Uncle NecRo’s TOP 10 FAVORITE USE OF POP MUSIC IN MOVIES

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Just in case you haven’t noticed the pattern, I loves me some movies. I also loves me some musics to listen to. And one thing that Hollywood enjoys is to put some decent pop music in some movies, like injecting the creme filling inside a nummy donut. And now that I’m completely jonsing for a creme filled donut, I’m just going to say that I decided to rip off another article involving the best pop songs used in Comic Book movies, only mine is going to be about the best pop music used in regular movies I’ve seen. So, while I go out on a quest to find the elusive pastry of craving banishment, with creme filling of white, and sprinkles the color of the rainbow, here is my list of my

TOP 10 FAVORITE USE OF POP MUSIC IN MOVIES
(in no particular order, mind you)

The Song: “Rock You Like A Hurricane” (The Scorpions)
The Movie: Little Nicky
Don’t get me wrong, this movie is horrible. A great premise, but ruined by Adam Sandler’s juvenile style of “comedy”. But, there are shiny moments, such as the very brief few seconds where one of the three sons of the Devil, Adrian, makes an entrance near the end of the movie for the big showdown, all to the opening metal riff of The Scorpion’s “Rock You Like A Hurricane”. If only that would start playing every time I enter a room…

The Song: “Can’t Smile Without You” (Barry Manilow)
The Movie: Hellboy II: the Golden Army
I love Guillermo del Toro. I love his Hellboy movies. And I love the fact that del Toro has a sense of humor mixed in with his dark and twisted imagination. Which is why I always love the scene in this sequel where both Hellboy and Abe Sapien get drunk and have this 1970s MOR power ballad cheeseball blasting while pining for their respective loves…

The Song: “Time In A Bottle” (Jim Croce)
The Movie: X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Not a fan of the song, but the use of it during perhaps the best scene in a movie filled with memorable scenes as contrasting to Quicksilver’s rushing around super fast and messing with everything was bloody brilliant…

The Song: “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen)
The Movie: Wayne’s World
Most of you whipper-snappers would only recognize this classic due to it being shoehorned into the Suicide Squad movie. But, the best use of the song would be 25 years prior, when it was used in an iconic scene in the classic Wayne’s World movie early on….

The Song: “Shoop” (Salt-N-Pepa)
The Movie: Deadpool
Of course Deadpool would be a fan of Salt-N-Pepa. I’m glad they kept it in the movie, as it was with the test footage to try and get the movie made initially. It does much to establish ‘Pool’s personality…

The Song: “Welcome To The Jungle” (Guns N’ Roses)
The Movie: Lean On Me
I watched this movie when it was first released in theaters back in 1989. Being a big Gn’R fan at the time, I did not expect this song to be played at the beginning while showing scenes of the high school being a teenage warzone. The movie became my instant favorite right then and there…

The Song: “The Four Horsemen” (Metallica)
The Movie: X-Men: Apocalypse
And speaking of using metal classics in movies, the usage of the bangover-inducing “The Four Horsemen” not only made sense thematically (given that it was used while Apocalypse was gathering together his own “four horsemen”), but it gave an otherwise mediocre X-Men movie a moment of awesome that ended all too soon…

The Song: “Institutionalized” (Suicidal Tendencies)
The Movie: “Iron Man”
Yes, I realize there may have been other more popular songs that were used for the soundtrack; and while I loves me some AC/DC, I was hyped up when I heard the strains of this classic Suicidal Tendencies tune being cranked in Tony’s garage. All he wanted was a Pepsi, after all…

The Song: “Tainted Love” (Soft Cell)
The Movie: Coneheads
It’s fascinating how ubiquitous a song becomes after hearing it for the first time. Which is what happened when I first heard the Soft Cell hit cover of “Tainted Love”, as the very first place I immediately heard it again was when I watched the greatly underrated Coneheads. Not only do we hear it on a radio in one scene, but is sung while battling an alien monster with golf. I’m not making that part up.

