Book Spotlight: Reading (and Riffing!) is Fundamental

Is there a better time than winter to curl up with a good book?  We’ve gathered a selection of paper-bound gems to spend your chilly nights with.

A Walk Across Dirty Water and Straight Into Murderer’s Row

Eugene S. Robinson

Walk Across Dirty Water - Book Spotlight

Eugene S. Robinson might truly be the last Renaissance Man. Vocalist, performer, fighter, writer and—well, just about anything else—He has a few stories to tell. From his days growing up in Brooklyn to his formative years at Stanford University, A Walk Across Dirty Water details Robinson’s experiences with disco, punk, LSD, journalism, and women. He has run-ins with people like Anton LaVey, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Rollins, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, all the while zig-zagging the country with his fledgling ’80s hardcore band, Whipping Boy. Robinson ends his memoir just at the advent of Oxbow, the band with which he has been singing for over three decades, leaving an opening for what we can only hope will be part two.

Philly Metal: Profiles From The Underground

Dave Claw

Philly Metal - Book Spotlight

Philly Metal isn’t a music history book. It’s a glimpse at what was, what is, and what’s to come for the city’s metal scene—examined through interviews with over two dozen currently active Philadelphia musicians. The subjects span age, race, gender, and genre, showcasing the diversity and inclusiveness that can be found within the culture—or “tribe,” as Claw puts it—of Philly’s underground. Some names you’ll recognize; some you won’t, but all have their own unique story regarding where they came from and how they came to create the music they do. Whether it’s power metal, black metal, sludge, or thrash, they all share a bond that can only be found in the underground music world.

Grey Flowers

Suitcase Joe

Grey Flowers - Book Spotlight

In the introduction to Grey Flowers, Suitcase Joe lays out the purpose for making the book—so that he could live. Rather than take his own life, the photographer hit the streets of Los Angeles to capture images of people—and even the city itself—doing the very same thing: living. The black-and-white photos show a wide variety of people and scenes from what Joe refers to as “the raw and beautiful side of the city.” The attention to detail is meticulous, and each image burns bright with stunning balance and composure. From piercings and tattoos to graffiti and trash, Grey Flowers presents a look at the underbelly that makes a city what it truly is.

Red Letter Days

Matt Pryor

Red Letter Days - Book Spotlight

Don’t think of Red Letter Days as a rock star bio. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Just like the unassuming independent music scene that Matt Pryor came up in, his memoir is an honest, heartfelt exercise in earnestness. Pryor is the guitarist/vocalist for the influential emo (“the e-word,” as he calls it) band The Get Up Kids, and while his time with them is certainly present throughout the book, each of the stories contained within it deals more with his journey through life. With the backdrop of the ’90s unfolding behind him, Pryor candidly talks about the important things like his first love, dealing with illness, and discovering himself musically and beyond.

The Scott Burns Sessions: A Life In Death Metal 1987-1997

David E. Gehlke

Scott Burns - Book Spotlight

Go ahead and check your favorite classic death metal album’s liner notes—Scott Burns is likely credited there. From Death and Atheist to Sepultura and Obituary (and we’ve only hit 1989) the legendary producer’s mark can be heard through it all. In The Scott Burns Sessions, author David E. Gehlke details a decade’s worth of work album-by-album through interviews with the musicians involved and with Burns himself. Accompanied by a plethora of classic photos, each chapter digs in deep not only to the creation of the album, but how that album has held up all these years later. This is a must own for fans of death metal and audiophiles alike.

Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult – The Restored, Expanded and Definitive Edition

Dayal Patterson

Black Metal - Book Spotlight

Originally published a decade ago, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult is the satanic bible of music history. There’s no doubt that this reissue is the definitive edition that it claims to be. Coming in at over 800 pages, the book takes you all across the globe as the genre develops from its earliest innovators like Venom and Bathory, to its nefarious Nordic havoc-inducers, and on into today’s controversial post-black metal stylings—and everything in between. Featuring an extraordinary amount of interviews, Patterson’s exhaustively researched and detailed book is the place to start for anyone interested in the genre.

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