Category Archives: ROCK 101

Books that Rock…nothin more,nuthin less!

The Decade That Rocked: Mark Weiss

This is a book I have been watching on Amazon for a while. Mark Weiss is one hell of a photographer and he captures the 80’s brilliantly in his book “The Decade That Rocked”.

This book for me is a must own as Mark’s pictures tell a 1000 stories as he goes through his photos by each year in the 80’s so it’s basically formatted like a coffee table scrap book.

Before I go any further, you can read about Weiss here…

Damn straight, Mark’s photos crafted the visual imagery of rock and metal in the 1980’s!

At almost 400 pages you not only get the pictures but also get the backstories about a lot of the pictures that Mark captured.

Also a real selling point is the photos many I have never seen before the Mighty VH picture below…

Course what rock phot book would not have KISS and Aerosmith  in it?

Such a killer book and once you crack it open you can’t put it down. Many of the pics fold out as well…

One of my favourite pics is in black and white and features a female fan taken at a Dokken show and thanks to her she might have been the first person in the 80s to coin the term ‘Hair Metal” by actually holding a brush and throwing the devil horns at the same time! LOL

If you want a great read to go back and see what went on with the bands back a decades ago than grab “The Decade That Rocked” as these pictures and this book will Rock You!

deKe’s book score …..10/10!

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades: John Corabi (2022)


So when you get relieved of your rock n roll duty at fronting a popular band that has hit rough waters what does one do?

In the case of former Motley Crue singer John Corabi you drive truck. True story folk’s as John became a trucker driving an semi tractor trailer all across America.

Those kind of stories and more are talked about in “Horseshoes & Hand Grenades” which across the 400 plus pages Corabi tells it how he saw it.

Like any bio out there you get the lowdown on John from his upbringing in Philadelphia to of course when he first discovered music watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

From John fronting his own band “Angora” in Philly to getting in the mid to late 80’s offers to join Cinderella and Skid Row.

The book also focuses on a theme and that is timing. John candidly writes about moving away from Philly to go to L.A (like many did) and watching from afar Cinderella get signed and take off like a rocket back in ’86 with “Night Songs” back home in Philly.

“The Scream” a band John fronted for a few years did  get that break when they were signed to a major label only to have Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) acknowledge in Spin Magazine that “The Scream” was one of Sixx’s favourite albums back in ’92.

Corabi reached out back to Sixx to thank him and had no idea an audition was about to happen in February ’92 when the Crue sacked Vince Neil.

Course the whole Crue story is told from his angle and is done respectfully and it takes up a good portion of the book.

When Motley Crue released the self titled Corabi  release in March ’94 the album debuted at #7 on the charts (which was deemed a failure by everyone at the record company) to low ticket sales for the tour which of course everyone finger pointed at John’s direction as too why it failed.

In reading the Crue chapters you get the understanding that Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee could not figure out what  was going on as they continually bemoaned the fact that during the tour when they would play to 2500 people a night in an arena that held 15,000 the same building that four years earlier they sold out twice on the “Dr. Feelgood” tour. It messed them up to say the least.

As John explains the whole marketing team behind the Crue were fired (like 42 people) and by the Crue themselves pissing off interviewers at the time did not help the cause as well.

Remember I mentioned timing well same thing in the Crue. You get the winning lottery ticket to front one the biggest bands from the ’80s yet Grunge came along and derailed all that…

Motley Crue the album was dead in the water and when it came time to record the follow up, Elektra Records wanted to make money so they wanted Vince Neil  back so John got let go but still continued to work with them through the recording process which John says was a complete shit show.

John does state matter of factly that it fucked with his head how the Crue could treat him like a king at the start and yet five years later they didn’t want anything to do with him.

Corabi goes on to form Union with x-KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick and after getting hosed by an accountant and not making much money they decided to stop Union. Napster played a part in it as well.

I could give away more as there is a ton of great stories and of course after Crue and Union, John joined RATT to play guitar. More dysfunction as well as John says there is more dysfunction in RATT than there was in Motley! That is saying something.

