Archive for Books on music

Book Review: Bruce Dickinson An Autobiography

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2018 by 80smetalman

Welcome to my second ever book review. The first one was three years ago so I figured it was time I do another. Okay, it’s because I write more than I read but this particular book definitely needs a comment or three on. My total reaction to “Bruce Dickinson, An Autobiography” was, “I wish I could write like that.” Bruce has a distinct writing style that definitely entertains as well as it informs. When recounting his life, he doesn’t do the normal David Copperfield crap with dates and list of his life’s events. Instead he gives those accounts through his own eyes in a very amusing way which at times while reading it made me wonder if I should pack up writing.

Iron Maiden

Naturally, I read the book to hear about his life with the great Iron Maiden and yes, there are some wild accounts there. However, his life before and outside of Maiden was just as intense. Reading about his childhood, his father was a bit of a Delboy Trotter, (a character from the famous British sit-com “Only Fools and Horses), in the sense that he was always acquiring and running different businesses, often at the same time. At one point, he owned a hotel but sold used cars from the front of it. I point this out because I think Bruce’s childhood experiences contributed to his eccentricity.

Bruce Dickinson

How he became a pilot was also a very good and interesting read. He started on a twin engine plane and by the end, he was piloting huge passenger jets. Then there is how he started his brand of beer, “The Trooper.” However, the part that I found most interesting was during his solo career. His account of his concert in war torn Sarajevo and all what he and his band had to go through, the check points, the fear of getting fired on, to be able to perform was absolutely mind blowing. Talk about guts but then it was those guts that helped him beat cancer very recently. How he describes what he went through while battling this disease is harrowing and it’s only right that he gets full marks for overcoming it.

Bruce Dickinson’s autobiography is a cracking read from start to finish. He keeps the reader entertained while at the same time giving them insight into his wild and wonderful life. Plus there are a few surprises along the way as long as events that I didn’t know about but not surprised about. I bow to the superior writer here.

Reading the autobiography has further convinced me that Bruce Dickinson deserves a knighthood. Therefore, I call on all British readers to clink the link and sign the petition.

https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

On a different note, though I have retired from festivals, I will still go for single days. This year, it looks as if I must go to Bloodstock on the Sunday because Queensryche are headlining and Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider is also on the bill for that day.

Next post: Starship- Knee Deep in the Hoopla

I don’t feel worth to post a link to Rock and Roll Children for this post.

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I’m Sharing My Writing With You

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 20, 2018 by 80smetalman

Call this a supplemental post, like one of Captain Piccard’s supplemental log entries. I have just finished the latest installment of my next book, which will be called “The V-Network.” It starts with a series of short stories about people let down by the British justice system who decide to get together and form a vigilante group. Before I introduce my latest short story for the book, let me reassure you that the regular twice weekly music posts will continue. However, I would like people to read it and tell me what they think. It will be done over several posts as it’s too long for a single post. Without any further ado, here’s my story called, “Self Defense 2, You Provoked Him.”

     No wonder she’s called ‘Amazon Glenda,’ Rochelle thought to herself as she struggled to break free of her opponent’s grasp. Glenda’s strong legs were securely wrapped around Rochelle’s head. Rochelle was finding it increasingly more difficult to breathe but there was no way she was going to succumb. With all her strength, she managed to get onto her side and then somehow, get up on her knees but it in no way lessened the pressure now being applied on her head. The move gave her some breathing space but still, her energy was slowly being sapped away.

     The loud ding of the bell ended her ordeal and round three of the fight. Glenda was forced to release her head scissors and both combatants went to their respective corners of the octagon cage.

You were very fortunate the bell rang, otherwise she might have gotten you to submit,” her manager informed her, scoldingly.

Yeah, I know,” Rochelle affirmed as she spit out a mouthful of water into a bucket next to her.

Then you know to stay out of her grasp then. You’re strength is in your boxing ability, use that.”

     Rochelle nodded as the words of advice echoed through her mind as she went out for round four. Immediately, Glenda charged at her but Rochelle side stepped and landed a round-house kick that caught her opponent in the mid-section. The blow had its desired effect. It enabled Rochelle to step inside the reach of the six foot two amazon who was six inches taller and land a left jab on the amazon’s chin. Glenda swung wildly but Rochelle parried that easily. Stepping in closer, she used all of her strength to land a right square onto her opponent’s jaw. Glenda crumpled to the mat in a huge heap. 

