Review – Holiday Gift Guide 2021 – Photo Books by David Freese, Michael Grecco, Julian David Stone, and Ralph Sutherland and Harold Sherrick

David Freese has had a singular focus: documenting North American Waters. His first book was West Coast: Bering to Baja, followed by a look at the opposite side of the country, East Coast: Arctic to Tropic, and finally, his trilogy finds its culmination in the recent Mississippi River: Headwaters and Heartland to Delta and Gulf, which coincidently just won the IPPY Gold Medal 2021 for best Coffee Table Book.

After spending time with the books, we found that the following quote from the publisher read accurately to us. “No photographer, artist, scholar, or writer has explored the various and wondrous landscapes along North America's major waters—its West Coast, from Alaska to Baja California, its East Coast, from Greenland to the Florida Keys, and the Mississippi River, from its headwaters in northern Minnesota to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast—until David Freese. This trilogy of books looks comprehensively at what makes the natural and cultural landscapes of North America's coasts and America's greatest river so memorable. Each book contains long historical essays by the renowned writer Simon Winchester, and each book is introduced by major women scholars and curators: Naomi Rosenblum, Jenna Butler, and Sarah Kennel.”

All three are sumptuously printed, beautifully seen and designed. What is most interesting is that these aren’t simply documents of those places, but with an unerring instinct, the images are complex, classically beautiful, but never treacly. Since the time span for the three volumes covers eight years, these don’t sit as a typical trilogy in terms of book design, size, and binding, but no matter – they are a testament to a singular dedication, coupled with a vision to match. His latest book continues in the same spirit, but travels to the North American Ocean in Iceland Wintertide. David Freese’s books are the perfect exploration of the landscape by a master. 

For more information on David Freese visit:

Michael Grecco – Punk Post Punk New Wave

I’ve known Michael Grecco for years, although neither of us can remember how we first met. He is an extraordinarily proficient studio and commercial photographer, a pro’s pro with a mastery of the medium. So, what happens when the creator of the acclaimed documentary “Naked Ambition: an R rated look at an X rated industry” mines his archive for his youthful love of punk and new wave music? A great book of photographs of the music heroes of his youth is the result. 

Beautifully designed and printed, Punk Post Punk New Wave: Onstage, Backstage, In Your Face, 1978-1991 reminds us, with no uncertaintly or restraint, what happens when a collective statement of resistance against the status quo invades popular music. As Grecco writes, the punk era was a moment without boundaries – “Wear what you want! Say what you want! Make music however you want!” From Jello Biafra, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Blondie, Talking Heads, Human Sexual Response, Joan Jett, Poison Ivy, and the Ramones, they, among others, all make the appearances here. 

What’s interesting about this book is that it’s part documentary, part music fanatic, part kid with a camera and no obvious parental supervision, and part Boston University student. Working from the mosh pit, radio station, and backstage in the wings, Grecco nails the energy, attitude, and sheer fun of it all. I remember going to punk gigs, and just laughing at how much fun it was, at least before the violence kicked in, and you get that energy, a kind of giddy love affair with all that the scene held, also, you catch a whiff of melancholy, knowing that it can’t last forever. The book is best examined with the music loud enough to loosen the caulk in your windows. He even has a fancy limited edition with an original print. We think it’s what Santa would get for you. One of my favorites? Wendy O. Williams repairing a TV set with a sledgehammer.

For more information on Michael Grecco’s Punk Post Punk New Wave: Onstage, Backstage, In Your Face, 1978-1991 visit:

Anne Turner, Photography Curator Emeritus, of the Houston Museum of Fine Art, while working on an exhibition of war photography, decided with her team to break down the photographs into a loose set of divisions. They were (I’m paraphrasing here) preparation for war, combat, waiting for action, and the result of combat, the after effects. And so it goes for music photography. You have the press photos, the grip and grins, the performance photos, the sitting around waiting for something to happen photos, and the off-stage fun photos. For the performance photos, it’s useful to apply a couple of criteria: the fans' photos, the insider's photos, and the musicians' own images. 

