Category Archives: ROCK 101

Books that Rock…nothin more,nuthin less!

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!

Music Express: The Rise,Fall & Resurrection OF Canada’s Music Magazine by Keith Sharp

I’m sure you have noticed at times that I have mentioned the Canadian Music Magazine Music Express when writing up can-con acts as well as world wide acts.

“Music Express” was a great monthly read as they covered all the bases nationally and locally and I always looked forward to picking up a copy at the local record shops for FREE!

That’s right folk’s it was FREE! I even subscribed to it as it was cheap even for the subscription.

Keith Sharp is not only the author of this book but he was the one who started the magazine out of Calgary in the mid-’70s then called Alberta “Rock Express”.

Early interviews with guys like Randy Bachman, Gene Simmons, Dan McCafferty put Sharp on the map and from there a move to Toronto was in the cards.

Once in Toronto things began to take off as Music Express monthly interviewed all the big hitters when they rolled through Toronto.

The magazine was always a great read as they would not only feature Canuck artists/ bands but international heavy hitters at the time like Bowie, Duran Duran, Madonna etc.

One of the bands that Sharp became friendly with over the years was Iron Maiden who were always featured in its pages along with other hard rock acts like Helix, Triumph to name just but a few.

I have to add here that “Music Express” turned me onto bands like Santers, Coney Hatch and even Motley Crue who were featured back in 1981!

As the the 80’s were ending and the 90’s were looming distribution expanded into the United States, with an American edition. It was distributed through exclusive deals with various record chains.

Losing its distribution companies in the early 90’s the magazine was renamed “Impact” in 1993 and finally in 1996 then another name change to “Access”.

Music Express back in the day was a magazine I always looked forward to receiving all those years ago monthly in my mailbox as they kept me updated on the music scene not only here in Canada but throughout the world.

Better yet the magazine is online now. Click the link below and check it out.

https://themusicexpress.ca

They Just Seem A Little Weird-Doug Brod (2021)

What do KISS, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick and Starz have in common?

Lot’s.

Doug Brod interviewed over 130 people for this book titled “They Just Seem A Little Weird” is the story of how all four of the bands careers have all at one time or another have crossed paths with each other.

Let me try and explain it you all…

Brod goes about the backstory about each band and as I’m a KISS, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith fan already I knew most of the early history but Starz was a band I was not familiar with so that was an intriguing factor also.

All four bands are connected one way or another. KISS and Aerosmith began a love/hate relationship that goes back to playing shows together in the early 70s (more on that later) as Cheap Trick has connection with both KISS and Aerosmith.

The connection between the four acts are Aerosmith recorded a few albums with producer Jack Douglas as Cheap Trick also used Jack Douglas as a producer on the self titled Trick debut as did Starz as well on there debut.

Brod writes about the time that when KISS released the “Destroyer” album in 76 they were freaked out that it wasn’t selling as well as it should have and they at one point considered bringing in Douglas to remix it.

“Beth” was then released as a KISS single and the remixing idea went away as “Destroyer” began selling.

Cheap Trick opened for KISS on the 1977 Can-Am Tour.

Starz was a signing to Casablanca Records as they had KISS manager Bill Aucoin handling their business affairs. (more on that later).

Starz as you know never got off the ground. Radio turned a blind eye and guitarist Richie Ranno in the book talks about one huge radio programming guy back in the late 70s who wouldn’t let Starz get radio play so they never sold that many records.

Bun E Carlo’s (ex Cheap Trick) gives some great inside about touring with Aerosmith as when opening for the Boston boys a bunch of shows were cancelled as Aero singer Steve Tyler blew out a blood vessel yelling at his road crew backstage which resulted in Cheap Trick losing out on a lot of money.

When the tour was about to resume Cheap Trick took out an insurance policy out on Aerosmith that if anything happened to the tour Cheap Trick would get paid.

Aerosmith cancelled the whole tour. Cheap Trick got paid.

KISS and Aerosmith toured together back in 2003. Steve Tyler did not want to do the tour for a couple of reasons.

One being that Tyler since the 70s does not like KISS and would only do the tour if KISS had 3/4’s of the original band together.

