Mar 142016

Extended travel of late means I’ve just finished a couple more rock books of note on Sam Phillips and the Replacements!

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Peter Guralnick

I had just a cursory knowledge of Sun Records and Sam Phillips.  If you’re in the same boat, this is a good history lesson on the Memphis scene in the 50s.  Guralnick was a friend of Sam’s and relied on him big time for his two Elvis books, so this story line takes most of what Sam says and thinks about the period at face value.  Of course there are great stories about Jerry Lee, Cash, Ike Turner, and Elvis, but beyond that are the people, family members and mistresses that surrounded Phillips throughout that golden age and later. It also does a good job explaining how independent labels functioned and the shoe leather (and tire rubber) it took to break artists…and then how the majors would come in and sign the rising star for big money. There’s also vintage gear talk!


  8 Responses to “Rock Book Capsule Reviews, Early 2016 Edition”

  1. I heard a good interview with Guralnick recently, on Marc Maron’s WTF. This post, which I’m sorry I didn’t see waiting for posting for some time, reminds me that I wanted to let you know I read Costello’s book. I really liked it, but the last couple of chapters were a real stretch. He seemed intent on throwing all sorts of details in at the end, few of which added anything new. Anyhow, I love the guy, and felt like I was hanging out with him for a week.

  2. Appreciate these reviews. I’m unlikely to ever feel that I want 500 pages on the ‘Mats but this review has me wavering.

  3. ladymisskirroyale

    BTW, Chris Mars continues to have an interesting art career. Google some of his stuff.

    And thanks for the reviews, funoka. I wish I had more time to read but also have some travel coming up so am looking for good reads. The closest thing to music journalism I’ve read recently is a couple of those 33 1/3 books, one on “Doolittle,” which was pretty darn interesting, and one on “Dummy” which I gave up on half way through because of all the tangents.

    That said, has anyone else noticed that the music writing in The Newyorker has significantly improved since SFJ left?

  4. diskojoe

    I have a bit of a black log, erm back log on rock books. I do have the Costello & Sam Phililips books that need to be read, as well as Johnny Rogan’s bio of Ray Davies. That ‘mats book sounds interesting as well. Can anyone recommend any half-decent books on Bowie?

  5. C’mon — you want real story behind Run It, don’t you?

  6. Mars comes off in the book as the mostly sane Mat, but he had his moments before he quit. Remember the Chris Mars solo albums? Book says he aimed Popular Creeps directly at Paul and Tommy.

  7. tonyola

    I can recommend The Complete David Bowie, which even-handedly discusses all his albums, songs, movies, videos, etc. along with all his musical ventures.

  8. misterioso

    It’s not a bio but Peter Doggett’s The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s is pretty good in terms of the records.

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