Book Review: “A Long Time Ago In a Cutting Room Far, Far Away”

  • A LONG TIME AGO IN A CUTTING ROOM FAR, FAR AWAY
  • Author:  Paul Hirsch
  • Hardcover
  • 384 pages
  • Published by Chicago Review Press Fo

A few years ago I had the pleasure of hosting a test screening for director John Hancock’s film, “The Looking Glass.”  After the film, as I drove John, his wife Dorothy Tristan (the film’s star and co-writer) and film editor Dennis O’Connor back to their hotel, I was amazed by the conversation between the director and editor.  They discussed certain scenes in the film, curious whether they had gone a beat too long or perhaps not long enough.  What impressed me the most was that even the suggestion of removing ONE FRAME of film – 1/24th of a second – could have a true impact in how the film was presented.

Armed with this very limited knowledge, I was eager to read the new book “A Long Time Ago In a Cutting Room Far, Far Away,” written by Academy Award winning film editor Paul Hirsch.  Where to begin?

The book is a rare inside glimpse into the careers, and minds, of three of the most acclaimed filmmakers of their time:  Brian De Palma, George Lucas and John Hughes. 

Mr. Hirsch got his start with De Palma, editing the director’s first five features, including “Phantom of the Paradise,” “Obsession” and “Carrie.”  It is while editing “Carrie” that he is shown photographs from a currently-in-production space opera called “Star Wars.”  Impressed with what he’s seen, Mr. Hirsch secretly wishes he could work on “Star Wars.”  His wish is granted when Lucas invites him to help edit the film alongside co-editors Marcia Lucas (George’s wife) and Richard Chew.  Soon Mr. Hirsch realizes it’s just him on the project and his stories about the finalization of the film, right down to the color of Darth Vader’s light sabre, are amazing. For his work on “Star Wars,” Mr. Hirsch, Mr. Chew and Ms. Lucas were awarded the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.

The book is written in a very simple style.  Not a lot of technical jargon, just great stories told to you as if Mr. Hirsch was sharing them over dinner.  There are many chapters devoted solely to one film, including “Carrie” (we learn about De Palma’s love for the split-screen), “Star Wars,” “The Fury,” “Blow Out,” “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Ray” and so many more.  A veritable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to revisit some of the most popular and influential films of the past four decades.

If you’ve always wondered about how a film is put together, or just want to learn some behind the scenes secrets of your favorite films, then this is the book for you!  You can order “A Long Time Ago In a Cutting Room Far, Far Away,” which will be released on November 5th, by clicking HERE.   

Book Review: “Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness. As Lived By Jon Zazula”

“Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness.  As Lived By Jon Zazula”
Author: Jon Zazula/Harold Claros-Maldonado
Paperback: 193 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Heavy Tales” details the stories of how one Jonathan Zazula better known as Jonny Z who went from living on the streets of the Bronx in New York City to managing and releasing albums by some of the biggest artists in heavy metal music including Metallica, Anthrax, Testament and Mercyful Fate. Together, Jonny and his wife Marsha built a musical dynasty out of modest beginnings unmatched by any other underground heavy metal label. With a foreword written by Testament vocalist Chuck Billy, plus over 100 rare photographs unearthed from the Mega-Vault and photographer friends worldwide, “Heavy Tales” is the definitive American story of a family man with a dream, determined to prove to the world that heavy metal belonged on the stage, in your car, on the radio, and in your living room.

Growing up around the college town of Ithaca, NY you would always hear rumblings of the fabled Pyramid Studios and how all these heavy metal bands from the city would make the five plus hour drive just to record there. A name that was often attached along with that of bands like Anthrax, Testament and Raven was Jonny Z. It wasn’t until sometime later when I myself had the chance to record at Pyramid Studios that I would go back and dig a little deeper in to the lore that surrounds Mr. Jon Zazula. “Heavy Tales” filled in all the gaps, lapses and holes as it is the story right from the horse’s mouth. With the help of Harold Claros-Maldonado, Jon tells you about how his rough upbringing and  keen business sense put him at the fore-front of the heavy metal invasion of the mid-eighties and into early nineties where he help orchestrate the early foundations of cross over Rap-Metal. Just reading the candid stories about Metallica’s early days (Pre-“Master of Puppets”) would have been more than enough for me but Z takes it further recounting numerous concerts, trips and pivotal first time meetings which until now were stories only heard by select few and/or those who lived it.

