age of 15, telling Daltrey he’d never amount to anything – is that it’s too short, clocking in at just 240 pages. Here’s hoping the near universal acclaim sparks him to deliver a second volume.
To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out his blog at www.thechroniclesofmc.com