He was the Wicked Wilson Pickett, the legendary soul man whose forty-plus hits included “In the Midnight Hour,” “Land of 1000 Dances,” “Mustang Sally,” and “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You.” Remarkably handsome and with the charisma to match, Wilson Pickett was considered by many to be the greatest, the most visceral and sensual of the classic 1960s soul singers, and as a man who turned screaming into an art form, the most forceful of them all. He wasthe living embodiment of soul. More than that, Wilson Pickett’s journey reads like a guide to popular black American music in the late 20th century.

For this first-ever accounting of Wilson Pickett’s life, bestselling biographer Tony Fletcher interviewed members of the singer’s family, friends and … More

To this day, they were, their fans believe, the best band in the world. Critics and sales figures told a similar story. Yet for all their brilliance and adoration – their famously energetic live shows routinely interrupted by stage invasions – The Smiths were continually plagued by their reticence to play the game, and by the time of 1987’s Strangeways Here We Come, they had split.

Tony Fletcher’s A Light That Never Goes Out – part celebration, part paean – moves from Manchester in the nineteenth-century … More

Lester Young fading away in a hotel room; Charles Mingus storming down the streets of New York on a too-small bicycle; Thelonius Monk creating his own private language on the piano… In eight poetically charged vignettes, Geoff Dyer skilfully evokes the embattled lives of the players who shaped modern jazz. He draws on photos and anecdotes, but music is the driving force of But Beautiful and Dyer brings it to life in luminescent and wildly metaphoric prose that mirrors the quirks, eccentricity, and brilliance of each musician’s style.

Available in store and online.

Will Ashon tells, in 36 interlinked ‘chambers’, the story of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and how it changed the world. As unexpected and complex as the album itself, Chamber Music ranges from provocative essays to semi-comic skits, from deep scholarly analysis to satirical celebration, seeking to contextualise, reveal and honour this singularly composite work of art. From the FBI’s war on drugs to the porn theatres of 42nd street, from the history of jazz to the future of politics, Chamber Music is an explosive and revelatory new way of writing about music and culture.

New edition available in store and online.

It’s been said Janis Joplin was second only to Bob Dylan as the ‘creator-recorder-embodiment of her generation’s mythology’. But how did a middle-class girl from Texas become a ’60s countercultural icon? Janis’ parents doted on her and promoted her early talent for art. But the arrival of a brother shattered the bond she had with her intellectual maverick of a father, an oil engineer. And her own maverick instincts alienated her from her socially conformist mother. That break with her parents, along with the rejection of her high school peers, who disapproved of her beatnik look and racially progressive views, & wrongly assumed she was sexually promiscuous, cemented her sense of herself as an outcast. She found her tribe with a group of offbeat young men a year ahead of her, who loved her intellectual curiosity, her passion for conversation, & her adventurous search for the blues.

Although she never stopped craving the approval of her parents and hometown, she left Port Arthur at seventeen determined to … More

Reissue soon come. “This album which you are about to hear will give you more than an earful of the ingredients which are characteristic of a group of three youngsters popularly known by fans in the music world as ‘The Maytals’. When these three youngsters debuted on the scene two years ago, they brought along with them a new style, a new spiritual “Ska Beat”, which was eagerly welcomed by the listening public. When their recordings became “Giant Size Hits”, it was obvious that their phrasing and dynamic delivery had earned unreserved approval.”

“Beginning with the tune “I’ll Never Grow Old”, this record quickly established a bright jumping pattern of success followed by … More

Memphis was really jumping with black music in the early 1960s as its new studios began to attract the notice of major record companies like Atlantic Records. By 1965, Stax Records was a true Memphis powerhouse and as it became successful enough to manage its studio for its own contracted artists, it closed its doors to outside productions. But a few singers just nipped in under the wire – and these unofficial Stax productions form the major part of this collection. And here we have some perfect “Blue” Stax music from a bunch of vocalists accompanied by that fabulous Stax studio band. It features Louie Palmer, Eddie Floyd, Ted Taylor, Willie Cobbs, etc

Vinyl LP available in store and online.

Born OTD in 1947, rocksteady singer, arranger, and radio presenter, Hopeton Lewis. “Hopeton Lewis’ classic tune, ‘Take It Easy’, is credited with being the first to employ the rocksteady rhythm in 1966. The song featured Lynn Taitt on guitar and his band the Jets on backup”.

Operation Jump Up is the culmination of four years of research. The detailed historical narrative features dozens of interviews with … More

As a musician, an actor, a muse, an icon, the breadth of Debbie Harry’s impact on our culture has been matched by her almost Sphinx-like reticence about her inner life. Through it all – while being acclaimed as one of the most beautiful women in the world, prized by a galaxy of leading photographers and fashion designers, beloved by legions of fans for her relentless, high-octane performances, selling 50 million albums or being painted by Andy Warhol – Debbie Harry has infused her perennial Blondie persona with a heady mix of raw sexuality and sophisticated punk cool. In Face It, Debbie Harry invites us into the complexity of who she is and how her life and career have played out over the last seven decades.

Upending the standard music memoir, with a cutting-edge style keeping with the distinctive qualities of her multi-disciplined artistry, Face It … More

If given another chance to write for the series, which albums would 33 1/3 authors focus on the second time around? This anthology features compact essays from past 33 1/3 authors on albums that consume them, but about which they did not write. It explores often overlooked and underrated albums that may not have inspired their 33 1/3 books, but have played a large part in their own musical cultivation. Questions central to the essays include: How has this album influenced your worldview? How does this album intersect with your other creative and critical pursuits? How does this album index a particular moment in cultural history? In your own personal history? Why is the album perhaps under-the-radar, or a buried treasure? Why can’t you stop listening to it?

Bringing together 33 1/3’s rich array of writers, critics, and scholars, this collection probes our taste in albums, our longing … More