   The fallen gladiator made no movement while the referee counted to ten. Rochelle did her best to hide her exhilaration when the ref announced, “You’re out!” She raised her arms and let out a shrill scream in celebration of her latest victory. 

     Ring staff had only just managed to get the defeated Glenda to sit up as the ring announcer was proclaiming, “In thirty-eight seconds of the fourth round, the winner by knockout, Rocket Rochelle Dibley!” As the referee raised her right hand, she threw up her left, all the while, soaking up the applause of the crowd.

   Memories of her latest victory was still fresh in Rochelle’s mind as she drove her delivery van into Brighton the following week. She was now undefeated in seven fights and her latest victory was her biggest yet. Amazon Glenda had been unbeaten in eight fights before meeting Rochelle. The MMA world had to take her seriously now.

End of part 1

Be as nice or as vicious as you like. My next post will still be Dokken’s “Tooth ‘N’ Nail” album and I will put more extracts from the story between the music posts. Just to reaffirm, here’s a track from the band Puppy, who impressed a lot at Download.

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Pat Benatar- Precious Time

Posted in 1980s, Books, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Pat_Benatar_-_Precious_Time

Kings and queens of rock music have come and gone throughout the years but it can be safely said that in 1980 and 81, Pat Benatar was the undisputed queen of rock. She ascended to the throne in 1980 on the wings of her second album “Crimes of Passion” after the previous rock queen, Debbie Harry, in my view, abdicated. The more astute among you probably realise that I never visited Blondie’s “Auto-American” album and for good reason. While “Crimes of Passion” ascended Pat Benatar to her rightful throne, her third album in 1981, “Precious Time,” kept her firmly seated there.

“Precious Time” continues on in the same hard rocking theme that made Pat Benatar a household name in rock circles. I admit, when I first heard the introduction to the opener, “Promises in the Dark,” I thought she might be going a bit softer but about thirty seconds in, the guitars take over and that Benatar sound is back in full swing. The second track is the big single, “Fire and Ice” and contains what I think is the best ever guitar solo from Neil Giraldo. “Just Like Me” and the title track are both traditional Pat Benatar rockers and the track “It’s a Tuff Life” goes quite reggae but nonetheless is a great track. In all of these tracks and the following, “Take It Anyway You Want It,” the vocals of Pat Benatar combined with the guitar of Neil Giraldo definitely work well like they did with the two albums.

Now, if they were ever to make a film from either of my books, “Rock And Roll Children” would be filled with some great concert footage, but with my latest one, “He Was Weird,” I would insist that one song from this album, “Evil Genius,” be on the soundtrack. While the lyrics of this song don’t exactly fit in with the main character in the story, the song itself would greatly add to the ambiance of the movie. The lyrics are spot on here and that helps make the song even better for me. I can’t leave out the fact that this album proves that The Beatles wrote a song that had an impact on hard rock and heavy metal. This album provided me with my first opportunity to hear the classic “Helter Skelter” covered by a great hard rock act. Here, Pat Benatar, to quote Cheryl Cole, makes the song her own and no I don’t watch “X-Factor.”

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Track Listing:

1. Promises in the Dark

2. Fire and Ice

3. Just Like Me

4. Precious Time

5. It’s a Tuff Life

6. Take It Anyway You Want It

7. Evil Genius

8. Hard to Believe

9. Helter Skelter

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar- vocals

Neil Giraldo- lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Scott St Clair Sheets- rhythm guitar

Roger Capps- bass

Myron Grombacher- drums

With “Precious Time,” it is easy to see why Pat Benatar was the undisputed queen of rock in 1980 and 81. Come the following year, there would be a serious challenge to her rule but that is best left for another time. In the world of hard rock, 1981 was without a doubt Pat Benatar’s year and “Precious Time” backs this up.

Next album: Frank Zappa- You Are What You Is

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

To buy He Was Weird go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403623312&sr=8-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Dire Straits- Making Movies

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Making_Movies

In spite of the fact that I loved both of Dire Straits’ previous two albums, “Making Movies” kind of passed me by in 1981. What is even stranger is that I know the first three tracks on the album very well. Track three, “Skateaway” is my second favourite Dire Straits song of all time. I still haven’t forgiven them for not playing it when I saw them live in 1985. They did play the other two songs and my number one favourite, “Sultans of Swing”  but that’s little consolation.

