Monday, July 6, 2020

Pale Divine - Consequence Of Time


Alright, the air of anticipation around me is so thick you can cut it with a knife and it's very hard to contain myself. Why, you ask? Well, one of my all-time favourite bands are back with a new album and a new, expanded lineup, so naturally I am excited beyond words. Don't think there are enough words in the English vocabulary to describe the level of elation surging through my body and mind as I'm about to embark on the first journey through Pale Divine's new creation, 'Consequence Of Time'. But before we take off there's been a change within the camp, or rather an addition. This actually happened shortly after the previous album, 'Pale Divine' was released with the multi talented Dana Ortt joining and now he finally makes his Pale Divine recording debut, adding so much to the music with his singing and guitar playing.

So, what is going on with ‘Consequence Of Time’? Well, first of all it is Pale Divine at their finest. The music is so well rounded, impeccable and perfectly executed while being so amazingly free-flowing, unrestrained and experimental. Another rather important feature is the partnership between Greg Diener and Dana Ortt. They take turns handling the lead vocals as well as dueting and the same goes for the twin-axe attack. Like Thin Lizzy for instance, they take turns firing off blistering solos or going on mind-bending double runs. This alone has heightened the band’s sound immensely. While all this is going on drummer Darin McCloskey and bassist Ron McGinnis lays down a breath-taking backbone, solid yet imaginative, inspiring and head crushing, which allows their guitarist friends the space and freedom to play the way they do. Personally, I regard Pale Divine’s rhythm section as the one of Marillion, where the excellent Ian Mosley and Pete Trewavas does so much which is rarely mentioned.

The old-school ‘Tyrants & Pawns (Easy Prey)’ unleashes this new brilliant album. Has a feel of Pale Divine around the time of their groundbreaking ‘Cemetery Earth’. Greg’s tormented voice brings out the haunted feeling from that release while Dana’s added singing makes it all new. By the way, the solos are fucking nuts and I love it! Sharp riffs and a thunderous rhythm section moves ‘Satan In Starlight’ through different stages and tempos. Everything flows freely and with such ease allowing trippy parts to walk side by side with heaviness and pure musical excellence. And again, the solos, man, they are completely insane! The wonderful ‘Shadow’s Own’ brings 70’s tinged heavy rock with dueling guitars and a crushing performance from Darin and Ron. Short but stunning! Mid-tempo, trippy, dark and reflective, ‘Broken Martyr’ see the band step even further outside the box. New and old meets in the middle and the result floors me!

‘Phantasmagoria’ is slow, punishing and full-on doom yet a sense of floating in a serene state of being is juxtaposed making the song soothing to me in all its darkness. Think old-school doom laced with trippy undertones, in lack of better words. Regardless, a wonderful composition. The title track, ‘Consequence Of Time’ follows and is by far the longest song on the album, clocking in at over 10 minutes. Still it flows by quickly in all its greatness. Kind of mid-tempo from the start but slows down almost halfway through and everything grows dark…only to erupt into a stomping rocker. Oh and the last three minutes, or so, are absolutely crushing! ‘No Escape’ is probably the fastest song Pale Divine has released, bringing full onslaught from start to finish. Greg’s singing is completely different as well. More raspy and in your face upping the ante for sure. And, as throughout the album, the band treats us to blistering solos. Excellent, truly excellent! ‘Saints Of Fire’ has the honour of closing out this wax. It brings a little bit of everything of what Pale Divine are while opting for a base of mid-tempo pace. The rest is layered on top painting mind- and ear-altering images turning the song into an amazing headtrip.

Pale Divine has done it again, dear waveriders. These guys have such a high level in everything they do and they never stand still, which is extremely apparent on ‘Consequence Of Time’. Also, they know how to perfectly balance the sound they have created with the new avenues where they now travel. As a fan of a band you can’t really ask for more. Every spin bring new angles and twists and turns making this experience even greater and endless…so allow me to sit back and let the universe of Pale Divine embrace me. What a wonderful universe it is!

-Swedebeast

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Marillion From A Swedebeast's Point Of View


Marillion - Anoraknophobia

Studio album number 12, 'Anoraknophobia', was released in May 2001 and was a first for Marillion. Rejuvenated by the creativeness of predecessor, 'marillion.com', the subsequent successful tour and finally being free from the shackles of a label, the five guys still faced dilemmas with the upcoming album. As much as they enjoyed being on their own, they had to figure out how to finance the whole shebang...or should they still try to shop for a new label? Thanks to the resourcefulness of Mark Kelly the band asked their fans via The Web, the fan club magazine, if they were willing to help out and be part of a crowdfunding project to finance the new recording. The fans jumped on it and this sparked what still goes to this day. And what also saved the band most likely. From a personal point of view, 'Anoraknophobia' is the last Marillion studio recording I had to check out after the fact and in hindsight, what an album it is!

