Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside and Outside of AC/DC By Mark Evans (Allen & Unwin)

dirty deedsA quick trawl through the memory banks shows that AC/DC books have figured more prominently on my personal playlist in recent years than almost any others. You’re entitled to ask why.

It’s not that I’m a fan of the band or anything like that. The personal take on them runs along these lines:

Their music is formulaic in a way other “band brands” like the Ramones have never been. Yes, the drummer (Phil Rudd most prominently) swings like the proverbial shithouse door in a cyclone, but there’s not much else doing in the songs apart from well-meshed, chugging riffs. The lyrics were inane (not always a bad thing), the solos predictable (one man’s classic is another man’s so-so), and the whole package was seemingly contrived (songs about venereal disease, schoolboys chucking browneyes) to attrract and repel a certain broad audience. Americans especially took to them in a way they never did with punk.

Frontman Bon Scott had a certain lewd charm but it always seemed that The Powers That Be (that’d be Malcolm and Angus) imposed a certain way of doing things – and god help anyone who wanted to depart from the template. 

Adventurous is one thing they have never been but, fuck, they have marketed themselves well.  

So why read books about them? 

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.

Descent Into The Maelstrom: Brilliant documentary of a time, place and people

rob and denizWho's for popcorn? Rob Younger and Deniz Tek at the World Premiere.   Bruce Tindale photo 

It’s been pissing down in Sydney for morer than 24 hours.  I wait in a corner window at the Imperial Hotel, watching the steady torrent of streaming cars, my eye on the entrance to the Chauvel Cinema, tucked away inside Paddington Town Hall. A homecoming of sorts, 40 years on.

Fortry years. No longer is Radio Birdman a part of the zeitgeist, no longer are they merely an immediately cognisable legend. The weaves of history, misinformation and untruth, as well as the shedding of members and other things, like time moving on … all these things have taken place, as with many bands of yore.

"Gimme Danger" is neither a success or a failure

GimmeDangerPressConferenceIggy and Jim Jarmusch at a media conferecde in Cannes.

“Gimme Danger” is not a great movie. It is flawed.

That said, no-one expected the Citizen Kane of rock documentaries. This was a cut about the MTV Iggy doco that you can see online for free, but was mixed in with arty pretensions.

“Gimme Danger” is screening at major film festivals around the world. Tonight (June 17) it is the turn of the State Theatre and the Sydney International Film Festival. The audience is evenly split between film people who might not have heard of the Stooges and are there to judge a film on its filmmaking merits, or hardcore rock pigs who want be blasted with Stooges music.