Freddie Mercury: A Life, In His Own Words by Freddie Mercury, Greg Brooks and Simon Lupton – Book Review

In going through Amazon’s Kindle book, I found this book on Freddie Mercury and thought I would give it a try. The book is called ‘Freddie Mercury: A Life, In his Own Words by Freddie Mercury, Greg Brooks and Simon Lupton. Now, it says by Freddie Mercury but that is very misleading as Freddie was not involved with this book as he had long since passed. It is not an Autobiography. The book is actually a collection of interviews that Freddie had done over the years and they were pieced together here to let you hear from Freddie and what he was thinking. A pretty cool idea, however, it didn’t work in the way I am sure they were hoping it would.

Here are the problems…First…the book is in no real chronological order. It doesn’t really tell the story of Queen or really Freddie in any kind of sequential order. It is all over the place timeline wise. Second…it doesn’t go in depth on Queen much at all. So, if you are looking for a deep dive in to the inner workings of Queen, albums or tours, you will be sadly bored to tears. And third…it is very repetitive, It is very repetitive and it is very repetitive. I can’t tell you how many times we have to hear about how much Freddie likes to spend money, how much the real Freddie is not like the stage Freddie and how lonely and few friends he has. Those are all interesting story points true, but these interviews mention it time and time and time again.

What did they get right? Well, the concept is really cool. I did like hearing Freddie talk about the struggles of being famous, his battle with being lonely and his inner thoughts about getting old. As I said, they are truly interesting bits to learn about they just didn’t need to rammed down our throats a hundred times. The man does have an ego as he knows how good he really was, but that ego is squashed by how charming he can be in an interview. Heck, I did have fun reading the book in Freddie’s voice. In my mind I am putting the inflections on the headvoice as I am reading the same way I remember how Freddie would say things. He was flamboyant, he was over-the-top and he was Freddie Mercury, but you do get to see the other side of him which is quite nice to learn.

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‘Dokken: Into The Fire And Other Embers Of 80s Metal History’ by James Curl – Book Review

I found this book on Amazon Unlimited and thought, I like Dokken, this should be a good book to read. And it was, however, my opinion of the boys is now slightly tainted. I now wish I didn’t know what I have learned because I won’t look at the band the same way again. More on that later.

The book is called “Dokken: Into the Fire and Other Embers of 80’s Metal History’ by James Curl. That is a long title. The book is a collection of personal interviews he had with Jeff Pilson and Don Dokken as well as collecting interviews from other people over the years including George Lynch and some Mick Brown (but very little from Mick). The puzzle is pieced together and the story is told of the band from before the beginning with the members other bands all the way to 2019 and where the band stands today.

It is cool to learn about the previous bands and what it took to get to the point of starting Dokken which to me is the weirdest and strangest tale. Dokken got started in the strangest way not anything like the other bands on the Sunset Strip. Dokken wasn’t signed because of all their shows on the Strip, nope. Somehow, Don wound up in Germany and got a deal to record there. The classic line-up was not around yet of Jeff Pilson, George Lynch and Mick Brown. Don was back & forth between L.A. and Germany a lot and was able to pull together the line-up after the original guys he had lined up couldn’t commit. The book tells how he got to know George, Jeff and Mick.

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The Spectacular Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Hair Metal by Christopher Hilton – Book Review

My favorite era of music is the so called, 80’s Hair Metal scene. Of course, back then it was just rock and didn’t yet have a label, but that was the music for me. I know a lot about that era and the bands so any time I can get my hands on a book about that time, I am all over it. I took a chance on this one called ‘The Spectacular Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Hair Metal by Christopher Hilton. The book had a 4.4 rating so I thought I would give it a shot.

The book goes chronologically through each year of the scene and goes all the way up to 2019/20. When it gets to the 90’s and 2000’s, the chapters start to cover more than one year as it would be too much. I was expecting some great stories and maybe interviews from people of that era and from those involved in the scene, but that is not what I got at all. The author went through and talked mostly about the biggest bands of the era including Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat and the like and he went through each album and the best songs on the album. At the end of each year he ranked the best album. Honestly, it felt like I was either reading wikipedia or maybe even something I would have written with my limited knowledge of these bands. It was rather pedestrian.

