Hollywood Royale – Matthew Rolston

I love to report on and own music photography books. This book, Hollywood Royale from photographer Matthew Rolston caught my eye today.

Matthew Rolston started his career as a “discovery” of Andy Warhol for Interview magazine.

Soon after, he began shooting covers and editorial assignments for founding editor Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone, as well as for other established publications such as Harper’s BazaarVogueEsquireCosmopolitan, and The New York Times.


Vinyl . Album . Cover . Art: The Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue

The complete, definitive and never-before-published catalog of Hipgnosis, Vinyl • Album • Cover • Art finally does justice to the work of the most important design collective in music history, which, according to Roddy Bogawa, director of the documentary Taken by Storm (2011), ‘designed half your record collection’.

Founded in 1967 by Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell and Peter Christopherson, Hipgnosis gained legendary status in graphic design, transforming the look of album art forever and winning five Grammy nominations for package design.

Their revolutionary cover art moved away from the conventional group shots favoured by record companies of the day, resulting in the ground-breaking, often surreal designs which define the albums of many of the biggest names in the history of popular music: 10cc, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, The Police, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Syd Barrett, Throbbing Gristle, T. Rex, Wings, Yes and XTC, to name but a few.

Arranged chronologically, Vinyl • Album • Cover • Art features stunning reproductions of every single Hipgnosis cover – 372 in total – coupled with detailed information by Po and Storm Thorgerson on the artworks and the compelling stories behind their creation. Additional contributions by Peter Gabriel, Marcus Bradbury, and Pentagram’s Harry Pearce provide engrossing insights into the way these incredible artworks came into being; place the covers in a context, and reflect on their enduring impact on album design.

Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968

I look back with an awesome sense of wonder how the music in 1968 established my artistic consciousness. In those days I was listening to 12″ vinyl records on a hi-fi phonograph in my room and progressive rock music on a boom-box like radio from WNEW-FM 102.7 in New York City.

My Facebook music feed uncovered a new book from that era,  Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan Harris. (Thanks, Chris Morris…)

If you have any affinity for the Van Morrison sui-generis masterpiece recording  Astral Weeks you should read Jon Michaud’s New Yorker article, “The Miracle of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks”.  The article will whet your appetite to pursue further discovery surrounding the recording as well as the impact Boston had on Van Morrison’s muse in 1968.

When I think of the Bosstown Sound 1968 I flash on Ultimate Spinach, Beacon Street Union, Earth Opera, and Orpheus. Ryan Walsh expands substantially on the cultural experience Boston provided in 1968. I am elated to learn how the Boston scene proved integral to Van Morrison and Astral Weeks. I have always associated Astral Weeks with the hills of San Francisco. Little did I realize the astral plane was formed elsewhere.

Astral Weeks is one of a handful of LPs that I return to often. There is a special magic to these particular Van Morrison’s songs.

This video from the WNET Channel 13 Public Television Fillmore East broadcast, which I recall watching on my black and white TV complete with tin foil rabbit ears, shows Van getting caught one more time in “Cypress Avenue”. Watch the introduction from the late Bill Graham that captures Van’s essence perfectly why “It’s Too Late To Stop Now”.


Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown

One of my favorite music authors is Robert Gordon. He just released his latest book , Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown with Bloomsbury Publishing.

Memphis Rent Party

“Robert’s feel for his subject is very similar to the subjects’ feel for their music. Blues, being the wellspring of all American music for over a century, is always worth studying. Robert does it right.” –  Keith Richards

Give it a glance. Robert Gordon, a Memphis native citizen has been writing about Memphis music and history for thirty years.

If you plan to be in LA on April 26th, this related event may be of interest to you.

Claire L. Evans – Weird Is Welcome

Claire L. Evans is a writer and musician. I discovered her whilst reading the March ’18 issue of Wired. 

She is the lead singer of the dance-pop group, Yacht.

Her forthcoming book, Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet informs us about the accomplishments of women technology pioneers.

If you plan to be in the New York metro area on March 6th, 2018, Claire L. Evans will be appearing at Word Bookstore in Brooklyn.




Why Vinyl Matters By Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

I discovered a journalism project that validates the joy vinyl music provides our listening experiences.

The coffee table book, Why Vinyl Matters is part history, part future forecasting, part nostalgia and all celebration. A collection of more than 25 interviews, all illustrated with photos, sidebars, quotes, album covers, outtakes and much more. This is the book for anyone who has ever gone to the store and bought music on vinyl.

The author of this enlightening research is Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike. Dr. Bickerdike is a media and music academic, specializing in fandom, the cult of dead celebrity, pop culture, and music. She is the head of music journalism at The British and Irish Modern Music Institute.

I’m adding this “must own” vinyl book to my Birthday wish list 😉


Why Vinyl Matters is not just about waxing (HA!) nostalgic about the format; it is about the special and unique way that records bring us together in unexpected and magical ways.”—Jennifer Otter Bickerdike



Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall Of The Rock Stars – David Hepworth

I’ve come to respect how prolific and authoritative David Hepworth is as a music journalist. I published a blog post last year about his earlier book, 1971: Never A Dull Moment. A pivotal year in rock music.

His new book is titled, Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall Of The Rock Stars.

The latest book, “Uncommon People,” takes in the genre through a broader lens, 1955 to 1995, charting the rise and fall of the rock star as a species over that time.

An elegy to the age of the Rock Star, featuring Chuck Berry, Elvis, Madonna, Bowie, Prince, and more, uncommon people whose lives were transformed by rock and who, in turn, shaped our culture

The age of the rock star, like the age of the cowboy, has passed. Like the cowboy, the idea of the rock star lives on in our imaginations. What did we see in them? Swagger. Recklessness. Sexual charisma. Damn-the-torpedoes self-belief. A certain way of carrying themselves. Good hair. Interesting shoes. The talent we wished we had. What did we want of them? To be larger than life but also like us. To live out their songs. To stay young forever. No wonder many didn’t stay the course.