In 2003, KISS was using Tommy Thayer to play the role of departed guitarist Ace Frehley while Eric Singer was the drummer.

KISS asked Ace. Spaceman said no. So KISS asked Peter Criss back. Gene and Paul paid Criss $10,000 a show to play but when Criss seen how much money the shows were generating he was pissed.

Aerosmith also would only do the tour if they closed the show saying that they were not going to open for a band that didn’t feature all original members. In other words Aerosmith didn’t want to open for a tribute act.

Ego’s,Ego’s, Ego’s…

Cheap Trick as well had their issues back in 1980 when bassist Tom Petersson left at the peak of their career as Tom married a model who was his manager and basically ran Tom’s career into the ground.

Starz are the tough luck act. Never really got anywhere successfully as the other three acts as Aucoin and radio never really gave them the chance but Bill did manage to leave all the members of Starz with huge tax bills in the 80s which came out of nowhere if you were to ask Ranno about it.

Starz got the raw deal. Short end of the stick.

Brod does a fantastic job at weaving the story of four bands that came out at the same time and and telling the tale of all the behind the scenes stuff that make books like “They Just Seem A Little Weird” a great read.

KISS-DYNAMITE COMICS

I won’t be fooling anyone in saying I collect comics. I don’t but for my 50th a couple of my friends picked me up a set of KISS comics. 10 in total which is cool to have as this is basically my comic book collection.

KISS Dynamite is comic series which I think may still be in print. Not to sure about that but the ones I got are kinda neat.

KISS Dynamite features a storyline written by Amy Chu and all the illustrations are by Kewber Baal and better yet this has the seal of approval of Gene Klein and Stan Eisen.

Below I nicked this paragraph from mycomicbookshop.com

Written by Amy Chu. Art by Kewber Baal. Cover by Goni Montes. KISS is back! Back to the FUTURE in this dark sci-fi adventure. In a world without sun and a world without heroes, four young friends embark on a dangerous mission – to uncover the truth about the mysterious Council of Elders and their underground home, the city of Blackwell. But first they need some help from the past… ‘What is the power of KISS?

Each issue is 32 pages(well the ones I have that is) and the artwork is very good and detailed. You can buy these issues online for $4 or less but if anything it’s a neat thing to own.

Nothin’ But A Good Time(2021)


“Nothin’ But A Good Time” is a great nostalgic read in which over the 500 or so pages of the book you get a great feel for what really went on during the 80’s along the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

Authors Tom Beaujour and Richard Beinstock did their homework as all the bases are covered in this fascinating spin of what went down on those street corners and bars like the Whiskey, Gazarri’s and many others.

The authors did a bang up job at interviewing tons of bands, artists who give a firsthand account of what all the acts were doing to get noticed to land that sacred recording contract.

Tons of info in this book as its all new interviews with so many bands even Nelson are featured!

Nothin’ But A Good Time goes from the beginning of the 80’s when Motley Crue made a name for themselves playing the LA circuit along with Quiet Riot and others.

Ladano’s homeboy Sweet from Stryper is waving at him.

As the 80s get going than of course comes RATT, WASP and a ton of others. The great thing is this book uncovers a ton of info and backstage stuff I had no idea about.

Case in point…

The business side of things though always seems to interfere with the artists whether it’s a bad deal or management issues. Here’s a snippet from the book quoting those fun loving dudes known as Winger talking about the biz involving there association with producer Beau Hill.

I could tell you about a hundred stories from this book like the time back in late 82 when both George Lynch and Jake E Lee where up for the guitar spot in Ozzy Osbourne band.

Lynch thought he had the gig all sewn up so when it came down to the decision both George and Jake were present at the rehearsal hall when Ozzy walked up to George to tell him he was out and Jake was in. Jake and George were both standing they’re side by side when Ozzy broke the news and then walked away.

Awkward!

Highly recommended read!

Rock Candy Magazine: Dec 2020/January 2021 Issue

I have not done a “Rock Candy Magazine” review in a bit. As you already know I’m a huge fan of this magazine as it features a bunch of those brilliant Kerrang writers from the ’80s.

Since I have a tie-in with a review coming up that is featured in this issue I thought “Oh what the hell”.

