Book Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Trust: Photographs of Jim Marshall

Trust: Photographs of Jim Marshall

Trust: Photographs of Jim Marshall
Author: Jim Marshall
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Omnibus Press
Posted: Dec 2009
(4580) Page Views

If you love rock’n'roll, you probably have an affinity for rock photography as well. So many iconic rockers earned their stardom not only because they were musical, but because they were also photogenic. That’s the way it should be because live rock’n'roll—at least the good stuff—isn’t about music alone. It is a craft that incorporates and embraces many elements of theater, dance, cinema, and of course photography. For the first time, images from rock photographer Jim Marshall’s extensive color archive are published together in book form and include many rare images. Marshall’s unique style and seemingly unlimited access to giants like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and The Who make this a fantastic coffee table book.

Author Jim Marshall Online


Michael - the Book

Michael - the Book

Michael
Author: Jason Fine
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Posted: Dec 2009
(4801) Page Views

It almost goes without saying that this book attempts to tell the story of Michael Jackson’s epic life. It is, essentially, an amalgamation of several rolling Stones stories (usually cover stories) along with more recent text and over 100 photos to bring it all together. There are multiple writers represented in the book under the editorial eye of Jason fine, but Ben Fong-Torres is one of the best writers at Rolling Stone Magazine. He gives us our first glimpse of a young star on the rise in an article that would be the first of many Rolling Stone cover stories on Jackson. A decade later, on the verge of releasing his megahit Thriller album, Jackson starts showing his unusual side, telling journalist Gerri Hirshey about the loneliness of stardom, confessing he had only two friends in the world and that he identified with Peter Pan. This isn’t a book that focuses on the dark corners of Jackson’s life, however, and included are some very positive tributes and memoirs of Jackson written by the likes of Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Will.i.am, Quincy Jones, and Sheryl Crow.

Author Jason Fine Online


We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Show-biz Saga by Paul Shaffer

We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Show-biz Saga by Paul Shaffer

We’ll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin’ Show-biz Saga
Author: Paul Shaffer
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Flying Dolphin Press
Posted: Nov 2009
(4315) Page Views

Paul Shaffer, a lifelong hipster and Hammond organist, not to mention the longtime leader of David Letterman’s band, explains how a kid goes from a remote Canadian town at the tip of Lake Superior to a gig in New York City leading one of the most famous television bands ever. From playing seedy strip joints in Toronto to being the first musical director of Saturday Night Live to helping to form the Blues Brothers to being onstage every night with David Letterman—Shaffer shares it all. This is a funny, candid memoir that isn’t afraid to explore risky and risqué encounters with the likes of John Belushi, Jerry Lewis, Mel Gibson and Britney Spears. In essence, it is Schafer offering a behind-the-scenes story of his life.

Author Paul Shaffer Online
Website


Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon

Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon

Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon
Author: Harvey Kubernik, Scott Calamar, Diltz Henry, and Lou Adler
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Sterling Press
Posted: Nov 2009
(17913) Page Views

Laurel Canyon is literally a canyon in Los Angeles, and it has long been a cradle for the biggest names in rock’n'roll. Just a few who called it home include Sonny & Cher, The Doors, The Turtles, Canned Heat, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Eagles. Those artists and many more cultivated their immortal sounds in Laurel Canyon. The book Canyon of Dreams a huge tome at well over an inch thick and 4.5 pounds traces the history of the community and its enduring legacy. Taking a deeply personal approach, it uses a multiple-voice oral history based on exclusive interviews with the area’s musical elite. Interesting and often rare photos accompany the text.

