You might have noticed that it's nearly Christmas. You've probably already eaten a kilo of mincemeat and pulled at least three crackers. You've sat through two very dull evenings with old mates, trying to smile through the misery of knocking back eggnog cocktails while wearing a 'funny' jumper with a snowman on it in a city centre branch of a TV cook's Italian restaurant chain. You've begrudgingly booked a Megabus home and you're already dreading the prospect of the nativity service on Christmas eve. You love Christmas. I love Christmas. Everyone loves Christmas! It's nearly Christmas! It will be Christmas next week and then only 51 weeks until it's Christmas again! It's CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIISTMAS!!!
Because it's Christmas, nearly, you get to ask people you don't speak to that often to buy you presents. You've bought socks this year. You've bought pants. You bought both a wallet and some aftershave. You're not sure what to ask Auntie Emma for, are you? Ask her for a book. Ask her for one of these books, a selection of new and old, and then unwrap said book and go to your old childhood bedroom and spend Christmas alone. reading a book.
Dave Haslam - Life After Dark: A History of British Nightclubs & Music Venues
Manchester icon Haslam hit headlines recently when it was revealed that the former Hacienda resident had sold his entire record collection to Seth Troxler. Which was nice of him. That wasn't all Haslam did this year, though. August saw the release of this incredibly illuminating, comprehensive account of the history of British nightlife, that took readers on a journey from opium soaked 1820s to the ecstasy laced 1990s via the hallucinogenic 1960s. It's not all about drugs though, and Haslam's central thesis —that the best club in the world is the one that changed your life— is explained in breezily handled detailed. You'll tear through its 480 pages in a few sittings, learning something new in every paragraph. Haslam's innate understanding of the importance of individual voices in stories that try and tell totalities is what makes it such a fantastic exploration of why we still love spending our weekends in dark rooms with strangers. Highly recommended.
Tim Lawrence - Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979
I know, I know, for most of us Christmas is a time when we've mentally checked out of the year and all we're really capable of is popping chocolate liquers with our tongues and half-watching Chicken Run but after the fourth day straight of pouring Pringles into our mouths and quietly wishing we'd asked for a pair of elasticated slacks, you've got to get your head back in the game and there's no better way to do that than with an intellectually weighty look at the socio-cultural and political contexts that nurtured the disco boom of the 70s. We'd recommend reading it very, very, very slowly. Maybe alternate it with a few pages of the Top Gear annual or something.
Peter Shapiro - Turn the Beat Around: The Rise and Fall of Disco
Disco's arguably the best genre of music ever, so why not treat yourself to a double whammy of academic-friendly books on the scene's place in American cultural history? Shapiro takes a slightly lighter approach than Lawrence, but you'll walk away knowing more than you ever thought you needed to about
Simon Reynolds - Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture
Simon Reynolds is one of those music writers who manages to make a romp through history seem as inviting a prospect as someone asking if you want to eat a burger on a rollercoaster. Which you obviously do want to do. In Energy Flash he zips through 40 years of electronic music and club culture, coming on like a trendy lecturer. Minus the bad jumpers and propensity to nick roll ups from his impoverished students despite his beefy salary. Reynolds is exceptionally skilled at placing records in a considered cultural context. And no, he doesn't bang on about his beloved hardcore continuum. Well, not too much anyway.
Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton - The Record Players: The Story of Dance Music Told By History's Greatest DJs
Brewster and Broughton's Last Night a DJ Saved My Life might just be the definitive account of the rise of the disc jockey, but it's this companion piece that we've found ourselves going back to time and time again. It takes a simple idea—ask some of the most important and influential selectors of all time, from Jeff Mills to Alfredo— and delivers it with panache. An essential read for anyone even remotely interested in the art of DJing.