Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Best of 2011

Several of the many items [old and new] enjoyed and recommended by Burbank Public Library staff during 2011 for your consideration:

I don't know if these are 2011's best books about rock music, but these are the ones I enjoyed the most!

Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge

by Mark Yarm
Hey, remember grunge? Well, everybody in this book remembers, or at least they give it their best shot (apparently some of them used to party a wee bit). The narrative, told entirely in interview responses, details how Seattle's fun, quirky local music scene became an unlikely national juggernaut and how that juggernaut became a junkified corporate nightmare, and how now it's just clich├ęd oldies radio. Nice long read, lotsa fun, especially the early stuff.

It's So Easy: and Other Lies by Duff McKagan
Duff McKagen (who leaves his hometown of Seattle in the first part of Everybody Loves Our Town to seek his fortune in Hollywood), was the bass player in Guns n' Roses, the best-band-with-only-one-good-album of all time. I had already read Slash's book, and a couple about Axl, and a couple about the band in general, so I had a pretty good sense of the Gunners' story, but it was refreshing to get Duff’s calm, measured take on it. (Apparently it was a lot of fun until it became a junkified corporate nightmare.) I could’ve stood a little more on how their songs were written and recorded, but even so, It's So Easy is the finest entry yet in the Guns n’ Roses proud family of books.

Fallin' Up: My Story by Taboo and Steve Dennis
If you like reading books about people you’ve barely heard of from bands you don’t like, then I strongly recommend Fallin’ Up: My Story by Taboo. (Taboo, I’ve come to understand, is a member of the Black Eyed Peas. He’s one of the guys who is not Fergie or Will.I.Am.) Written with a genuinely charming lack of guile and cynicism, Fallin’ Up follows Taboo and the gang as they chart their course from L.A. obscurity to chart-topping international success. And although Taboo never writes any songs, or helps promote the band, or contributes much of anything at all while they struggle to make it, he has such a positive attitude about the whole thing that you can’t help but like him and his book. (Apparently the experience was a lot of fun until it became a junkified corporate nightmare, but then he quit the drugs and it became just a regular corporate nightmare, and then it was fun again.) The book is also good if you need a provocative conversation-starter at a party. It’s a fun read, and yes, I’m being serious.

Reviewed by Jeff

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