New from Colossal Books:

Bill Brown, You Should've Heard Just What I Seen: Collected Newspaper Articles 1981-1984.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Availability in stores in New York City

Copies of You Should've Heard Just What I Seen will soon be available at the following locations:

In Manhattan: Other Music, 15 East 4th Street (between Broadway and Lafayette).
In Brooklyn: Spoonbill & Sugartown Books, 218 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Photo of Bill reading at Border's Books

Border's Books, Ann Arbor.
Tuesday 7 December 2010.
Photo by Karen Fogarty.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two Days in December: Another Dry Summary

Thursday, 2 December 2010.
Cincinnati, Ohio: Sitwells Coffee House.
Attendance: difficult to say.
Three copies sold.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010.
Ann Arbor, Michigan: Border's Books.
Attendance: 15-20 people.
Sales: 11 copies of You Should've Heard Just What I Seen;
one copy of We Know You Are Watching.
Copies left on consignment: five (all autographed).

Summary of accounts (just for You Should've Heard):
Sales: 14 copies.
Left on consignment: five copies.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Article by Michael Jackman

From The Metro Times 1 December 2010.

This week, a book-signing in Ann Arbor marks the return of one-time local music critic and Metro Times writer Bill Brown. (Full disclosure: The author and Brown became friends in the late 1990s in New York.) Though Brown hasn't written for MT in 27 years, his new book, You Should've Heard Just What I Seen, collects writing that appeared in several local papers, and should be of interest to local music fans across the sonic spectrum.

After dropping out of college in 1980, Brown had hoped to become "the new Lester Bangs," and after numerous rejections from The New York Times and the Village Voice (he got close with the Voice, at least; Robert Christgau sent him a "Not bad"), he gravitated to Ann Arbor with vague hopes of finishing school at the University of Michigan. But he also found himself at the crossroads of many different kinds of music passing through that college town. After enrolling at U-M, getting involved with WCBN-FM and sampling the local musical offerings, Brown pestered the Ann Arbor News to let him write a weekly column about music. Which they did.

With his weekly gig, Brown let forth a surprisingly informed stream of opinions on music, both local and national, backing up his views with pretty strong research that must have required some work in pre-Internet days. And the thousands of words he's compiled in What I Seen really highlight the eclectic music hitting Michigan's main college town. Though lots of music writers mostly cover what they love, Brown's coverage sprawled all over, betraying a catholic taste in music. In reviews and columns, he wrote about Prince, Ozzy Osbourne, Haircut 100, the Misfits, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, S.S. Decontrol, Earl Klugh, Ultravox, Jodie Foster's Army, Lords of the New Church and Toshiko Akiyoshi, to name a few national acts — as well as local luminaries the Urbations, the State, Marcus Belgrave, Destroy All Monsters, Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band, the Necros, the Electrifying Mojo and more.

Speaking from his apartment in Cincinnati's Clifton neighborhood, Brown recalls the variety of music Ann Arbor hosted in the 1980s, but also remembers the tension that existed between various local scenes, where "forms of music were isolated and sort of opposed to each other." By way of example, he refers to his piece on a JFA show, describing the mixed reactions to the surf-thrash combo. "The hardcore people would thrash around to the hardcore sounds, but then stay off the floor when the band did its surf tunes: As if there were something ideologically impure about surf music, even though it was being played by a hardcore band."

In fact, Brown's penchant for spotting contradictions and poking musical self-righteousness in the eye is what makes his criticism — as in the sense of actually criticizing something — so full of life and energy. Perhaps it's what also did him in as a local critic in the end.

For instance, in the summer of 1983, Brown wrote an essay for this paper titled "The death of hardcore," over which a battle raged in MT's letters section for weeks. The tasty little article is reprinted in the book.

Brown explains: "I began to proclaim that hardcore punk had suffocated on its own self-righteousness. Or to quote the Velvet Underground's Sterling Morrison, he said that, in the '60s, he hated folk music. Folk was telling people in a moralizing way what they were doing wrong — and it was implicit that what the singer was doing was right. A lot of the preaching had to do with social issues involving white people and black people. What Sterling Morrison said about the Velvet Underground was that, instead of preaching, they just made dance music that black and white people could dance to together. And you have the same thing with hardcore: 'This is what you're doing wrong.' And that stance is a folk stance."

