Tag Archives: Chuck Berry

Petrucelli Picks: 2018 Gift Guide: Last-Minute Presents With Presence, Part One. Santa, Take Note.

In Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film  (St. Martin’s Press; $27.99)  Don Grahamoffers a larger-than-life narrative of the making of the classic film based on Edna Ferber’s controversial novel. Taking a wide-angle view of America—and Texas—in the Eisenhower era, Graham reveals how the film and its production mark the rise of America as a superpower, the ascent of Hollywood celebrity, and the flowering of Texas culture as mythology. Featuring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, Giant dramatizes a family saga against the background of the oil industry and its impact upon ranching culture—think Spindletop Hill in Beaumont, Texas, and the fabled King Ranch in South Texas. Almost as good as the film.


One of the most delightful books of the season: 100 Christmas Wishes: Vintage Holiday Cards from The New York Public Library (St. Martin’s Griffin, $17.99). Archivists selected some of the best cards from the library’s extensive collection; from the elegant, gilded Santa Clauses and statuesque angels, to yuletide still lifes, tumbling tots and puppies with bows round their necks, each card is a beautiful celebration of the holiday season. The book also includes six perforated postcards with reproductions of the designs so you too can share a vintage Christmas wish with friends and family on your list.


How do you start a fire? Ask for a pay raise (and get it)? Save yourself from choking. The answers (and then some) are found in GQ How to Win at Life: The Expert Guide to Excelling at Everything You Do ( Firefly Books, $19.95).

Based on personal expertise, interviews with foremost authorities and wisdom from GQ‘s editors, Charlie Burton shows men how to win at fashion, sport, food and drink, work, romance, travel  . . . well everything. Eight chapters comprising 75 entries cover life’s must-have skills. Bold illustrations highlight the succinct step-by-step instructions that will guarantee success.


It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Stoker’s—and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.


On September 11, 2001, Joe Maio went to work in the north tower of the World Trade Center. He never returned, leaving behind a wife, Sharri, and 15-month old son, Devon. Five years later, Sharri remarried, and Devon welcomed a new dad into his life.

For thousands, the whole country really, 9/11 is a day of grief. For Adam and Sharri Maio Schefter and their family it’s not just a day of grief, but also hope. This is a story of 9/11, but it’s also the story of 9/12 and all the days after. Life moved on. Pieces were picked up. New dreams were dreamed. The Schefters are the embodiment of that.

The Man I Never Met: A Memoir (St. Martin’s Press , $26.99) gives voice to all those who have chosen to keep living. It’s gratifying and beautiful. But also messy and hard. Like most families. Except that one day every year history comes roaring back. How do you embrace that? How do you honor that?


Noted animal photographer Lara Jo Regan combines two universally popular subjects—dogs and beaches—in a fresh, delightful book.  sand in dog, beach, travel and animal photography.

Regan spent three years shooting Dogs on the Beach (Myth and Matter Media, $21.99), traveling to some of the most scenic seascapes in America to capture the primal joy of dogs romping and rolling in the sand, splashing in surf, lounging in the sun and even catching a few waves. A true chronicle of remarkable intimate images of blissed-out dogs in paradise.


Zora Neale Hurston’s genius is woven throughout a major literary event. The newly published work Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (Amistad, $24.99),with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker , brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States.

During an intense three-month period, Hurston and Cudjo Lewis communed over her gifts of peaches and watermelon, and gradually Cudjo, a poetic storyteller, began to share heartrending memories of his childhood in Africa; the attack by female warriors who slaughtered his townspeople; the horrors of being captured and held in the barracoons of Ouidah for selection by American traders; the harrowing ordeal of the Middle Passage aboard the Clotilda as “cargo” with more than one hundred other souls; the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War; and finally his role in the founding of Africatown. An important history lesson for ll.


How did grandpa make a spoon cry? How did he make Doris the Dot dance? What’s going on here? From professional magician Allan Zola Kronzek comes Grandpa Magic: 116 Easy Tricks, Amazing Brainteasers, and Simple Stunts to Wow the Grandkids (Workman, $16.95), crammed with 116  tricks, stunts and brainteasers that will engage the grandchildren and provide giggles, jaw-dropping awe, and wonderful memories.