John Corabi is still out there doing it and for that you have to respect him as he could have easily given up time and time again yet through failed personal relationships, drugs( his own son’s heroin addiction) marriages, cranky cops and customs officials  and getting ripped off at times, John just kept going..

For that…


deKe’s Book score of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades- 9/10


KISS: The Early Years Photography By Waring Abbott (2002)

Waring Abbott was one of the first guys on the scene to photograph KISS from 1974 til 1981 (which is the years this book focuses on) and in the 200 pages that make up “The Early Years” Waring got some great shots of a band on it’s rise (1974) to the band on a bit of demise once 1981 rolled around.

Ton’s of great photo’s many which I have never seen are shown thoroughout the glossy pages of “The Early Years”.

Look at the Demon standing there scoping the crowd looking to find some female friends to meet in the  “Ladies Room!”

Below is a great shot of KISS at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

This has to be one of my favourite shots of Ace (below) all snapped up on vices and laying down the law on his Gibson!

What was a selling feature for me was the inclusion of photos from “The Elder” era. KISS back then never had any trouble getting it on with a camera now did they?

Interesting to see this shot with Ace and when you flip the pages of The Early Years here’s KISS as a three piece as Ace went bonkers!

Nice to see Eric Carr featured in many of the The Elder shots in this book!

So this book of course was done hand in hand with Gene and Paul so it’s their quotes in this book and only their quotes as Ace and Peter are nowhere to be found=SHOCKER!

Ace has many photos of him this book but Peter Criss got the shaft here folk as he’s pretty much only in full band and live shots.

At times Demon and Starchild get a little nutty over there ex drummer which is a shame.

So thats the knock on this book. Paul and Gene had full control and what they say goes.

deKe’s Early Years Rating of the layout and pics in the book- 8/10

deKe’s Early Years Rating of Gene and Paul calling the shots-6/10




Judas Priest: A Visual Biography by Martin Popoff (2022)

Martin Popoff has put together a fantastic visual biography on Judas Priest .

Spread out over 225 pages in a hard cover coffee table like format, Martin has pulled out all the stops in this stunning visual of the Metal Gods from Birmingham England.

By the way, this band has been going for 53 years!

“A Visual Biography” starts from the origins of Priest in the  late 60’s all the way up to October 2021 and all points in between!

By that I mean Martin has covered all eras of Priest. The Ripper Owens era is covered as is Halford’s band Fight even KK Downing’s new unit (with Ripper on vocals) KK’s Priest is in this book!

More value, bang for the buck…

I have to add the layout of this book is stellar. The book has a ton of album adds, ticket stubs,45 rpm singles as well as facts written about each album and each tour.

Since “Point of Entry” is one of my favourite Priest albums, here are pics so you can see for yourself the detail that Martin has put into each chapter year by year.

Here’s some more for ya!

What else that is really cool is each live shot is dated from where the picture was taken like the “Point of Entry Tour” from Maryland back in 1981.

Being a Canuck, I had to feature a shot taken from Maple Leaf Gardens during the “World Vengeance Tour” stop in Toronto.

Special thanks to all the photographers that contributed there fine live shot’s of Priest throughout not only the years but the decades as well.

In closing….

My favourite era of Priest is from ’79 through to ’87 and this book is worth the money for that time period alone which is a great flashback.

Better yet…. I can officially announce here at the blog that Martin will be hoping on “Scotch On The Rocks” Wednesday April 20th at 6pm EST. We are going to throw it down in regards to “Judas Priest: A Visual Biography”.

Check out Martins website by clicking below for ordering info and check out all of Mr. Popoff’s books as well!



I just received in my mailbox the other day Issue #30 of Rock Candy Magazine.

As you can see KISS is featured on the cover where Gene and Paul talk about the 45th Anniversary Reissue of the classic “Destroyer” album. A pretty good read of the “Destroyer” record spread out over 10 pages.