Though the article caused a fracas, it's worth noting how accurately Brown pegged the "death" of hardcore's first wave, quite close to where today's hardcore historians have placed it.

Despite how kind history has been to Brown's views, in the end, it was editors who ended his career for him.

Brown says, "They told me, 'This is very nice, and we no longer want you to do it for us.'"

The end at the Ann Arbor News came in the summer of 1983. Brown says, "I lost my column because there were too many letters to the editor from local high school kids complaining about me talking about them and their friends' punk bands. At the same time, I was having trouble publishing specifically what I thought David Bowie was up to. One the one hand, he wasn't just selling out, he was cleaning up his act. The News was resistant to me saying that last part. After the concert, when I tried to say he was doing things that were way over his audiences' head — intellectual things. I got letters to the editor complaining. And they got somebody harmless instead."

A stint at the progressive Michigan Voice eventually rendered him persona non grata with then-editor Michael Moore, over a piece about Bruce Springsteen.

"He said I was too negative — his word — because I dared criticize Born in the U.S.A. The whole record sounded very, very commercial, so it wasn't simply how it played out with Ronald Reagan quoting the song. This was the first moment it became clear that Bruce Springsteen was going to be a rich man. And that he was going to have to go through the stuff that Bob Dylan did, which is figure out how to become a protest singer while being rich. ... And Michael Moore didn't want any part of it."
With a laugh, Brown adds, "Good thing there's the Internet now; we don't have to worry about editors anymore."

Bill Brown will give a talk and sign copies of his book at 7 p.m., Dec. 7, at Borders Books, 612 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-4024.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Three Days in November: A Dry Summary

Wednesday, 17 November.
Cleveland, Ohio: Visible Voice Books.
Attendance: four people, three of whom were from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
One copy sold. One copy given away as a gift.
Left on consignment: two copies of You Should've Heard Just What I Seen, three copies of American Colossus: the Grain Elevator 1843-1943, and three copies of We Know You Are Watching: Surveillance Camera Players 1996-2006.

Thursday, 18 November.
Toledo, Ohio: Culture Clash Records.
Attendance: Two people (plus two people who work at the store).
Two copies sold.
Left on consignment: five copies of You Should've Heard.

Friday, 19 November.
Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Blind Pig.
Merchandising table during show by The Cult Heroes.
Four copies sold.
One copy sold to owner of the West Side Book Shop.
Left on consignment: ten copies of You Should've Heard at Border's Books, three copies of You Should've Heard at David's Books.

Summary of accounts (just for You Should've Heard).
Sales: eight copies.
Gifts: one copy.
Left on consignment: twenty copies.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Event in Ann Arbor, Michigan

It has taken two weeks of work, but we have finally arranged a book signing event for Bill Brown in Ann Arbor, Michigan!

Border's Books, 612 East Liberty Street
7 pm, Tuesday 7 December 2010

(Thanks, Mike!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review by Grant McDonagh

The sad fact of the writing & publishing world now is that the enormous investment of time and effort it takes to write a book can lead to a great big nothing in terms of publisher uptake, sales, reviews and all the other good things you daydream about on the long journey to the completion of a manuscript. So Bill “Not Bored” Brown has put together his second book and Colossal Books of Cincinatti Ohio have published it, a slick, professional collection of previews and reviews from the years 81-84 when Bill wrote for the Ann Arbor News, The Metro Times & The Michigan Voice called You Should’ve Heard What I Just Seen and its of potential interest/enjoyment to anyone anywhere who’s into punk, 80’s pop, or just about any style of contemporary or recent music you might care to name. Personally I found as much interest and entertainment in his responses to the disposable and nearly forgotten or nowadays underrated likes of Patrice Rushen, The Gap Band & Prince as the still feted punk, post-punk & Hardcore likes of The Gang Of Four, The Ramones, Talking Heads & the Replacements etc. Given the format of daily/weekly publication, there’s nothing quite as stunning or as deeply insightful as you’ll find on the Not Bored website (cf. Bills’ Nirvana essay), but there are hints of his more recent obsessions/activities - a namecheck & recommendation to track down Vaneigem's Revolution Of Everyday Life as well as quite sweet, sympathetic reviews of lesbian-feminist (but not seperatist) artists & old style folkies. All in all a pleasant & richly textured read. Highly recommended.