Accordingly, No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer, by Julian David Stone, is a testament to the fan photographer. Like others, Stone faced the same threat that music photographers have always faced, access. In the early days, photographers, and fans with cameras were welcomed. It was free publicity for the band, and photographs of favorite musicians for the photographer, maybe a few bucks in publishing them, but mostly, they were made just for the joy of making them

There are worse things in life than hanging out in clubs photographing the likes of Prince, U2, the Police, R.E.M., the Ramones, Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, the Grateful Dead, Joan Jett, David Bowie and many, many more. Stone culled images from his archive, to create a 250-page look at music of the era through the eyes of a super fan armed with a camera. Tellingly, some of Stone’s favorite moments weren’t necessarily hanging with the musicians, but outwitting the security guards, and other roadblocks to sneaking in cameras, lenses, and film to places that photographers were forbidden to be at. This cat-and-mouse game, only adds to the fervor of the project, and speaking from personal experience, outwitting those linebackers at the doors or backstage, was almost as fun as the gigs. This is a wonderful gift of photography for the music lover in your life. You might want to create a playlist to go with it. 

For more information on No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer, by Julian David Stone visit:

A Pig’s Tale – By Ralph Sutherland and Harold Sherrick – The Underground Story of the Legendary Bootleg Record Label, Trade Mark of Quality

Do you remember your first bootleg album? OK, that’s not a fair question. Why not? Because it’s based on the days when vinyl ruled, the closest thing we had to the internet were blurry images from the space program, and portable phones were the thing of James Bond, not actual mortals. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, bootleg albums, were usually made from non-licensed, illegal recordings made at concerts. Later, the live bootleg market expanded by including stolen, questionably sourced tapes. One of my favorite bootlegs was known as The Pizza Tapes when a recording emerged of Jerry Garcia, Tony Rice, and David Grisman. The illegal release was blamed on a pizza delivery boy, who reportedly snatched a cassette sitting on the kitchen counter. Of course, there’s money to be made in creating a non-bootleg official release with superior sonics. So, labels and artists have released “official bootlegs” proving that oxymorons are alive and well. This includes Pearl Jam, The Grateful Dead, and the well-regarded Bob Dylan series.

What does this have to do with The Pigman, Trade Mark of Quality? Well, in a word, everything. First of all, understand, that making bootlegs is illegal, illegal enough to invite raids conducted by the F.B.I. with guns drawn. Everyone, except the fans, wants the bootleggers to suffer. The artists don’t like them since they don’t make any money from sales, the labels hate them for the same reason, and the fans love them Interestingly, when Paul Simon testified before Congress about the threat faced by home taping, he conveniently left out the face that his groundbreaking “Graceland” was inspired by a bootleg of South African township music. Even now, cassette mix tapes have reemerged, with the same personal touch. Someone made these, for you, only for you.

Oddly, there aren’t that many books on the rock music bootleggers of yore, and one of the best bootleggers was Pig Man. That’s what makes A Pig’s Tale – By Ralph Sutherland and Harold Sherrick so unique. Why so few titles? Well, bootlegging was, and still is illegal, so advertising the names and history of the illegal activity might not be, all that wise. Fortunately, Sutherland and Sherrick created a serious, in-depth, wonderfully illustrated history of the infamous Trade Mark of Quality bootleg label.

For the serious vinyl collector, this is a gold mine of great music and illegal recordings. Featuring original album covers by William Stout, accompanied by album research by Steve Talia, this is a feast for those music lovers willing to buy vinyl with whispers to the record store folks. It’s also a boon for collectors, as there is a thriving market for vintage bootlegs. The book is offered in a Softcover Open Edition, the limited edition version having sold out already. Featuring a complete discography, full color printing throughout, many rare and never-before-seen images, in its 336 pages, the book will warm the hearts of the vinyl lovers in your life. Unlike most other bootleggers of the time, the folks behind Pig Man, kept a low profile, managed to stay clear of the cops, and lived to tell the tale. I loved looking through the fabulous illustrations, remembering a few that I saw either in shops or friends homes. Pirates, heroes, the scourge of IP attorneys everywhere, and most of all, it was a great bit of fun to read.

For more information on a A Pig’s Tale – By Ralph Sutherland and Harold Sherrick visit:

Harris Fogel with Editorial Assistance from Nancy Burlan, posted 12/11/2021