We were delighted to find and read The Art of Winnie-the-Pooh: How E.H. Shepard Illustrated an Icon (Harper Design, $29.99), in which James Campbell offers a thorough account of the origins and development of the characters who populate the Hundred Acre Wood, complete with more than 125 images, many of which have never been published before—including previously unseen sketches, the first illustrations of Pooh, finished artwork, personal family photographs, and memorabilia.


This book is causing quite the buzz! Flying in for inspection: Turn This Book into a Beehive! And 19 Other Experiments and Activities that Explore the Amazing World of Bees (Workman, $19.95),  an indispensable guide with a removable book jacket and tear-away paper nesting tubes that turn into a home for mason bees, with each “room” providing space for 10 to 12 mason bee babies.Click here to view book cover image.

Packed with 19 sensory-driven experiments and activities that offer a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be a bee, this nifty book provides an early introduction to environmentalism and offers inspiration for burgeoning conservationists. Readers can make a buzzer that replicates the noise made by a bee’s wings, trace back the ingredients and materials in their favorite foods and clothing to see just how closely mason bees influence our daily lives, and create safe sprays that will make everything from urban gardens to open yards a welcome, healthy environments for these super-pollinators.


When news of the Pulse nightclub shooting hit in 2016, several media outlets referred to a devastating predecessor: The Up Stairs Lounge fire of 1973. In Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation (Liveright Publishing , $26.95), Robert Fieseler reveals the true story of the fire that devastated the gay community of New Orleans and ignited a national movement.

In a landmark feat of historical detection undertaken during a year and a half spent in New Orleans, journalist Robert W. Fieseler here recovers the firsthand testimonies of survivors, witnesses, and relatives; through Fieseler’s interviews, it becomes painfully clear that it is only now, decades later, that these survivors feel willing to claim this story—a story that no one dared touch for so long.


Have a knack for mastering Morse code? Want to discover whether your crossword hobby might have seen you recruited into the history books? Think you could have contributed to the effort to crack the Nazis’ infamous Enigma code? Then Bletchley Park Brainteasers: The World War II Codebreakers Who Beat the Enigma Machine–And More Than 100 Puzzles and RiddlesThat Inspired Them (Quercus, $16.99) was made for you.

When scouring the population for codebreakers, Bletchley Park recruiters left no stone unturned. They devised various ingenious mind-twisters to assess the puzzle-solving capacity of these individuals–hidden codes, cryptic crosswords, secret languages, and complex riddles. These puzzles, together with the fascinating recruitment stories that surround them, are contained in this book, endorsed by Bletchley Park itself.


Hidden entrances, dark places, low music, smoke, women, crime and lots of alcohol: In the days of Prohibition (1920-1933), these were the explosive ingredients of the American speakeasy.

Frequented by gangsters such as Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, these underground bars and nightclubs have become the symbol of an epoch immortalized in cinema and literature. The new speakeasies are inspired by the typical unmistakable atmosphere of the beginning of the 20th century, when it was necessary to speak under your breath to avoid detection by the police. These trendy bars have often been conceived by keen bartenders, who rediscovered the tastes of the mixed drinks of the ’20s and ’30s. Enter the glory of  Speakeasy: Secret Bars Around the World (Shelter Harbor Press , $24.95).


Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Peter Frampton, Joan Jett, Jimmy Page, Dimebag Darrell, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. . .  and the list goes on and on. Guitars and Heroes (Firefly Books, $29.95) is organized by era, from the rockabilly pioneers to the guitar heroes of the future.

Each chapter contains portraits of guitarists (past and present) and their favorite instruments. The authoritative text describes the musician’s favored guitar or guitars and why they prefer them, often revealing a hidden facet of the musician’s artistic approach. Guitars and Heroes is a sensational encyclopedia for all guitarists, guitar geeks, collectors and avid listeners, and an essential purchase for all collections.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A Picture Book (Quirk Books, $18.99) allows  young readers see what the world’s strongest vampire slayer was like back when she was a kid Join not-so-brave little Buffy, Willow and Xander as they investigate strange sounds coming from the closet, seek advice from their school librarian Giles, and encounter everyone’s favorite Buffyverse monsters.

