Blank Generation by Pete Astor (Bloomsbury - 33 1/3 series)

blank generation bookWell, this is going to be interesting…

See, the Barman scores books by McGarretts, with three being the top score.

So, the book (one of the 33 1/3 series about "classic" albums) gets TWO separate scores, for two separate reasons. It’s up to you to figure out if I’m being fair or not.

However, I’m not quite sure how to imagine half a Steve McGarrett. Which would be the least offensive do you think, the top or the bottom half..?

You see, the reason Astor gets a half McGarrett is because it’s a bloody effort to read. Astor is now an academic, no longer an enthusiastic and rebellious teen, and there is way too much turf, not enough surf. Astor’s haphazard organisation is apparently designed to prevent you reading it, and he apparently has neither enough understanding of either the time (which is just plain weird) or the impact the LP had, and there is certainly too much literary analysis where it seems superfluous.

The One and Only. Peter Perrett, Homme Fatale by Nina Antonia (Thin Man Press)

one and onlyWell, there are a lot of crappy rock books. This is brilliant, however.

We could start with the book’s blurb:

“‘The One & Only’ is a roller-coaster ride through one of rock’s wildest, most unpredictable careers. Granted full access to the reclusive Perrett and everyone who matters in his story, Antonia unflinchingly traces his path from privileged childhood to drug dealer; from musical obscurity to decadent rock icon submerged in narcotic slumbers in an antique-filled mansion... before the dream spectacularly fell apart. The story of The Only Ones became an industry by-word for how not to succeed in the record business; yet the music, along with the allure of Perrett’s mysterious persona, has endured… Despite the casualties that careen through these pages, including Johnny Thunders and Sid Vicious - Perrett played with both - this is ultimately a story of redemption and rebirth.”

And, frankly, that lot should be reasons sufficient for any self-respecting rock’n’roller to pick this one up, pay at the counter, and scurry home, nose and eyes down. Apart from that, if you own the Johnny Thunders’ album, "So Alone", but no Only Ones, you have a little Perrett in your collection.

Something Quite Peculiar. The Church. The Music. The Mayhem. by Steve Kilbey (Hardie Grant)

something quite peculiarAfter nearly 40 years in the music industry, you can excuse Steve Kilbey for forgetting a few things. The lack of detail is the only real quibble with what’s one of the best Oz music reads of the last few years.

I approached this book with mixed feelings. Kilbey has a reputation for being a bit of a narcissist. The Church’s music is hit or miss for me - which is to say I left them alone after their first two albums, dipped back in at “Starfish” and walked away after the stodgy “Gold Afternoon Fix”, with only occasional revisits. So this was a book to be read from a position of not having much skin in the game.

Then I got sucked into the whole melodramatic, up-and-own, self-destructive and ultimately self-redeeming saga, and warmed to Kilbey’s flawed and fallible ways. I consumed “Something Quite Perculiar” in a couple of satisfying gulps.

Unbelievably Bad zine issue 13

ub-13You can’t half tell the folks at Unbelievably Bad zine are Hard-Ons fans. So is anyone with a modicum of taste. So this edition of UB should sell its arse off. It’s wall-to-wall Hard-Ons. More Hard-Ons, in fact, than the US Navy on shore leave after six months at sea.

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock and Roll in America’s Loudest City– Steve Miller (Da Capo Press)

detroit rock city bookCall me biased and armed with far too much hindsight for my own good, but for a brief time in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Detroit was the lesser-known but undeniable epicentre of genuine rock and roll. The music industry, as it was, might have had its moneyed roots deeply planted on America’s East and West Coasts, but the real action was occurring deep in the US Midwest.

Sure, there was Motown and its over-ground success that eventually shifted to L.A. to mutate and die but we’re talking a parallel universe here that was populated by a different cast of characters plying a blue-collar strain of music. It’s an eternal truism that musical scenes never last. The Motor City’s rock and roll had its moment but succumbed to fashion, drugs, shifting attention spans – whatever factors play to your own historical biases – and has never recovered.