Jim Marshall's photographs have appeared in literally hundreds of books and magazines, both on their own merit and as illustrations, and a comprehensive bibliography would be a formidable task—even for a bibliographer, which I' m not. Luckily, for those who don't have any Jim Marshall yet, there's a no-brainer current choice: Trust: Photographs of Jim Marshall, published just last fall. Here's the U.K. link (for links to Amazon Canada and Amazon Germany, go here).
The classic monograph is Not Fade Away from ten years ago, now out of print. It's a nomad at my house: it never found a comfortable home and keeps turning up in the oddest places. At the moment I, um, can't find it. If you want that one, it's going to be either hard to find or a little on the expensive side. When mine turns up again I'm going to lasso it and ensconce it in the new bookcase, alongside my other Marshall books. Maybe it'll settle down.
Another recent book, still in print and easily available, is Jim Marshall / Jazz (here's the U.K. link), which is my personal favorite of all his books because...well, because I like jazz. Although relatively new to the public I still think it ranks among the six or eight best books of jazz portraits. Like all books that "collect" famous people, it's somewhat uneven, with true masterpieces next to pictures that sorta had to be included because they were all he had of somebody he wanted to include, but overall it's a vibrant and lively collection. No color pictures in this one.
Not long ago, Geoff reviewed The Contact Sheet from AMMO books, a subgenre that's likely to die with film, and Jim Marshall has his own version, called Proof. I haven't seen it, but the concept is standard and straightforward: a contact sheet from a shoot shown opposite the final select. As with many such books, likely to be of considerable technical interest to photographers.
His newest book, which he was reportedly promoting at the time of his death, is called Match Prints. I've never seen it and don't know much about it; apparently it's a series of compare-and-contrast pairs of pictures by Jim and his friend Timothy White.
Trust is not a substitute for Not Fade Away. More like a complement to it. Its main feature is that it includes a great deal of never-before-seen color work. For color photographers, this is the one. Not Fade Away is still the go-to volume for all the classic and better-known black-and-white work. But Trust is a fine, and fun, book, good to look through, with the added bonus of an occasional story thrown into the captions.
Anyone who wonders if Jim was a "good photographer" might be a bit put off by Not Fade Away—many of the pictures are offhand, documentary, off-hours, backstage shots with a very casual, grab-shot feel to them. They're mixed in with straight portraits and pictures that were obviously done at the time as promo shots. The overall feel is a bit piecemeal. JM says several times that his subjects "were just kids having fun," and in some case you get the feeling that he was, too.
Trust is better edited and feels richer, giving a portrait of a more assured photographer, and one with a broader range—and more consistent as well. By the way, the title comes from the one-word answer Marshall used to give when asked how he got such intimate access to so many big stars.
A spread from Trust. Carol King on the left. The shot of Mick Jagger was a LIFE magazine cover.
Even though it's missing some of the big hits, the black-and-white work in Trust is of very high quality, and there's quite a lot of it. But the color work is the big draw here. Especially since Not Fade Away is no longer in print, Trust is the easy first recommendation if you want to get more familiar with Jim Marshall's work.
Unless you like jazz, in which case you'll want the jazz book. Too.
By the way, Trust was published by Omnibus Press and Jazz by Chronicle Books, but the two volumes are almost exactly the same size, and make a nicely matched pair shelved side-by-side. Not important; I'm just sayin'.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.