Charmingly illustrated by Pop Classics artist Kim Smith, this sweet, silly, and not-so-scary book borrows Joss Whedon’s beloved characters to tell an endearing bedtime story.


Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President Is Missing (Knopf/Little,Brown $30) is a superlative thriller . . . one that can really happen, and one that must not be missed. The mystery confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America. Uncertainty and fear grip the nation. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet. Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view.

Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years. And a timely, historic story that will be read-and talked about-for years to come.


In 1923, Mary Pickford and hubby Douglas Fairbanks, along with the “Beverly Hills Eight” Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Fred Neblo and Conrad Nagel,  eight stars of the silver screen leveraged their fame to campaign against the annexation of Beverly Hills, the young city they called home, to Los Angeles. Their campaign was a success, and politics in the U.S. would never be the same again.The Battle for Beverly Hills: A City's Independence and the Birth of Celebrity Politics by [Clare, Nancie] For them, Beverly Hills was a refuge from Los Angeles and its relentless press. Instead of the larger, institutionally corrupt police force,

Beverly Hills had a smaller, separate constabulary that was less likely to work hand in glove with the studios and more willing to look the other way at violations of the Prohibition Act.  In The Battle for Beverly Hills (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) Nancie Clare reveals how the stars battled to keep their city free from the clutches of a rapacious Los Angeles and lay the groundwork for celebrity influence and political power. With a nuanced eye and fantastic storytelling, Clare weaves an irresistible tale of glamour, fame, gossip, and politics.

For the record: Celebrate Black History Month with these historically important films and records

Black Wings  (PBS Distribution)
For early aviators, conquering the forces of gravity was a daunting challenge. But black aviators had an additional challenge: to conquer the forces of racism.

Image result for PBS BLACK WINGS

Meet the men and women of color who took to the skies throughout the 20th century and helped prove to a segregated nation that skin color didn’t determine skill level. From biplanes to commercial jets, and from barnstormers to war fighters, meet the path-breaking pilots who opened the skies for all.


In the firmament of rock ‘n’ roll’s first-generation creators, no artist looms larger than Chuck Berry. In a consistently innovative recording career that spanned more than 60 years, the iconic singer-songwriter-guitarist, who passed away on March 18, 2017, laid much of the groundwork for modern rock ‘n’ roll, while creating some of rock’s most distinctive and enduring anthems, including “Johnny B. Goode”, “Roll Over Beethoven,”, “Rock and Roll Music” and “Reelin and Rockin”.

Geffen/UMe are paying tribute to the immortal spirit of Chuck Berry with the ultimate vinyl version of his landmark greatest hits compilation, The Great Twenty-Eight, with The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition.

The five-disc vinyl box set housed in a textured box, complements the original two-LP, 28-song compilation with an additional LP, More Great Chuck Berry, containing 14 more hits, rarities and B-sides missing from the original, as well as a rare live album, Oh Yeah! Live in Detroit, available on vinyl for the first time. The collection also include a newly created bonus ten-inch EP Berry Christmas, featuring four holiday-themed classics on “Rudolph-Red” vinyl, with one song on vinyl for the first time as well. A limited edition version on “Chess Blue” vinyl, limited to 500 copies.

Bob Dylan once called Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll.” John Lennon stated, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'” As Keith Richards writes in the booklet intro, “Chuck Berry is the gentleman who started it all.”

And if those testimonials aren’t convincing enough, one listen to The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition will make the case for Chuck Berry’s singular, timeless rock ‘n’ roll brilliance.


 

Cruel and Unusual, a profound documentary telling the story of three men—Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, known as the Angola 3. Wrongfully convicted for murdering a prison guard in 1972 at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, these men have spent longer in solitary than any other prisoners in the US.  On his release, Albert Woodfox had spent 43 years in a six foot by nine foot cell for a crime he did not commit.

