From a few ounces to half a dozen pounds, the season is rich with books for any of your music-loving friends and family. First, let’s look at the new offerings on the perennials front. George Harrison: Living in the Material World by Olivia Harrison (Abrams, $40) is a companion to the recent HBO documentary directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s a large and luxurious collection of rare photographs and ephemera. The early years of his well-known band are celebrated in The Beatles in Hamburg by Spencer Leigh (Chicago Review Press, $19.95).
Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown by David Yaffe (Yale University Press, $24) examines four aspects of Dylan’s career: the underrated influence of his singing style, his relationship to racial matters, his image in films, and his songwriting methods. David Bowie: Starman by Paul Trynka (Little Brown, $25.99) looks at the ongoing influence of the man who hasn’t released a new album in more than eight years. The still-touring Judy Collins has brought forth her autobiography, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes (Crown, $26). Tom Waits on Tom Waits (Chicago Review Press, $19.95) is a bracing collection of interviews with Waits from the past four decades, edited by Paul Maher, Jr.
The life of the R&B-loving son of a Turkish diplomat who built Atlantic records is detailed in The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun (Robert Greenfield, (Simon & Schuster, $30). Who else would have jacket blurbs from Henry Kissinger and Kid Rock? Post-baby-boom musicians are popping up more and more on the shelves. New tomes include This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl by Paul Brannigan (DaCapo, $26) and See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody by Bob Mould with Michael Azerrad (Little Brown, $24.99).
There’s a pair of fine wonders for the eyes. Rock Seen (Abrams, $45) is a glorious spread of photos by Bob Gruen, from the iconic Clash shot on the cover to a multitude of John Lennon portraits that have become fixed in our collective consciousness. From the Ramones at CBGBs to Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden, it’s five pounds of photos! Instrument by Pat Graham (Chronicle, $29.95) offers his photos of favorite instruments belonging to members of Wilco, Sonic Youth, R.E.M., Wire, New Order, and many others.
Two new books are each devoted to a pair of Californians who are unlikely to ever record together: Eddie Van Halen and Beck. The former is by photographer Neil Zlozower (Chronicle, $29.95) and finds the guitarist backstage, onstage and in the studio. The latter is a playfully artful endeavor by photographer Autumn DeWilde (Chronicle, $35) with a dust jacket printed on both sides that opens up into a large circle, and a foreword by the sympathetically inclined filmmaker Michel Gondry.
Electric Eden by Rob Young (Faber & Faber, $25) is subtitled “Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music.” You’ll learn about everyone from the expected (Incredible String Band, Fairport, Pentangle, Nick Drake) to the lost and obscure (Mr. Fox, Bill Fay, Dr. Strangely Strange). While some might argue that there’s too much Jethro Tull and not enough Soft Machine within, Beyond and Before: Progressive Rock Since the 1960s by Paul Hegarty and Martin Halliwell (Continuum, $24.95) follows the threads from King Crimson and Yes right up through Radiohead. Another often unfairly maligned genre, fusion, is explored in Birds of Fire by Kevin Fellezs (Duke University Press, $23.95). And banjo players and enthusiasts will be glad to receive Crowe on the Banjo (University of Illinois Press, $19.95), Marty Godbey’s biography of the influential J.D. Crowe.
A pair of books look at different eras and aspects of New York City’s music and cultural scene. Love Goes to a Building on Fire by Will Hermes (Faber & Faber, $30) is subtitled “Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever” and covers the era when punk, loft jazz, salsa and disco were all bubbling in the mid-’70s. Ed Sanders’ Fug You (DaCapo, $26.99) explores the Lower East Side counterculture scene of the mid-1960s, which spawned the author’s store (Peace Eye Bookstore) and band (The Fugs).
Rock and Roll Always Forgets by Chuck Eddy (Duke University Press, $24.95) is a collection of 25 years of music criticism, covering everyone from Emmett Miller to Marilyn Manson, the Ramones to Debbie Gibson. At more than 800 pages, Dorian Lynskey’s 33 Revolutions Per Minute (Faber & Faber, $19.99) offers as complete a history of protest songs as you’re likely to find, from Woody Guthrie to Fela Kuti to Public Enemy. Flying Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll (Duke University Press, $24.95) is a wonderful collection of interviews with an assortment of musical eccentrics, originally published in editor Jake Austen’s long-running Roctober magazine. The 33 1/3 series is pushing towards 100 small volumes (Continuum, $12.95 each). Three new ones delve into an album each by an artist from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s: Johnny Cash (American Recordings by Tony Tost), The Rolling Stones (Some Girls by Cyrus R.K. Patell), and Television (Marquee Moon by Bryan Waterman).