The Song: “Afternoon Delight” (The Starland Vocal Band)
The Movie: PCU
To quote Homer Simpson: “Starland Vocal Band? They SUCK!” And nothing is worse than having this nauseating bit of 70s adult contemporary schmaltz come on and not being able to escape its sound crawling up inside and defiling your earholes. Which is exactly what happens in this Animal House in the 1990s ripoff comedy, as the protagonist(?) puts the song on the CD player on infinite repeat, then locks all of the stuffy Republicans in the room with it cranking. Wackiness ensues.

::END TRANSMISSION::

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Well, here we are. The end of another year. And as a year, overall, I think it’s safe to say that the majority opinion is that the year of our Lord Twenty-Sixteen SUCKED on so many levels, I’m pretty sure its effects can be felt on alternate dimensions and frequencies. Yes, there were a lot of celebrity deaths this year; however, this being a personal bligity-blog of mine, I’m not going to focus on all of those (though I really could, there have been many childhood favorites that have fallen this year). Instead, to at least make an acknowledgment of the ones that have been an inspiration to me, I’m going to pepper this post with YouTube clips of some favorites of mine while I wax nostalgic for the past year. However ugly it was.

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t start off with perhaps one of the biggest losses my family had this year: In the very first week of June, my Grandmother Betty Strand passed away. She was always a constant anchor in my life, as she was a strong, tenacious and lively cornerstone of the family, raising three children on the farm and being active in the community and such. Her loss has left a void in the lives of many.

And as long as we’re on the subject, along with Grandma, two Great Aunts also passed away this year: Aunt Janice and Aunt Muriel. Aunt Janice was Grandma’s younger sister, and was also a presence in the family growing up. Aunt Muriel was Grandpa Strand’s sister, and was another presence in the family growing up. We have a big family, and for better or for worse, we’re still pretty tight as a unit. I’m thankful for that, and thankful for having known them.

In July, there was a massive shakeup at the church I was attending. I really don’t want to go into the details (as we’re still healing and moving on), but suffice to say, there was a split. And after much deliberation, I decided to go with the ones who left, in helping to be a part of the healing and moving on. A new church was birthed out of what essentially started as a Sunday morning therapy group for those who were hurt from the split. Fortunately, this wasn’t formed out of spite, but out of a genuine desire to continue to serve God and Christ Jesus despite of the circumstances. Almost immediately, we’ve been seeing the Holy Spirit work with us to that end. In case you’re morbidly curious, here’s the website to peruse.

Of course, no year-end blog post would be complete without mentioning all the wackiness that happened in the culture. And this was probably the wackiest of the wacky. As in, the world just threw up its collective hands and went, “Okay, we all go crazy, now.” Besides all the celebrity deaths (which, as of this writing, still hasn’t stopped, it seems), who could forget the year-long freak show that was this round of Presidential elections? To quote one of the best parts of the movie Resivuar Dogs, “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right”. On the left of the Presidential ring, the Senator wife of a former President. To the right, a business mogul/former reality show producer-star/comb-over enthusiast with little to no political experience whatsoever. After months and months of mud-flinging, passive-aggressive public whining, really bad ideas and desperate character assassinations (among other things), at the end of the day, it turned out that we all collectively stepped in some Trumpy-Dumpy. Gads, that episode of MST3K is so endlessly quotable. And given the fallout and the various updates on how Trump is lining up his next four years…yeah, this might make 2016 seem like the Golden Years in comparison. We shall see, as always. The road to Idiocracy stretches out ever before us. Still, I’m trying to figure out why so many of my fellow professing Christians seemed to treat his election as the next best thing to the Second Coming of Jesus.

And lest the Presidential elections overshadow the other bits of wackiness of the year: Britan decided to leave the European Union, citing “It’s not you, it’s me” and further stating “We can still be friends, though,” before deleting them from their Facebook lists; a cartoon frog is now declared a “hate symbol” because…reasons, I guess; the President of the Philippines threatened to burn down the UN; for several months, the entire country freaked out over clowns (well, moreso than usual); and last but certainly not least, there was that Dakota Access Pipeline protest that got rather ugly before an agreement could be made, only to have the protester’s point made for them by the pipeline itself. Delicious irony.