As always Marillion change things up. Of course, their sound is still there but one of their biggest traits is to never record the same album twice, no matter what. And 'Anoraknophobia' definitely follow suit. For me, that’s the biggest thing as a music lover, you immediately want to recognize “your” bands but at the same time there should be wonderful twists and turns which always keeps you on your toes. It is safe but at the same time it’s not. Moreover this is also a far happier album than ever before if you ask me, and it’s refreshing to hear the Marills this way…even though they are the masters of emotions.

Opener ‘Between You And Me’ is fresh, dark and exuberant. Is starts rather dramatically with a solitary eerie piano before the band joins in. From then on it’s a powerhouse rocker if there ever was one. Lyrically it's about that special bond you rarely, if ever, find with someone else. ‘Quartz’ follows next and just listen to Trewavas bass! So groovy, trippy and creepy at the same time, all while the music floats on top. Kind of slow but builds up ever so slightly in the chorus. Another relationship song but one from the opposite end of the scale. Meaning the two antagonists can’t get along no matter what. Next up is ‘Map Of The World’ and it is a happy, upbeat composition focusing on the wonders of traveling, both to escape daily life and to expand one's horizon. An excellent feel-good song, indeed! The music on ‘When I Meet God’ is minimalistic with the focus intentionally on Hogarth’s amazing voice and the heartfelt frustrated lyrics. And Hogarth is pouring his heart out against God and why God doesn't right all the wrongs in the world. Where's the compassion for your creation?

‘The Fruit Of The Wild Rose’ has a nice blues running flowing through it apart from the chorus where a feel of Beatles appears. This is song for anyone who travels a lot due to work, be it a musician, a long distant truck driver, you name it. Yearning for the loved one at home, missing and wanting to be back. As the song turns, the anticipation of the last miles home builds up the feelings for the missing partner. Another great powerhouse rocker, ‘Separated Out’ deals with alienation, of not belonging and being an outsider, of being different, rejected and unwanted. At the same time it offers resistance and hope that all is not lost. Perhaps they sing about themselves having been treated as unwanted outsiders most of their career. ‘This Is The 21st Century’ is slow and laidback musically with touches of drum-and-bass and a feeling of vast open spaces and huge skies. Dreamy, if you will yet sinister at the same time. This is a tandem story line between science picking life apart leaving all mysteries in the dust. The other part is about two lovers finding magic and mystery in their intimacy and letting those discoveries take them away. Closer ‘If My Heart Were A Ball, It Would Roll Uphill’ has a light jazzy beginning which leads into jammy, strange parts courtesy of Rothery and Kelly. These work great though thanks to Trewavas and Mosley keeping reigns on things. Wonderful controlled chaos, if you will. About letting you heart rule your life and having no restraints. Live your life to the fullest, don’t count the costs and roll the dice. In line with the title of the album producer Dave Meegan added samples of 'Script For A Jester's Tear', 'Brave' and 'Fugazi' in this song. Can you find them?

A beautiful discovery from the first note until the last and I fell in love immediately and I still rate it highly to this day. Since Marillion is not covering heartache and failure to their normal extent, it adds to the upbeat feeling throughout 'Anoraknophobia'. Hogarth must have found stability and happiness in life and this truly colours his words. Don’t get me wrong, waveriders, I absolutely love the emotions of the downside of life the guys are so great at displaying but it’s refreshing to hear them this way, happy and carefree – for the most part. And in my opinion it stems from the positive turnaround they started to experience a couple of years earlier. The joyfulness also shines through wonderfully in the instrumentation. Rothery and Kelly takes the centre stage whether it’s playing rhythms or going on amazing solo excursions. None of this would be this great without Trewavas and Mosley. Holding down the beat and keeping the ship steady and on course allows their friends unheard of freedom. What can I say? ‘Anoraknophobia’ is a beautiful and truly fantastic album and it’s rather fitting that this is the new start for Marillion. Greatness, indeed!

-Swedebeast

Friday, July 3, 2020

Turkey Vulture Premiere New Song 'Age Of Resistance' Off Upcoming Album Time To Pay!


A quote from the band:
"This song is inspired by Jim Henson's Dark Crystal mythology and more specifically, the prequel series that came out on Netflix last year.  If you haven't seen these, you might think it's a weird topic to write a song about -- but the story is seriously dark and has many parallels to U.S. society today.

