Experienced: Rock Music Tales of Fact & Fiction is an anthology of short stories and essays all connected by one theme: Rock’n’roll. I can’t say all the stories rock, but some of them do indeed roll. “Tour Diary (Excerpts)” by Sean Ennis is a fictional primer of life in a rented van (written as multiple diary entries), about sleeping on people’s floors, playing to fluctuating audiences and having to visit an urgent care doctor. The protagonist wasn’t getting laid, either. Ouch.
Your first inclination is to bounce around to your favorite artists to see if the writers’ opinions match your own. Beyond that, most reference books go on the shelf, resigned to an occasional looksie when you discover a new artist and your taste needs to be validated. It’s a testament to the writing in Volume 4, then, that it’s good enough to read from beginning to end, discovering new artists as you go just to hear the author’s take.
Say one thing for Steven Adler, drummer for the original lineup of Guns N’ Roses: He tells it like it is. At least, according to him, which is something you have to keep in mind regarding any memoir. Not that I have reason to disbelieve him, but reading and watching enough accounts of the Guns N’ Roses story, and even having lived through it myself, it’s funny how everyone can view the same events differently.
Wisely avoiding being simply a rundown of high scores and obscure arcade accomplishments, the creators divide up gaming tidbits into logical categories (party games, 3D platformers, strategy RPGs) and bundle together facts (best-selling, first-in-genre, most critically acclaimed) in bright, inviting layouts.
This story is from the perspective of Dee Dee’s first wife Vera Ramone King and probable second love (crazed junkie/prostitute Connie Gripp was first), and it tells of an enduring love that would’ve sent most people to the brink – and over it – several times. And reading the memoir, you have to ask yourself: Is this the patience of a saint or the cognitive dissonance of a fool? It’s likely somewhere in between.
In Metallica: The Club Dayz 1982-1984, Bill Hale, chief photographer of ’80s Metal Rendezvous International Heavy Rock-Metal Magazine chronicles the band at an even earlier incarnation: The Cliff Burton/Dave Mustaine Years. Soon, Metallica would take over the world, but here in intimate (mostly) never-before-seen photos (including Hale’s last photograph of Burton), they were just a bunch of dirty, long-haired punks drinking copious amounts of alcohol, playing faster than anyone could imagine, and living out their lean years with great vigor.
KISS has always been many things: A good time, fun, meat and potatoes rock’n’roll, a pop phenomenon, and a joke all rolled into one. Dale Sherman, in this 10th anniversary edition of Black Diamond – The Unauthorized Biography of KISS, gives an exhaustive, behind the scenes account of the band throughout their impressive, sometimes tumultuous, history.
Like punk in the ’70s, no one asked for it, it makes up its own rules, and it’s a helluva lotta fun. Really, WTF? I mean, these are kinda like “Call someone up we know who’s kinda cool and ask’m ‘whats yer fave nine unpunk things to do in a punk way.'”. Beside these sortsa shenanigans, there are choices by all kindsa people involved in punkliness/punklitude/punkness that sound off about various musical, philosophical, and sartorial situations.
Really, if you care about Judas Priest or the germination of metal, you’re gonna wanna look at this. The pictorial evidence alone is fantastic. Hell, even if you read no English, you’ll know what’s what. Martin Popoff is a deep crate digger in the hard rock and metal world, a lifer’s lifer. He’s got 20 books under his Maiden belt buckle.
Cool idea, a whole pile of enthusiastic metalheads getting together to celebrate the hard power “traditional” metal legacy of Germany’s Keep It True Festival. The straight goods: This is a good looking book, hard cover with silver foil, embossed, large format, and full color throughout with lots of photos of all the bands who’ve thrown the horns over the years.
Joel’s choices are sure to cause kitchen table knife fights (and wait until you get into the Top 20!). But, as I say, McIver is at the front edge, making that paradigm shift, retiring the old gods for all manner of death black thrasher, not to mention young pups in bands such as Bullet For My Valentine, Dragonforce, and Avenged Sevenfold.
D.X. Ferris did dozens of interviews and basically wrote a short, intense, meticulous history of Slayer’s Reign In Blood and really, the whole band, including sociological context bios on each of the guys, and impact on the metal world. If you don’t know the deal, this is a well-regarded series of about 60 books, 4″ x 6″, the rule being it’s a history of one album in around 30,000 words.
The Pagans howled great high-octane rock and roll (Neil) Cassidy car-jacking their recent past honed dagger sharp unto it’s essence. Closest peers: Dead Boys; with fellow flamethrowers in the Ramones/Saints punk juggernaut. The writing is plain spoken, sensible, and focused. No obfuscation, no ring-around-the posey; like reading Burroughs’ Junkie or Bruce Caen’s Hollywood, it’s just straight on there.
There’s no way a guy like me could ever find out more about the general metal family from someone he trusts more than getting these Guides. Cuz I’m not deep metal, I’m wide metal. Herein, you get about 3100 reviews, the stuff you expect in the metal genre/gene-splice spiced with heavy aggressive music tangential to metal. You get your punk, your hard rock, your industrial, your stoner rock AS LONG as it has the requisite amount of heft/stroke. Plus, he’s funny, often in a droll kinda way.
Nikki Sixx has published a book called The Heroin Diaries and this is the soundtrack. I should first point out that the book is a captivating if often gut-wrenching read that anyone who dug Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt should dig. There are a lot of beautiful and otherwise inspired lyrics on this album – including those of the first single, “Life Is Beautiful” – but none so beautiful as “Accidents Can Happen,” a song about recovery and friendship.
The Rock & Roll Film Encyclopedia, as simply as it’s rendered, shouldn’t be difficult to grasp. On the surface, the idea is simple enough: A film guide whose focus is rock & roll-based movies. Fine. Seems like a good enough idea, a reference guide for folks in search of music-based feature films, bio-pics, documentaries, and the like.
Over the course of its 160 color-photo-splayed pages, Roller Derby provides a brief, breezy history of the sport’s beginnings during the Great Depression, its descent as a result of television, and its rebirth as the sport of choice for the PBR-swilling rock and Goth girls haunting your city’s underground music club.
If You Liked School… is a collection of five short stories. They take place all over the world and host a variety of characters, but together, they present a sort of mosaic with characters and plotlines ranging from the monstrous to the merely pathetic. The end result is a decent collection that’ll probably do the most business in hip record stores, the kind that have a small fiction section composed of books by folks like Bukowski, Kerouac, Burroughs, Palahniuk, and Henry Rollins.