Des Cowley's Music Books of 2014



1. Clothes clothes clothes music music music boys boys boys by Viv Albertine (Faber)

Viv Albertine, guitarist with the Slits, lays her life bare in this brutally frank account of her punk and post-punk adventures. She proves to be so engaging, I found myself falling just a little bit in love with her.


2. Autobiography by Morrissey (Penguin)

There’s no way the Smith’s are ever getting back together after Mozza hereby dishes the dirt on fellow band mates along with pretty much everyone else. A 450 page lyrical rant shot full with equal parts humour and bile – would we expect anything less?


3. Wild Tales: a Rock & Roll Life by Graham Nash (Viking / Penguin Books)

By far the gentlest – and sanest – of CSN&Y, Nash’s memoir is a necessary corrective to his band-mates previously published sagas of the era.


4. Yeah Yeah Yeah: the Story of Modern Pop by Bob Stanley (Faber)

A panoramic monster of a book that strives to tell the entire story of modern pop music, from its humble beginnings in 1952 through to its death throes in the early noughties. Stanley manages to provide more insights per page than most writers could ever dream of.


5. Black Fire! New Spirits! Images of Radical Jazz in the USA 1960-75 by Stuart Baker (Soul Jazz Books)

Soul Jazz’s photographic tribute to the spirit of radical jazz in America – John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Eric Dolphy and so many more.


6. The Best Years of our Lives by Richard Clapton (Allen & Unwin)

Clapton won’t win any literary awards for his memoir, but it wonderfully reflects his larrikin spirit, and is the perfect read to accompany the 4 CD anthology released simultaneously to celebrate his 40th year in the industry – a deservedly Aussie musical icon.


7, Best Music Writing under the Australian Sun by Christian Ryan (Hardie Grant)

Originally released as an illustrated hardback Rock Country, this more affordable version brings together a swag of essays by Australian music journalists and musicians offering musings on Bon Scott, Chrissy Amphlett, Cold Chisel, Nick Cave, the Triffids, Doc Neeson, Grant McLennan, Barry Gibb and others.


8. Different every time: the Authorized Biography of Robert Wyatt by Marcus O’Dair (Serpent’s Tail)

While it’s a cliché to call someone a ‘national treasure’, I think it’s fair to say Robert Wyatt is the real thing. O’Dair’s nearly 500 page biography tells us why.


9. The History of Rock n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus (Yale University Press)

Let’s face it, Marcus’s selection here is totally idiosyncratic – and few of us would probably agree with them – but could we expect anything less from this iconoclast music journalist and thinker.


10. A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton by Holly George-Warren (Viking)

Chilton’s life may have been a fuck-up, but it remains a fascinating one nonetheless; and Big Star understandably endure as a cult band, acclaimed by the Replacements, REM, the late Elliott Smith and others. George-Warren’s book gives new meaning to the term ‘troubled genius’.

Brian Wise

Brian Wise was the Editor of Addicted To Noise‘s Australian site from 1997 – 2002. The site won two ONYA Awards as Best Online Music Magazine in 1999 & 2000. He has also been Editor since its reincarnation in 2013. He also presents the weekly music interview program Off The Record on 102.7 Triple R-FM ( in Melbourne. It is networked to 45+ stations across Australia on the Community Radio Network and is a four-time winner of the Best Music Program Award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. In 2012, it was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in Music Programming category. Brian was also the Founding Editor & Publisher of Rhythms Magazine and is now its Senior Contributing Editor.

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