Author Harvey Kubernik, Scott Calamar, Diltz Henry, and Lou Adler Online


Led Zeppelin: Shadows Taller Than Our Souls

Led Zeppelin: Shadows Taller Than Our Souls

Led Zeppelin: Shadows Taller Than Our Souls
Author: Charles R. Cross
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: It Books
Posted: Nov 2009
(5693) Page Views

Not another Led Zeppelin book! Yes indeed, yet another company has found yet another angle to put the Led Zeppelin name on the cover of a book. But wait, this one may be the coolest Zeppelin book yet. Remember pop-up books when you were a kid? Well, this is similar except that there are all kinds of little goodies hidden in enveloped pages throughout - twenty interactive and rare reproductions of historical memorabilia, including Zeppelin tickets, concert posters, old stickers, and even a CD. Author Charles R. Cross surveys Led Zeppelin’s entire career, explores their landmark contributions album by album, and includes spectacular (though not particularly unique) photographs of the group in full flight. The book is also contained with a “keepsake slipcase,” making this Led Zeppelin book a fine gift as well as a fitting tribute to the legendary band.

Author Charles R. Cross Online
Website


Rock & Roll Tourist

Rock & Roll Tourist

Rock And Roll Tourist
Author: Graham Forbes
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Independent Publishers Group
Posted: Oct 2009
(4510) Page Views

This book is essentially an insider’s view into the underworld of touring musicians, but with a unique twist. The author hits the road not with a party in mind, but to try and beat an addiction to “hillbilly heroin.” Graham Forbes has an accident that leads to surgery and the use of prescribed pain pills. But once the prescription ends, he finds himself hooked. In an effort to leave the pills behind, the musician decides to travel the world experiencing the lifestyle of a touring performer, reporting on fellow performers, fans, and his method of getting away from his drug habit. He crosses several continents and ends up backstage to hang out with the likes of Anthrax, B. B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more. There aren’t a lot of big name acts in this book (nothing against the great B.B. King or the venerable Anthrax) but the travel tales and mishaps are brought to life nicely in this memoir with Forbes’ English wit adding extra humor at all times.

Author Graham Forbes Online


Zen Wrapped In Karma Dipped In Chocolate by Brad Warner

Zen Wrapped In Karma Dipped In Chocolate by Brad Warner

Zen Wrapped In Karma Dipped In Chocolate
Author: Brad Warner
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: New World Library
Posted: Sep 2009
(4658) Page Views

Brad Warner is both a Zen master and a punk rock musician. In this book, his third to date, he walks the line between those two roles, effectively spreading the word of Buddhism to those who have an interest in rock music. But the book tells a very personal story. During a year that Warner spent giving talks and leading retreats across North America, both his mother and grandmother died, he lost his dream job, and his wife left him. In writing about how he applied the Buddha’s teachings to his own real-life suffering, Warner reveals his own shortcomings. In fact, that is a large part of the message: Zen masters aren’t perfect because none of us humans are.

In pointing out that Buddhism isn’t some esoteric and ultimate solution, Warner presents the religion/philosophy as an exceptionally practical way to deal with whatever life dishes out. He talks about meditation as a valid response to life’s troubles and gives a lot of revealing “behind the scenes” facts about what Buddhism and specifically Buddhism in America really involves.  While Warner’s tone on occasion borders on self-serving, he ultimately comes across as sincere, and his use of humor throughout the book make it very readable.

Author Brad Warner Online
Website


I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto
Author: Dave Thompson
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Backbeat Books
Posted: Jul 2009
(4521) Page Views

The title says a lot: this is a book written buy a guy who prefers “classic rock” to “EMO.” What’s great about the author’s take is that, even if you’re a fan of newer music, the humor with which the book is written allows you to still enjoy it. You may not agree with everything or anything he says, but you’ll still enjoy the reading and probably learn something along the way. Dave Thompson has penned over 100 books. That’s stunning! He is the author of the highly-acclaimed Kurt Cobain bio, Never Fade Away, as well as books on Cream, George Clinton, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, David Bowie, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many more.

In this book, Thompson writes against the forces he sees as killing rock’n'roll from the inside out. Mostly, he rails against particular bands that represent particular genres of modern music, and usually argues that, at the end of the day, it’s already been done, and done better. Among many arguments, he makes an interesting case for the ultimate audio format being the 8-Track tape as opposed to the CD or even vinyl.  While he obviously respects Nirvana, he also argues (quite hilariously) that the group owes its entire career to Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.” Bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Queen, and KISS are put on a pedestal. Groups like The White Stripes and Coldplay get crucified. It’s all done with a grain of salt, though, and Thompson’s writing (his style, vocabulary and knowledge of the English language) is some of the best in the business.

