Nick Tosches opens up a glorious treasure trove of rock and roll history with his new book, Save the Last Dance for Satan, recently published as part of a new series of hip pocket paperback gems by Kicks Books. The tome grew out of an article Tosches wrote in 2000 for Vanity Fair called "Hipsters and Hoodlums" and retains the lean, muscular prose we know and love him for. And to up the cool factor, the book harkens back to pulp paperbacks of the '50s with its mysteriously sexy cover art and overall design. Read this one on the subway and believe you me, you'll get stared at by all the right people.
Tosches reveals tales such as how the haunting hit song "Sally, Go 'Round the Roses" came to be written and recorded: "The 1963 hit 'Sally, Go 'Round the Roses,' recorded by the Jaynetts, remains one of the unsurpassed rock and roll records of all time. Its strange, delved but unfathomed powers are to rhythm and blues and rock and roll what the Eleusinian Mysteries are to the realm of secret-most mythology. How this sublime and mystical record became a hit is beyond understanding, but the gods are to be thanked for the fact that it did." The story is too fabulous and sad for words, and I'm not going to spoil it for you. You have to read the book, which is a fast and enjoyable read.
The aforementioned story is only one in a plethora of fascinating tales that peel back the layers behind the shady world of 1950s and 1960s pop music. Tosches will be reading from Save the Last Dance for Satan tonight, Friday, September 9 at the appropriately spooky and creaky Jefferson Market Library at 425 Sixth Avenue in the Village. This joint, being erected originally as a courthouse in 1874, is the site of the 1927 Mae West "sex" trial and architect Stanford White's murder trial in 1906.
Save the Last Dance for Satan is the third of a series of books published by Kicks Books, the brainchild of Billy Miller and Miriam Linna of Norton Records. Earlier this year they published Andre Williams' first book of fiction, Sweets (and other Stories) and This Planet is Doomed: The Science Fiction Poetry of Sun Ra, with a foreword by Amiri Baraka. There are plans later this fall to publish Tall Cool One by Kim Fowley and Harlan Ellison's Pulling A Train. The Ellison book contains all the stories from his 1959 collection Sex Gang plus six additional stories from that era. Since its original publication date, Ellison has never given permission to have this material reissued until now.
More info on Kicks Books and ordering information can be found here.
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