Thinking back to that night I saw them live, “Tunnel of Love” was the concert closer and for some reason, I remember it being played slower than what appears on the album. My theory was that they may have been trying to sound more mid 80s. The version on album has all the trademarks of the great music this band was making at the time. Mark Knopfler plays his classic licks throughout and he does the same with the second track, “Romeo and Juliet.” Those two songs build up perfectly to the song whose praises I can’t sing enough, great song but I know I’m biased here. However, three tracks don’t an album make and the great music that is on “Making Movies” continues to go on long after. In fact, it goes on immediately into the next track “Expresso Love.” The opening riffs to the song are rocking and I can’t take anything away from the final three tracks on the album. The first of those three, “Hand in Hand” might be a little slower than the rest but it doesn’t detract from the quality of this album because the last two songs bring it all home very nicely. So, this is yet another album that makes me want to travel back in time and force the me back then to listen to it.

Track Listing:

1. Tunnel of Love

2. Romeo and Juliet

3. Skateaway

4. Expresso Love

5. Hand in Hand

6. Solid Rock

7. Les Boys

Dire Straits

Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler- guitar, lead vocals

John Illsley- bass, vocals

Pick Withers- drums, vocals

Additional musicians

Roy Bittan- keyboards

Sid McGuiness- guitar

One historical part in “Making Movies” was that David Knopfler left the band during the recording of the album in 1980. I don’t know the reasons behind this but am always open to enlightenment. “Making Movies” is a fantastic album and hearing it makes me slightly sick that I let it go by me for all these years. Still, I’m not yet ready to forgive Dire Straits for not playing “Skateaway.” It could be a reason why I don’t give an account of the concert on “Rock And Roll Children,” just merely a mention.

Next post: The Pretenders II

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

Help Choose The Topic For My Next Book

Posted in Books, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 11, 2014 by 80smetalman

You have probably noticed from the post’s title, I want to do a poll. I have four ideas buzzing around my head for my third book but don’t know which one to choose. So, I’m asking you as a prospective reader to choose the one you would like to read the most.

Idea 1: A prequel to my first book Rock And Roll Children. The story is about Bob’s older brother Mitch who serves in the US peacekeeping mission in Beirut in 1983. He is wounded but returns home to total indifference and even intolerance.

Idea 2: A sort of sequel to He Was Weird. A talk show host, in a bid to save her plummeting ratings, holds a show where mothers of school shooters meet with mothers of their victims. Donna Leversee would appear on the show.

Idea 3: People who were either victims or witnesses to crimes are badly let down by the British justice system. They go onto form a vigilante network.

Idea 4: A male substitute teacher works in various schools and impresses female members of staff in more ways than one.

Please tell me which of these appeals to you, it would be greatly appreciated.

Book Review: Laina Dawes- What Are You Doing Here?

Posted in Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Not many posts ago, I revealed a book written by Laina Dawes entitled “What Are You Doing Here?” In the book, Ms Dawes tells us of her experiences as a black woman who is into heavy metal, the music she was into and the bands she saw. She also relates the experiences of other African American women who love heavy metal as well as some black female artists who can totally rock. Now that I have read the book in its entirety, I can say that what I read was truly eye opening indeed.

Let me get one thing clear and I know that no one is actually saying this but I am not ashamed of being born white. No one can help the colour of the skin they were born with and that is one reason I take a huge exception to anyone of any race who persecutes human beings who were born of multi- racial parentage. That aside, I am often embarrassed by some of the things my ancestors have done throughout history like slavery, discrimination, the colonization and subjugation of the African continent by Europeans. Now, having read this book, I am ashamed that white, male metal heads could act this way. I have always said that heavy metal could unite the world but after reading I still see that metalheads have a long way to go before we can do this. Furthermore, while I have campaigned against the right wing belief that heavy metal turns you into a criminal and gets you to hate your country, I have also campaigned against the left wing view that our genre of music is sexist and racist. I now know that I may have been wrong because Dawes tells of many experiences of both.

