Write or Wrong

Our quarterly roundup of music books lets us get lost with Chet Baker, nasty with Bill Monroe and saved by Al Green, while Ted Nugent teaches us that happiness really is a warm gun

There's a myth regarding bebop's origin: Forties-era jazzmen, disgusted with how swing had curdled into the insubstantial white big bands of Glenn Miller and the Dorsey Brothers, created a style of jazz in which the nosebleed tempo and expansion of notes allowable on the high end of chords would incinerate all those poseurs who couldn't keep up. The truth is more complex than that, but bebop did set jazz back on the right path in a manner colorfully detailed in an armful of books dissecting the era. In Bebop: The Essential Listening Companion (Miller Freeman), Scott Yanow lets other authors chronicle the history, preferring to focus on the individual players' bios and recordings. Bebop covers jazz artists from 1945 to 1949, as well as satellite figures like Artie Shaw, Richie Cole and Gene Ammons for exhibiting a bebop influence in their recordings. Yanow's is a unique approach, making the book the ultimate travel guide for anyone obsessed with the style.

MusicHound has published a series of obsessively detailed music guides, none more thorough than World: The Essential Album Guide. This 1,100-page overview of non-English music goes so far as to include Turkish transvestite vocalists and metal salsa (discussed in David Byrne's witty introduction) and divides reggae artists into 10 stylistic categories. Beyond band history, we're given info on influences, which albums to buy, similar artists to check out, Web sites, record-label addresses -- pretty much everything short of sarong sizes.

If selling your plasma for cash becomes a problem, see if maybe some big bucks lie in your music collection. According to the Goldmine Jazz Album Price Guide (Krause) by Tim Neely, the 1968 version of Miles Davis, Volume 1 on Blue Note is only worth 12 bucks, but the 1955 version with a "deep indentation under label on both sides" is worth $200. Natch, no one in possession of the indented version wants to be reminded that such specific pricing of rarities is often constructed on the questionable recall of dealers' transactions and the willingness of a few high-roller loonies to drive the cost that high. As proof of the fickleness of the value system: You can still buy '30s-era Django Reinhardt 78s for only $5 because no one owns the old Victrolas to play them on. Nonetheless, the guide's thoroughness is impressive: There are nearly 350 Miles Davis listings and almost 250 of Coltrane. What's worth the most? A 1949 mail order-only album of Charlie Parker on Dial will allegedly bring you 4,000 smackers. Worth the least? Almost everything in our record collections. Nearly every album listed here tends to be valued somewhere between $10 and $40.

Michael Bloomfield: A new oral history chronicles the influential guitarist's demise.
Michael Bloomfield: A new oral history chronicles the influential guitarist's demise.
The Nuge offers advice on how to bring parents and kids together through the wonderful world of firearms.
The Nuge offers advice on how to bring parents and kids together through the wonderful world of firearms.

By page nine of Ted Nugent's God, Guns & Rock 'n' Roll (Regnery), the Motor City Madman is saving the life of an assaulted policeman with 16 loads of ammo firing from the ever-present Glock strapped to his waist. "It is wholly irresponsible to go into the world incapable of preventing violence, injury, crime and death," the messianic guitarist/gunslinger preaches. Halfway through the book, he casts his ire at a raccoon as the target: "one less egg-stealing, rabies-carrying vermin on SwampNuge," we're assured. Instead of outrageous rock 'n' roll stories -- music is seldom mentioned -- we're given endless examples of Nugentry through which we, too, can unleash the Warrior Within. Ted suggests we develop a personal relationship with our fish and game department. Ted would shoot a dog in the head if it were chewing on a child. Ted says family gun recreation will bring parents and kids together for "more intense quality time." "Intense" pretty much sums up the book. Buy it today, goddamn it, and don't tramp on the flag walking home from the bookstore.

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