Book Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto
Author: Dave Thompson
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Backbeat Books
Posted: Jul 2009
(4495) 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
(4977) 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
(8193) 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
(9484) 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
(9588) 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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Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson

Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson

Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson
Author: Tom Graves
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Demers Books
Posted: Nov 2008
(12553) Page Views

This is a small book as music biographies go, but its 124 pages are researched well. Blues musician Robert Johnson has influenced not only many blues artists to follow him, but also many rock musicians. The book tries to separate fact from legend without being clinical. Robert Johnson, legend has it, gained his guitar talent by trading his soul away to Satan at a crossroads somewhere deep in rural Mississippi. When he died at age 27 of a mysterious poisoning, many thought it was the devil returning for payment. This study of Johnson’s life debunks these myths, while emphasizing the affect he has had on modern musicians. Led Zeppelin probably owes his estate some serious cash.

Author Tom Graves Online
Website


Real Moments - Bob Dylan

Real Moments - Bob Dylan

Real Moments - Bob Dylan 1966 - 1974
Author: Barry Feinstein
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Omnibus Press
Posted: Oct 2008
(5388) Page Views

Barry Feinstein is an award winning photographer who has shot over 500 album covers for artists including Dylan, George Harrison, Gram Parsons, Eric Clapton and Janis Joplin. He has also photographed many Hollywood and political figures. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Q,  Esquire, Life, Time and Newsweek magazines. His photos of Bob Dylan, though, may be his most famous.

Dylan is a musical icon; some would say he’s overrated, others claim him is a deity. Regardless, Dylan’s image was as integral to his success as his music, and it is likely that no photographer has had greater access to Bob Dylan than Barry Feinstein. Having taken the iconic photograph that appeared on Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ album in 1963, Feinstein was invited to be the exclusive photographer on Dylan’s European tour of 1966 and a tour of the United States in 1974. The black-and-white photographs from these sessions and concerts, many previously unseen, are included in this oversized book. This is truly a tome, and though it is priced around $35, if you’re into Dylan, you’re going to want this. Many of the images show Dylan in private moments seemingly unaware that the camera is there at all.

Author Barry Feinstein Online


Rap-Up: The Ultimate Guide to Hip-Hop and R&B

Rap-Up: The Ultimate Guide to Hip-Hop and R&B

Ultimate Guide to Hip-Hop and R&B
Author: Devin & Cameron Lazerine
Review By Anthony Sims
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Posted: May 2008
(4607) Page Views

The founders of Rap-Up magazine, brothers Devin and Cameron Lazerine, recently held an event in NYC to celebrate their 3 year anniversary and book release. The book titled “Rap-Up: The Ultimate Guide to Hip-Hop and R&B” hit bookstores February and the brothers are considered hip-hop gods when it comes to knowing everything from A to Jay-Z. In 2006 the magazine was nominated for “Best New Consumer Publication” at the Maggie Awards and has featured artist’s such as Pharrell, T.I., Mary J. Blige and Ludacris to name a few.

The event held on April 17 featured a performance by Teyana Taylor(Star Trak/Interscope) and Keri Hilson played the MC for the event which was held at the Adidas Originals store in NYC’s trendy SOHO neighborhood. Artist’s such as Nina Sky and Kwame came out to show love and support for the two brothers who have paid there dues and managed to build a nice niche in the world of hip-hop.

Author Devin & Cameron Lazerine Online
Website


Pretty Vacant: A History of U.K. Punk -  book review by Jeff Muendel

Pretty Vacant: A History of U.K. Punk - book review by Jeff Muendel

Pretty Vacant: A History of UK Punk
Author: Phil Strongman
Review By Jeff Muendel
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Posted: Feb 2008
(4592) Page Views

Though the book’s title suggests a dedicated concentration on the British punk rock explosion, the author begins well before that detonation in 1976 and deals, quite properly, with punk’s beginnings in the United States. All roads lead to the Sex Pistols, however, as the group is quite uncontested as being the pinnacle of the U.K. punk movement, ands therefore the central focus of the book.

But “Pretty Vacant” is more than just another Sex Pistols biography. Divided into two sections, “Going Underground” and “Going Overground,” author Phil Strongman contrasts punk rock during its subversive phase with its period of world fame that came to be as The Sex Pistols became a household name. In both sections, the anti-establishment debauchery that went on around the Sex Pistols and other British punk bands is recorded in great detail. While none of the stories are shocking (it’s hard to be shocked by rock’n'roll anymore as drug-and-vomit stories have become rote in our culture), there are many fascinating, insider details of the period revealed. Strongman doesn’t rely on the shock value alone, though, and does a good job as both a legitimate storyteller and punk rock historian.

Author Phil Strongman Online

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