Blue Note Uncompromising Expression:
75 Years of the Finest in Jazz
Richard Havers, Chronicle Books, 399 pages
The story of the fabled jazz label Blue Note Records, with studio photos and ephemera, portraits and, most important, the world-famous LP jacket art, groundbreaking not only for its crisp, modern design but for portraying black men such as John Coltrane and Art Blakey with gravity and dignity.
Kurt Cobain: The Last Session
Jesse Frohman, Thames & Hudson, 144 pages
Nirvana fans will be more than familiar with these 100-plus photographs taken in New York in July 1993: Cobain in ocelot-pattern jacket; Cobain seated, playing acoustic guitar; Nirvana goofing off. But it has an interesting text by Jon Savage, whose interview with Cobain that day is transcribed. A bit padded, but Nirvana completists will love it.
Danny Clinch: Still Moving
Danny Clinch, Abrams, 296 pages
“The story is present in every one of his shoots,” Bruce Springsteen says of Danny Clinch, whose intimate, warm and personal photographs of everyone from Springsteen and Willie Nelson to Nas and Sting over the past decade have made him one of the foremost shooters in popular music. A nice touch: IDs are compiled at the end, so as not to clutter the pages of images.
The Beatles Lyrics: The Stories Behind the Music, Including the Handwritten Drafts of More Than 100 Classic Beatles Songs
Hunter Davies, editor, Little, Brown, 384 pages
Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about the Fab Four, along comes this chatty, knowledgeable, readable account of the backstories behind all the Beatles’ lyrics, including the story about how a journalist riding in a car with John Lennon influenced him to change one of the lines. Yes, a Beatles lyrics book already exists, but this one reproduces more than 100 handwritten manuscripts, written on everything from envelopes and cocktail napkins to graph paper and hotel stationery.
Sub Pop USA: The Subterranean Pop Music Anthology, 1980-1988
Bruce Pavitt, Bazillion Points, 400 pages
Before co-founding Sub Pop Records, Bruce Pavitt chronicled the alternative music scene of the 1980s in his own fanzines and a column he wrote for Seattle music magazine The Rocket. All his writings are gathered in this book, a fascinating time capsule of the pre-Internet music industry.