Cover for the documentary, "Cruel And Unusual"

The film is available for sale and rental on Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, as well as DVD and Blu-ray.

Told in detail by interviews and prison phone calls from King, Wallace and Woodfox, Cruel and Unusual allows viewers to experience these men’s pain and anguish. From the worst of the worst in their cells, these men managed to find the best of the best that the human spirit has to offer. They have fought for justice and never accepted defeat so that no one else will ever suffer the way they did. A call to action, the film aims to support the growing campaign to end the overuse of long term solitary confinement in America’s prisons.


The rich history of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) began before the end of slavery, flourished in the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the course of the nation for over 150 years—yet remains largely unknown. This latest documentary from Stanley Nelson, America’s foremost film chronicler of the African American experience, is the powerful story of the rise, influence, and evolution of HBCUs come to life.

The story is told in Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (PBS Distribution).

A haven for Black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries—and a path of promise toward the American dream—HBCUs have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field while remaining unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. These institutions have nurtured some of the most influential Americans of our time, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common.

Bob Dylan once called Chuck Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll.” Take a listen to this VIP vinyl box set

In the heavens of rock ‘n’ roll’s first-generation creators, no artist looms larger than Chuck Berry. Bob Dylan once called Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll.” John Lennon stated, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'” Keith Richards: “Chuck Berry is the gentleman who started it all.”

In a consistently innovative recording career that spanned more than 60 years, the iconic singer-songwriter-guitarist, who passed away on March 18, 2017, laid much of the groundwork for modern rock ‘n roll, while creating some of rock’s most distinctive and enduring anthems, from “Johnny B. Goode” to “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music” to “Reelin and Rockin’,”.

Geffen/UMe pays tribute to the immortal spirit of Berry with the ultimate vinyl version of his landmark greatest hits compilation, The Great Twenty-Eight, as it celebrates its 35th anniversary, with The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition. The album will be released as a limited edition five-disc box set on Chess Blue vinyl, limited to only 500 copies worldwide and available exclusively via UDiscoverMusic.com. A wide release standard black vinyl edition will be available next year on January 26, 2018.

Housed in a textured box, the Super Deluxe Edition will complement the original two-LP, 28-song compilation with an additional LP, More Great Chuck Berry, containing 14 more hits, rarities and B-sides missing from the original, as well as a rare live album, Oh Yeah! Live in Detroit, available on vinyl for the first time. The collection will also include a newly created bonus ten-inch EP Berry Christmas, featuring four holiday-themed classics on “Rudolph-Red” vinyl, with one song on vinyl for the first time as well. Pre-order The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition now: https://lnk.to/Great28SDE

Berry’s classic recordings for Chicago’s seminal Chess label have been extensively anthologized in the CD era. But for many Berry devotees, the two-LP vinyl collection The Great Twenty-Eight remains both a sentimental favorite and a definitive document of Berry’s musical genius. It’s no wonder that The Great Twenty-Eight was ranked number 21 on Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” the highest-ranking hits compilation on that list. For those interested in the original 28-track edition of The Great Twenty-Eight, it is now back in print in its original two-LP format for the first time since its initial release in 1982. Order The Great Twenty-Eight here: https://UMe.lnk.to/Great282LP

The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition also includes a handsome 12″ x 12″ book featuring a special introductory essay by Keith Richards, a new essay by best-selling author and SiriusXM host Alan Light, complementing Michael Lydon’s liner notes from the original version of The Great Twenty-Eight, and reminiscences from DJ Lee Alan, plus complete U.S. single, album and EP discographies. The text is enhanced by reproductions of Berry’s original LP cover art and rarely-seen photographs.

