Music soothes the savage beast. (It can, alternatively, also turn you into one.) If you’re a serious audiophile and appreciate everything that goes into producing an entire musical package (that includes the instruments, gadgetry, and album artistry, to name a few), then you’re in luck.
There’s a little something for everyone on this list. From in-depth photographic journeys to illustrated histories, and everything in between. These literary works of art are jam packed with engaging information and are also visually stunning. It’s a feast for the eyes, because you can’t hear a book (unless it’s an audio-file.)
So sit back, relax, put on your headphones to tune out the world, and get ready to explore our top picks for the best coffee table books that every music lover needs.
1000 Record Covers
If you haven’t heard, vinyl is back. (This can, unfortunately, also be applied to the fashion world, where goth’s and glam rockers squeezed into unforgiving vinyl garments because they looked so cool.) Luckily, we’re not talking about fashion, we’re talking about music. (Which, unlike plastic pantaloons, is always in style.) If you don’t currently have space to resurrect and display your record collection, then instead, you can reminisce with 1000 Record Covers.
This perfectly compact hardback shows off 1000 of the most prominent vinyl “jackets” of the 60s through 90s, including musicians, live readings, and everything in between. So take a spin, er, flip a page and turn on, tune in, and drop out.
Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop
A must-have for music and photography fans, this chronological journey covers the transition from old-school to alternative hip-hop and analog to digital photography.
Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop is the complete history of hip-hop photography from the 1960s to present day, with rare shots from over 100 photoshoots and interviews with industry leaders. Celebrating the artists behind iconic hip-hop album covers, t-shirts, and posters, Contact High is the ultimate history of hip-hop’s early days. A must-have for music and photography fans.
This in-depth guide explores hip-hop photography through the lens of photographers’ contact sheets. Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop is filled with rare images from over 100 photoshoots and interviews with the industry’s greatest photographers. Starting in the 1960s, this visual masterpiece covers the evolution of hip-hop and the peaceful transfer of power from film to digital photography. After contemplating Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop Stop, you’ll understand what people mean when they tell you that every picture tells a story. So just calm down, hold your breath for a few seconds, and exhale.
Rock-and-Roll Woman: The 50 Fiercest Female Rockers
Dudes, bros, and those with a Y chromosome, remember that when it comes to the wonderful world of music (and life in general), your double X counterparts can be just as fierce (if not ruthless). If you’re looking to honor the hardcore chick in your life, or to simply show your support for your human being, there’s no better way than displaying it on your coffee table. (Because everyone has some sort of table that holds their coffee.)
Rock-and-Roll Woman: The 50 Fiercest Female Rockers shows off some of the most groundbreaking female musicals to shake up and rewrite the music industry. From Janis to Shirley, Grace to Stevie, Patti to Amy, your world is going to be rocked by each one of these booty-kicking women.
I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution
Who doesn’t want their MTV? Back in the day, MTV was all music videos, all day, all night. Then they birthed The Real World into existence, and that was the day the music died. All
crying kidding aside, MTV was before their time. A television station dedicated to playing music videos 24/7 was a revolutionary concept … that most people did not believe would succeed. But you gotta fight for your right … right? I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution takes you on a journey from their humble beginnings to becoming a boob tube station that would change pop culture forever. Just remember that video killed the radio star, and reality TV killed, well, a lot of formerly good TV stations.
Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll
When it comes to good rock, the only way to play it is to crank it up to a level 15. This is because amping up the volume actually makes it easier to hear what the musician is playing (in theory), thus allowing you to further appreciate the instruments that make the music legends legendary.
Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll is all about the musical instruments that shaped the world of rock n’ roll, offering up a unique, in-depth look at the instruments that shaped some of the world’s most amazing musicians. Because who would Jerry Lee Lewis be if he didn’t have his baby grand? Or Jimi Hendrix without his strat? Or who would Lady Gaga be without her keytar?
Terry O’Neill’s Rock N Roll Album
Hand bound in bonded black leather, Terry O’Neill’s Rock N Roll Album is basically the book version of those tight black leather rocker pants. Inside you’ll find 300 full page glossy photos of rock n’ roll’s most famous music gods and goddesses.
These images aren’t just restricted to the on-stage personas of David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Chuck Berry, and Amy Winehouse (and obviously, many more). Terry O’Neill’s Rock N Roll album also offers personal, behind-the-scenes and quite candid shots taken at private events, as well. It’s like a real life glimpse into the secret lives of music’s all-time greatest. Terry O’Neill’s Rock N Roll Album is basically the book that brought sexy back.
Hi-Fi : The History of High-End Audio Design
Tech and music go hand in hand, and if you’re a hardcore audiophile, then you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of Hi-Fi: The History of High-End Audio Design. Starting off in the 1950s, this book showcases the history of some of the most high-end pieces of audio equipment (being used in the industry in its respective time period). If turntables, reel-to-reel, vacuum tubes, speakers, or solid state amplifiers get your blood bubbling, then this is the book for you.
Hi-Fi : The History of High-End Audio Design is the definitive guide for the musical tech wizard in your life. Just remember, don’t scratch the record, and always start with the volume on low.
The Rolling Stones. Updated Edition
If you can’t get no satisfaction from the multitudes of Rolling Stones books circulating the market, then look no further than The Rolling Stones: Updated Edition. Just like the band, this literary work of art is unlike anything you’ve ever set eyes on. How so? For starters, this most recent volume was produced in collaboration with the actual band (and none of that friend of a friend stuff), who for the first time, also granted access to their own archives. Can you say special treatment?
The Rolling Stones set the standard for all rock bands following suit. Speaking of suits, they also dressed impeccably well, which is another reason why you need to check out The Rolling Stones. Updated Edition. They’re flawless.
This isn’t a book about the best music covers done by other musicians. Rock Covers is another beautifully hefty book that features 750 of the most legendary (and rare) album covers to grace the music industry. For you youngsters who might be reading, the way you listen to music has evolved quite a bit over the decades. Back in the day, music was etched into big black PVC discs, called vinyl. (There was none of that “download and go” stuff.)
Eye popping artwork is often associated with your favorite musicians, so it only makes sense to dedicate a book to it. As you flip through these colorful pages, you’re guaranteed to be caught reminiscing about what you were doing when you first heard that tune.
Alice in Chains: The Untold Story
Pioneers of the grunge-metal-rock era (the early 90s, when pastel was still big, but voluminous hair was beginning to recede), Alice in Chains was the first out of the legendary four Seattle grunge groups to sell over half a million records. But as The Notorious B.I.G. says, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.”
Based on extensive interviews (and many, many sleepless nights), Alice in Chains: The Untold Story delves deep into the band’s rise to fame, sifting through rumors and gossip, and breaking open Pandora’s music box. It’s the perfect read for those of you who enjoy a fast-paced and exciting informational read that ends on a high note (and not death and destruction).