AMBER EASBY & HENRY OLIVER The Art Of The Band T-Shirt (Pocket Books)


As a vehicle for leveraging the profit potential of a groaning, overstuffed wardrobe, for Amber Easby (a merchandiser for at least two of Jack White's bands) and Henry Oliver (member and graphic designer of the band Die! Die! Die!) taking photographs of and annotating its contents must surely have been a preferable option compared to, say, selling them on eBay. Unfortunately, with its stocking-filler size and necessarily subjective approach, "The Art Of The Band T-Shirt" falls some way short of being the kind of penetrating, one-stop study the band merchandising industry deserves.


There's a few pages of light introductory text covering the birth of the garment itself and how it was adapted to the needs of the music industry, and each individual shirt selected is granted somewhere between a sentence and a paragraph of analysis. But the contents seem tilted lopsidedly towards the authors' interests - chiefly cooler-than-thou American indie bands - meaning there are five Sonic Youth tees covered here and not a single Frankie Goes To Hollywood shirt, a band surely deserving at least a mention for dominating the merchandising industry so completely, if briefly, during their fifteen minutes of notoriety.


Perhaps I'm just biased, though. Given the percentage of my wardrobe that was acquired at record shops and concerts, I'm somewhat disappointed that only one t-shirt I've ever worn, Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" makes the cut.