Book Reviews – January 2011

Joy Division
Kevin Cummins
Rizzoli International Publications
Street: 10.26.10
If ever there were a “perfect” coffee table book for a disaffected Joy Division fan, this would be it. Showcasing Kevin Cummins’ photography of the band, both well known and not-so-well known, this book is an extremely interesting, and in some cases intimate, photo-history of a band that ended well before its time. Aside from an interview/conversation between the author/photographer and founding Joy Division member Bernard Sumner, the entire tome is comprised of photographs, and there are some doozies in there for the die-hard Joy Division fan. Compiling early set lists, equipment, live shows and “throw away” photos, Cummins has assembled as close to a comprehensive photographic history of Joy Division as humanly possible. It’s definitely worth checking out, but only the most avid fan of the band or the photographer may be willing to drop the $45+ cover price to own it. –Gavin Hoffman

The Rogue’s Handbook
Jeff Metzger
Street: 11.01.10
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I would like to become a mysterious gentleman,” look no further than this book. The Rogue’s Handbook shows you everything you need to know to change your life for the better with 26 example profiles of the most famous gentleman rogues (i.e. Rhett Butler and James Bond), proper responses to everyday occurrences, and a guide to avoid the ways of the undesirable Joe Six Pack. Though the rogue profiles are a bit drab, the bits of actual ‘how to’ are quite helpful and in the end, a little quiz tells whether you are rogue material or in need of a tutor. As for the ladies interested in this lifestyle, there is only a half page dedicated to the names of ‘roguettes,’ but it’s very simple to turn gender-specific tips into ‘lady rogue’ hints on how to become an exciting new you. –Jessica Davis (lady rogue extraordinaire)

Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling
Marcus Gray
Soft Skull Press
Street: 10.01.10
There’s no shortage of books chronicling the early days of punk rock, but most are scattershot attempts that linger too long on uninteresting topics while glossing over others. Even most books about The Clash, one of the most important, interesting and revolutionary bands in the history of modern music, are extremely boring. Marcus Gray’s Route 19 Revisited is completely different. It’s a lengthy affair that focuses not only on the writing, recording and reception of 1979’s London Calling, but also on the politics, circumstances and personalities that shaped one of the best albums of all time. Gray spends time profiling the band members (particularly Joe Strummer and Mick Jones) and exploring their fascinations with American culture and Jamaican music, but the most interesting part of the book is the thorough track-by-track descriptions. Gray explains every lyrical allusion, each song’s background and even offers up a list of musicians who have recorded cover versions of the album’s tracks. This isn’t exactly light reading, but for fans of The Clash and those extremely familiar with London Calling, this is an excellent companion piece that should be a part of your book collection. –Ricky Vigil