By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
Editor’s note: This story was originally published by our sister publication www.delcotimes.com
It may not officially turn to summer until June 21, but with temperatures creeping up into the mid-80s, it’s safe to say that it will certainly feel like a change in season has taken place already.
No summer is complete without picking up a book to stretch out with and read on the beach blanket, and luckily for music fans, there are quite a few good ones that have come out in recent weeks. Let’s have a look:
Face the Music: A Life Exposed
Paul Stanley is the final member of the original Kiss lineup to pen an autobiography, and the wait is well worth it. Coming across as the most levelheaded — and clearheaded — of his band mates, Stanley’s story is an honest account of coming up as an insecure child who was born with only one ear but managed to overcome ridicule and become one of the most recognized frontmen in music. He pulls no punches in addressing the bad eggs that either left or were asked to leave the platinum-selling act.
Guitarists Ace Frehley and Vinnie Vincent and drummer Peter Criss, in particular, draw much of Stanley’s ire, but co-founder Gene Simmons doesn’t get off easy either. It’s common knowledge within the Kiss Army community that for almost the entire ’80s, Simmons was more interested in pursuing interests outside the group, like a failed acting career and producer of forgettable outfits like House of Lords and Keel. It was during this time that the weight of Kiss fell upon Stanley’s shoulders as he navigated the band through the suddenly glammed-up rock scene with albums like “Crazy Nights” and “Animalize.”
The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club
Originally published in 2009, “The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club” was finally made available in the States recently. Written by ex-Joy Division and ex-New Order bassist Peter Hook, it details the absolute madness that went into running a nightclub in the mid-’80s through early ’90s U.K., with all of the players involved having zero experience. Hook and his mates managed to get it all wrong amid a cast of gangsters, ecstasy-fueled ravers and the overly watchful eye of local police determined to shutter The Hacienda’s doors for good. The anecdotes Hook provides are terrifying, hilarious and disgusting — sometimes all at once.
Welcome to My Jungle
While not as salacious as one might expect coming from the former personal assistant to Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose, “Welcome to My Jungle” does present a revealing insider’s look into the band at its commercial peak, the two-year- long tour to support the “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II” albums. Duswalt does a fine job describing the insanity that surrounded the group as it traveled the globe, and offers insight into why Axl, who incited a riot and was perpetually late, was so difficult. He also manages to humanize the notorious frontman, who was caught in a whirlwind of groupies, crazed fans and unable to go anywhere in public without getting mobbed.
During the ’80s, while bands like Poison, Ratt and Motley Crue epitomized the sleaze and sin of the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, a band rose up espousing Christianity and a love for Christ. Clad in a now-legendary color scheme — good or bad depending who you ask — of yellow and black, Stryper not only went against the grain, but became extremely successful at doing it.
Michael Sweet was the band’s singer and guitarist, and his tale is anything but rabble-rousing religious raving. Like the title, taken from the band’s biggest hit, the book is an honest portrait of a man who found success, lost it and went through heart-wrenching struggles in an attempt not to reach the top again, but to survive the twists and turns and brick walls that life often presents.
Led Zeppelin: Then As It Was
The expanded re-issues of Led Zeppelin’s first three albums hit shelves June 3, but — focuses on the opposite end of the timeline, with the final two shows the band would ever play in the U.K. with its original lineup intact. Retrospectively looked at as a success, there were nearly 400,000 people in attendance at the two August gigs separated by one week, and noise complaints came in from some seven miles away.
Zeppelin hadn’t performed in the U.K. in four years, and in that time, the punk scene has risen up, leaving stadium-rock acts in the dust, considered dinosaurs by fans and the music press. Led Zeppelin was at the top of the prehistoric list.
There was much to prove, and Dave Lewis, known as one of the premier experts on the band, gives first-hand accounts of the shows as well as accounts from many others who were in attendance. There are also stunning visuals, both professional and amateur, that document the concerts and the bedlam in the audience, many of whom had camped out in the English countryside before being let in.
Admittedly nervous, the band managed to pull both shows off to varying reviews. Some, including Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, called the group “rusty.” But the dates were one of those events that got better as the years have gone on, like Woodstock.
Immediately following Knebworth, the future for Zeppelin remained murky as ever, with a tour through the rest of Europe the following summer establishing that the group was still a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, drummer John Bonham died that September and put an end to any further recording or live performances.
To contact Michael Christopher, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out his blog at www.delcotimes.com