Sleeve notes

Writing about music, as someone once observed, is like dancing about architecture.

That, of course, hasn't stopped hordes of stubbly, red-eyed hacks slaving over devotional screeds on the most famous to the most obscure bands on the planet. And now, in the brave zenith of "cultural studies", rock writing has finally acquired a serious status, with masterpieces like Ian MacDonald's Revolution in the Head offering deft and witty socio- musicological analysis of the Sixties through the refracting lens of the Beatles' music. That particular tome is available at your local Dillon's, but for the most part the chain bookstores' music sections are appallingly understocked. Where does the serious rock researcher go? The newly-opened answer is Helter Skelter, the world's first bookshop dedicated to popular music writing. Books on every aspect of rock, blues, jazz, folk and country line the walls, along with fanzines, US imports, out-of-print titles and second-hand books. The basement, meanwhile, will be used for promotions and signings, as well as exhibitions of photography by renowned snappers (kd lang, above, by Jill Furmanovsky from her book The Moment). Cruise along and soak up the atmosphere: golden oldie records, fresh coffee, and, if you're lucky, the dulcet whine of some yob playing "Stairway to Heaven" in a neighbouring guitar shop. Lovely.

STEVEN POOLE

4 Denmark St, London WC2

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