Joey Tempest and Ian Haughland  from Europe rewind back in time to 1986 where they talk in-depth about the writing/recording of “The Final Countdown” which of course was a huge seller. Ketchup bottle not included!

Crazy to think that the Scorpions are well into there fifth decade of making music where in the pages of Issue #30  Klaus, Rudolf and Matthias discuss not only there past 50 years in music while also talking in length of there soon to be current release “Rock Believer” which I’m actually interested in hearing.

Rock Candy in every issue ( I can say that as I own them all) always features a couple of interviews that go to that next level.

This issue is no exception as Scott Ian and John Bush discuss what happened during Bush’s tenure as lead vocalist after Anthrax sacked original singer Joey Belladonna back in ’92. Some real great insight on the inner workings when a band’s sales and tour attendances  start to drop..

What I would consider one of the best  reads in this issue is the interview with Larry Mazer.

Who is Larry Mazer you ask?

Well, he was originally Cinderella’s manager (amongst others) as  he was brought onboard to manage the business for KISS back in 1989 which lasted until 1994 when Mazer walked away as Gene and Paul wanted to cut his commission.

Speaking of Gene, Larry talks candidly about Gene Simmons saying that the Demon was originally out to sign Cinderella back in 85 but as we know Gene wanted a cut in the publishing. merchandise you name it Genie wanted it but Tom Keifer politely declined.

Mazer also discusses managing that wing-nut Yngwie Malmsteem whom Larry managed for only a year back in ’88 when Joe Lynn Tuner fronted the band vocally.  After a year of dealing with Malmsteem,  Mazer quit as he said it was to chaotic.

If you come across this issue at your book store pick it up. Some great stuff in these pages.



UNSPOOLED: An Adventure In 8-Tracks by Tim Durling

Make no bones about it folks, Tim Durling is a huge music fan. So much so that he decided to write a book on that long lost format known as the 8-Track.


It must have been about half a year ago that I read that Tim started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for  “Unspooled” to be published in hard and soft cover form. I’m always up for supporting anyone local whose trying to do something   that they believe in.

Now when I say local, Tim is in New Brunswick and I’m in Ontario but regardless I’m supporting someone who is taking a major undertaking in releasing a book that they are passionate about. Plus Tim’s a fellow Canuck! So I consider him local.

Let’s rewind for a minute..

I  have only ever owned one single 8-Track in my life (Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses”) It was vinyl from the start with the odd cassette tape thrown in and as the 80s progressed I got into CD’s and gave up on vinyl (my bad!) but once I hit 50 years young four years ago it was time for a vinyl resurgence in my world.

My earliest recollection of an 8-Track was my parents who at the tail end of the 70’s had ABBA (and a bunch of country artist’s) and I never understood the whole deal of the 8-Track kicking out, clicking and than the song continuing. In case you are wondering why I had only “Glass Houses” on 8-Track the answer is that my parents had joined Columbia House and decided to let me pick out a selection. For some reason I could not find any KISS/Cheap Trick/Judas Priest 8-Tracks as those were my go to bands in 1980.

Remember those Columbia House adds? I do as they would come in Saturdays newspaper as a supplement here in Thunder Bay.

My pal Chico was the first guy who had a copy of AC/DC’s “Back In Black” on 8-track and I still recall this day sitting in his parents car (we were only 13 at the time in 1980) and blasting “Black In Black” in its entirety on the tape deck inside the vehicle.

It was all about the discovery of music back then as a pre teen!

Man, I miss those days…

Fast forward to the present…

So this past week “Unspooled” was delivered to my  mailbox. For someone (moi) who never bought into this 8- Track concept, I love this book as Tim does a deep dive into his  collection as he goes from the years 1981-1988. So cool to see a ton of photos of all kinds of what are now considered Classic Rock artists/bands in these pages and the stories that are behind them.

How about coming across a garbage bag that was headed for the dump that had a copy of Van Halen’s second release along with Kansas in it.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Tons of info regarding many artists and bands and what a great layout this book is as well as you know Tim put a real labour of love into the making of this project.  So much so that he had Martin Popoff write the forword and you know Martin would not put his name to it if he didn’t believe  in it.