Jim is a huge Jim Henson fan; he wrote the lyrics to this song and I threw some Catholic prayers in the bridge.  Just like the Gelflings, America could use a divine mother figure -- or something!!! -- to help us out of the mess we're in."

Time To Pay is a four tracker of unstoppable, head banging heavy metal thunder and will be released upon the teeming masses July 31st.”

                         ~Fistful of DOOM 
 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Ripple Conversation with Georg from Mothers of the Land



When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

The bigger ones happened when i was in my teens. Hearing Thin Lizzy for the first time. Or early Iron Maiden. Nowadays i enjoy small epiphanies here and there. It's an ongoing process.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

First there's a melody popping up as a thought. Then I have to see how I can play it on the electric guitar. Then I record the bass line and a second guitar line making harmonies. Once there are 3 or more parts ready, we work it out as a band, when we are in the practice room.

Who has influenced you the most?

Probably past and present band members.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Ideas tend to always float around. The hard part is to catch and remember them. Working with different musicians can be helpful for me. Sometimes it is very inspiring to watch and listen to other bands live performances.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

We live in a big city with a long history of classical music, art and architecture. There is this mix between hectic city life and nature on the outskirts. I like that.

Where'd the band name come from?

It was used as a song title 10 years ago. We liked how it sounded and we used it as the band's name ever since.

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

A movie taking place in medieval times. (Including Dragons and wizards).

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

That's a hard one... Far Beyond The Sun by Yngwie Malmsteen. It tells a story without lyrics.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

I'm sure we have had some, but I don't really remember them too well. We actually switched names of two songs on our first album by accident. haha

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

Playing live is probably the best part about being in a band. It can be totally exhausting but in the end the one hour on stage and the one hour after the show is worth it.

What makes a great song?

In my opinion a song is great when it reaches the listener on an emotional level.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

The first real song I wrote was about creativity, passion and the determination to work hard as a band, no matter what. That was 10 years ago.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

I am very proud of our two Mothers of the Land albums.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Sacri Monti writes great songs in my opinion. Great twin guitar work. Smooth bass riffs and spaced out vocals. Earthless totally just kicks my ass. I have had the pleasure seeing them live, in a small club. Ecstatic!

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

All of the above. If I could afford it I would buy vinyls.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

First some beers then one good whiskey, but since I have to choose I say beer. Because it has electrolytes, haha. Also in Austria we have really good beer.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

In our hometown (Vienna) I suggest you visit the TOTEM record store.

What's next for the band?

Right now we really want to play live shows again. Depending on ideas and inspiration, we will work on new material for a third album.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

Thank you for your interest in rock music. Also if you like twin guitar work, check out our new album called Hunting Grounds, available on June 19. Take care and ride on!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Xroadie Files


STRFKR - Future Past Life
Josh Hodges, Keil Corcoran, Shawn Glassford

Dear Stranger sitting with friend strumming guitars and singing 60s influenced tunes. Never The Same a catchy riff that will have you swaying hand clapping foot tapping and singing. Deep Dream take a trip back to the melodic flow power of the 60s and just enjoy. Second Hand a very melodic catchy tune that envelops your senses. Better Together strumming guitar and singing around a fire. Budapest will have the crowd dancing the night away. Palm Reader soft tones just envelop your very being. Sea Foam a funky tune that will pull you into your dreams. Pink Noise drifting in your imagination. Cold Comfort an interesting mind trip back to the psychedelic 60s and 70s.


Fermentor – Continuance
Dylan Marks – Drums, Adam Wollach – Guitar

The Stench double bass drums thundering chainsaw guitars and interesting twists. Thunderboss fast hard heavy thrashing metal madness. Mechanism steady pounding riffs that just slice and dice with thundering drums. The Decay of Western Society eerie tones that pull you into darkness. Seventh Circle hard heavy thrashing shredding mayhem. Landbridge crunchy slam you to the ground metal. Cotterpin thundering in your head insanity ensues. Stage V chainsaw riff that just slice you to pieces and double bass drumming pounding in your mind. Cut N Shut hit the pit and just mosh till you drop. Project Zeus hop on and hang on for your very life.


ORGÖNE - 'MOS/FET'
Allan Barbarian-Drums/Percussions, Nick Le Cave-Bass, Tom Angelo-Electric Organ/Synths/Pianet/Mandolin/ Clarinet/Recorder, Marlen Stahl-Guitar/Cello/Violin, Olga Rostropovitch-Vocals

Erstes Ritual interesting hard prog with some amazing musicianship and vocals. Soviet Suit - Requiem For A Dead Cosmonaut thumping bass crunchy guitars and powerful vocals. Soviet Hot Dog (Le Tombeau de Laïka) just take a strange prog rock h journey thru your imagination. East Song lost in the darkness of your dreams. Anubis Rising- Ägyptology lost in the time space continuum. Mothership Egypt heavy prog rock magic. Rhyme Of The Ancient Astronaut a trip thru the annuals of your mind. Astral Fancy close your eyes and drift along.