A survey of Berry’s first decade of recording on Chess, the original The Great Twenty-Eight contains 21 singles along with six of their b-sides and one album track from Chuck Berry in London. Of those singles, eleven were top ten hits on the Billboard R&B singles chart and ten were Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. During his Chess years, Berry created a massive—and massively influential—body of work that includes countless beloved classics, from “Maybellene” to “Roll Over Beethoven” to “Johnny B. Goode” to “Memphis, Tennessee” and beyond. Indeed, Berry’s music is so deeply ingrained into our culture that NASA launched “Johnny B. Goode” into outer space on the Voyager spacecraft as a representation of the sounds of the human race for the benefit of our cosmic neighbors. All of these songs are included on The Great Twenty-Eight, which also includes the ubiquitous hits “Rock and Roll Music,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “No Particular Place To Go” and many others that have become part of the collective consciousness.

More Great Chuck Berry comprises 14 classic Berry tunes not included on The Great Twenty-Eight, including the sultry, simmering number “Wee Wee Hours,” the original flip side of “Maybellene”; “My Ding-A-Ling,” Berry’s only No. 1 pop single; “Too Pooped To Pop (Casey),” the top 20 R&B A-side of “Let It Rock”; the Top 10 R&B hit “No Money Down”; the celebratory “Promised Land”; and the rollicking “You Never Can Tell,” which earned cinematic immortality as the accompaniment to John Travolta and Uma Thurman’s twist in the film Pulp Fiction.

Oh Yeah!: Live In Detroit is a thrilling, rare concert performance from October 1963, celebrating Berry’s return to the stage after a break from performing. With support from local DJ and TV host Lee Alan, Berry, backed by Motown’s Funk Brothers rhythm section and horn players, recorded the live album during a series of performances at Detroit’s Walled Lake Casino.

Returning to the spotlight after a year-and-a-half brought out an energy and intensity in Berry that can be heard clearly in this historic 12-song set, which launches with “Guitar Boogie”and includes “Let It Rock, “Too Much Monkey Business (available for the first time in the U.S.),” “Johnny B. Goode,” Sweet Little Sixteen” and a lengthy, edge-of-chaos medley, as Berry feeds off an audience that sings along with nearly every track. Throughout the show, Berry tells jokes that slyly address racial tensions. But the record was scrapped at the time and has been previously only available as part of a limited-edition CD set; this marks its first time on vinyl, and as any kind of standalone release.

The bonus EP Berry Christmas collects together four Christmas classics on “Rudolph-Red” vinyl. The 10-inch disc features Berry’s chestnuts, “Run Rudolph Run” and “Merry Christmas Baby” along with “Christmas” and “Spending Christmas,” the latter making its vinyl debut as it was previously available only in a limited-edition CD box set.

And if those testimonials aren’t convincing enough, one listen to The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition will make the case for Chuck Berry’s singular, timeless rock ‘n’ roll brilliance.

 

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best Celebrity Bios of the Year (Part Two)

The Wall Street Journal named Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars (Henry Holt, $30) one of the best music books of 2017 for a good reason. The book is an elegy for the social concept of the “rock star”. Recent times have seen the death of David Bowie, Prince, Tom Petty and Chuck Berry; with no sign that a new generation of outsized “rock stars” is coming and radical changes still transforming the music industry, it’s time to declare the end of the “rock star” as a social force. Acclaimed music journalist David Hepworth travels through the pre-Internet age of swagger, sexual charisma, self-belief and self-reliance through 40 portraits of musicians from 1955-1995.

Never Look at the Empty Seats (Thomas Nelson, $24.99) We’ll let Charlie Daniels’  friend Dolly Parton review his autobiography for you: “Charlie is so up-front and friendly, we all assume we know everything there is to know about him. Not so. There is so much about Charlie’s life in this book that it would and could make a great movie, or even better, a long-running series . . . very informative and interesting. We all love Charlie, me more than most. Enjoy the book. I did.”

Barthes: A Biography (Polity, $39.95) is based on unpublished material never before examined, and sheds new light on his intellectual positions, his political commitments and his ideas, beliefs and desires. It details the many themes he discussed, the authors he defended, the myths he castigated, the polemics that made him famous and his acute ear for the languages of his day. This biography enables the reader to enter into Barthes’s life and grasp the shape of his existence, and thus understand the kind of writer he became and how he turned literature into life itself.

