Loath as I am to encourage anyone to buy a music book this season that isn't called Shock and Awe, it behooves me to note that at the moment there's a bumper crop - a bonanza - of books by mates (or near-mates).
First and foremost, a brand new monograph on the year 1996 by my very old and very good mate David Stubbs. Not read it yet but I’m positive it'll be as rollickingly readable and sharply argued as we've come to expect.
Another good mate of longstanding is Kodwo Eshun, whose More Brilliant Than The Sun is being brought out again by Verso in revamped and expanded form. Here's what I said about it on two previous occasions.
Kodwo crops up again as co-editor - with Mark Fisher (another mate) and Gavin Butt - of this anthology of writings about postpunk recently published by Repeater. Looking forward to giving that a peruse.
Same era but slanted to a different post- is the latest from Tim Lawrence: a richly researched study of Manhattan's early Eighties post-disco club culture, which I've reviewed in the current issue of Bookforum . With Love Saves the Day and the Arthur Russell book, Life and Death makes up a NYC nightlife trilogy.
WHEN TATES MAKE BOOKS
Not sure if I could really describe Greg Tate as a mate having only met him a few times - but he’s a diamond geezer and a genius writer. This is the sequel to Flyboy in the Buttermilk (which I reviewed for The Wire back in the day) and I'm looking forward to getting my mitts on it.
Another not-quite-mate of similar vintage (we're all veterans of the Village Voice music section, 80s–90s-2000s) is Chuck Eddy. Fast on the heels of his first anthology Rock and Roll Always Forgets (which I reviewed for Bookforum) Chuck has another collection out: Terminated For Reasons of Taste: Other Ways to Hear Essential and Inessential Music. Not sure I would ever buy a record on Chuck’s recommendation (expect the feeling’s mutual!) but certainly have long enjoyed reading him on loads of records that I'm never likely to hear and in a lot of cases probably would never even know existed. Lord alone knows how he manages to trawl so widely, roam so far from the zones generally monitored by our profession, Especially because he spends so much time trawling through the past too - correcting the real-time overvaluations and undervaluations he made as a critic at the time, digging into the $1 bins for things he missed back then, and just generally sifting and re-sifting the old until it settles into new personal canons. Well, we're all doing that to some extent - but not with such a restless and implacable revisionist drive, not with the same capacity or compulsion to reverse one's old attachments and judgments.
Finally, Jean Hogarty's Popular Music and Retro Culture in the Digital Era examines much the same terrain as Retromania but uses an empirical sociological approach – she actually goes out there and asks the Kids about the ways in which they use the past in their present. I may have moved on to new preoccupations, but it seems likely that retro will continue to be a fertile area for study and critical dissension.