Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Seven Music Books I Liked in 1996 in Roughly Descending Order

David Toop, Ocean of Sound (Serpent's Tail): Aptly impressionistic, uncommonly eloquent travelogue of the ambient universe.

Peter Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis (Little, Brown): Too kind as usual, but a compelling manipulation of research into vision.

Sarah Thornton, Club Cultures (Wesleyan/New England): Loaded with academia-ready facts about techno and ideas about youth culture.

Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, Please Kill Me (Grove): Revealing, self-serving, total hoot.

Rock Scully with David Dalton, Living With the Dead (St. Martin's): It's rare for one guy to know this much about both drugs and the music business. It's rarer still for him to retain enough brain cells to write it down.

Nick Kent, The Dark Stuff (Da Capo): Rockwrite's oldest surviving bad boy transforms a collection into a book.

John Lydon, Rotten: The Autobiography (Coronet U.K.): Bright lad.

Judgment reserved on Simon Frith's Performing Rites (Harvard). Some of the 170 pages I've gotten through are great. Some aren't.

Request, 1997