The stories about the bands were the same old stories we’ve heard all the time, there was really nothing new at all. No interviews, no real thought provoking insight, no real meat at all. He always focused on the biggest bands and seldom if ever brought up bands that were lesser known that were completely overlooked. The only good thing is he did follow the music in to the 90’s (and he mentioned Paul Laine of Danger Danger) and how the bands changed their sound and style and then went in to the 2000’s where the 80’s Rock scene saw a major resurgence. He even went as far a talking about the new bands in the 21st Century that have taken up the 80’s glam scene and how a lot of them come from Europe, especially Scandinavia. A good list of bands to check out. Most of them I already knew about, but for newbie’s that part is worth checking out.

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‘Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith’ by Aerosmith & Stephen Davis – Book Review

I had signed up for the Amazon Prime Unlimited for Kindle books as I figured I would give it a try to see if I would read enough to make it worthwhile and I found this book was eligible so I gave it a shot as who doesn’t love Aerosmith. Ok, don’t tell me if you don’t as I don’t want to lose respect for you. The book is “Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith”. It was written by Stephen Davis with the help of the band including Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer. And let me tell you they are all brutally honest and they go in to some massive detail and lay it out all for the world to see.

The book starts at the beginning, I mean beginning of their music career not the band…way before that. They go through the details of how each got in to music and how the band got to meet. The beginning of the book does spend a ton of time about young Steven Tyler and eventually leads to the meeting of Joe Perry and the rest of the band. Let me tell you these boys were doing drugs before they met, while they met and every second of the day. This wasn’t a gradual decline after the band hit success, this was a problem long before that. They were heading down that spiral pretty damn early in life. They were broke, they struggled but it was always about the music. Music was their brotherly bond and they were brothers. They lived together and they fought just like brothers fight, but there was always that undeniable attraction that together they were unstoppable.

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‘Def Leppard: The Definitive Visual History’ by Ross Halfin – Book Review

I stumbled across this book at a store called 2nd & Charles. They sell used books, games, cds, vinyl, you name it. I was browsing the book section, in the music section of course, and stumbled across this beauty. As you know, Def Leppard is one of my favorite bands and I will grab anything I can find by them or about them. And this was write up my alley because it is a picture books and few words because me no like words, reading bad!! Picture books are more my speed.

This particular book is called ‘Def Leppard: The Definitive Visual History’ and all the photographs were taken by the legendary rock photographer, Ross Halfin. Ross has photographed Def Leppard literally since the band started way back in the late 70’s. He is the only photographer to be there basically for every step of the way. This book is a beautiful chronological story of Def Leppard told in photos. And if a photo can speak 1,000 words than this books has millions of words.

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‘Confess: The Autobiography’ by Rob Halford

If you follow my site at all, you know I am in the middle of a Judas Priest Review Series where I am reviewing all the albums from the Judas Priest Collection Box Set (and a few more it missed). I thought as I am immersing myself in their catalog, why not find out some information about the band by reading Rob Halford’s book, ‘Confess’. They sum up nicely below who Rob Halford is but it is really a bland description. I think they left out is that Rob is the ‘Metal God’, Rob is a man who waves the Rainbow Flag proudly, Rob is sober for over 30 years, Rob is human, which means Rob is fallible.

The story of Rob Halford, told by Rob Halford, covers a lot of time. It starts off him as a child growing up in the Black Country of the U.K. His stint where he wanted to be an actor, and then his discovery that he could sing. And man can he sing. It spends most of the time talking about his time with Priest, but it really is about Rob, the person. His struggles in life, but not just with being gay. He struggles with that, but it was more about his struggles with hiding it as being the lead singer of a Heavy Metal band and what would be the fall out if it came out. Honestly though, he didn’t really try to hide it because a lot of the early Priest songs actually talk about it, but no one was perceptive enough at the time to figure it out. The story really is about his struggles with finding love and with trying to have sex while on the road while the band had easy pickings of the female groupies, Rob had to go to seedy truck stops and bathrooms to find love. It didn’t always go well as we find out when Rob has his own George Michael moment. Rob was very lonely, for a very long time and that caused a lot of drinking and a lot of drugs and then rehab. He had many bad relationships with guys that were really straight, it was a tough road. Rob, however, found his way sober and finally found love and it all had a happy ending, thank goodness.

