Amanda Petrusich – Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records
This is quite comfortably the best book I’ve ever read about collecting, especially record collecting. Petrusich is thrust into the world of 78 collectors after talking to a record seller at a New Jersey fair, and heads deeper and deeper into a world of true obsession, that suggests the average record collector may well be gripped by some form of mental illness. She captures the zeal and evangelism of the collector perfectly and goes from a casual collector to, eventually, donning skin-diving gear and diving into a mid-west river searching for long lost Shellac discs. Although some of the protagonists are the wrong side of normal, her narration is always sympathetic. A must-read.
Get it HERE
John Cooper-Clarke – I Wanna Be Yours
I’ve been a huge fan of JCC ever since I first saw him supporting Buzzcocks in 1977. Probably (along with Patrik Fitzgerald) did more to bring poetry to a working class audience than anyone else. I dipped in and out of his career over the subsequent 40 years, seeing him perform occasionally, but he made a cameo appearance in James Young’s brilliant book about Nico, Songs They Never Play On The Radio, as a smack addict in Brixton. So I’d been looking forward to reading this for many years. The first half of the book is incredible, almost every sentence a work of art, hilarious, lucid and with an incredible eye for cultural shifts. The chapters about his childhood in Salford and gadding about Manchester in the 1950s and ’60s are superb, culturally important even. Every shift in trouser length or cut of shirt is documented forensically, each musical movement noted and he’s refreshingly frank about his drug dabbling (and, later, addiction). The latter part of the book seems to lose the florid and delightful language, as though under pressure to deliver to a publisher’s schedule, but it doesn’t detract from the overall impact. Along with Pete Frame’s The Restless Generation, one of the best books written about early pop culture.
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Eddie Chacon – Pleasure, Joy & Happiness
Eddie Chacon was one half of Charles & Eddie, who had one mega hit ‘Would I Lie To You?’. The duo made two albums before splitting in 1997 (Charles Pettigrew joined the Tom Tom Club, where he remained until his death inn 2001). The shock of the split seemed to have sent Chacon into a creative tailspin until he met John Carroll Kirby, with whom he made this album (it came out in September 2020). It’s a very understated blue-eyed soul record, the songs almost extended riffs rather than strict verse/chorus arrangements, but the more you listen to it, the more it drags you in. It’s probably my favourite album of last year and the one I’m still listening to regularly now.
Get it on BANDCAMP