For much of the 20th century, boxing was one of America’s most popular sports, and the heavyweight champions were household names. In The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Ruled the Ring (Rowman & Littlefield, $36), Paul Beston profiles these larger-than-life men who held a central place in American culture. There’s John L. Sullivan, who made the heavyweight championship a commercial property; Jack Johnson, who became the first black man to claim the title; Jack Dempsey, a sporting symbol of the Roaring Twenties; Joe Louis, whose contributions to racial tolerance and social progress transcended even his greatness in the ring; Rocky Marciano, who became an embodiment of the American Dream; Muhammad Ali, who took on the U.S. government and revolutionized professional sports with his showmanship; and Mike Tyson, a hard-punching dynamo who typified the modern celebrity. A knock out! Mad Dog by Bertrand Hébert and Pat Laprade, translated by George Tombs, ECW PressAnother tome to make book ends: Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story (ECW, $19,95), that explores Vachon’s career and personal struggles with painstakingly detailed historical research and through both Maurice’s own recollections and those of the people who knew him best.

Cleopatra is one of the most famous women in history—and thanks to Shakespeare, one of the most intriguing personalities in literature. She was lover of Marc Antony, defender of Egypt, and, perhaps most enduringly, a champion of life. Award-winning writer and beloved professor Harold Bloom writes about Cleopatra with wisdom, joy, exuberance and compassion. He also explores his own personal relationship to the character: Just as we encounter one Anna Karenina or Jay Gatsby when we are in high school and college and another when we are adults, Bloom explains his shifting understanding of Cleopatra over the course of his own lifetime. The book becomes an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our own humanity.

Before Washington, before Jefferson, before Franklin or John Adams, there was Richard Henry Lee, the First Founding Father. He was first to call for independence, first to cal for union, and first to call for a bill of rights to protect Americans against government tyranny. A towering figure in America’s Revolutionary War, Lee was as much the “father of our country” as George Washington, for it was Lee who secured the political and diplomatic victories that ensured Washington’s military victories. A stirring, action-packed biography, First Founding Father: Richard Henry Lee and the Call to Independence (Da Capo Press, $28) First Founding Father will startle most Americans with the revelation that many historians have ignored for more than two centuries: Richard Henry Lee, not Thomas Jefferson, was the author of America’s original Declaration of Independence.

In Prince and the Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions: 1983 and 1984 (Rowman & Littlefield, $38), Duane Tudahl pulls back the paisley curtain to reveal the untold story of Prince’s rise from cult favorite to the biggest rock star on the planet. His journey is meticulously documented through detailed accounts of his time secluded behind the doors of the recording studio as well as his days on tour. With unprecedented access to the musicians, singers, and studio engineers who knew Prince best, including members of the Revolution and the Time, Tudahl weaves an intimate saga of an eccentric genius and the people and events who helped shape the groundbreaking music he created. This definitive chronicle of Prince’s creative brilliance during 1983 and 1984 provides a new experience of the Purple Rain album as an integral part of Prince’s life and the lives of those closest to him.

It’s easy to call Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel (Rowman & Littlefield, $22.95) a marvel. Bob Batchelor offers an eye-opening look at this iconic visionary, a man who created (with talented artists) many of history’s most legendary characters. He explores how Lee capitalized on natural talent and hard work to become the editor of Marvel Comics as a teenager. After toiling in the industry for decades, Lee threw caution to the wind and went for broke, co-creating the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and others in a creative flurry that revolutionized comic books for generations of readers. Marvel superheroes became a central part of pop culture, from collecting comics to innovative merchandising, from superhero action figures to the ever-present Spider-Man lunchbox.

How did Rich Little become an a world-famous, world-class impersonator? He quips: “Perhaps my mother was conceived by a Xerox machine!” Little by Little: People I’ve Known and Been (7th Mind Publishing, $24.95) is a witty, fun read; not so much a detailed autobio, but (as Little says) “a humorous glimpse of he people I’ve impersonated and some of the funny stories that happened along the way.”

