How'd they fit the 'Orrible 'Oo in a book? The Who were nutters who played like nobody else: The singer was a rocker, then a mod, then a god who twirled his microphone like a tornado; the guitarist was the time-keeper, a big-nosed git who wrote rock operas and weirdo songs; the drummer played lead and was the Id personified on stage and off; all the while the bass player stood still playing chords around all three. They were loud, combative, hilarious, life-saving and glorious. They stood tall with the very best of rock and roll. This is their story.
Digital downloads and passive streaming revert to good old tactile analog lust in Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting (Ten Speed, $50), by Eilon Paz. This oversize volume’s boxed-set gravitas and dynamic layout immediately engages our senses in ways no e-book can. As Paz unveils a pantheon of record collectors and their treasured troves, the accompanying array of photos and crate-digging glory-stories stir our inner vinyl junkie. Throughout its 436 pages, Dust & Grooves features interviews with usual suspects including Gilles Peterson, Rich Medina, Sheila Burgel, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson—all of whom have “record rooms,” wherein their collections occupy floor-to-ceiling shelves spanning the entire walls of loft apartments, basements, and/or two-story houses. (What’s a connoisseur to do with 80,000 records?) Along with colorful reproductions of iconic album covers, Paz showcases the unsung genius of the gatefold sleeve, seamlessly connecting three shots of a collector holding each of the foldout panels to form a panoramic image. Added bonuses in this voyage through vinylmania include glimpses of limited-edition blue platters, rare acetates of alternate takes, and a collectible 45 shaped like a buzz saw blade. Dust & Groove’s static celebration elicits the pop-hiss days of vinyl, those favorite sorted-record shops, and the times by the side of a rotating black sun platter within the gaze of its squared sleeve.
Elvis Costello’s lyrics are playful, allusive (and sometimes darkly-tinged), and his music witty in referencing everything from honky-tonks and music halls to Motown B-sides and the American Songbook. So it’s no surprise that he’s written a splendid, voluminous memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink (Blue Rider, $30). Foregoing straight chronology, Costello assembles chapters of tell-tale scenes and vivid set pieces about his family (his father was a big-band singer), early sixties England, and his almost forty years in show business. Costello’s lyrics course through the book, commenting on scenes of a life fully immersed in music, from the prolific “angry young man” to the mature professional realizing (dreams-come-true) collaborations with Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, George Jones, Allen Toussaint, and Diana Krall (married to Costello since 2003).