Trouser Press Books
The second volume of veteran rock critic Ira Robbins‘ anthology-and-memoir Music in a Word trilogy compiles his extensive writing about nine artists: The Who, Cheap Trick, Ramones, Nirvana, Clash, Kinks, Elvis Costello, Keith Richards and the Replacements.
This large-format paperback includes features, reviews and previously unpublished interviews as well as commentary and memories from a half-century of writing about popular music. Illustrated with images from the author’s collection.
If you’ve ever wondered how and why anyone becomes a critic, some of the answers are here.
“Music in a Word” gathers articles, many previously unpublished interviews, album and concert reviews and other writing, with colorful recollections of 50 years spent on a musical soapbox.
Subjects include Trouser Press, John Lydon, Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, Ice Cube, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Cure, Blondie, Be-Bop Deluxe, Liz Phair, Michael Jackson, T. Rex, the B-52’s, Elvis Presley, Jethro Tull, J. Geils, Public Enemy, David Bowie, Isaac Hayes, R.E.M., Linda Ronstadt, Pavement, Kirsty MacColl, Holly Beth Vincent, Billy Joel, Tears for Fears, Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch, as well as movie reviews and much more.
Profusely illustrated with images from the author’s personal archive.
London, 1972: An ordinary schoolgirl is pulled into the world of a fading rock star and becomes the secret weapon in a plan to revive his career in the time of glam. The mysteries of sex and songwriting, connivance, fame, family and the music business collide to bring her to a life she has never imagined. With a detailed and knowing historical background, Marc Bolan Killed in Crash is a musical romp through an all-but-forgotten pop era by a veteran American music journalist.
A Trouser Press book, published 2020.
Praise for Marc Bolan Killed in Crash:
“Ira Robbins brings a lifelong immersion in pop music’s wish fulfillment to this detailed and note-perfect recreation of a glitter-tinged moment of generational transformation in pre-punk 1970s England. He plays his characters like members of a band, each with their own verse and chorus, I found myself waiting for the soundtrack to come, singing along.”
—Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith Group guitarist, journalist, author, producer
“With the U.K. glam-rock craze of the ’70s as his gorgeous, glorious backdrop, Ira Robbins deftly explores the intersection where pop culture, society, and individualism meet. He’s written a smart, lively, finely wrought novel that’s packed with prose so glittery it positively sparkles.”
—Doug Brod, former Editor in Chief of SPIN
“A deep, abiding love of music and an inexhaustible knowledge of it blend seamlessly in Ira Robbins’ moving new novel, Marc Bolan Killed in Crash. He unerringly explores the endless shadings of the English glam-rock scene of the Seventies and why it meant — and continues to mean — so much. He is an astute, feeling writer who effortlessly summons the zeitgeist of that time — and, intriguingly, ours as well.”
—Anthony DeCurtis, author of Lou Reed: A Life
“Transporting us from glam to punk to corporate offices, with period-perfect jargon and keen details about the way the music business manipulates fantasy and reality, Ira Robbins’ rollicking Marc Bolan Killed in Crash isn’t just the poignant tale of the way musicians and fans alike are swept up in the power of pop music, it’s a also novel that reads like history.”
—David Browne, author of Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, CSNY, James Taylor and the Lost Story of 1970.
“Ira Robbins, one of the great American Anglophiles of rock writing, has written a shrewd and witty novel about the business of pop – the manufacture of glamour – in the benighted early ’70s Britain of Bolan and Chinnichap.”
—Barney Hoskyns, author of Small Town Talk, Hotel California, Across the Great Divide, Waiting for the Sun and Editorial Director of Rock’s Backpages
“You want to inhabit the music world of the ’70s? Who better as a guide than esteemed rock journalist Robbins, who’s written a feverishly fresh read. From the desperately fading rock stars and their hangers-on to the excitement of the new sound, Marc Bolan Killed in Crash is both a coming of age story of a talented young woman and of a new music moment.”
—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You, Is This Tomorrow and Cruel Beautiful World
“The authentic teenage voice is one of the most difficult feats in fiction as it can so easily veer into contrivance or outright cringe, but Ira Robbins nails it. The sense of time and place is deftly evoked and the story pulls you through from the beginning. Top shelf stuff.
—Frank Portman, author of King Dork, King Dork Approximately and Andromeda Klein
“In Marc Bolan Killed in Crash, Ira Robbins evokes the mood and mystery of the 70’s Glam Rock n Roll zeitgeist.”
—Clem Burke, Blondie drummer
In his first novel, veteran music journalist Ira Robbins satirizes the foibles and fanaticism of ’60s radicalism. The dark humor of Kick It Till It Breaks is tempered by affection and respect for those who devoted themselves to ending the war in Viet Nam. Ydinia Ochreman is the leader of the Plumbers, a pre-Watergate organization engaged in watery terrorism; her travels and exploits shape the story, which involves a colorful cast of dubious characters, including the incompetent FBI agent on her trail, a pacifist protest leader with a complicated agenda, a cranky peg-legged bar owner, an Irish atheist on a quest to end organized religion whose son kills people for it and a confused loser from Memphis who gets lost in London and finally finds a way to live. Rich with period detail, slang and settings, Kick It Till It Breaks is both a fond epic of long-ago times and a stick in the eye of anyone with too idealized a recollection of the era.
A Trouser Press book, published in 2010.