Counting in at just over 190 pages “Heavy Tales” is a quick read that wastes no time getting to the good stuff. The book and its authors give you just enough background to nicely set the stage for the bulk of each story. I had no problem reading this book in one sitting and the various photographs included in the book were a nice touch. If you grew up during the time period the book covers and was in to heavy metal you undoubtedly have a record that Jonny Z had a hand in and now is your chance to hear his story.

 

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Book Review “The Art of Toy Story 4”

“Toy Story” is a franchise that started Pixar and continues to win the hearts of audiences over 20 years. With the recent release of the latest installment, “Toy Story 4”, that means a new art of book has been released. I still have my “The Art of Toy Story 3” and was just looking through it recently, which is still one of my favorites. This book dives right into the movie and behind-the-scenes content including great concept art, landscapes and character development over the film’s development. If you are of fan of these book and the “Toy Story” franchise, I would definitely recommend checking this out!

Page 4-5 John Lee, digital painting [Bo Peep & Woody]

Official Synopsis: With a story that’s spanned more than 20 years, the adventures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang have captured the hearts of millions. The Art of Toy Story 4 invites readers to explore the next installment of Pixar’s beloved franchise through never-before-seen concept art, character studies, process animation, storyboards, colorscripts, and more. Featuring exclusive interviews with the production team on the making of the film and insights into their creative vision, The Art of Toy Story 4 reveals the vivid imagination that brought this story to life.

“The Art of Toy Story 4” kicks off with a solid introduction from Josh Cooley, who actually directed “Toy Story 4”. Josh also directed “Riley’s First Date”, which was a short film following the film “Inside Out”. He also worked as a story artist on the Academy Award®-winning films The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Up, and Golden Globe®-winning Cars, and served as the story supervisor on Academy Award®-winning Inside Out. I personally was a bigger fan of “Toy Story 3” in terms of favorite films in the franchise but I do feel like he gives a lot of heart to “Toy Story 4” and delivers a solid film.

Pages 108-109 John Lee, digital painting [Buzz at amusement park]

Closing out the book there is a great foreword from the incomparable Annie Potts, who voices ‘Bo Peep’ in “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2”, and returns in “Toy Story 4”. She has appeared in numerous feature films including the “Ghostbusters” franchise, Pretty in Pink, and Corvette Summer for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination. I enjoyed this foreword and it is a great ending to the book given great insight into the role and her involvement with the film. Overall the book is another hit for Chronicle Books, they have been extremely consistent with their “Art of” books and never disappoint.

Pages 124-125 Deanna Marsigliese, digital [Bunny concept art]

Book Review: “For The Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records”

“For The Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records”
Author: Brian Slagel/Mark Eglinton
BMG Books
Trade paperback: 192 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The story of Metal Blade Records is the story of Brian Slagel-a metal-obsessed Southern California kid who launched a fanzine and landed a record store job before cobbling together what he assumed would be a one-off compilation of fledgling bands from the L.A. scene. “For The Sake Of Heaviness” pulls back the curtain to reveal the definitive look at how Metal Blade began, what they’ve accomplished, and where they’re going. With the help of co-writer Mark Eglinton, Brian Slagel invites the reader into a personal conversation about his life’s passion, and the passion that drives Metal Blade-finding, exposing, and promoting the best heavy music on the planet.

We have all probably heard in one form or another the story of how Metallica got their first big break via a compilation put together by a friend of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.  What we haven’t heard until now is the detailed story of the man who made it all happen. Within the pages of “For The Sake of Heaviness” we get an in-depth look at Brian Slagel the fan turned found/owner of one of the premier heavy metal record labels in the world. Over the course of the books 192 pages readers learn about Slagel’s first exposure to music and how a love for all things heavy would land him smack dab in the middle of the early eighties tape trading scene where he would meet a fellow  Danish collector recently transplanted to the Los Angeles area.
Brian and co-author Mark Eglinton do a great job telling the story of Metal Blade providing readers with plenty of detail and lots of stories from the early days of sweating it out in his mothers garage to working with artists like As I Lay Dying, Behemoth and Gwar to name just a few.

“For The Sake of Heaviness” is more than just the story of a guy who started his own record label. Going deeper you see the passion and love Slagel emits and how he took that passion and turned it into the business it is today. As a fan of a lot of the bands who either are currently on the label or have been associated with it in the past hearing stories of how they got to Metal Blade was really enjoyable but where the book really shines is the underlying message of just how far passion, dedication and hard work can get you in life.

