Soft Skull Press always presents a unique twist with its biographies or memoirs. It’s never just a straightforward history of the titular individual, but rather an analysis of the environment which produced the subject. In the case of W. Scott Poole‘s Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror, the author uses the ’50s horror host as an entry point to discussing the era’s social mores and how the woman born Maila Nurmi challenged the status quo.
The author has a wealth of information on which to draw. Sadly, little of it is regarding Vampira herself. There’s minimal evidence of her television program, and what remains of her work is, essentially, bit parts in a few films. The thing for which she garnered her initial acclaim exists only anecdotally, leading to a great amount of speculation on Poole’s part. Continue reading →
Marcus Gray knows the Clash. His history of the band, Last Gang In Town, is one of the most exhaustive band histories I’ve ever read. Fact of the matter and a personal admission here: I owned Last Gang In Town for two years and never made it further than 100 pages in. It’s a dense tome.
Gray’s new book on the band, Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling, while an in-depth examination into the making of the Clash’s magnum opus that leaves no stone unturned, still manages to be a rather easy read. Over 500 pages devoted to the making of one album might seem overkill, but at no point does Gray exhaust the possibilities of what can be explored. Continue reading →
Anyone who’s read Simon Reynolds‘s Rip It Up and Start Again can tell you that his account of the post-punk era is a riveting read that will send you scurrying to iTunes and your local record shop to delve deeply into the music of Factory Records and beyond. While Reynolds has a website wherein you can find footnotes for Rip It Up and Start Again, there’s even more material that he compiled during the writing of the book.
That material is being released by Soft Skull next month as Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews. It contains interviews Reynolds conducted in preparation for writing Rip It Up and Start Again, as well as the “lost chapter” about SST and the Minutemen / Black Flag that was cut from the US edition of the original book. Continue reading →