Who that band or artist you ask?  Well, you will have to wait a few days to find out. How’s that for a cheap plug! 

Rock Candy is up to Issue 23 now (Yup I have all 23) and as always the writers have stepped up.

By checking out the cover above you can see all the musical goodies that are inside.

First of all, is a 10-page tribute to Eddie Van Halen which is very well done. 

“Yes” is the main focal point here and it’s a great read as there are new interviews with Trevor Rabin and Jon Anderson on the making of the mega-selling “901025” release back in 1984.

Pretty cool interview with Snake Sabo from Skid Row as he talks about recording the brilliant “Slave To The Grind” release. In what will come as no surprise to anyone they were having trouble with Bach already. lol

Rick Allen from Def Leppard discusses quite openly what he went through on that night of his accident and the amazing perseverance he went through to get back into the studio to finish Hysteria.

Look at that pic above it’s Ladano’s fav Bible Belters Stryper in which Micheal Sweet talks about the success and hassles of being well…Stryper!

Now the Award for best picture (see below) in this issue of Rock Candy goes to! Drum roll, please! 

Bam! That my friends is the one and only Pat Benetar! Wowzers what a great-looking woman and R.C take an in-depth look at all the shit and hassle Pat took in the late 70’s and early 80’s on getting her music out there in a male-dominated business!

Pat had to deal with a lot of creeps but guitarist Neil Giraldo as we all know together had a bunch of great selling albums and huge singles during the roaring ’80s.

Something I didn’t know is that Giraldo played lead guitar on Rick Springfields “Working Glass Dog”. Yup, that’s Neil on “Jessie’s Girl”.

Rock Candy never disappoints as they always make each issue interesting and #23 is no exception!

KISS: Alive And Forever (2002)

For many KISS “Alive Forever” put together by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs is the Holy Grail of the painted one’s touring history.

Released back in 2002 “KISS Alive Forever” has been out of print since then.

Copies of this paperback book are going anywhere from $134 to $600 Canadian.

That’s crazy but there are fans I’m sure would and will pay this price!

I’m not one of them…

In saying that, a move I normally don’t do I was actually surfing iBooks through Apple, and for some reason, I typed in KISS.

In the midst of other KISS books on the market, there was Alive Forever in digital form for $25. 

Still a little steep for me for a digital copy but compared to the prices mentioned above 25 bucks was cheap.

So I bought the digital copy.

So if you read my post the other day on the Julian Gill “KISS On Tour 2020” Gill right off the bat mentions that “Alive And Forever” is the holy grail of KISS Books.

The difference between the two is that Gill features no interviews with people involved with KISS at various points during there touring history whereas Gooch and Suhs do interview a ton of people involved with KISS except KISS themselves (SHOCKER)

(check out that pic of Gene’s hair catching on fire in Ottawa Ontario back in 1975)

The authors did their homework, big time!

This book took over 7 years of research as the authors sifted over 10,000 pictures (200 are in the book)  and as I mentioned interviews by the people that were there at various points during Kiss touring history.

That’s the clincher and is the selling point of this book as you get the scoop from everyone involved in KISS including roadies, wardrobe consultants, bands that opened for KISS, and stories of KISS spending habits that got them into trouble in the 80s, as well as a hidden off the stage keyboard/sample fella named Gary Corbett(more on him shortly) who was with KISS during the late 80s.

The best part of the book I find is that whole 1980-1992 era of KISS when record sales were dipping and Stanley and Simmons were in mid life crisis mode! Not that they would ever admit to it but I will say I enjoyed it.

During that era especially starting at the 1981-83 period KISS was crumbling. If you click the post above (The one with the pic of ACE you will see for yourself KISS was in trouble) you get a sense of how business was being run. 

The best part is how KISS made Ace seem like a part of the band when he wasn’t as their record contract would be void and would have to be renegotiated which did indeed happen and Gene and Paul took a hit financially at the time. 

How about KISS management in early 88 telling Gene and Paul to chill out on the spending as the debts were mounting. What does KISS do? They fire management and hire Stanleys shrink for a short time to run the band.

Gary Corbett as I mentioned adds some great insight into being the hired gun to play keyboards, backing vocals, and samples on the Crazy Nights Tour.