Book Review: “The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities” By: Wayne Kramer

“The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities”
Author: Wayne Kramer
Da Capo
Hardcover: 311 pages

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities” is the story of legendary guitarist Wayne Kramer. From his childhood in Detroit where he found inspiration from the likes Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones to his pursuit of “avant rock” with his group the MC5. Released via Da Capo Press “The Hard Stuff” is a 311 page biography recounting a life of rock and roll excess to prison confinement making all stops in between and any there-after.

As gritty as the ground breaking groups music “The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities” is a brutally honest, in-depth look at M5 founding member Wayne Kramer’s life. Told by the man himself Kramer recounts his upbringing in a home with an abusive stepfather and how he channeled his inner frustrations about the world around him into some of the MC5’s most notable material. Though I found the chapters recounting his time with the band the following chapters after the group disbanding was where my attention was really held. Kramer painstakingly tells of his time in prison after a drug bust and the years after in which he struggled with addiction up through reconnecting with his biological father.

“The Hard Stuff” is a roller coaster ride of emotion that keeps the reader interested and turning the pages. Not many people (if any) have had a life like Wayne Kramer and this book makes that abundantly clear. You don’t need to be a fan of Kramer’s music to enjoy this book as the author speaks his truth and does not shy away from darker periods of his life or difficult subject matter. For those hoping to catch the MC5 on the 50th anniversary tour this is the perfect foundation to help connect or reconnect with one of rock music’s most influential artists/groups.

Book Review: “Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal” By: Brian Posehn

“Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal”
Author: Brian Posehn
Da Capo
Hardcover: 304 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Brian Posehn is a successful and instantly recognizable comedian, actor, and writer. He also happens to be a giant nerd. That’s partly because he’s been obsessed with such things as Dungeons & Dragons, comic books, and heavy metal since he was a child; the other part is because he fills out every bit of his 6’7” frame. Brian’s always felt awkward and like a perpetual outsider, but he found his way through the difficulties of growing up by escaping into the worlds of Star Wars, D&D, and comics, and by rocking his face off. “Forever Nerdy” is a celebration of growing up nerdy and different. Being a nerd hasn’t always been easy, but somehow this self-hating nerd who suffered from depression was able to land his dream job, get the girl, and learn to fit in. Kind of.

Those familiar with Brian’s long standing comedic work will surely know what they are getting into even before reading page 1. “Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal” is a fun read chalked full of awkward yet at times relatable experiences of a kid/adult trying to find their place in life. From losing his father at a young age to feeling like an outcast at school Brian tells his story through black horned rim glasses recounting various pivotal moments in his life with his signature dry/slow paced delivery which had me cracking up time and time again. From stories of his mom taking him to see “Jaws” and “Star Wars” to his love of Kiss and comic books Posehn shares these memories in detail making you feel like you too were there. Even with darker subject matter from his childhood Brian’s wit shines though making want to keep reading page after page.

Posehn was a nerd before it was cool and “Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal” is total proof and its nothing to be ashamed of. Chapter after chapter the author keeps you laughing with ho-hum accounts of his life and career and whether you are a fan of his comedy or share a similar taste in pop culture and music this book is for you and/or would make the perfect gift for a loved one this holidays season.

Book Review: “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” by K.K. Downing w/ Mark Eglinton

“Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”
Author: K.K. Downing w/ Mark Eglinton
Da Capo
Hardcover: 277 pages

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

As guitarist for the iconic British heavy metal band Judas Priest, Ken “K.K.” Downing lived the fast-paced, opulent life of a rock star. It was a far cry from his tedious, impoverished childhood in the heart of England. In “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”, Downing recounts his forty-plus years with the band recounting events such as his first meeting with vocalist Rob Halford and guitarist Glen Tipton to stories of touring with bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

There aren’t many music fans out there who can’t name at-least one Judas Priest song. From “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” to “Breaking the Law” the band has a memorable catalog that for many was the soundtrack of their youth. “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” is the chance for fans of the band to see just what was going on behind the scenes during the bands early years and on up through guitarist K.K. Downing’s departure from the group in 2011. Over the course of the books 277 pages the guitarist and his collaborator Mark Eglinton give detailed accounts of the bands formation, the growing pains all new bands go through and what the band was like during the recording of some of the most influential heavy metal records in music history. Downing is candid and no subject seems to be off limits as he recounts his own personal struggles as well as inner turmoil between band members, management and producers giving the reader a fly on the wall perspective that until now was not available.

