Latest Titles

The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached
by Mark Doyle
March 2020

Of all the great British bands to emerge from the 1960s, none had a stronger sense of place than the Kinks. Often described as the archetypal English band, they were above all a quintessentially working-class band with a deep attachment to London.

Mark Doyle examines the relationship between the Kinks and their city, from their early songs of teenage rebellion to their album-length works of social criticism. He finds fascinating and sometimes surprising connections with figures as diverse as Edmund Burke, John Clare and Charles Dickens. More than just a book about the Kinks, this is a book about a social class undergoing a series of profound changes, and about a group of young men who found a way to describe, lament and occasionally even celebrate those changes through song.

Reviews
‘This is the kind of critical work I love best: Cogent, insightful, well written, a bit quixotic and showing a complete mastery of the subject. Mark Doyle brings something else entirely to the growing library of Kinks histories and memoirs. Just as Dave Davies provided the sonic architecture for entire genres of rock, Ray’s songwriting established him as the quintessential London chronicler of the 20th century. The Kinks are well worthy of this deeply researched book, delivered with analytical rigor and wit.’ — David Smay, author of ‘Swordfishtrombones (33 ⅓)’ and co-editor of ‘Lost in the Grooves’.

About the Author
Mark Doyle is Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University. He is the author of Fighting Like the Devil for the Sake of God: Protestants, Catholics, and the Origins of Violence in Belfast (2009) and the editor of The British Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia (2018).

Buy from:
Reaktion Books (UK) 
University of Chicago Press (US)
Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CA)
Blackwell’s (UK)
Waterstones (UK)
Wordery (UK)


Five Years Ahead of My Time: Garage Rock From the 1950s to the Present
by Seth Bovey
May 2019

Five Years Ahead of My Time: Garage Rock from the 1950s to the Present tells of an explosive musical phenomenon whose continuing influence on popular culture is dramatic and deep.

The tale begins in 1950s America, when classic rock ’n’ roll was reaching middle age and teenage musicians kept its primal rawness going with rough-hewn instrumentals. In the mid-1960s, the Beatles and the British Invasion conquered America, and soon every neighbourhood had its own garage band. Groups like the Sonics and 13th Floor Elevators burned brightly but briefly, only to be rediscovered by a new generation of connoisseurs in the 1970s. Numerous compilation albums followed, spearheaded by Lenny Kaye’s seminal Nuggets, which resulted in garage rock’s rebirth across the world during the 1980s and ’90s.

Be it the White Stripes or the Black Keys, bands have consistently found inspiration in the simplicity and energy of garage rock. It is a revitalizing force, looking back to the past to forge the future. And this, for the first time, is its story.

About the Author
Seth Bovey is a music writer and Professor of English at Louisiana State University at Alexandria. He is also a musician and played in several garage bands in the 1970s and early ’80s.

Some reviews …
‘The first comprehensive overview a genre that has survived more on passion than commercial reach . . . Bovey commendably covers a lot of ground previously left untouched.’ — Irish Times

‘It’s true there’s never been a comprehensive study of garage-rock and Bovey provides a concise, well-researched account straddling all bases in 177 pages . . . [a] diligently-realised labour of love’ — Record Collector

‘As yet there has not appeared a specific volume on the subject quite as impressive as this . . . In six chapters, Bovey chronologically charts the trajectory of the DIY phenomenon, beginning with early ’60s originators such as The Wailers, Trashmen and Kingsmen who took their inspiration from the thrilling guitar distortions of Link Wray and Bo Diddley, through to 21st century pretenders such as The Gories, Sloths and Jackets . . . the first truly comprehensive study of the genre . . . It is a concise, passionately-written and well-researched account . . . it should have you dusting down armfuls of those old nuggets before you’ve even reached Chapter Two.’ — Shindig! magazine

‘Musician Bovey enthusiastically romps through the history of guitar-driven, feedback-infused garage rock . . . Fascinating and informative.’ — Library Journal

‘The “simplicity and energy” that characterised much independently created music over the years is told in Seth Bovey’s remarkable book Five Years Ahead of My Time . . . Here in a myriad of factual information is the saga of how bands could spring up in backrooms and garages and initially find life outside of record companies . . . Bovey delves into numerous garage music nuances and categories with skill . . . a gem of a book.’ — Methodist Recorder

‘‘“Wow!” That is the instant reaction one feels when delving into this compelling history of the style of rock known as “Garage” . . . I really cannot recommend this book strongly enough; if you are interested at all in guitar music (and you are or why are you reading this), it is quite simply essential. It is an engrossing and exhaustive journey through the delicious underbelly of the evolving story of rock. It’s a must read for anyone who has seen a new or local band and wondered why they’re not bigger, or how they fit into the wider tapestry of rock music. It’s a painstakingly researched and stunningly delivered shout out to the underdogs of musical history and you really need a copy.’’ — Dave Jennings

‘A fine and thorough account, copious in historical detail and explanation of a movement that has survived on sheer, unquenchable fuzztone enthusiasm.’ — David Stubbs, author of Future Days and Mars by 1980

Buy from:
Reaktion Books (UK)
University of Chicago Press (US)
Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CA)
Blackwell’s (UK)
Hive.co.uk (UK)
Waterstones (UK)
Wordery (UK)