Okay, on to some more pleasant stuff. For all the downers, at least there were some really really good \,,/METAL\,,/ that was released: Megadeth came back in form with Dystopia in January, and then Anthrax released the melodic-yet-heavy For All Kings in February. Babymetal released Metal Resistance in March, which was more of the mutated J-Pop/Metal hybrid I somehow find irresistible. Death Requisite released some rather good death metal with their Revisitation release, while I found myself disappointed with the debut release from Becoming Saints, Oh The Suffering. Ricky Puckett unleashed his In Darkest Dreams project with The Vanishing, a much-needed injection of dark and brutal for my earholes. And then Hell apparently froze over, as Klayton dropped a surprise brand-new Circle Of Dust album, Machines Of Our Disgrace. And finally*, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Metallica releasing Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, which turned out to be quite decent.

On the movie front, this year started off strong with the most excellent Deadpool. The year had some decent ones, like 10 Cloverfield Lane (a lot better than what I expected), the new Ghostbusters, the Magnificent Seven remake, the Pete’s Dragon remake, Suicide Squad (surprisingly decent), and Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them (sorry, no review posted yet). The rather good movies this year were Captain America: Civil War, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Star Trek Beyond, Doctor Strange, and of course, the year’s capper, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Of course, there were some stinkers in this year’s mix, which for me were Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Independence Day: Resurgence, and the surprisingly “meh” X-Men: Apocalypse.

And last, but certainly not least, in the more happier aspects of my personal life this year: This last Spring both my Nephew/Godson Christoper Rinas and one of my cousin’s eldest son Trevor Donahey graduated High School. Gads, I’m old.

So, that’s my year in a nutshell. To quote from one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H: “Here’s to the new year. May it be a damn sight better than the last one, and may we all go home before it’s over.”** Take that as you will. Whatever you do, celebrate heartily, but also somberly. Don’t be stupid. Me, I’m going to be doing my yearly Haunted New Years horror movie marathon whilst deciding what part of the clutter in my domicile is going to get the heave-ho. And there may be a bacon pizza in the mix, somewhere. Until next year (see what I did there?), I remain your humble servant Uncle NecRo. God bless, my wonderful freaks.

::END TRANSMISSION::

*– While I did review the new Klank album, the official release isn’t until January 13th, so that’s actually one to look forward to.

**– Season 9, Episode 6: “A War For All Seasons”

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – METAL

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"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." - METAL“Metal is dead.” It’s a proclamation I still here from time to time. Nowadays from Indie Music-listening hipsters I run into from time to time, in between elitist sneers and pulls from their bottle of PBR. Because nothing says “elitist” more than wearing thrift store castoffs and drinking beer-flavored water, all while misunderstanding the concept of irony entirely. But I digress.

Proving my theory of “what goes around comes around,” there’s always going to be that point in time where metal and hard rock — the two main musical genres I proudly identify with, unabashedly — will be proclaimed “dead” by whatever musical pop phenominon happens to become the rage at the time. Marilyn Manson even had a hit with the song “Rock Is Dead” in the 1990s, though I suspect that was more tongue-in-cheek than a serious observation of the pop music landscape, as bleak as it was at the time.

Let’s take the most famously remembered period where everyone was certain that metal was, if not dead then at least in its death throes: the early 1990s.

Most who were either born after 1990, or were dyed-in-the-cardigan sweater alternative types anyway, usually look back on the ’90s as a period of musical reniassance. It’s all based on personal preferences, of course; for me and many of my kind, the majority of the 90s represented a dark, barren and scorched wasteland, with maybe a small oasis of refuge here and there.
(metal in the 90s looked like this...only less bright and sunny...)
(metal in the 90s looked like this…only less bright and sunny…)

Ask any long-time metal head what we thought of the ’90s, and we’ll just grumble, sneer with contempt, and depending on who you talk to, contemplate recreating a living rendition of Anthrax’s Fist Full Of Metal album cover with your face. Not that such antisocial thoughts ever popped in my brain, mind you…
(kinda like this)
(kinda like this)

Y’know, come to think of it, the ’90s were such a bleak and darkly oppressive time, that it could very well be that metal itself mutated into the industrial and shock rock of the time as a reflection of the overall period. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here. I tend to do that.

