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I know this has been done to death but I can't find previous threads...help.
Michael Azerrad, Our Band Could Be Your Life
(the roots of US alternative music)
Julian Cope, Krautrocksampler
(how to erase German culture, and invent post-rock & electronica)
Simon Reynolds, Bring the Noise
(cultural cross-breeding in 90s alternative music)
Jon Savage, England's Dreaming
(how the 70s produced punk)
Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise
(how Classical Minimalism feeds into alternative music)
Peter Doggett, There's A Riot Going On
(the 60s counterculture, its politics, and whether it achieved owt)
The Pitchfork 500
(not their best writing, but a good checklist)
Joe Boyd, White Bicycles
(legendary producer and his part in the 60s & 70s)
LOOPY OR NICHE-INTEREST, BUT ENTERTAINING:
Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces
Julian Cope, Japrocksampler
This Is Just a Modern Rock Song [Belle&Sebastian]
Nights of Passed Over [Mark Kozelek's lyrics + long essay]
Cant remember the authors but.....
Parsons 'Twenty Thoudand Roads'
Neil Young 'Shakey'
Townes Van Zandt 'To Lives To Fly'
I'll also second what was mentioned above 'White Bicycles' and 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' are both well worth a read.
a previous thread that might be helpful:
"britpop and my part in its downfall" its well worth your time and money
you cant go wrong with AMERICAN HARDCORE its freakin' sweet. It's like a history and what not, as well as containing a discography, stories blah blah blah. If you dig that you will also probably like Fucked Up & Photocopied which is a compendium of punk show flyers, mostly from back in the day :)
Krautrocksampler and Our Band Could Be Your Life.
Two of the best rock biographies I've read are "The Dirt" by Motley Crue and "Hellfire" by Nick Tosches (about Jerry Lee Lewis). Both cracking reads - you need no real interest in either artist's work to enjoy them.
"Eye Mind", about the 13th Floor Elevators is pretty good too, though it's probably of minimal interest if you're not a fan.
Kill Your Friends by John Niven.
All about an A@R man during the Britpop era. Really hilarious stuff. Loads of references to bnads of the era - Ultrasound, Cast, Kenickie etc...
I believe it's getting made into a movie soon.