Books to entertain us

19/09/2011 by Katie Allen

Musical "scenes" have long inspired writers - and Seattle's "grunge" is no exception. We pick five books that define the genre as classic album Nevermind celebrates its 20th year

Somewhat unbelievably, this month marks the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, grunge icons Nirvana's 30m-selling second album - which is being re-released today.

The tragic trajectory of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's life, from isolated musician to world-famous rock star, until his suicide at age 27, has inspired several books, while the grunge genre itself is getting another look.

The classics:

Come as You Are
Michael Azzerad's biography of Nirvana was first published in 1993, before Cobain's death, and later amended and reprinted. It includes over 100 photographs and interviews with Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl. Published by Virgin.

Heavier than Heaven
Charles R Cross' equally controversial yet exhaustive 2001 life of Cobain is still regarded as one of the best music biographies, and uses private content supplied by Cobain's widow Courtney Love. Legendary music journalist Everett True slated the title (and published his own, Nirvana: The True Story, Omnibus). HarperCollins publishes.

Just out:

Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge (Faber) by former Blender magazine senior editor Mark Yarm. It follows the early days of underground gigs to the massive success of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, and to the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley.

Coming soon:

This is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl (HarperCollins) is the authorised biography of the Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman by his friend and former Kerrang! editor Paul Brannigan.

My favourite:

Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus (HarperPerennial) is not really about grunge, but about the feminist punk scene, riot grrl, that grew up around it, including bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy. An inspiring read about music and often uncomfortable relationship between manifestos and the media.

 

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