The first two or three years of the 1990s was a high-water mark period for metal and hard rock. Megadeth’s Rust In Peace; Anthrax’s Persistence Of Time, Poison’s Flesh & Blood; AC/DC’s The Razor’s Edge; Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusions parts I and II; Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid; Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss; Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood (okay, technically released in 1989, but let’s face it — it’s a 90s album); Skid Row’s Slave To The Grind; Bullet Boys’ Freak Show; Ozzy’s No More Tears. And who could forget Metallica’s “black album”? For a couple of years, you couldn’t get away from that album. Double-edged sword; while it still is a fantastic metal album, at the time people I went to high school with who normally never associated themselves with Metallica suddenly were wearing Metallica shirts and asking to borrow my collection so they could be more informed about their other songs when they went to the concert. Yeah, for a short time in my Senior year, I went from weird metal-head to being ahead of the pop curve. Weirder things have happened, really.

Then came Nirvana, and their first big label release Nevermind. I’ll admit that I did like a few of their songs on that album, and even owned it at one point or another. I just considered ’em another hard rock band in my collection, along with the Soundgarden and Alice In Chains albums I purchased previously that year. Both considered staples in the so-called Grunge / Alternative Rock movements of the 90s, but let’s face it — hard rock is hard rock, no matter how you dress it up. And Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger and Alice In Chains’ Facelift are great hard rock albums.
(pictured: Corporate Rock Whores)
(pictured: Corporate Rock Whores)

Obviously, with the new bands came a shift in the pop music landscape. Mostly, I believe, because of the smell of money; Nirvana sold oodles of their album, so other labels began pushing their “grunge” and alternative rock groups, and also clamored to sign more artists from this new, fresh genre cash cow, regardless of talent. Kind of like the hair metal of the late 1980s.

Did you catch that? I just compared the grunge movement (snicker) to the hair metal that is supposedly killed off. Would that be considered irony? I don’t know anymore — that word has been overused and misused so much, it ceased to have any meaning for me a while back. I’ll just say, “sure, why not?” and shrug. Ironically.

The way I see it, the so-called hair metal that was big in the late 1980s and the early 1990s wasn’t killed off by grunge. Hair metal (for lack of a better term) was a victim of its own excess; i. e. – hair metal killed itself.
(could have also been an open flame, reports at the time are still spotty)
(could have also been an open flame, reports at the time are still spotty)

Pop music was bored and was ready to move on. Nirvana and the whole grunge / alternative rock movements just happened to be at the right place at the right time, claiming the killing blow that they never made in the first place. It’s the equivalent of blaming Yoko for the breakup of the Beatles.
(pictured: Opportunist Wankers)
(pictured: Opportunist Wankers)

But what of metal? Did it die out? Does any form of pop music really die out? Will I ever understand that by answering a question with a question I sound rather conceited? Seriously, though- as with other music forms, metal never dies; it just goes into a deep, dark underground crevice somewhere and mutates like the monster it is.
mutates like the monster it is
Things like this comes in cycles. Even the so-called “indie” music the hipsters listen to were considered “alternative” back in the much-reviled 1980s, back before “alternative” became mainstream popular in the 1990s, and thus creating a paradox of massive perportions.

But, that’s another overblown and pointless blog post for another day.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Book Review: LIGHT MY FIRE: My Life With The Doors (Ray Manzarek)

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light my fire

Ray Manzarek
Putnam
1998

This is the part autobiography, part memoir, part philosophical discourse of the co-founder and keyboardist of the legendary band The Doors.

