Tag Archives: book reviews

“New York Dolls: Photographs” by Bob Gruen

Author: Bob Gruen
Title: “New York Dolls: Photographs”
Publisher: Abrams Books
Release Date: 9/1/2008
Genre: Rock History
Rating: 4.5/5

Photographer Bob Gruen lines out in his forward to the book “New York Dolls: Photographs” that in his life he has always found that one event leads to another and after a happenstance meeting with a manager friend of John Lennon, he caught another of this persons bands The New York Dolls at the Mercer Arts Center. The rest is as you say – history and since that time, the early happenings of the band and the name Bob Gruen were almost one in the same. The New York Dolls as a band were formed around 1971 and while only active with the members presented in this book for a couple of years, their impact and influence is still felt to this very day. They are cited as being founders of the Glam Rock movement by instilling fashion with high energy Rock and Roll shows and being instrumental in New York City’s becoming the music hot spot that it would become at this time. There are some who line out The Dolls being founders of Punk in some sense as well, and while most will agree that The Ramones hold this honor, it is true that The New York Dolls had some hand in this as well. If you are someone who needed an introduction to the members that we are focusing on, then let me line them out with David Johansen (vocals), Arthur “Killer” Kane (bass), Sylvain Sylvain and Johnny Thunders (guitarists) and Jerry Nolan (drums).
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“Van Halen: A Visual History 1978-1984” by Neil Zlozower

Author: Neil Zlozower
Title: “Van Halen: A Visual History 1978-1984”
Label: Chronicle Books
Release Date: 11/12/2007
Genre: Photographic History
Rating: 5/5

If you have ever followed the fascinating history of the mighty Van Halen and remember their most classic photos from the bygone days when Rock & Metal magazines ruled the Earth then you will most likely also recall the name of the photographer who was behind most of them. That man is Neil Zlozower for those who are for whatever reason scratching their heads and he started shooting the band when they first came into the larger public eye at its beginning. His photo retrospective of their history spans those classic years from 1978-1984 and hence focuses only on the David Lee Roth era and does not feature anything with Sammy Hagar who took Roth’s place not long after that famous year. The visual history is almost a play by play of the band as they hit the studio, photo shoots, and live performances and it follows them from their self-titled debut up until their last album together which was “1984”. It’s a seven year span of time in which we get to enjoy the band during their beginnings as a group that seemed loaded with promise to the eventual juggernaut and musical force of nature that they became over the years and successfully seemed able to maintain in both music and image. This was a band full of Rock Stars and the images on these pages speak volumes about how they did it and how much fun it was to be a part of their world and a fan of what they do. As I glanced through the book I found myself going back in time to when I rushed to the corner newsstand to snare the latest copy of magazines like Creem and Hit Parader to see what world that they would take me to and without aging myself, I clearly remember seeing many of the images now in this book when they were originally new shots of the band. For me as a fan of Hard Rock and Metal, Van Halen is in my top three bands and I believe I have kept them as the second only to KISS in my worship of the greats for decades. Of course being second in my own list didn’t seem to affect my diehard admiration for Van Halen and if they were featured anywhere in those aforementioned magazines, I would run out to grab them on a regular basis. Having the chance to enjoy all of Neil’s photos in one place in beautiful color and crisp black and white tones was just fantastic.
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“The Progressive Rock Handbook” by Jerry Lucky

Author: Jerry Lucky
Title: “The Progressive Rock Handbook”
Publisher: Collector’s Guide Publishing
Release Date: 7/1/2008
Genre: Reference
Rating: 3.5/5

