AUSTRALIAN MUSIC BOOK BIBLIOGRAPHY
By ‘Australian music book’ what this biblio means is: Books published by Australian writers on not just Australian music but any music subject; by non-Australian writers on Australian music subjects; and books by any writers on any music subject but first-published in Australia. Good examples of this last category are Michael Archangel’s Rule By Love and Sam Cutler’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want. The following pages encompass books about all the forms of popular music and their worlds – rock, pop, jazz, blues, folk, country; and even academic coverage thereof! – but it is a determinedly classical-free zone, and it resists orthodox ethno-/musicology and traditional folk song collecting too. Click through the images below to go to the page:
This document is, I feel I can say confidently, the most thoroughgoing bibliography of Australian music books that there is. It's something I started doing some time ago and for my own sake, as a reference where one didn’t exist. There have been a couple of half-arsed very non-comprehensive such bibliographies published over the years but the main basis of this one is my own 50 years’ experience reading about music as a necessary part of the process of writing about it. Then it dawned on me that since there was little likelihood that this document would get (‘legitimately’) published anywhere else, why not – as with a bit of the stuff in this ‘Un-Spiked’ section of my website – why not post it up here like this so it can be of some use to other fans, readers and researchers? All I ask is that if you do use it and it serves a useful purpose, any acknowledgement would be appreciated. Just because it’s online and not printed on paper doesn’t mean it’s not real or legitimate; and for sake of any citations it should be noted it was first posted up here in July 2018, and will be regularly updated to keep pace with the flood of books Australia continues to produce at a time when, apparently, the Book is an endangered species. It was most recently updated in May, 2021.
It is an adjunct, or appendix, to the narrative personal history of Australian music writing, “Lowest of the Low,” that is also present here in this Un-Spiked section. It takes in all books as such, including fiction, and includes a page on 'chapbooks' and other more ephemeral one-off publications. As the only real attempt that I’m aware of to account for the breadth of music books that Australia has produced in exponentially-expanding numbers since the 1960s, I think it should serve as an invaluable addition to the bibliography itself. Thanks are due for some assistance to Michael Alexandratos.
Only books in English are listed, which only means a few dodgy European knock-offs on AC/DC are excluded. AC/DC and Nick Cave are without doubt the two most widely written-about Australian music acts, with perhaps only Slim Dusty coming close in third place. Oh, along with Kylie Minogue. Increasingly in our now global world, Australian writers and photographers are themselves becoming more global, in their movements and their subjects, and similarly non-Australian writers and publishers are becoming more invested in Australia too. I myself was for a long time involved with an American publisher based in Portland, Oregon – Verse Chorus Press, which was actually run by an Englishman, who published three of my books – and as one of maybe half a dozen Australian writers involved with it, the imprint was virtually a mid-Pacific concern. Still I thought it was a travesty that when I wanted to get out a second edition of Buried Country in 2015, it was to Verse Chorus Press – offshore – I had to go. But then a few years after that when I published Buried Country’s sister-sequel Deadly Woman Blues locally through New South, it got withdrawn from sale amid a firestorm of identity politics and now stands as certainly the only Australian music book ever to have been pulped. A dubious distinction to be sure.
There’s more than a few ordinary or dodgy books included here, and the mania for memoir is responsible for more than a few of those, but I suppose it’s better and more useful that they’re out there than not. Ghostwriters are not listed unless they’re bylined on a book’s cover or its title page. Expatriates like Lillian Roxon, Steve Dunleavy, Jerry Ewing, Keith Shadwick, Robert Whittaker and Andrew Mueller, none of whom published a book before leaving Australia, are included according to the Nick Cave Rule, which is that Saint Nick is still very much an Australian icon even if he’s lived in England for four decades now. Social histories to which music is fundamental are included, thus entries for Richard Neville and Craig McGregor; similarly, in the Fiction listing, books are included on the basis that music is an essential component of their plot or background. Co-authors earn a standalone entry only if they’ve published a standalone title in their own right. Books written by Australian musicians about non-music subjects are excluded, which means that while David Lennon’s wonderful Rudeboy Train is included, in the Fiction section of course, since it was a fictionalisation of his experience in Sydney ska band the Allniters, Nick Cave’s excruciating novels are excluded just as is Damien Lovelock’s What’s for Dinner, Dad?
The good thing about a website like this is that it’s live and active, so if you can spot any errors or omissions, please be in touch via the Contact Form here and I will be more than happy to amend.