Chris Matthews’ new book, Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99) is a gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the great figures of the American 20th century. Drawing on extensive research and interviews, Matthews pulls back the curtain on the public and private worlds of Robert Francis Kennedy. He shines a light on all the important moments of his life, from his early years and his start in politics to his crucial role as attorney general in his brother’s administration and his tragic run for president. This book brings Bobby Kennedy to life like never before and is destined to become a political classic.

Not many people know Wanda Jackson. They should. Her debut single, “You Can’t Have My Love,” reached the Top 10 while she was still a 16-year-old high school student. She hit the road after graduation, playing package shows with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, who gave Wanda his ring and asked her to be “his girl.” With Presley’s encouragement, the Oklahoma native began recording rock music, often releasing singles with country on one side and rock on the other during her decade-and-a-half tenure on Capitol Records. With more than 40 albums to her credit, Wanda has proven to be an enduring and genre-defying legend of American music. She details her life and career in the wonderful In Every Night Is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey To The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (BMG Books, $24.99). She’s still so loved Elvis Costello wrote the foreword.

In Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell (Sarah Crichton Books, $28), David Yaffe draws on dozens of unprecedented in-person interviews with Mitchell, her childhood friends and a cast of famous characters to reveal the backstory behind the famous songs. Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by [Yaffe, David]From Mitchell’s youth in Canada, her bout with polio at age nine and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, through the love affairs that inspired hits, and up to the present, the bio shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers and her friends. It’s the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark on American music.

Hal Prince is King of Broadway . . . and then some. In his pithy and wildly entertaining Sense of Occasion (Applause, $29.99), the most honored director/producer in the history of the American theater looks back over his 70 (and counting!) year career. The book gives an insider’s recollection of the making of such landmark musicals as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera, with Prince’s perceptive comments about his mentor George Abbott and his many celebrated collaborators.  He also fairly reflects on the shows that didn’t work, most memorably and painfully Merrily We Roll Along. This thoughtful, complete account of one of the most legendary and long-lived careers in theater history, written by the man who lived it, is an essential work of personal and professional recollection.

In The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs (Simon & Schuster $26), Ed Asner leads the charge for liberals to reclaim the Constitution from the right-wingers who use it as their justification for doing whatever terrible thing they want to do, which is usually to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. It’s about time someone gave them hell and explained that progressives can read, too. Go get ’em Mr. Grant!

The answer is blowin’ in the wind. Or at least in this quartet of books that celebrate and commemorate Bob Dylan. Why Bob Dylan Matters (Dey Street Books, $24.99), Harvard Professor Richard F. Thomas, a world expert on Classical poetry, was initially ridiculed by his colleagues for teaching a course on Bob Dylan alongside his traditional seminars on Homer Virgil, and Ovid. Dylan’s Nobel Prize brought him vindication, and he immediately found himself thrust into the spotlight as a leading academic voice in all matters Dylanological. Today, through his wildly popular Dylan seminar—affectionately dubbed “Dylan 101″—Thomas is introducing a new generation of fans and scholars to the revered bard’s work. This witty, personal volume is a distillation of Thomas’s famous course, and makes a compelling case for moving Dylan out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and into the pantheon of Classical poets. You’ll never think about Bob Dylan in the same way again. On October 13, 2016, he the Nobel Prize in Literature, recognizing his countless contributions to music and letters over the last 50 years. His acceptance speech is contained in The Nobel Lecture (Simon & Schuster , $16.99), in which Dylan reflects on his life and experience with literature, providing both a rare artistic statement and an intimate look at a uniquely American icon. 100 Songs (Simon & Schuster, $17) is an intimate and carefully curated collection of his most important lyrics that spans from the beginning of his career through the present day. Perfect for students who may be new to Dylan’s work as well as longtime fans, this portable, abridged volume of these singular lyrics explores the depth, breadth and magnitude of one of the world’s most enduring bodies of work.  Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews (Simon & Schuster, $35) features more than two dozen of the most significant and revealing conversations with the singer, gathered in one definitive collection that spans his career from street poet to Nobel Laureate.