Corbett says at one point during the Crazy Nights tour KISS would send him home as tickets weren’t selling in some markets to save money and when they would play the bigger markets the call would come to Gary to show up.

One interesting story that appeared in this book and along with the Gill “KISS On Tour 2020” was back in late 1989 when KISS released “Hot In The Shade” album and wanted to tour to plug the album. 

The only problem was the promoters were not biting on a KISS tour. At one point a promoter offered a theatre tour to KISS as they felt the demand wasn’t there for an arena run. 

But..

Out came the single ‘Forever’ and it went Top 10 and guess what? The promoters came knocking  for arena dates and KISS did the smart thing by taking on two hot current bands as opener at the time, that being Slaughter and Winger who were selling platinum so Gene and Paul knowing this would help the cause in selling tickets took the plunge and it worked as it was the best selling KISS tour ticket wise since 1979’s Dynasty Tour.

Once 1996 rolls around the makeup goes back on and the original four are back. But by 2000 that’s over as Peter is given his pink slip read the post below.

What better way than Peter knowing he’s gone than to trash his drumkit at the end of his last show at the time! 

You cannot make this kind of shit up!

My apologies for the scans as it was a pain to do it this way but I wanted to show you all how the format of the book looked like.

Now here is something cool. Now it’s common knowledge that if you are a KISS fan the Creatures of the Night Tour was a flop. A lot of has been made of that but in this book well take a look below…

Gooch and Suhs calculated the Top 5 least attended tours. 

Here friends is the proof that 1992’s Revenge Tour and 1983’s Lick It Up Tours drew fewer fans per show than 1982’s Creatures of the Night Tour.

I knew the Revenge tour was iffy at best but what surprised me was all the hoopla that was made by KISS ditching the makeup in 83 putting out a good album in Lick It Up that went Gold yet the tour before it (Creatures) had an album that sold less yet more people attended the shows.

KISS fans are a funny bunch. Myself included.

The only real knock I have on this is the mistakes in writing which surprised me as did they not have an Editor?

But in a way that’s cool as the sloppy writing reminds me of my blog!

In having said that…

“KISS: Alive Forever” was a great read. I would have preferred a paperback copy but you sometimes have to do what ya gotta do.

Seek this one out!

 

 

 

KISS: On Tour 2020 Edition

Julian Gill has put together a massive book that has all of the KISS Tour Dates from 1972 to 2020.

This book is filled with a ton of info and I have always been a geek with this kind of stuff. Tour dates/attendance and how much money was made.

Unlike RUSH who authorized their awesome book on this format a few years ago (“Wandering The Face of the Earth”) dealing with KISS, on the other hand, you won’t get any official stuff like this from them but what you will get are some hardcore fans putting these books together and releasing them.

Gill over the course of 700 plus pages in this book has listed as much info as possible on every possible KISS show from the beginning which was November 1972 when Gene, Paul, and Peter auditioned as a three-piece for Epic Records. 

Did you know that? I sure didn’t. It’s stuff like that which is very interesting to me. 

Each tour is documented by a writeup which leads to all the dates for that year.  Example ‘Rock N Roll Over Tour’ and the amount of touring they did behind it. 

What is fascinating is not so much the KISS glory years on the road (1975-79) but those tours starting from the aborted American Tours for both 1980’s “Unmasked” and  1981″The Elder” releases as in the United States those albums that were deemed flops.

KISS did a tour in 1980 as they went to Australia where it was mass hysteria as both the Unmasked album and single Shandi were riding high on the charts.

Where this book comes in as a great read is that the KISS shows made 3 million dollars on that Australian tour which is a ton of money but the promoter still lost $250,000 grand on the tour as KISS showed up with an entourage of 45 people and lived it up.

The live it up motto would haunt KISS into the 80’s even more but that’s a story for another time. ( come back in a few days as I will explain it in my next book review)

What I decided to do was ask KISS Superfan the one only John T Snow as he has seen KISS five times in the ’80s. So you can get a good look at how this book is set up.

Here are John’s dates followed by what was printed in KISS On Tour 2020 for each show that the Snowman saw in Atlanta.  You can click on each review to make it bigger as it will be easier on your eyes.

