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).
This expanded and updated edition of the 1998 Collected Lyrics marks the 40th anniversary of Smith’s seminal debut album, Horses (which is number forty-four on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Albums). Smith’s reputation as a poet and artist preceded the iconic music, and all these forms coalesce to produce the definitive, three-hundred-page volume Patti Smith: Collected Lyrics, 1970-2015 (Ecco, $29.99). This book contains all the singer’s lyrics, including those from thirty-five new and recently-recorded songs, back to Smith’s very first song, written for Janis Joplin in 1970. Other special features include an introduction by the artist, Smith’s original drawings and photographs, and facsimiles of Smith’s handwritten commentary on some of the more controversial and iconoclastic pieces. This is a perfect companion piece for M Train—and an essential volume in the rock-and-roll canon.