Jerry Lucky is the author of “20th Century Rock & Roll – Progressive Rock”, “The Progressive Rock Files” and “The Psychedelic Rock Files” and each of these caters to the specific purist of these unique genres. The latest tome to join his existing works on the bookshelves around the world is “The Progressive Rock Handbook” and this one is definitely something that should appease the fussiest of appetites in any hungry Progressive Rock fan. When it comes down to it, the Progressive Rock listener is often very hard to impress because of all the wide scoping musical experiments that makes the genre so interesting and based on this it’s good to have the author come off with more than an acceptable level of background on the topic. He begins by offering up words on his own interests in the Progressive Rock realm and it was interesting to find out about his adventures learning about the genre a little more. From there we get another sixty plus pages of thoughts about where he feels are the best places to experience the myriad number of bands of this type by using the means of the internet, the almost extinct stores who sell music and of course the festivals that are built up around its promotion. I found this section good for someone like me for while I enjoy Progressive Rock from a number of its stalwart deliverers; I am hardly an expert and took these topics as educational advice.
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“The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists” by Joel McIver

Author: Joel McIver
Title: “The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists”
Publisher: Jawbone Press
Release Date: 12/18/2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 2.5/5

Wow, where can I begin with this one? Now while I know that it sounds like a very dramatic opening for a book review, it does not come to be said without the utmost of seriousness when it comes to the subject matter featured in “The Top 100 Metal Guitarists” by author Joel McIver. Truth being told, I liked a large portion of what the author was presenting in the book but with any list of favorites of all time or “best picks”, the final product does not come without some reprisal from the worldwide Metal readership. Just look at anyone’s top list on the major news feeds to see how much they get taken apart by the fans. Before I get any further into this I should inform the readers that I was at one time a Metal drummer, and with that being said I might call into question my overall view of what makes a “great Metal guitarist” and then again perhaps not because we see this role from a different perspective that might be welcomed by some. McIver has written books about both Slayer and Metallica along with a number of other worthy artists and with his being a regular writer for Total Guitar magazine his expertise does not come into question as much as his personal list of favorites did for me. He begins the book with a great opening about how he left off such Metal guitarists as Neil Young and the like because apparently a recent popular magazine had listed their top Heavy Metal players and less than half of them had ever done the craft before and that was a fantastic way to begin. From there he begins to line out which he felt ranked at number 100 and then works his way down to the main axe slinger of them all. As a book of this type, it is nicely laid out for the reader and makes sure to feature a number of quality photographs of the guitarists in action along with offering up some commentary and anecdotes about each and every one of them.
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“Ace Frehley: The Ultimate Fan Scrapbook” by Bill Baker

Author: Bill Baker
Title: “Ace Frehley: The Ultimate Fan Scrapbook”
Publisher: Tunis Media LLC
Release Date: 10/31/2008
Genre: Hard Rock History
Rating: 3.5/5

If you are a KISS fan, and I know that many of you who are reading this article are, you know that collecting KISS memorabilia and trinkets almost goes hand in hand with ones enjoyment of the music that they do. When you love KISS, it seems as though you find yourself buying a poster or t-shirt as almost a secondary nature type of thing and over the years you come to own quite the stash related to these colorful characters of Rock and Roll. Some fans are more intense about it than others and not only seek to own the best stuff possible, but also those who manage to get the things which are often considered the Holy Grail of the bands history. There are even those fans that opt to focus their attentions on one particular member of the group and maintain collections of everything and anything related to that player. One such individual is musician/author Billy Baker who chose Ace Frehley as his collecting inspiration and over the years managed to amass a collection that can easily be considered the envy of any fan of the masked foursomes “Space Ace”. As a collector, the author could have easily loaded up a semi-truck and rolled around town to Rock shows displaying a veritable Ace Frehley and KISS museum, but instead he decided that the best way to document and share his collection with the world would be by presenting this volume entitled “Ace Frehley: The Ultimate Fan Scrapbook”. This type of item is often referred to as a “vanity press” but don’t let the title fool you for it is merely the phrase that was coined for a book that is almost entirely done at the author’s expense with little or no support from a major publishing house. With this being the case you know that the author was passionate enough about the subject matter in order for him to lay out so much cash putting it together for the larger public to enjoy. So join me now as we open the pages on this beautiful and well thought out book. KISS fans, start your engines.
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