Book Musik 030 – Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross

Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross Cover graphic

Tosh and Kimley discuss Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross. A famous quip goes “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” Whether you find Wagner’s music to be sublime or bombastic, this is an essential read. It is not a biography or an examination of his music but, more interestingly, it’s a very deep dive into the enormous cultural and political influence Richard Wagner has had on his contemporaries and everyone since, from writers to painters, dancers, philosophers, politicians, and filmmakers. The diversity of those who’ve come under the spell of Wagnerism is beyond compare. And this is despite Wagner’s well-known antisemitism and association with Hitler and the Nazi regime. Cancel culture hasn’t quite figured out what to do with Wagner but Ross leaves no stone unturned in this enormous and hugely satisfying read.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 029 – Judy Garland’s Judy at Carnegie Hall (33 1/3) by Manuel Betancourt

Judy Garland's Judy at Carnegie Hall 33 1/3 bookTosh and Kimley discuss Judy Garland’s Judy at Carnegie Hall by Manuel Betancourt from the 33 1/3 series. This live double album was a milestone in pop-culture history. Recorded in 1961, the album is an homage to the American songbook, was on the Billboard charts for over 70 weeks, won four Grammy Awards and has never been out of print. It was a highwater mark both in terms of Garland’s career and as part of the cultural and sociological zeitgeist of the 60s. Garland looms large as an old-Hollywood film icon and as one of the most celebrated gay icons. Her life was full of tragedy and triumph and this album is undoubtedly at the pinnacle of her many triumphs.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 028 – Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop by Paul Myers and S. W. Lauden

"Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop" CoverTosh and Kimley discuss Go All the Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop by Paul Myers and S. W. Lauden. This compilation of short essays by a wide range of writers (including Michael Chabon and Allison Anders among others) explores the minutiae of what constitutes power pop exactly, whether or not it is even desirable to be lumped into this subgenre and which bands are considered power pop, with bands like Bad Finger, The Raspberries, Big Star, and Cheap Trick generally being considered the prototypes. Despite its effervescent appeal, fans of power pop are deadly serious about its nuances. Both celebrated and maligned, power pop is a nebulous genre and after reading this book things still seem murky to us. But like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart pronounced in an attempt to define porn, we know it when we see it!

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 027 – Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina by Chris Frantz

Remain in Love by Chris FrantzTosh and Kimley discuss Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina by Chris Frantz. Frantz is a founding member of Talking Heads and as the drummer he was half of the rhythm section along with his wife Tina Weymouth on bass. They were at the epicenter of the infamous CBGB scene in 1970s New York along with The Ramones, Television, Blondie, and Patti Smith to name just a few. They broke fresh creative ground on what a rock band could be – quirky, geeky, arty, possibly too smart for their own good and oddly clean-cut but with a twist. Lester Bangs famously said they were so uncool that they were cool. Frantz adds his firsthand perspective on a time in rock ‘n’ roll history of which we can never get enough.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 026 – Niche: A Memoir in Pastiche by Momus

Niche: A Memoir in Pastiche by Momus coverTosh and Kimley discuss Niche: A Memoir in Pastiche by Momus. Nick Currie who performs under the name Momus (the Greek god of satire and mockery) has enlisted no less than 217 dead narrators of questionable reliability to tell his life story. His selection of an eclectic mix of writers, artists, musicians, philosophers, and assorted ne’er-do-wells probably tells us more about Momus than the actual narration. It seems both his work and his life borrow a little from this and steal a little from that and he makes sure to pilfer from only the best sources to create his own unique pastiche.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 025 – My British Invasion by Harold Bronson

My British Invasion by Harold Bronson CoverTosh and Kimley discuss My British Invasion: The Inside Story on The Yardbirds, The Dave Clark Five, Manfred Mann, Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies, The Troggs, The Kinks, The Zombies, and More by Harold Bronson. Bronson is one of the co-founders of the legendary Rhino Records label. This memoir/travel journal is his unique behind-the-scenes take on many of the most influential British Invasion bands. He has worked as a music journalist, a label rep in his college days and, of course, as the guy who just wants to put out some seriously good vinyl on the much-loved Rhino Records. But rock stars and/or their managers don’t always want to cooperate…

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 024 – Along Comes The Association: Beyond Folk Rock and Three-Piece Suits by Russ Giguere and Ashley Wren Collins

“Along Comes the Association: Beyond Folk Rock and Three-Piece Suits” by Russ Giguere and Ashley Wren CollinsTosh and Kimley discuss Along Comes the Association: Beyond Folk Rock and Three-Piece Suits by Russ Giguere and Ashley Wren Collins. The Association had several enduring top-40 hits in the 1960s but were a bit of an anomaly. While performing they typically wore suits and they sang lush harmonies on songs like “Cherish,” “Windy” and “Never My Love.” This was during a time when guitar-heavy rock was dominating the music scene and the cool kids had a proclivity for outrageous attire and social upheaval. But as an integral part of the Los Angeles music scene, The Association was in the thick of things, opening the Monterey Pop Festival and hanging out with all those cool kids.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 023 – Five Years Ahead of My Time: Garage Rock from the 1950s to the Present by Seth Bovey

Five Years Ahead of My Time-Garage Rock from the 1950s to the Present by Seth BoveyTosh and Kimley discuss Five Years Ahead of My Time: Garage Rock from the 1950s to the Present by Seth Bovey. Guitar, bass, drums, a catchy three chord song and a groovy guitar lick — that’s all you need to rock! The pure, raw sounds of garage rock have been around since the late 50s when people realized they could play music without a huge investment of time or money. Most bands never became more than a regional attraction but a few did rise to the top and many continue to have devoted cult followings. Bovey takes us through the beginnings with the instrumental garage rock bands of the late 50s and early 60s and explores the development of this highly influential genre of music right up to the present including an impressive international scene.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 022 – The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached by Mark Doyle

The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached by Mark DoyleTosh and Kimley discuss The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached by Mark Doyle. The Kinks are one of the iconic British Invasion bands whose music has only gotten better with time. They were quintessentially British and proud of their working-class roots which came across in their music. Doyle explores the time and place that nurtured The Kinks’ creative impulse specifically examining their North London neighborhood, the British class structure and the social upheaval of the postwar era. There’s a lot of conflict and tension surrounding this band and “Semi-Detached” is the perfect way to kick this off.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik 021 – Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn

“Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock” by Nik CohnTosh and Kimley discuss Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn. Initially written in 1968 and revised in 1972, Awopbop… is one of the earliest books to tackle the history of rock ‘n’ roll, both in front of and behind the curtain, and this is back when everyone still thought it was a passing phase. Fifty years later and now this book is essential reading in the music writing cannon. Cohn developed a writing style that was completely in sync with his subject matter – brash, visceral, in your face, with loads of attitude. He doesn’t mince words and will happily tell you that The Beatles sucked. You may not agree with him but you’ll still be smiling as you attempt to muster up a few choice words of your own for the writer.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17