Dec 26, 1983;

 

Jan 9, 1985;

Dec 31, 1985

Feb 10, 1988

 

July 20, 1990

Thanks for sharing those dates Snowman!  As you can tell by those five pics you can get a feel for how this book is laid out.

Even better is the fact that Gill mentions the aborted Canadian Tour that KISS had planned for Canada on the “Hot In The Shade Tour” back in October 1990! 

Damn it if Thunder Bay wasn’t going to be one of those stops! See for yourself posted above!

I knew about this date back then as there is a story tied to it but that’s for another time. Ask me next time I’m on the Lebrain Train!

“KISS 2020 Tour Edition” is a massive read and was actually priced really decent at Amazon ($40 Canadian) and is a great addition to any KISS Fan out there.

 

 

 

 

 

Adrian Smith: Monster of River Rock (2020)

Adrian Smith is one of my favorite guitar players/songwriters’s ever. Just check out those Maiden classics like “Die With Your Boots On”, “Two Minutes To Midnight”, “Wasted Years”, “The Wicker Man” that all begin with that Smith trademark opening riff. 

I’m more surprised and if you’re a Maiden fan you could relate to this statement that I was psyched out that Adrian of all the guys in a band decided to write a book!

“Monsters of River Rock, My Life As Iron Maiden’s Compulsive Angler” is the title of Smith’s book, and as you can tell he loves fishing.

When I preordered the book back in July it had a delivery date of early October. By the time I finally got the book it was more like mid-November. 

In between the book being released first in Europe in September the reviews were mixed. Many comments were “there’s not enough talk about Maiden” ” Too much chat about fishing”  “the book is 70-30 % fishing” etc.

I get it folk’s but like his pal, Bruce Dickinson’s book where Bruce talks about his love of aviation and keeps his private life out of it Adrian goes down that same road in talking about his love of fishing but does open up about his private life somewhat.

You can’t really knock Adrian on how he wrote the book. The title says it all and even though I’m not a fisherman myself you can’t knock the man’s passion which is music and angling.

Over the 300 pages, Adrian writes about how his father took him fishing as a youngster every Sunday when he was a young lad, and from there that ruled his life until the young lad came across Deep Purple’s Machine Head and he packed in his fishing rod and picked up the guitar.

Being a Maiden fan I wanted to read about some history in regards to the band that has made itself a household name.

Adrian writes about how he grew up with Dave Murray and the two of them always stayed in contact with each other. When Maiden was looking for a guitar player in late 1979 Dave and Maiden’s main man Steve Harris asked Adrian to join them.

Adrian at the time turned them down saying his band Urchin was making some progress and didn’t want to pack it in. 

As fate would have it a year later Urchin had called it a day. Working at a dead-end job with no money as he couldn’t afford the bus home Smith was walking when guessing who he bumped into?

Steve Harris and Dave Murray were walking coming right towards him and after some small chat Harris told Adrian point-blank that “Maiden was making a guitar change would he be interested?”

Again!

Adrian knew this was his last chance as he said he could see Harris with a stern don’t waste my time if your not 110% committed look whereas Murray had a grin knowing that his friend had better say yes!

Adrian said yes and we know the rest. But as he writes imagine if he had enough money to take the bus home that day he would have never bumped into Dave and Steve.

Fate!

Being a Canuck it was a hoot to read about Adrian’s Canadian Adventure.

Smith writes candidly that after the 13 months Powerslave Tour ended in mid-1985 he and his Canadian girlfriend now his wife Nathalie rented a Trans Am and hit all the fishing lakes around Banff Alberta and as Adrian writes it wasn’t the smartest idea to rent a fast car for dirt roads in which he posted a pic of the car lying on the side of the road in a ditch.

Here’s another cool little story from his book below on another brilliant Smith composition “Stranger In A Strange Land”.

Stories like this are their weight in gold as I had no idea of this taking place and that was back in 1986-7.

Smith does an awesome job of weaving in and out his passion for fishing as well as his timeline of being in and out of Maiden. (Smith left Maiden in 1990 but both he and Bruce returned in 1999)

Definitely worth the read.