At times I did find the stories to be a bit drawn out with a few too many “poor me” moments for my liking. Yes this is a memoir/autobiography and those types of things come with the territory however there were some redundancies and details that probably could have been thinned down or omitted completely with a little more editing. Do not get me wrong, the book still has a bunch a really cool moments and stories that aside from the people who lived it have/will never be experienced by most so being able to read about those is worth it. There are also some really great photos included the hardcover book comes with a super cool metallic like slip cover which will look awesome displayed next to other Judas Priest and music memorabilia.

Book Review “The Art and Making of Pacific Rim Uprising”

Author: Daniel Wallace
Foreword: Steven S. DeKnight
Hardcover: 156 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
April 3, 2018

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When I see a specific movie is getting the “Art and Making of” treatment, I always get excited to get to see the film from another view but I get more excited when it is being released by Insight Editions. Insight always gives their releases a little extra. They have fold out posters or little index cards glued to pages to lift and reveal more info, I really enjoy this “gimmick”, if you want to call it that. This adds a whole new interactive level to the book. Personally I wasn’t a huge fan of this film but the book does do the film justice and it is a must have for fans for sure!

“Pacific Rim: Uprising” is a big movie and has a lot of great detail that is showcased in this book and allows you to go deeper into the mythology and world of that the movie continues from the 2013 Guillermo del Toro directed predecessor. If you are looking to be transported behind the scenes and right into the middle of the epic battle between Kaiju and Jaegers then pick up “The Art and Making of Pacific Rim Uprising” because it delivers that…and then on the next page gives blueprints on the robots and CGI breakdown and showcases the beautiful concept art from the film. This book was a page turner for sure or rather hard to turn to the next page because their was so much to look at in detail in each page!

Got excited (and a bit concerned) for a minute that this book was authored by Daniel Wallace, the author of “Big Fish”, which was made into a movie by Tim Burton…but same name different guy. This Daniel Wallace is definitely still the right man for this book. I am well aware of his work in books “Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual History” and “Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History”, which is another amazing book from Insight Editions. Even though, I didn’t love the movie I still really enjoyed the book. The sequel’s director, Steven S. DeKnight, gives a good foreword as well and give wrap-up and I did how he came as a fan of the series to end up directing the next film. This book is jam packed with great images and content. check it fans of “Pacific Rim”.

Book Review: “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” by Scott Ian

“Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life”
Author: Scott Ian
Da Capo
Hardcover: 243 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Anthrax guitarist and co-founder Scott Ian has seen his share of dive hotels, dirty tour buses and decrepit green rooms. “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” is a collection of his craziest stories recounting Ian’s life on the road as a touring musician. Along the way the guitarist shares his experiences and encounters with celebrities like Kirk Hammett, Dimebag Darrell, David Lee Roth and Steven Spielberg to name just a few.

As the follow up to his autobiography “I’m The Man” guitarist Scott Ian takes readers even further into the depths of the heavy metal underworld. Unlike Ian’s first book which was a more biography than tell all where “Access All Areas” is the total opposite recounting in detail some of the writers more interesting encounters. Very rarely do you get to hear let alone read in published form stories like those shared by the veteran guitarist. From his experiences as a Pro Poker player playing alongside Kiss’s Ace Frehley and ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill to a confrontational meeting with REM front man Michael Stipe. Easily my favorite excert from the book was that where Ian sets the record straight about his guest appearance on “Married with Children” which was to include a story line featuring Christina Applegate.

Over the course of “Access All Areas” 243 pages readers are treated to a bevy of laughable stories that have not been shared before. As I made my way through the book I just kept thinking that even having one or two of these experiences in a life time would be enough for most people but to be able to compile enough for a book was mind blowing. Scott Ian has certainly to this point lived quiet an interesting life full of off the wall experiences which he has candidly detailed in this book. You don’t have to be a fan of heavy metal to enjoy this book as there are plenty of other colorful characters outside of the music world that you will surely recognize making “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” a great pickup for any and all.

“Under the Wizard Moon” – A Great Book for Children of All Ages!

Under the Wizard Moon
Author:  Aunt Raini – some illustrations by Nikki D. Caravella
Publisher:  Art Bookbindery
Hardcover – 36 pages
A weaver of dreams.  A talking toad.  And kittens that roam at night.
These are just a few of the magical characters you’ll meet in the new book for children of all ages, “Under the Wizard Moon.”
Full of smartly written poems, and brilliantly illustrated by both the author and PhoenixIllustrations’ Nikki D. Caravella, the stories are fun to read while the brightly colored accompanying illustrations will help describe the story even more.  And while some things may naturally frighten small children, the wordplay used will soon make them friendly and acceptable, an important lesson for children.  Of all ages.
To order a copy of “Under the Wizard Moon,” you can contact her on her Facebook page HERE

Beware the Kitties at Night!

