Books and Music at the Heart of Independent Publishing

The Faber Social 2017 Music Books Roundup

December 4, 2017 | by Hannah Marshall

Tags: Best Books, Music Books, 2017

This year, in a final act of goodwill to all men, we’ve taken our house band on a whirlwind tour of Faber Social’s books of 2017. From the highs of Goldie’s coke-fuelled celebrity to the lows of a pre-gentrified Brooklyn bathroom via 1980s Scotland and an infamous exhibition at the ICA circa 1976, the last year has been an unforgettable ride. Here are the highlights.

 

Meet Me in the Bathroom

‘In this wildly entertaining oral history, Lizzy Goodman captures the glamour, excitement and sordid excess of New York’s early-2000s, pre-gentrification rock scene.’

The Times, Books of the Year: Pop and Rock

‘Goodman has done an exhaustive job but the characters, not least the five louche Strokes, jump off the page.’

The Sunday Times, Books of the Year

‘An exhaustive, contradictory and gossipy oral history of the NYC scene that coalesced around The Strokes’ millennial notoriety. Interviewing everyone who mattered, and plenty who didn’t, Goodman captured the youthful excitement of it all exploding…’ Uncut, #3 Books of the Year

‘Life moves fast, but in this book’s 600 pages Goodman pins down a remarkable cultural moment’ Mojo, #3 Book of the Year

Folk Song in England

‘Authoritative and immensely readable, at 800 pages, Roud’s four-part study of the provenance, evolution and significance of the English Folk-song tradition spanned the 1500s to the 1950s, taking in everything from drunken Dickensian choirs to Edwardian song collectors. The result was a colourfully evocative work of social history.’

Uncut, #9 Book of the Year

‘[A] monumental history of the English folk song’

Guardian

‘It sets out to investigate the wider social history of traditional song in England and draws on a wide range of sources to answer these questions and much more. To say this is a much-needed publication would be an understatement.’

Folk Radio UK

 

This is Memorial Device

‘A joyful, elegaic spoof of a novel, posing as an oral history of an Eighties post-punk four-piece in suburban Scotland’

Telegraph, 50 Best Books of 2017

‘Brilliant stuff. It captures the terrific, obsessive, ludicrous pomposity of every music fans youth in an utterly definitive way.’ Irvine Welsh

‘Beautifully believable and appallingly sad … One of the most acute, affecting and aphoristic novels of recent years … A hallucinatory and haunting vision.’ Guardian

‘Music writer Keenan makes a rewarding switch to fiction, telling the story of a post-punk band in the small Scottish town of Airdrie. Narrated by different people connected with Memorial Device, it is a powerful “hallucinated oral history” of provincial 1980s counter-culture.’

Financial Times, Summer Books

 

 

Roots, Radicals and Rockers

‘Roots, Radicals and Rockers is full of fascinating digressions but it also traces the grand sweep of an unfurling counterculture, from its politics to its music. With an archivist’s sense of mission, a musician’s knowledge and a fan’s joy, Bragg performs a real national service: illuminating a moment all too easily lost.’

The Sunday Times

‘British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg turns author with a skilful history of skiffle, the 1950s craze that gripped the UK at the same time that rock’n’roll snake-hipped its way over from the US. The music’s significance is convincingly rehabilitated.’

Financial Times, Best Music Books 2017

‘With music acting as a centrepiece, Bragg adroitly links the changes in films, politics, television and teenage life as he proceeds […] Impressive and puts one ‘in-the-room’ throughout’ Mojo, #6 Book of the Year

 

First Time Ever

‘Peggy’s Seeger’s substantial and absorbing memoir is fabulous, taking us back through British folk and reminding us of why we love her songs.’

Jackie Kay, Guardian Books of the Year

‘Folk singer Seeger is defined by the men in her life (Ewan MacColl, half-brother Pete). But this sharp-eyed memoir sees her leap from their shadows.’

Telegraph, 50 Best Books of 2017

‘Born into American folk royalty … Seeger (now 82) landed on our shores in 1956 thanks to another folkie god, Alan Lomax, calling her over. A gifted singer-songwriter, she found her match artistically and emotionally with Ewan MacColl, with whom she recorded and toured for decades. This lively memoir details the ups and downs of that relationship. It also sees Seeger, later in life, embracing women’s rights and falling in love with a woman.’ The Sunday Times, Books of the Year

Art Sex Music

‘There are avant-garde artists and then there is Cosey Fanni Tutti … for all the maggots, lice and body fluids in her memoir, this is a sober and honest book that establishes the woman born Christine Newby as a serious and committed artist.’

The Sunday Times, Books of the Year: Music

‘Artist, musician and sometime pornogrphic actress Tutti on her extraordinary life – and her awful liaison with a Throbbing Gristle bandmate.’

Telegraph 50 Best Books of 2017

‘Performance artist, pornographic actor and founding member of Throbbing Gristle, Christine Newby’s uncompromising career straddled strip joints, auspicious rock venues and elite art galleries, not without pain and struggle. Art Sex Music was her fearless and frequently eye-popping account of it all.’

Uncut, #5 Book of the Year

 

All Things Remembered

‘A fabulous, whirling kaleidoscope of music, memory and trauma.’

Nicola Barker, Guardian Books of the Year

‘Hugely funny – or deeply disturbing, depending on how dark you like your comedy […] Endlessly entwined, completely uncensored, it’s the story of one of the UK’s most enduring subcultures told by one of its bedrock figures’

A Nation of Billions

‘The book, divided into track listings as opposed to chapters, makes for a fascinating and engaging flow of consciousness as it bounces between experiences and timelines, all of which are slammed down on the page in a nonlinear fashion with sample-like extracts, returning with edits and afterthoughts […] In the introduction he talks about dealing with stress by “getting in his time machine and fucking off”. And this title, as crammed full as it is, lets the reader take that journey with him.’ The Wire

 

2023

 

‘A brain-searing, gender-inverted metafiction that addresses the internet’s takeover of reality, the power of capital and the myths of birth.’ Mojo

‘The KLF are officially back, as wicked and inscrutable as ever.’ Pitchfork

‘Bill and Jimmy’s ill-behaved and darkly jocular meta-fictional spectacular . . . a bewildering-but-compelling cosmic joke of a book, a book which also offers sombre, sobering rumination on the catastrophic fairytale of our existence . . . [2023] is cast in the fluent, page-turning prose that Bill is known for.’

Caught by the River