Why you should check out rock n' roll literature like ''Hellfire,'' ''Hit Men,'' ''Shout!'' and more


The Rolling Stone Illus rated History of Rock & Roll
Edited by Jim Miller (Random House)
Passionate, knowledgeable essays spanning rock from Elvis (Presley) to Elvis (Costello).

Mystery Train
Greil Marcus (Dutton)
Landmark study of the music’s place in American culture-lively and rarely academic.

Philip Norman (Fireside/Simon & Schuster)
A clear-sighted recap of the Beatles and their role in ’60s pop culture.

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
Lester Bangs (Knopf)
Rock journalism in the form of wild-eyed, acerbic — and often acute — ramblings by the late critic. As the cover so accurately reads, ”Rock ‘n’ roll as literature.”

The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits
Joel Whitburn (Billboard Books)
Memory Lane, rock style — a list of every song to make the Top 40 since 1955, by artist and title. We dare you to flip through and not hum along.

Hammer of the Gods
Stephen Davis (Ballantine)
A tell-all Zeppelin biography that’s also a chronicle of ’70s rock excess.

Where Did Our Love Go?
Nelson George (St. Martin’s)
The saga of Motown — warts, unstoppable bass lines, and all.

Hit Men
Fredric Dannen (Times Books)
Tales, often hilarious, of corruption, music-industry politics, and the egomaniacal moguls who steered it all.

The Book of Rock Lists
Dave Marsh and Kevin Stein (Dell)
Just like it says — hundreds of lists, from ”10 Groups That Wore Uniforms” to ”Band Names With Sexual Connotations” and ”The 15 Most Boring Classic Albums.” Fun, fun, fun.

Nick Tosches (Doubleday)
Among rock biographies, a real treasure — the story of Jerry Lee Lewis, written in hell-bent prose that captures the crazed fury of his life.

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