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Book Beat: Catching up with some new rock reads
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Who says books can't rock?

The publishing industry once viewed music books as losing propositions, but thanks to memoirs by Bob Dylan and Keith Richards, among others, they've found a place on the New York Times bestsellers lists and won enough respectability that a steady diet of new titles hits the shelves all year long.

Here's a quick look at some of the most notable new arrivals for your reading, and rocking, pleasure...

A MAN CALLED DESTRUCTION: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF ALEX CHILTON... by Holly George-Warren (Viking): As enigmatic a character as they come, the late Alex Chilton -- of Box Tops and Big Star fame -- is definitely ripe for this kind of probing, in-depth and detailed biography. Both aficionados and those who only know him from "The Letter" or Big Star's mythological stature in the pop world have a lot to learn, and Holly George-Warren mines a wealth of sources to unlock areas the carefully guarded Chilton always kept away from prying eyes and inquiring minds. Enormously illuminating.

ONE WAY OUT: THE INSIDE HISTORY OF THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND by Alan Paul (St. Martin's Press): University of Michigan alumnus Alan Paul is arguably the most knowledgeable source of Allmans' lore outside of the group's own inner circle, and this sharply detailed oral history makes you believe he may well know a little bit more than each of its component parts. Paul gets all of the surviving principals to journey into the group's dark nitty gritty here, but "One Way Out" also never loses sight of the fearless musicality that makes us care so much about the Allmans in the first place.

AIN'T IT TIME WE SAID GOODBYE by Robert Greenfield (Da Capo): There have been plenty of books about the Rolling Stones on the road, and Greenfield's "S.T.P.: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones" is one of if not the very best. This is a slimmer chronicle of the group's 1971 U.K. "farewell" tour before it went into tax exile in France, and while it lacks the sex 'n' drugs-drenched delirium of "S.T.P." the all-access travelogue takes us inside Stonesworld at a time the group at a time of shifting inner-band dynamics and in the midst of what was arguably the Stones' creative high point.

FACE THE MUSIC: A LIFE EXPOSED by Paul Stanley (HarperOne): Nobody does hype better than Kiss, and there's certainly been plenty of pre-release build-up for the frontman's memoir. But Stanley lives up to expectations in these 464 pages, with a frank and revealing look at his life both in and outside of the band, blending justifiable pride and characteristic bravado with clear-eyed self-examination. The last but easily the best of the original four band members' biographies.

NIRVANA FAQ by John D. Luerssen (Backbeat), THE WHO FAQ by Mark Segretto (Backbeat): The latest two installments in this series combine juicy details and entertaining, if forgettable, nuggets of trivia in no-stone-left-unturned fashion. There are no major revelations, but you can stick your finger into any page of either book and be assured of discovering something noteworthy to enhance your appreciation of the groups.

WHEN THEY WERE BOYS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE BEATLES RISE TO THE TOP by Larry Kane (Running Press): Larry Kane has the distinction of being the only American reporter to have traveled to every show on the Beatles' 1964 and 1965 U.S. tours, which made his previous "Ticket To Ride" so entertaining. This is a well-written but generally straightforward retelling of the Fab Four's rise, a well-worn tale that's been told too many times before for Kane's version to stand apart from the rest -- especially the exhaustive new three-part epic recently started by Mark Lewishon started with last fall's "Tune In."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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