There’s been many books written on the subject of The Doors, mostly focusing on the great enigma that was Jim Morrison, the man who’s only second to Elvis in posthumous sightings. Ray Manzarek’s take on the whole shebang isn’t that much different, only that he was there since day one. Manzarek may be taken to a bit more rose-colored grandiose than it probably was, but at least it’s an insider’s viewpoint…

In Light My Fire, Ray starts off with the end of The Doors- the final recording sessions on L. A. Woman, Jim’s relocation to Paris, and the day he received the call that his friend and band mate had died. This time for real (there were other rumors, which didn’t help the situation whatsoever). He touches on his life growing up in the south side of Chicago, discovering music and playing at an early age, his college days in the U. C. L. A. film department, and the formation and early salad days of The Doors.

The best way this book works is as a memoir of the band, relaying some rather amusing tales from the early days, the joys and woes of recording and touring, and of course the highly colorful antics of Jim Morrison, all told from the vantage point of an obviously old hippie. Of interest here: An anecdote of an ill-fated confrontation with the Grateful Dead keyboardist that amuses me greatly. Never liked the Grateful Dead, and this just reinforces my distaste. There’s mention of a gig The Doors did in support of the album Strange Days at a University Of Michigan homecoming dance (of all places), where the sheer outrageousness and audacity of Jim Morrison’s antics inspired a young Jim Osterberg, later known as Iggy Pop, to undertake his own path of musical anarchic rebellion. And of course, there’s the now-infamous incidents involving the Florida indecent exposure hearings, the recording of their first album, and musician in-fighting (apparently drummer John Densmore wasn’t exactly popular with the band near the end). Throughout the storytelling and various musings are peppered various pieces of Doors lyrics, writers and a couple of times, quotes from various spiritual writings, including the Bible. Which brings me to this…

As a writer, and especially as a philosopher, Ray’s personal spirituality is displayed prominently on his sleeve throughout Light My Fire. It seems to be an amalgamated hodge-podge of Eastern philosophy, Asian mysticism, ancient Greek and Roman paganism, and just about any ancient religion you can think of, culminating into a stylized Gnosticism. Every topic, it seems, becomes a sounding board, where Ray pulls out his well-worn soap box to sound off about needing to get back to peace, love of your fellow man, getting back to our mystic spiritual roots (whatever those roots are; he never really gets around to pointing that out), creating the “New Eden”, hugging trees, licking toads, blah blah blah. Archaic 60s pap. At times he sounds like a beleaguered Dennis Hopper from the movie Flashback. Sticking his thumb in the pie-in-the-sky empty 60s ideology and pulling out…well, not a plumb.

Paying lip service to the so-called “inner Christ”, and mentioning that he became a “true Christian” after dropping acid for the first time, and being “born again” after emerging from a womb-like experience while on the chemical-educed stupor (pg. 119)- Ray nonetheless brushes off Christianity as part of the “Christian mythology” of the American establishment he so abhors. Instead, he grapples at a stylized Universal spirituality, taking bits and pieces from Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Transcendental Meditation, the Kabala, the I Ching, Astrology, Native American Shamanism- the result, having the trappings of being spiritual without having to commit to any one. A fair-weather mystic of spiritual convenience. Of course, the monotheistic disciplines of Christianity are myths. Not to be taken seriously. You know, it is possible to be so open-minded that your brains leaked out.

Speaking of mysticism, there’s quite a few instances where Ray-Ray gets a little too serious describing the band’s music. Listen, I love the Door’s music. It’s a very well-played mix of jazz, blues, psychedelic, dark poetry and existential art. I just happen to take the music as it is- music. Ray, however, when describing the recording of the song “When The Music’s Over” as shown on pages 264-265:

“No wonder the Establishment was afraid of us. We had gone Dionysian! Pan was with us. The maenads were with us. The muse Euterpe was with us. Her sisters Calliope and Terpsichore and Polyhymnia had joined us. And they were all whirling and dancing in a delirium of ecstasy, of exhilaration, of joy.”

