The Beatles and Duke Ellington’s Orchestra stand as the two greatest examples of collaboration in music history. Now, Duke University musicologist Thomas Brothers delivers music to our ears (and eyes): HELP!: The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration (W. W. Norton & Company, $27.95), the fascinating story of how creative cooperation inspired two of the world’s most celebrated musical acts. It’s a portrait of the creative process at work, demonstrating that the cooperative method at the foundation of these two artist-groups was the primary reason for their unmatched musical success.
While clarifying the historical record of who wrote what, with whom, and how, Brothers brings the past to life with photos, anecdotes, and more than thirty years of musical knowledge that reverberates through every page, and analysis of songs from Lennon and McCartney’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” to Billy Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge.” HELP! describes in rich detail the music and master of two cultural leaders whose popularity has never dimmed, and the process of collaboration that allowed them to achieve an artistic vision greater than the sum of their parts.
There must be more to life than this. There is. Welcome Queen: Song By Song ( Voyageur Press, $30), the thoughtfully curated and gloriously illustrated retrospective of Queen’s studio releases, with a diverse cast of musicians, journalists and more, discussing and dissecting the making of each album. Perfect timing indeed: The book is hits shelves just in time for the 45th anniversary of their debut LP and the upcoming feature film biopic.
Formed in 1970, Queen went on to become one of the most popular—and most successful—rock bands of all time. Even following the untimely death of beloved and magnetic frontman Freddie Mercury, and nearly 50 years after their formation, interest in the band has continued, evidenced by scores of reissues, arena tours with surviving members, and the upcoming feature-film biopic.
In this new installment in Voyageur Press’s Album by Album series, Martin Popoff convenes a cast of 19 Queen experts and superfans to discuss all 15 of the band’s studio albums (including their soundtrack for the 1980 film Flash Gordon). Among the cast of musicians, journalists and music industry pros exploring Queen’s recorded output are Paul McCartney, Dee Snider, Dave Ellefson, Queen producer Mack, Derek Shulman, Jeb Wright, Daniel Nester and many other experts. The results are freewheeling discussions delving into the individual songs, the circumstances that surrounded the recording of each album, the band and contemporary rock contexts into which they were released.
The engaging text of this beautifully designed book is illustrated throughout with rare live performance and candid offstage photography, as well as scads of rare Queen ephemera.
The Album by Album series is a unique approach to the rock bio, injecting the varied voices of several contributors. The results have even the most diehard fans rushing back to their MP3 players (or turntables) to confirm the details and opinions expressed.
“Watch out for the music. It should come with a health warning:
It can and should make you think the world can be a better place.”
— Peter Gabriel
Each year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors rock music’s pioneering figures during a prestigious, black-tie ceremony. As the Hall of Fame enters its third decade, it’s these singular induction ceremonies- featuring the biggest names in classic rock from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s–that have become nearly as iconic as the artists they celebrate. On April 24, Time Life and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame give home audiences front row seats to the four most recent incredible induction ceremonies with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert.
Never before available at retail on any format, these four memorable live concert events are filled with the kind of collaborations and jam sessions that have made Rock Hall concerts legendary. With egos set aside–in many cases original band lineups perform together for the first time in years–inductees and friends take the stage to deliver once-in-a-lifetime performances, often with a truly mind-blowing combination of talent.
“From the first induction ceremony in 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has sought to honor the top names in all genres of rock ‘n’ roll,” says Joel Peresman, President of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. “These ceremonies have provided unique once-in-a-lifetime moments as the inductees and presenters come together to celebrate the legacy of these artists and it’s a privilege to produce this important part of music history and to share it with you!”
This four-disc set –a must-have for every music lover–features poignant reunions, moving and often hilarious induction speeches, and 53 iconic performances.
Among the unforgettable highlights on the DVD and Blu-ray sets:
Bruce Springsteen joining inductees E Street Band for the deep cut classic “E Street Shuffle” from the Boss’s second album, from 1973.
Legendary grunge-rock group Pearl Jam delivering thundering performances of “Alive,” “Given to Fly” and “Better Man.”
The two surviving members of Nirvana joined on stage by Lorde, Annie Clark, Kim Gordon and Joan Jett for emotional renderings of the group’s biggest hits.
Cat Stevens performing a spine-tingling version of “Father & Son” that turned the massive Barclay Center quiet as a church.
Journey performs three classics: “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Lights” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Ringo Starr being welcomed into the Rock Hall with a little help from Paul McCartney.
Original Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos joining the band for the first time in 6 years tearing through their early hits including “Surrender” and “Dream Police.”
Five of the original members of Chicago performing on stage for the first time in 25 years.
Features complete Hall of Fame Induction speeches including Coldplay’s Chris Martin inducting Peter Gabriel and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich inducting Deep Purple.
Proof that music remains the soundtrack to all lives.
After he died in the backseat of a Cadillac at the age of 29, Hank Williams, a frail, flawed man who had become country music’s first real star, instantly morphed into its first tragic martyr. Having hit the heights with simple songs of despair, depression, and tainted love, he would, with that outlaw swagger, become in death a template for the rock generation to follow. Mark Ribowsky’s Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams (Liveright, $35) examines Williams’ music while also re-creating days and nights choked in booze and desperation. Ribowsky traces the miraculous rise of this music legend from the dirt roads of rural Alabama to the now-immortal stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and finally to a sad, lonely end on New Year s Day, 1953. But unlike those other musical giants who never made 30, no legacy endures quite like that of the “Hillbilly King.”