Laina Dawes

Laina Dawes

In “What Are You Doing Here?” Dawes tells quite openly of her negative experiences and some of the positive ones. She had to face down attitudes such as “You think you’re white” as well as the “only one” syndrome being the only black female at many shows. However, the whole time she never comes across was playing the victim. In fact, she tells how she doesn’t let those attitudes stop her enjoying the music she loves and reading some of the acts she’s into, I would love to go to a concert with her. Just no one tell Mrs 80smetalman.

The one thing that is really done well in the book is how she traces the history of rock and metal back to its origins. I began this blog with Jimi Hendrix, (another great black musician who help found metal as we know it today) but she goes back even farther than that to some of the great old blues musicians including BB King. In this case, Laina is absolutely correct in the fact that we as metalheads owe the origins of our music to music originally started by African Americans.

So, I would encourage all to grab a copy of “What Are You Doing Here?” It not only shows us the true origins of our music but also points out that heavy metal still has quite a long way to go before we gain true harmony.

Next post: The Moody Blues- Long Distance Voyager

To buy Rock And Roll Children go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

A Metal Book Worth Reading

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2013 by 80smetalman

While I was going through my daily dose of heavy metal google alerts this morning, I can upon a book that sounds fascinating to me. The book is called “What Are You Doing Here?” by Laina Dawes. It tells about the struggle on an African American woman in the world of heavy metal.

When Laina Dawes was eight years-old, she sat in front of her television watching the made-for-television movie “Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park.”  Soon after, her parents gave her Kiss’ Double Platinum record, and later followed an obsession with bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath.  Laina Dawes is a bona fide metal head. But her fandom is complicated, though it probably shouldn’t be, by the fact that Laina is a black woman.

During her time in the heavy metal scene, she has experienced a lot of racism and sexism, as well as judgment and hostility from various black communities. Laina Dawes is the author of “What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal” (Bazillion Points, 2013).

Dawes talks with host Frank Stasio about the complicated relationship she has with heavy metal. She says that although heavy metal has in the past been viewed as a white male scene, the music can be powerful for anyone who feels like they need an outlet for anger.

“Heavy metal has always had this stereotype of being a working-class blue collar music for predominantly men who are frustrated by their day job, and want to listen to music to let out their aggressions…” Dawes says. “I think that translates to how people are still drawn to the music…It’s for the positive energy and the positive aggression that you have the ability to let out…and we’re not able to do that in other aspects of their lives.”

Dawes grew up in rural Kingston, Canada, as one of the only black people in her community. Listening to heavy metal was one of only a few things that helped her deal with her frustration and feelings of isolation. 

Dawes tells host Frank Stasio that “the music was what got me through…I never did fit in, and I always felt like an outsider, but I knew that I desperately needed something to make me feel better, and to make me feel more empowered then I did in my everyday life.”

Although heavy metal can be very empowering to its listeners, the scene surrounding it can be very racist and sexist. Dawes spoke to many black women involved in those scenes in their respective communities who survived violence inflicted on them on the basis of their race.

“One of the women I interviewed for the book was knocked unconscious” states Dawes.

“Another girl in Atlanta was chased around the venue by a bunch of skin heads, because they had warned her that she had to leave because they didn’t want her there…And then they stayed so they chased her,” she recalls.  “You get these extreme stories of people violently reacting to your presence.”

And not only has there been push back from white people in the heavy metal scene, but black communities have taken issue with black people’s participation in heavy metal. Dawes explains that listening to heavy metal as a black person is often seen as something that makes you “less black.”

“One of the reasons I’ve faced resistance from various black communities is the [link to culture]. Blues music is not just music, it’s seen as a narrative of the lives of African Americans who came before us…it has a connection to African-American listeners,” says Dawes. “But on the other hand in terms of listening and participating as a fan or musician it should be wide open.”

But there are still black women breaking down barriers and performing heavy metal. Dawes says that her favorite part of this project has been meeting women who challenge the norm with their passion for the genre.

“The best part of this journey is meeting extremely strong women who want to play the music that they’re passionate about and also realize that there are a lot of roadblocks in their way,” Laina reflects. “And for them it’s not about the money. It’s about them being passionate about their art.”

I, for one, am going to read it because I have always battled against the accusations of heavy metal being sexist and racist and I’ve always believed that knowledge is the best weapon.