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The Music Guy

by John James

The Music Guy If you are missing the perfect gift…The Rock Bible is it! Is there a hole in yourstocking, or pink slipspaper-clipped to the treein a festive display? Timesare tough, but the simplejoys do survive. Pile on theblankets and give a gift toyourself this season, in thepleasure of a new bookfrom the Dewey 780.9section of your publiclibrary or your hip, localbookseller. The top of my suggestionsis The Rock Bible, adevastatingly funny andshockingly observant“Little Red Book” from the skewer-thrustersat Chunklet magazine. This faux-leather, goldembossed, petite little Book of P’songs fits in thehand like the church hymnal it is, laying downthe begat-who’s and the thou-shalt-not’s of thereligion of popular culture, particularly the HardRock Branch Davidian Secularists we know andlove. Amen! Father Time has been hard on JohnnyRock n’ Roll, with never ending, wheelchairreunion tours and the abomination known asHot Topic. Which came first, the wannabe or thecliché? Like the television commercials of the1970s for Scope, where the anonymous gift of abottle meant “wise up, stink-breather,” there’sa long list of folks who need this witty, don’tbe a doofus, rock n’ roll admonishment. Fromverse one of The Psalm of the Guitar Player: “TheFender is rock. The Gibson is slightly louderrock. The Ibanez is ponytail rock.” Ouch! The12-page Genesis opener issimply amazing, tracing its lifespark at Edison’s inventionof the phonograph to today’sscene in an explosive chainof fatherhood that connectsbeautifully like a rock n’ rollPachinko highway. Lookingto write a song, start a bandor take your show on theroad? Lest ye be called afool, best study up The Gospel According To theSinger, the Golden Rules of Band Merchandiseand Blasphemy: Forbidden Words When NamingYour Band. Fans get there own Gospel, guidedin The Seven Commandment of Appearance(“Anyone who wishes to buy any Ramonesrelatedmerchandise must be able to name allmembers of the original lineup and a minimumof five of their songs.”) and Cardinal Rules (“Youcan’t listen to a band on your way to their show.Conversely, it’s absolutely acceptable to listento them on the way back”). Don’t think you’refree from the confessional — plenty of sins areexposed for each of us, especially drummers, Godbless them…. Warner Bros. Records celebrates their goldenanniversary in style with a massive 240-pagehistory, Revolutions In Sound: The First FiftyYears. Almost as big as a record album sleeve,the visual delight chronicles their birth in 1958with the soundtrack to For Whom the Bell Tolls,stereophonic thrills utilizing their Vitaphonic process, and celebrity based singles from Edd“Kookie” Byrnes, Tab Hunter and Jack Webb.From Sinatra to the Grateful Dead, and onwardthrough Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Madonna,Jane’s Addiction, Green Day and beyond, theWB, Sire or Reprise logo is as cool as it gets. Fascinating essays pepper the tale, with Dr.Demento recalling those budget-priced two-LP“loss leaders” that popped up in used record binsthrough the 1970s, and Bob Merlis’ memoriesof working as the publicist for Alice Cooper’sSchool’s Out album, featuring a fold-out schooldesk and a pair of pink panties wrapped aroundthe vinyl LP. Written by Dr. Warren Zanes,founding member of the Del Fuegos and formervice president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fameand Museum, many recording artists share whatit was like to be at the right place at the right time,including Perry Farrell, Flea, Billy Gibbons, ElvisCostello and Wayne Coyne. A deluxe edition of thebook is available, featuring a snappy USB memorykey in the shape of the company’s logo. Holdingas much as a 20-CD set, the MP3 device has 320songs selected as a companion to the book. With the subtitle of Outrageous Rumors, Legends,& Raucous True Tales of Rock & Roll Icons, JonHolmes’ new Rock Star Babylon is a wild ridethrough the most debaucherous stories that rockstars can’t dodge — or hope the public doesn’tfind out about. From sticky substances shared byKurt Cobain to Axl Rose, Stevie Nicks and drinkingstraws, and Bill Wyman’s cure for the gout, thePlume Books release collects the anecdotesthat are often passed between hotel managers,roadies, recording engineers and hush-hushbabysitters to the stars. Everyone is fair game inthis collection of the chemically disabled, hostileand promiscuous, from Keith Moon, GeorgeJones and Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall. Highlightsinclude Liam Gallagher’s revelation about SpinalTap, the flaming demise of Brinsley Schwartz andthe bodily functions of pigs when Black Sabbath isplayed loudly….
 John James can be found via cyberspace atyeahyeah@cinci.rr.com.

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