Okay, whatever. I told you to stay away from the brown acid, dude…

To top it all off, apparently Ray’s plans for The Doors- and Jim Morrison in general- went beyond just music. Eventually, Ray planned branching off into film, and going into politics. A handful of times, he mentioned- seriously- envisioning Jim becoming President of the United States. That would have been interesting indeed. Although, considering that the 60s generation are now in politics, one has to wonder if Jim would have remained the same kind of ideology if he lived to grow old that he did in his youth. One will never know.

All said, Light My Fire left me rather torn. I loved the stories involving The Doors, but the unneeded hippie-dippie politicking just turned me off. Especially when he insulted my faith most of the time. Whatever. I still listen to the music, but really…that’s because I like the music, not because I agree with your way of thinking, Ray. Stick to music…

Book Review: TAKE A WALK ON THE DARK SIDE (R. Gary Patterson)

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take a walk on the dark side

R. Gary Patterson
Fireside Press
2004

Updating, revising, and expanding on material from his cult classic Hellhounds On Their Trail, Patterson offers up a delectable feast of strange and occasionally frightening rock and roll tales, featuring the ironies associated with the tragic deaths of many rock icons, unsolved murders, and other tales from the “fell clutch of circumstance.” Beginning with the fateful place where it all started — a deserted country crossroads just outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi, where Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil — through the Buddy Holly curse (rock and roll’s first great tragedy) and beyond, this incredible volume uncovers some of rock and roll’s most celebrated murders, twists of fate, and decades-long streaks of bad luck that defy rational explanation.

Urban legends has been a source of intrigue for myself since I heard my first ghost story by campfire light as a lad. Those that involve pop culture are some of the more enticing points of curiosity, especially that of rock music. Although, admittedly, most of what I’ve read concerning weird and sinister happenings within the realm of rock n’ roll stem mostly from well-meaning Christian authors using scare tactics to prove the evil of the genre.

Take A Walk On The Dark Side is written by journalist R. Gary Patterson, who seems to have the title “The Fox Mulder of Rock And Roll”. His other works include investigations into the whole “Paul Is Dead” phenomenon, and mostly looks at the bizarre stories, rumors, and urban legends behind pop music. This book, basically an update on a previously published work, documents the various lifestyles and deaths of the notable players within rock and roll history, starting with the legend of Robert Johnson, the blues player that allegedly sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads one night in order to become the greatest blues player there is. His brief life (both real and otherwise) is touched on, as is the “Buddy Holly Curse”, the musicians who died young, especially the ones who died at the age of 27, the connection to the dark arts and satanism, magick, backmasking, and general coincidences that, to the author, don’t seem all that coincidental.

Take these reports as you will. Personally, I’m not one to just buy into the claims of the dark underlying of these stories and reports. This is, however, an interesting read, and unlike the many Christian books I’ve read, Take A Walk On The Dark Side doesn’t give in to blatant sensationalism. A word of caution, however: As I was reading this, I did sense a dark oppression on my mind, so there might be something to this that’s best left untouched by anyone who’s not very strong in mind and spirit…

Book Review: MUSTAINE- A Heavy Metal Memoir (Dave Mustaine w/ Joe Layden)

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mustaine-a-heavy-metal-memoir

Dave Mustaine w/ Joe Layden
!t Books
2010

[Dave] Mustaine has battled through it all to achieve dizzying hights.  From the early, heady days of Metallica, being unceremoniously let go only to become a world-famous rock star – founder, frontman, singer, songwriter, and guitarist (and de facto CEO) for Megadeth, one of the most popular bands in heavy metal – Mustaine’s is a story that will inspire, stun, and terrify.

I’m sure the sentiment has been shared many a time, but it’s worth repeating: Dave Mustaine is totally freaking METAL.  If there’s any living human being to serve as the embodiment of my near-life long obsession of all things METAL, it’s him.  And by default, Vic Rattlehead as the mascot.  So, I’m probably the wrong person to review tis autobiography with a detached and critical objectivity in all fairness.  But then again, this is my review blog.  Screw objectivity.

Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir starts with Dave’s childhood years, and ends around the time when United Abominations was released.  His first guitar, his formative teenage years, his time with Metallica, formation of Megadeth and their rise to metal fame, his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, the highs and lows of the band and personal life…all of this written in a very casual, frank and unflinching way.  If anything, no one can ever blame the man for mincing words.  Or sugar coating things. Which is really what I was expecting from him.

Mustaine: A HeavyMetal Memoir was a good compelling read.  I was pleased to get some in-depth perspective on some things that, heretofore I only had superficial reporting from various metal mags that, let’s face it, might have colored things a bit for sensational purposes.  His writing style is very conversational, and has the feel of sitting down at a bar or cafe’, and having a conversation.  As far as Music Memoirs go, Mustaine is one of the better ones I’ve come across in a long time.  Recommended.

Book Review: AC/DC- Maximum Rock N’ Roll (Murray Engleheart / Arnaud Durieux)

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acdc maximum rock n roll

Murray Engleheart / Arnaud Durieux
Harper
2006

After more than three decades and 150 million albums, AC/DC has established itself as much more than just a great rock band.  For millions of fans spanning several generations across the world, they are an ear-bleedingly loud, sweat-soaked religion.  Now, in a book of astonishing breadth and scope, comes the complete story of AC/DC.  Everything you ever wanted to know and plenty more you never dreamt of is all here, the ultimate balls-out adventure, laced with sex, drunken escapades, and brawls – topped off with rare intimate photos to create the ultimate portrait of the ultimate rock band.

My personal history with legendary rock band AC/DC goes back to my childhood, when one of my uncles deemed it necessary to give me his cassette copy of Highway To Hell.  The music was unlike anything I was exposed to up to that point, mainly because at the age of 11 my music choices were limited to the Top 40 radio, and whatever my parents deemed appropriate enough for my tender ears.  This little bit of subversion on the part of my Mother’s younger brother was perhaps the catalyst I needed to become the metalhead I am today.  And growing up, especially when I hit Junior High and High School, the music of AC/DC was one of those bands that were practically issued to you if you wanted to perceived as “cool” musically.  Well, to the upperclassmen and some members of my own class as well.  By the time I graduated High School, I had several of their albums in my personal collection, and it wasn’t at all surprising to hear one of ’em cranked on my stereo at any given time of day.  Or night.  Yeah.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m a fan of the band.  Still am after all these years, although their output have become few and farther between, and personal tastes continue to change and evolve.  And of course, as a pop culture history junkie, I couldn’t resist picking up this copy of AC/DC’s biography when I found it for sale at the local Wal-Mart back in 2008.  You knew I was cheep, right?

Anyway, as a history of the band, Maximum Rock & Roll goes pretty in-depth and behind the scenes, from the Young brothers Malcolm and Angus’ childhoods as Scottish transplants to Australia, their initial forays into rock n’ roll, and the early days of AC/DC, their rise to fame and the untimely death of Bon Scott, and their Phoenix-like rise from the ashes to become one of the greatest rock bands ever.

Unlike a lot of biographies either in book or television form (I’m looking at you, VH1’s Behind The Music), Maximum Rock & Roll goes beyond just the sensational and controversial stuff, and tells stories that are just as interesting and give you a deeper understanding of the members’ daily lives in and out of the band.  For instance, despite popular rumors, main guitarist Angus Young was never really the partier; he usually spent his money on comic books and milk shakes, and drank a gallon of tea after each show to stave off dehydration.  And while certainly being the partier of the group, Bon Scott himself was perhaps the most loyal friend and down-to-earth guy you could have ever known.

With stories and various other information following the making of every album they recorded in their discography (apparently, their classic Back In Black was produced so well, that the band Motorhead played it during sound checks to test the PA system’s sound), and featuring pictures from the band’s history, AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll was one of those satisfying band biographies that offered up stuff that wasn’t just another exorcise in “I already knew that”.  Highly recommended for fans of the band, and general rock and roll junkies like myself.