In the compelling biography Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story-How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War (Harper, $28), Nigel Cliff recounts how the young pianist’s warm embrace of Russian music kindled an enduring love affair with an entire nationand sparked optimism that the two antagonistic superpowers could find a route to peaceful co-existence.  In contrast to the tensions sparked by the Bay of Pigs debacle and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cliburn brought classical music to the masses.  Elegantly combining the political and the personal, this narrative provides a fresh perspective on the Cold War and its implicit nuclear threat while telling the whole of Van Cliburn’s story for the first time.

Jenifer Lewis bares her soul in The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir (Amistad , $25.99), a touching and poignant—and at times side-splittingly hilarious—memoir of a Midwestern girl with a dream, whose journey took her from poverty to the big screen, and along the way earned her many accolades. In the audaciously honest voice that her fans adore, Lewis describes her transition to Hollywood; when an undiagnosed mental illness stymies her career (culminating in a breakdown while filming The Temptations), her quest for wholeness becomes a harrowing and inspiring tale, including revelations of bipolar disorder and sex addiction.

Hunter Davies, the only ever authorized biographer of the Fab Four, brings together three eminent Beatles experts—Spencer Leigh, Keith Badman and David Bedford to compile an invaluable and essential guide. Divided into four sections—People, Songs, Places and Broadcast & Cinema—The Beatles Book(Ebury Press , $59.95) covers every element of the band’s history and brings every influence that shaped the incredible Beatles phenomenon vividly to life. Hunter and his team have also rated entries to show how important, influential or meaningful that characteristic was in the history of their lives and creations. Illustrated with material from Hunter’s remarkable private collection of personal artifacts and memorabilia, this compendium is an beautiful, insightful and entertaining treasure for any Beatles fan.

Steve McQueen remains the embodiment of cool some three decades after his death. How can that be? Whether on the silver screen, racing a Triumph motorcycle across a California desert, dueling with other racers at Le Mans, or simply hanging with his pals, McQueen exuded an effortless style that belied his rough and tumble past. It’s a trick that ensures he continues to appear in advertising and pop culture all the while embraced by cinema, racing, and motorcycle fans as one of their own. He remains the ultimate guy’s guy. The Life Steve McQueen (Motorbooks, $30) explores and celebrates the memorable aspects of McQueen’s life that, taken as a whole, defined the man and cemented his reputation as a Hollywood rebel and risk taker. Peppered with period photos, illustrations, posters and more, the book surveys the movie roles, racing, personal style, art, and pop culture that all combined to crown the King of Cool and ensure his legacy.

 

“Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Volume 1” is a 180-gram black vinyl ticket to the very best music, ever

Everyone knows vinyl is making a 180-gram comeback, but for the record, there’s a new collectible music mavens and vinyl devotees must own: Rock & Roll hall of Fame Live – Volume 1. For over a quarter century, rock and roll’s biggest stars have gathered on one special evening for an exclusive party: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.  Honoring music’s most influential figures with the most prestigious of awards, it’s also an evening where both artists and fans celebrate rock and roll with once-in-a-lifetime performances.  For the first time on vinyl, Time Life has pressed a selection of the most memorable moments in the history of the induction ceremony, previously only available in digital and physical formats.
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2This release includes performances from legendary talents like Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Cream, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Metallica, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Ron Wood, Joe Perry, Tom Petty, Green Day, James Taylor, Al Green and Chuck Berry.  Unforgettable collaborations occur on this volume, such as Tom Petty paired with Prince, and Mick Jagger paired with Bruce Springsteen.  Jam-filled performances of chart-busters like “Johnny Be Goode,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” “A Change is Gonna Come,” “Train Kept a Rollin,'” “Ironman,” “Woodstock,” “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” and a show-stopping performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” make this volume a must-have for any LP library.  Volumes 2 and 3 will roll out though this the year, allowing fans to collect even more of these beloved performances on vinyl. Additionally, the net proceeds go to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, which  supports the exhibits and educational programs of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.