 

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Book Review: “Hit So Hard: A Memoir” By Patty Schemel

“Hit So Hard: A Memoir”
Author: Patty Schemel
Da Capo
Hardcover: 280 pages

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Patty Schemel is a drummer who was at the epicenter of the Seattle grunge scene in the early 1990’s. Schemel is probably best known for her work with the alternative rock band Hole and as a close friend of late Nirvana front-man Kurt Cobain. “Hit So Hard: A Memoir” chronicles the coming of age of a musician and drug addict during her times both on and off the road with a band plagued by tragedy during rock n’ rolls last great era of excess. While never losing her sense of humor Schemel recounts her descent into homelessness and crime and the difficult but rewarding path to sobriety after more than twenty attempts to get clean.

Dominating air waves and headlines around the world in the early 90’s was the Courtney Love fronted band Hole. A band with a volatile mixture of energy, chemicals and attitude who in one moment could provide you with some of the most in your face rock n roll to the next minute being on the verge of imploding like a powder keg. Providing the bands driving back beat and contributing heavily to the four pieces volatile makeup was drummer Patty Schemel. Over the course of “Hit So Hard: A Memoir” 280 pages readers for the first time get the behind the scenes, first-hand account of what made Hole such a great/disfunctional band. Beginning with Schemel’s first introduction to drinking at age 11 and, continuing on through her struggles with sexuality and figuring out just where she fit in the book is a roller-coaster ride of angst and self reflection. From her first meeting with a pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain to sharing a house with him and Courtney Love at the height of Nirvana’s success Schemel is candid with her accounts and does not shy away from the intimate details.

No “Hit So Hard” is not just another tell all memoir about sex, drugs and rock n roll. Yes there is plenty of that in this book yet, now matter how tempting or prevalent those subjects might be they surprisingly take a back seat to Schemel’s unique life story. The authors laid back delivery and word choice draws in the reader’s attention and tows a fine line as to not over sensationalize certain things that may cause readers to lose the point of each passage. This book was a breath of fresh air in the ever growing sea of memoir release and with the holidays right around the corner “Hit So Hard: A Memoir” could be the perfect gift for that music lover and or reader in your life.

Book Review: “Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters”

Author: Amy Davis (Foreword by Barry Levinson)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Hardcover: 302 pages

I think to a certain group of people my age, the movie theatre was an important place in their lives. I often comment to younger people that in the 1970s and 80s, there wasn’t a movie theatre on every other corner and the ones that were there had, at the most six screens. If you were to ask me about a certain movie I saw between 1975-1985, I’m pretty sure I could also tell you what theatre I saw it in.

I should also admit here that I worked in movie theatres, in one job or another, from 1977 to 2003. 11 of those years were spent in Baltimore, where, as a young manager, I worked in theatres ranging from a 900 seat single screen auditorium to a nine-screen multiplex (the largest complex I managed, in Kansas City, had eighteen screens). I can still remember vividly every complex I’ve worked in. Hell, if you asked me today I could tell you exactly how to turn off the lights in each one still.

I highlight Baltimore theatres because this week a beautiful new book, one which takes a look at 72 different movie palaces from Charm City, will be released. Titled “Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters,” the book is a true labor of love by author Amy Davis.

From the earliest nickle-show houses to the current multiplexes, the history of each theatre has been carefully researched. Davis has conducted interviews with the people that not only operated these theatres but frequented them. Two of my dearest friends, D. Edward Vogel and the late Dominic Wagner, share stories of their days working in the grindhouse era. Baltimore-born filmmakers like Barry Levinson and John Waters also comment on their adventures at their neighborhood movie houses. Each story brings another theatre back to life, if only momentarily.

The book also contains over 150 photographs, many in color, showing not only the theatres when they were open and vibrant but how they look today – providing they are still standing. I know for a fact that one of my old theatres is now a Walmart. Another a Kohls. Long gone but never forgotten.

“Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters” is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. For more information, go here.

 

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Book Review: “Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses” by Mick Wall

“Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses”
Author: Mick Wall
Lesser Gods
Hardcover: 432 pages

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Guns N’ Roses exploded during the 80’s glam metal scene and boldly redefined rock ’n’ roll for a new era. Mick Wall met Guns N’ Roses when the band members lived together in Los Angeles and became a part of their inner circle. Thanks to Wall’s longtime friendship and connections with Guns N’ Roses, he conducted exclusive interviews with all the original members and, for the first time, their original managers, who were in the trenches with Guns N’ Roses (from 1986 to 2004). They share all-new revelations about the band’s rock-star debauchery in the studio, on tour and behind the scenes. “Last of the Giants” is a celebration of Guns N’ Roses: the last of the extraordinary, excessive, not-giving-a-shit rock stars.