Spread out over 190 pages I’m really enjoying reading the backstory on a format I ignored over four decades ago as it’s really cool to see one man’s passion to put together a project that means lots to him.

I have to add that Tim was very hands on at keeping everyone updated on “Unspooled” through his Kickstarter page. He even sent a full PDF file as the book went to print. Great job Sir!

Yes Tim, Blame it on Journey!




Aerosmith: On Tour, 1973-85 by Julian Gill

As a hard rock fan I have enjoyed these kind of books that are filled with stat’s including attendances ,concert grosses, set list, reviews and other facts.

Speaking of concert reviews. Amazing that with all the snippets of concert reviews that are featured every newspaper critic reviewer has to compare Tyler to Jagger and Aero to the Stones. If I’m a betting man I’m sure this drove Steven bonkers!

Julian Gill covers those bases and more with his latest book Aerosmith: On Tour, 1973-85 which goes into great detail all the tours that Bostons finest has done since ’73 (There are even shows listed from ’71).

Gill does his homework and this 600 page plus book delivers on all fronts. The layout and pic’s and concert adds are so well done as back in ’77 you could see Aero live for $6.50!

Each chapter features every Aero album from the debut(’73) all the way to “Rock In A Hard Place” (’82) which  is written about as well as the stories behind it. Chart positions and certifications are documented in this book for each album.

Amazing that Aero was always a great road draw in the ’70s considering they postponed a lot of shows and what even surprised me was that when Joe Perry and Brad Whitford had left Aero that ’82’s Rock In A Hard Place Tour pulled in some better than expected attendance.

Nice to get the back story on the all time Aero classic “Live Bootleg”. Back in ’78 Columbia Records was not happy with how the album sounded but when I heard Bootleg for the first time back in the summer of’81. I was hooked by what I had heard and to this day it still remains my all time Number 1 Live Record.

Gill even goes into the Joe Perry Project albums and tours as well after Joe split from Aerosmith and it’s a great read on those three JPP records as there is not too much info floating around on those albums. Gill gives a bunch of pages in regards on the Project which was a real surprise when I cracked this book open.

I also should mention that the Whitford/St. Holmes album from 1981 is featured and written about as well. No stone is left unturned so to speak.

Amazon has this book for $40 which is a steal for the amount of Aero-info that is stuffed in this book.

Eruption: Conversations With Eddie Van Halen (2021)

Brad Tolinski and Chris Gill have compiled over 50 hours of interviews over the years (beginning in the late 80s) with Eddie Van Halen and have over the course of 336 pages let Eddie do the talking about all things Van Halen.

Eruption: Conversations With Eddie Van Halen is a fascinating read as you get what Eddie talking shop with Eddie as he talks about the various producers VH has worked with over the years (Templeman, Fairbairn, Johns, Post and Shanks).

And yes there is the fallout with the singers that being David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar.

Lots of guitar talk as well but for me the real deal in regards to this book were new interviews with Michael Anthony, Gary Cherone, Ray Danniels (worth the price of the book alone), Steve Lukather and Steve Vai.

Also the book has a bunch of unreleased photos which adds to its value.

By reading what is on these pages you can understand that Eddie was comfortable talking to both Tolinski and Gill as they both wrote for guitar magazines so that helps the vibe in this book.

Must read!

Richard Marx: Stories To Tell (2021)

Social media is a funny thing I tell ya. Twitter I like as the tweets are short (just like my memory) and some people can be brutal especially towards celebrities and well anyone in the spotlight.

About a year ago I was cruising  the Twitter feed when Can-Rock guy “Danko Jones” retweeted a tweet by Richard Marx where a smart ass made an off handed remark about Marx’s music and Marx well see for yourself Richards response.

Marx has always been on my radar as I thought his song “Don’t Mean Nothing” was a great track that the Eagles had wish they had written! (more on that later).