Author Dave Thompson Online
Website


It Shined: The Saga of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils

It Shined: The Saga of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils

It Shined: The Saga of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Author: Michael Supe Granda
Review By Greg Harutunian
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Posted: Jan 2009
(5011) Page Views

From the furtive music scene, which was once located in Springfield (MO) during the 1970’s, a host of Ozark-tinged musicians in numerous bands forged their own styles of country-rock. A love of playing music and sharing the fun was always at its core.

“The Ozarks have always been magical, not just for musicians…there’s plenty of clean air, clean water, blue skies and nice hills,” said Michael “Supe” Granda. “If that isn’t enough to inspire a musician, then I don’t know what is.”

One of the more prominent bands to come from the Missouri milieu was the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, best-known for radio staples “Jackie blue,” and “If You want To Get to Heaven.” Granda recently completed a book about the band’s legacy. As its constant anchor through the years, his viewpoint not only covers the national “break-out” and subsequent tours including the Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago triangle, it works as a social history of the time period and the music industry’s disastrous taste for trends.

The nearly 500-page tome, published by AuthorHouse, is a reader-friendly account of the band’s journey filled with warmly humorous anecdotes, the inside drama of riding the musical whirlwind and some of the tragic casualties with their personnel. The first-person narrative belies itself as a gracious testament to a group of musicians blazing a trail on their own merits.

“In order to get the original manuscript under 500 pages, I had to cut out 60-70 pages of stories…I guess this has given me a head start on the sequel,” Granda said.

Factual research and photo appropriations came through Bill Haines, a columnist and music researcher for Nashville-based SHAKE! Magazine.  Haines says, “I’m glad Supe involved me in writing his book, in my capacity of research and photo restoration…I made some suggestions to Supe about the book, the decisions were his call and I think it all turned out pretty darned good.”

Author Michael Supe Granda Online
Website


Skydog: The Duane Allman Story

Skydog: The Duane Allman Story

Skydog: The Duane Allman Story
Author: Randy Poe
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Backbeat Books
Posted: Nov 2008
(8223) Page Views

The Allman Brothers melded rock, country, and jazz into a unique style of music. While brother and organist Greg Allman still leads the band and should certainly get some credit, it was Duane Allman that brought that vision to reality. This thorough biography of Duane Allman offers in in-depth view into the life of the legendary guitarist, including his childhood and musical awakening; his struggle in earlier, unsuccessful bands; his mastery of the slide guitar; his emergence as a successful session musician (check out his work with jazz flautist Herbie Mann); his creation of the Allman Brothers Band; and his untimely death at age 24. To be sure, the legacy of Duane Allman lives on, and this book does a great job of explaining why.

Author Randy Poe Online
Website


Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001)

Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001)

Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001)
Author: Don Felder with Wendy Holden
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Wiley Press
Posted: Nov 2008
(9511) Page Views

The eagles are one of the most successful American bands ever, and also one of the most overplayed groups on our classic rock airwaves. But what you don’t hear much about is the inner workings of the band. Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder spills the beans in this book sharing observations about tense recording sessions, trashed hotel rooms, and the ugly legalities. He shares the nice stuff, too, like the great moments on stage and the friendlier moments in the tour bus. It may not be Don Henley telling the story, but it’s a good one regardless.

Author Don Felder with Wendy Holden Online
Website


Defenders Of The Faith: The Story of Judas Priest

Defenders Of The Faith: The Story of Judas Priest

The Story of Judas Priest: Defenders Of The Faith
Author: Neil Daniels
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Omnibus Press
Posted: Nov 2008
(9622) Page Views

This is a rather epic biography of the epic heavy metal band, Judas Priest. The book includes multiple interviews with people who surrounded the band over the years, beginning with blues-oriented beginnings through the height of their success in the eighties, past their eventual split, and onto their 2003 reunion. It’s thick not only with text, but also great picture sections. Each album is examined in detail for both artistic merit and recording details. At 320 pages, few stones are left unturned.

Author Neil Daniels Online
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