Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix & Friends in Woodstock, by Barney Hoskyns, Faber, RRP£20/ Da Capo, RRP$26.99
“This is a significant mystical zone,” a musician tells the critic Barney Hoskyns. It’s Woodstock, the Catskills town where Bob Dylan recuperated after his motorbike crash in 1966, a hippy oasis with a storied place in music history, well related in Small Town Talk. It has a darker side too, “like a Venus flytrap”.
Don’t You Leave Me Here: My Life, by Wilko Johnson, Little, Brown, RRP£18.99
Wilko Johnson writes like he plays guitar, one moment staccato, the next chugging. “I hated him,” the founder of 1970s pub rockers Dr Feelgood says succinctly of his father. His own cancer diagnosis instils a strange good humour (“I was, I suppose, feeling good”). He survives. His memoir leaves us feeling good, too.
The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, by Brix Smith Start, Faber, RRP£14.99/$18.95
An affluent US upbringing led to love for UK post-punk band The Fall. Love won. Thus Brix Smith Start found herself living in a grotty flat in 1980s Manchester, married to irascible Mark E Smith, playing in The Fall and co-writing some of their best albums, as told in her enjoyably picaresque memoir.