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‘Off the Rails: Aboard the Crazy Train in the Blizzard of Ozz’ by Rudy Sarzo – Book Review

I have been reading a lot lately and I was able to get this book on my Kindle for the super low price of nothing so I thought, what the hell. I really like Rudy Sarzo, I like Ozzy, I like Randy Rhoda’s so why not check this out. The book was written by former Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne bassist, Rudy Sarzo and he chronicles his short time in Ozzy’s touring band the Blizzard of Ozz. This time period is that same time period as when Randy Rhoda’s was in the band and Rudy wanted to capture those moments and felt the story needed to be told. I have to say, I think he is right and I thoroughly enjoyed walking through in great detail, the tours he played on.

The book starts off the day Randy went up in the plane and would crash and end his short time on this planet. The story then immediately jumps back in time to right before Rudy was brought in to Ozzy’s band. Rudy had been in Quiet Riot for a short time with Randy and the band got famous in Japan, but not in the U.S. The group had stalled and Randy went and joined Ozzy’s band and Rudy joined a band called Private Army with his friend Frankie Banali. In the meantime, Ozzy’s debut solo album was released in 1980 and right before the band was to go on tour in 1981, Ozzy fired the drummer and bass player. Randy was still in the band. Tommy Aldridge was quickly brought in, but the band needed a bass player. Randy called Rudy and Rudy would go to Don Arden’s house (Sharon Osbourne’s day and Jet Records President) to meet Ozzy and Sharon and audition. Well, needless to say, things worked out or this book wouldn’t have been written.

Rudy chronicles the entire journey through the tour for Blizzard of Ozz and the Tour for Diary of a Madman. It feels like he kept a lot of notes about what happened at each show, but also, he had help. At the end of the Blizzard Tour, Sharon gave him a scrapbook of every show including newspaper clippings of the reviews of the shows. What is funny is the fact that a ton of these reviews would list the original band which was not Rudy or Tommy which goes to show the writers knew nothing about the band and didn’t even bother going to the show.

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Kiss – “Odyssey – The Definitive Examination of Music From the Elder” by Tim McPhate & Julian Gill – Book Review

For some strange reason, I am on a kick reading all about the band Kiss. I don’t know what it is, but maybe it has to do with the Kiss Review Series that I am currently in the middle of doing. The book I decided to read next was a book about the album ‘Music From the Elder’ and sadly, the timing didn’t work out for me to review this book at the same time as the album as that would’ve been great. But better late than never.

The book I read was “Odyssey – The Definitive Examination of Music From the Elder” by Tim McPhate and Julian Gill. And let me tell you , it is definitive. It is over 500 pages of every little detail, little nugget and little story about the album. You would think that one of the bands worst album (arguably) would not warrant a book, but you’d be wrong It does warrant a book for that very reason. We want to know what was going through their minds with this album? Where did the concept come from, what made them go down that road (or who)? All those questions and more were answered.

The authors of this book interview everyone under the sun that was in some way, shape or form associated with this album from engineers, to management, to gophers, to album art designers, to set directors, to actors, to even bits of interviews of the producer himself, Bob Ezrin. I mean there are interviews ad nauseam. And I mean ad nauseam. There were over 30 interviews done for the book. A great portion of this book are just interviews and it reads in that format. Questions become very repetitive because the burning question on everyone’s mind seems to be what happened to the recordings of the dialogue with the actors to help tell the story? The only dialogue on the album was around the last song, but apparently there was a lot more recorded, never released and no one knows where those recordings are or who has them. And after reading this, I don’t give a rat’s ass where it is. I hope I never hear that question again. No one knows the answer!!!

This whole interview process was my biggest complaint for this book. Too many interviews, too many repetitive questions and too many repetitive questions. See that, I am repeating myself now as a result of too many repetitive questions. I would have preferred the writers to take these interviews and actually tell a story chronologically of the whole process using these interviews as the facts for the stories and quoting the person being interviewed. It would have made this a much more enjoyable book rather than being so monotonous and became utterly boring at times.

It took me months to get through this book as the amount of minutiae was incredible. The only thing I don’t think we learned about was the toilet paper they used to wipe their ass when they went to the bathroom and thank God for that (It’s Charmin by the way – kidding). We learn where they recorded the album, all 9 studios. We learn how the door on the cover was made and the table on the gatefold. We learn that Ace stayed at his home studio mostly and rarely, if ever, joined the band other than when they recorded at his house. We learn who the actors were that read the dialogue. One was Chris Makepeace, the star from the 1980 movie ‘My Bodyguard’ which I loved. We learn that Bob Ezrin was fucked up most of the time and rarely showed up for recording. We learn Bob was ultimately responsible for the concept all though Gene was about equally involved. We learn the label changed the order of the songs on the original release which messed everything up. We learn the band really hates the album now and we learn more than we ever really wanted to know.