So about a month ago here comes another rock memoir now written by the man himself.  I thought of that tweet from Richard a year earlier and how Danko himself  said that ‘Marx is a savage on Twitter” and I thought perhaps, maybe I will think about picking this book up at some point.

Than I read an on-line excerpt from the book about when Marx and his band played Taiwan back in 1990. Some of Richards band and entourage were taken at gun point by the Chinese Mafia over a cancelled outdoor show (stage was flooded by rain )and to not give away the whole story the band made it out alive but not before one of the engines on the airplane caught fire  out of Taiwan and they had to make an emergency landing in Hawaii!

Holy Hell…I need to read this book ASAP as Axl Rose would have killed for this kind of press back in ’90.

Since I had a couple of weeks off from work what better time to read a bio about a rocker that I have heard by name have not really listened to him musically.

“Stories To Tell” I have to say is one the better rock bios out there to read. Like the fantastic Steve Gorman”Hard To Handle” book from last year, Richard talks bit about growing up but its not chapter after chapter on his personal life growing up.

What I would consider a brilliant move Richard talks a lot about music and you would be amazed at the artists that he has worked with.

Starting back in college when a friend knew a friend who gave a friend Marx’s four song cassette demo tape to Lionel Richie who in turn gave Richard his first shot at studio experience  on singing backing vocals on Lionels solo albums and the big single “All Night Long”.

Form there it was off through Richie’s connection and a writing session with Kenny Rogers who wanted to hear a ballad from Richard who played him “Crazy” which Kenny loved.

Kenny added two words to “Crazy” .When all was said and done,  Rogers got a 50-50 cowriting credit for contributing two words!

Welcome To The Music Biz!

Some other real cool stories about 3 guys from The Eagles showing up to provide backing vocals and Joe Walsh adding his sound on  guitar to the track.

Marx has also issued a Greatest Hits album release titled “Stories To Tell: Greatest Hits And More” as I was reading the book I would cue up Amazon Music and listen to the song as Marx talks a lot about recording songs and the stories behind them in the book.  A real cool tie in with book and the music.

R.E.O Speedwagon was a band that Marx got along with while he opened up for the Speedwagoner’s back in ’87 while he also writes about opening for Nightranger around the same time a band that didn’t go out of there way to make him or his band feel welcome!

Some great stories about how much his family means to him and kudos to the fact that considering he got divorced after 25 years of marriage he’s still friends with his first wife.

I could go on…

This book has a great flow as Richard keeps the stories coming and there are many and if you are looking for dirt there  isn’t as Marx has a great knack at keeping you the reader engaged.

A Must Read!



STILL COMPETITION: The Listener’s Guide to Cheap Trick: by Robert Lawson

This Friday night on the Lebrain Train at 7pm we will be talking to book author Robert Lawson who has written the ultimate recording history of Cheap Trick titled “Still Competition”.

Needless to say we will be doing a deep dive into the Cheap Trick albums as well as focusing on Roberts other two books, Razama-Snaz which details the recorded output of Nazareth and Robert’s recently released book “Wheatfield Empire”: Listeners Guide to The Guess Who.

Over the course of the book’s 261 pages, Robert digs deep going way back to 1967 when the band with various Trick members started as the “Grim Reapers”.

22 Trick albums are fully written about as well as Robin Zander’s two solo albums that came and went without notice as well as compilations that former drummer Bun E Carlos has put together over the years are examined thoroughly.

Each album is broken down into four sections. Background, Videos, Release And Reception, Reissues- Remasters and Re-Recordings.

Such a great breakdown of each album. No stone is left unturned as I even discovered things that Robert put in this book that I had no idea about and I’ve been listening to Cheap Trick since 1979!

Robert did his homework here folks, and one of the best things I can say about “Still Competition” is when Cheap Trick had an album that was iffy at best Robert says so.

No sugercoating!

From a personal standpoint I look forward to yacking with the guys about “The Doctor” release from 86!

It’s going to be a great chat Friday night with Robert and you can pick up his books at Amazon for a very good price!