Ultra-151, 4 November 2010.

Guest DJ at Sitwells Coffee House in Cincinnati

Monday, November 1, 2010

November schedule of author appearances

2-4 pm Saturday 6 November: Contemporary Arts Center, 44 East Sixth Street, downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.

7-9 pm Saturday 13 November: Shake It Records, 4156 Hamilton Avenue, Northside Cincinnati, Ohio.*

7-9 pm Wednesday 17 November: Visible Voice Books, 1023 Kenilworth Ave, Cleveland, Ohio.*

6-8 pm Thursday 18 November: The Culture Clash, 4020 Secor Road, Toledo, Ohio.*

9- pm Friday 19 November: The Blind Pig, 208 S. First Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

*Copies of the book already on sale at these locations.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Birthday / RIP Douglas Brooks

Today would have been Douglas Brooks' 54th birthday. The victim of lung cancer, he died on 27 January 2009. We have only just learned of the passing of our dear friend, with whom we were close, especially between 1980 and 1982, when we played together, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in a rock band called Entropy Quaint.

Rest in peace, mortal friend; and happy birthday to your immortal soul.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unofficial appearance in Ann Arbor

Bill will be at the Blind Pig, 208 S. First Street, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Friday night, 19 November 2010 to see the Cult Heroes perform. Copies of You Should've Heard Just What I Seen will be available.

Book release party in Toledo

6 pm on Thursday 18 November 2010 at Culture Clash Records, 4020 Secor Rd., Toledo, Ohio.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Small Press Fair in Cincinnati

Between 2 and 4 pm on Saturday 6 November 2010, a Small Press Fair will be held at the Contemporary Arts Center, 44 East 6th Street, in downtown Cincinnati. Colossal Books will have a table at this event, and copies of our publications will be available for sale.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book release party in Cleveland

A book signing by Bill will be held at Visible Voice Books, 1023 Kenilworth Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, at 7 pm Wednesday 17 November 2010. Copies of You Should've Heard What I Seen will be available. Bill will also spin his favorite records from the 1980s.

Trackback to Visible Voice Books

Friday, October 8, 2010

How to buy a copy

You can buy a copy through the publisher, Colossal Books (email, or through Lulu. In both cases, the cover price is $24.99 but, if you buy it through the publisher, the price includes free shipping to addresses in the USA. If you buy it through Lulu, shipping is additional.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Book release party in Cincinnati

A book release party for You Should've Heard Just What I Seen will be held at Shake It Records, 4156 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio, at 7 pm Saturday November 13. For more information or to make contact with the author (who will of course be at the party), email the publisher at

Monday, September 13, 2010


In October 2010, Colossal Books of Cincinnati, Ohio, will publish Bill Brown's You Should've Heard Just What I Seen: Collected Newspaper Articles, 1981-1984. The second book by Bill that Colossal has published (the first one was American Colossus: the Grain Elevator, 1843-1943), this one brings together virtually all of the articles he wrote for The Michigan Daily, The Ann Arbor News, The Metro Times, and The Michigan Voice. A prolific writer who, as he says, "wanted to be the new Lester Bangs," Bill wrote about whatever national touring act was in town (Prince, the Gap Band, Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Ant, Ornette Coleman, the World Saxophone Quartet, et al), as well as all of the local bands in the Ann Arbor area (Destroy All Monsters, The Cult Heroes, Nonfiction, and the State, among many others). A veritable encyclopedia of Ann Arbor in the early 1980s, You Should've Heard Just What I Seen is 376 pages long and divided into National Acts, Local Bands, Record Reviews, Book Reviews, and Film/Video Reviews.