Was the book all bad, of course not. There really is some interesting nuggets buried in the pages of a million interviews, it takes forever to find them and enjoy them. Whenever the book broke in to commentary and became less like interviews is when I enjoyed it more. I do think one of the more interesting pieces was around the end when they interview the guy that bought the one and only script for the Elder Movie and he talked about what the movie would’ve been like if it was actually ever made. He has a one-of-a-kind collector’s item in that script and his stories were great on the movie concept.

I did like reading about the different album releases and track listings and lot about the collector’s items for The Elder. It was interesting to read more about the background of the characters in The Elder and I must say I enjoyed Robert V. Conte’s stories on what is in The Elder vault and all the conversations on the remastering projects he has been on for the band. That is some cool stuff and let me tell you Kiss fans, there is a ton of stuff in the archives, we haven’t even heard yet.

Okay, I think I have rambled on too long. This book is for the diehard fan. If you want to know every little detail about the album, and read about it more than once, then this book is for you. If you are hoping for more of a story and biography type book, then steer clear of this as it will drive you insane, and to note, that is a short drive for me. I can only muster a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars for this as it was too much. It gets 2.0 stars as I did learn a few things and there were some great behind the scenes stories, but they were just buried in all the muck. Buyer beware on this one.

‘Memoir of a Roadie’ – by Joel Miller – Book Review

I get a lot of emails every day asking me to review this person or interview that person, but honestly, I don’t have time to explore the new artists or their music. I can’t keep up with the albums I want to review as it is so to add anything new ones in to the mix is impossible. And let’s be totally honest, most of the stuff I get is so bad, it is nauseating. Then one day I got a request to review a book. That hasn’t happened very often. I actually took the time to read the email and I loved the concept. It is a true story about life on the road and touring with bands. The book was called…this will take awhile…’Memoir of a Roadie: Axl said I mad a great cup of tea…Scott Weiland liked The Carpenters…& Ozzy likes Rosé’ and it was written by Joel Miller. I am going to just call it ‘Memoir of a Roadie’.

Joel Miller’s book covers the time in his life when he was a roadie.  It was only a few short years, back around the early 2000’s, but Joel experienced so much.  You get a realistic view of what goes on in the life of a roadie.  Joel toured with bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Guns ‘N Roses, Poison and The Cranberries and each tour gives us some funny moments, some insane moments and some very sad moments.  The book covers his hard, but fun life on the road in his early 20’s as well as the hardships of his life with not being on the road and the dysfunctions of his family.

Do you get stories about sex, drugs and rock & roll…Duh!!  But it is the storytelling of those events that makes this book a fun, fast-paced read.  Fast-paced because you don’t want to put it down.  The chapters are numerous, but short which helps keep a well paced book interesting and page-turning.  You’ll get to hear a lot about his jobs with telemarketing, working on movie sets and doing whatever he could to make ends meet.  And there is a portion of the book that deals with his tough relationship with his dad who was a Jaguar mechanic and who was sort of friends with Jay Leno.  Heck, Joel even got to go over to Jay’s and see that car collection.  When Joel’s dad was nearly dying, he had Jay call his dad and we get another funny moment in the book.  Jay seems like a really nice guy. Continue reading “‘Memoir of a Roadie’ – by Joel Miller – Book Review”

Kiss – ‘Kiss: 1977-1980’ by Lynn Goldsmith – Book Review

I know…you are probably sick of Kiss related posts at the same time I am doing the Kiss Review Series and I am sorry. I am in a Kiss Zone right now and everything is KISS, KISS, KISS!!! And on my continuous Kiss hunt, I found another book that was all about Kiss that I want to discuss.

This is a book right up my alley and education level. It is a picture book with very few words…YEAH ME!!! It is Kiss: 1977-1980 by Lynn Goldsmith. Lynn is a celebrity portrait photographer and was one of the very first female Rock Photographers. Lynn has been asked numerous times to photograph Kiss and this book encompasses all of those meetings and pictures from all of the sessions she had with the band. Those sessions were only from 1977-1980 which was a very interesting and transforming time for the band. It was coming out of Alive II, the solo albums, in to Dynasty and Unmasked where the music changed and Peter left. It goes up to where Eric Carr joins the band and has his first photo shoot with the band.

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