Bram Stoker, despite having a name nearly as famous as his legendary undead Count Dracula, has remained a puzzling enigma. Now, in Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula(Liveright, $35), David J. Skal exhumes the inner world and strange genius of the writer who conjured an undying cultural icon. Stoker was inexplicably paralyzed as a boy, and his story unfolds against a backdrop of Victorian medical mysteries and horrors: Cholera and famine fever, childhood opium abuse, frantic bloodletting, mesmeric quack cures, and the gnawing obsession with “bad blood” that informs every page of Dracula.
From his time as a session guitarist in the ’60s, working with legendary rock groups like The Kinks and The Who, to his time with the Yardbirds and his eventual founding on Led Zeppelin and his post-Zeppelin career, No Quarter(Overlook, $35) is a rich, insightful telling of Jimmy Page’s story. It has all the sex and drugs you’d expect from a rock icon, but Page is widely considered to be a mysterious figure and Martin Power’s biography will shed light on the man who made music.
Historian Betty Boyd Caroli spent seven years exploring the archives of the LBJ Library, interviewing dozens of people, and mining never-before-released letters between Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson. The result?Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage that Made a President (Simon & Schuster, $18) They married with a tacit agreement: This highly gifted politician would take her away, and she would save him from his weaknesses. The conventional story goes that Lyndon married Lady Bird for her money and demeaned her by flaunting his many affairs, and that her legacy was protecting the nation’s wildflowers.
But Caroli shows that she was also the one who swooped in to make the key call to a donor, to keep the team united, to campaign in hostile territory, and to jump-start Lyndon out of his paralyzing dark moods.
Described by his friend Richard Burton as “the most original actor to come out of Britain since the war,” Peter O’Toole was also unpredictable with a dangerous edge he brought to his roles and to his real life. With the help of exclusive interviews with colleagues and close friends, Peter O’Toole: The Definitive Biography (Thomas Dunne Books, $28.99), paints the first complete picture of this complex and much-loved man. The book reveals what drove him to extremes, why he drank to excess for many years and hated authority, but it also describes a man who was fiercely intelligent with a great sense of humor and huge energy. Giving full weight to his extraordinary career, this is an insightful, funny and moving tribute to an iconic actor who made a monumental contribution to theatre and cinema.
On August 16, 1952, Ian Fleming wrote to his wife, Ann, “My love, This is only a tiny letter to try out my new typewriter and to see if it will write golden words since it is made of gold.” He had bought the golden typewriter as a present to himself for finishing his first novel, Casino Royale. “It marked in glamorous style the arrival of James Bond, agent 007, and the start of a career that saw Fleming become one the world’s most celebrated thriller-writers. And he did write golden words. Before his death in 1964 he produced 14 best-selling Bond books, two works of non-fiction and the famous children’s story Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Fleming’s output was matched by an equally energetic flow of letters. He wrote constantly, to his wife, publisher, editors, fans, friends and critics; his letters also reflect his friendship with such contemporaries as Raymond Chandler, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham. Enjoy The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters(Bloomsbury, $30).
Arnold Palmer is considered the most important golfer in history. As a follow-up to his 1999 autobiography, Palmer takes stock of the many experiences of his life in A Life Well Played (St. martin’s Press, $22.99), bringing new details and insights to some familiar stories and sharing new ones. He offers advice and guidance, sharing stories of his career on the course, success in business and the great relationships that give meaning to his life. This book is Palmer’s gift to the world–a treasure trove of entertaining anecdotes and timeless wisdom that readers will celebrate and cherish.
Breaking bad, reading well. In his riveting memoir A Life in Parts (Scribner, $27), Bryan Cranston traces his zigzag journey from his chaotic childhood to his dramatic epiphany, and beyond, to mega-stardom and a cult-like following, by vividly revisiting the many parts he’s played. With great humor, and much humility, Cranston chronicles his unlikely rise from a soap opera regular, trying to learn the ropes and the politics of show business on the fly. Discussing his failures as few men do, describing his work as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about innate talent, its benefits, challenges, and proper maintenance, but ultimately the book is about the necessity and transformative power of hard work.
Derailed in the ’70s by mental illness, drug use and the shifting fortunes of the band, Brian Wilson came back again and again over the next few decades, surviving and thriving. In I am Brian Wilson (Da Capo Press, $26.99), he weighs in on the sources of his creative inspiration and on his struggles, the exhilarating highs and the debilitating lows.Whether he’s talking about his childhood, his band mates or his own inner demons, Wilson’s story, told in his own voice and in his own way, unforgettably illuminates the man behind the music, working through the turbulence and discord to achieve, at last, a new harmony.
This is the story of the Beatles’ harrowing rise to fame: Focusing on that seven-year stretch from the time the boys met as teenagers to early 1964, when the Fab Four made their momentous first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. From the boys’ humble beginnings in Liverpool, to the cellars of Hamburg, When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles’ Rise to the Top (Running Press, $24.95) includes stories never before told, including the heartbreaks and the lucky breaks. Included are an eyewitness account of that first meeting between Lennon and McCartney, the inside story of how Ringo replaced Pete Best, an exploration of the brilliant but troubled soul of manager Brian Epstein, and the real scoop on their disastrous first visit to Germany and the death of Stu Sutcliffe.
Amy Winehouse died at 27. With a worldwide fanbase and millions of record sales to her name, she should have had the world at her feet. Instead, in the years prior to her passing, she battled addictions and was often the subject of tabloid headlines. Amy’s mother, Janis, knew the real Amy as no one else did. InLoving Amy: A Mother’s Story (Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99) Janis reveals the full story of the daughter she loved. As the world watched the rise of a superstar, then the freefall of an addict to her untimely death, Janis simply saw her Amy, the girl she’d given birth to in 1983; the girl she’d raised and stood by despite her unruly behavior; the girl whose body she was forced to identify two days after her death-and the girl she’s grieved for every day since.
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some