Imagine you are a fly on the wall during some of the most pivotal and monumental moments during Guns N’ Roses career. Arguably one of the most legendary rock and roll band in the last 3 decades “Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses” is the account of that such fly (Mick Wall). Told through third person accounts and candid interviews with members and associates pass and present “Last of the Giants” is brimming over with behind the scenes stories and fresh interviews which shine new light on the bands fame and persona. Probably my favorite part of the book was amidst the chapters were 28 pages of full color photos highlighting the band at various points. These photos are not the same old reprints we have seen time and time again but new fresh photos that helped accentuate the text before and after each section.

“Last of the Giants” gives readers the inside track via behind the scenes firsthand accounts and through newly conducted interviews with those directly involved in some of the most important moments of the bands career. You get all the details and more in the latest offering from Mick Wall. I think I would have been more in to the book if this was an official release from the band however after reading this book you may understand why something of that nature hasn’t come to fruition. That aside no matter how intense of a G N’R fan you might be “Last of the Giants” is worth checking out.

Book Review: America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World” by Corey Taylor

America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World”
Author: Corey Taylor
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 256 pages

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

In America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World”, Slipknot/Stone Sour lead singer Corey Taylor directs his signature combination of humor and outrage at today’s America, sparing no one along the way. Taylor doesn’t shy away from thorny issues as he draws a brutally honest portrait of his country, outlining the good, the bad, the unflattering and the patriotic. Whether it’s politics or social media, race or pop culture, religion or reality TV, “America 51” digs deep into the roots of contemporary America.

The 4th book from singer turned best-selling author Corey Taylor titled America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World” is easily the brashest in your face collection of rants from the out spoken front-man. Having struggled my way through Taylor’s last two literary offerings l was a touch apprehensive about subjecting myself to another 256 pages of rambling. However being a long time fan of both Slipknot and Stone Sour I was willing to still give this book a shot. Within the first several chapters I could see that this book was going to be just like the others as Taylor becomes so wrapped up in his thoughts that he quickly loses site of the actual. I found this to very distracting and despite Taylor’s off the wall comedic jabs at society and his take on the current political climate there were just too many thoughts going on at one time causing the book to come off as very unorganized and poorly edited.

If you liked Corey’s previous three books then there is no doubt in my mind that “America 51” will fit right in with your collection as by now you have become a custom to the author’s chaotic style. However, if you are looking for this to be your first exposure to Corey Taylor outside of his music then you may want to hold up and check out some of his earlier works first.

Book Review: “From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars” by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

“From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars”
Author: Virginia Hanlon Grohl
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 204 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When Virginia Hanlon Grohl first saw her son perform in front of thousands of screaming fans she knew that rock stardom was meant to be for her son. And as Virginia watched her son’s star rise, she often wondered about the other mothers who raised sons and daughters who became rock stars. Were they as surprised as she was about their children’s fame? Did they worry about their children’s livelihood and wellbeing in an industry fraught with drugs and other dangers? Did they encourage their children’s passions despite the odds against success, or attempt to dissuade them from their grandiose dreams? Do they remind their kids to pack a warm coat when they go on tour?

All those answers and more are contained in “From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars”. Over the course of the books 204 pages you get a unique behind the scenes look like never before. However not from the stars themselves but from their mothers! Yes that’s right their mothers. Along with author Hanlon Grohl own story of motherhood we hear from other moms including Verna Griffin (Dr. Dre), Janis Winehouse (Amy Winehouse), Hester Diamond (Mike D of the Beastie Boys) and Bettye Moses and Harriette Brown (mother & step mother of Zac Brown) as they recount the years before, during and after their sons and daughters became house hold names. I don’t recall a book like this ever being released which adds to the appeal because who is better to ask about those earlier childhood years than one’s own mom.

The candid firsthand accounts are what really kept me turning page after page. “From Cradle to Stage” is a fun, fast read unlike any biography I have come across before. While the book does a great job showcasing several mothers’ journeys its underlying story about the bond between parents and children is its greatest attribute. Not only is this a great read for parents but also for anyone looking for a different look at some of music’s biggest artists and the moms who impacted their lives.

 

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