Dyatlov – St
AJ – Vocals, Leights – Guitar, Nath - Guitar , Brad – Bass, Iain - Kit

Pass The Heavens the eerie music just envelops your senses with gruff vocals. Empty Lungs take a strange trip thru your very mind. Fragile Fixation dark music and vocals that pulls you into deep thoughts. Old Haunts pounding rhythms crunchy guitars and gruff vocals. Die Kill Pig just hit the pit and slowly mosh till you drop.


Cryptonight – The Black Ritual
Cassandra Xavier, Jeremy Jackson

The Black Key open the doors to hell and be pulled into your nightmares. The Black Door continues he onslaught in your mind. Shadow Walk eerie tones just envelop you. Abstersion lost in the madness of your imagination. The Dickens one weird psychedelic dark trip. Abhorrent Bestowal blackness just swallows your soul. Precariosa deep despair and heartache. The Black Ritual madness ensues.


-Xroadie

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

BORIS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM, “NO”





A message from BORIS:

“International borders are ‘closed’ now.

All kinds of anxieties, fear, sadness, anger, and hatred have arisen to drive the world apart.
Everyone is in a process of trial and error, doing what they can to live.
The critical state of the world has placed culture, art, and other means of expressing ourselves into a dilemma as well.
We decided to start managing our band ourselves again a few years ago, so we even more keenly aware of the current situation.

It was our actions up to this point and our methodology, various cultural influences, as well the connections and support we received from people around the world that led us to create this latest album.

Culture is lore that is not bound by blood, in other words ‘Non Blood Lore.’

We have put all of our influences and connections into this album so that they may be passed on circulated.
That is our current stance now as Boris, our role and mode of action.

The title of this album is NO.
People have a system whereby they unconsciously grow accustomed to things and adapt to them.
But, this same system is also cursed in the way it allows inconvenient or troubling things to be disregarded as if they were never there to begin with and goes by other names such as ‘resignation,’ ‘subordination,’ and ‘forgetfulness.’
We renounce this system.
‘Is this something I felt on my own? Is this idea something I came up with on my own? Is this something I chose to act upon myself?’
Everything begins with questioning and denying oneself.
That is the proper stance for people to adopt.

Music and culture possess incredible power.
The anger and discontent we had no outlet for in our youth shone through in our music, helping us to channel negative energy channeled towards creative ends and leading us to new means of expression and artistry.
We hope this latest album can be a mirror that gathers and reflects people’s negative energy at a different angle, one that is positive.
That is the power and potential of the dark, extreme, and brutal noise music that we have experienced up to this point.
Today’s society is littered with words that may or may not be true, making it easy to want to just not listen to what anyone has to say.
But, that’s all the more reason why we hope that you will at least open your ears to these songs sung in the language of another land.
These shouts that have no proper meaning as words will help release the raw, unshaped emotions within you.
This is ‘extreme healing music.’

International borders are ‘closed’ now.
When we’re able to travel again, it will be proof that the world has moved forward.
We pray for the day when we can share the same time and place again.

Boris


PS.
NO includes a cover of the song ‘Fundamental Error’ by Japanese hardcore punk legends GUDON, who were active during the 90’s in Hiroshima.
The same track also features guest guitars by Katsumi, the former of guitarist of similarly legendary Japanese hardcore punk bands OUTO and CITY INDIAN and now a member of SOLMANIA.
This album is also being released completely D.I.Y. and without the help of any label.

‘The answer we have been given doesn’t change anything, and this album is not an answer either.’”

Look for Boris NO to be released July 3rd on Bandcamp and pre-orders are available now.  More news + music coming soon.

Boris, NO track listing:
1. Genesis
2. Anti-Gone
3. Non Blood Lore
4. Temple of Hatred
5. -Zerkalo-
6. HxCxHxC -Parforation Line-
7. キキノウエ -Kiki no Ue-
8. Lust
9. Fundamental Error
11. Interlude

Boris is:
Takeshi: Vocals, Guitar & Bass
Wata: Vocals, Guitar & Echo
Atsuo: Vocals, Percussion & Electronics
Guest Guitar: Katsumi on Track 09
Recording: Fangsanalsatan at Sound Square 2020
Mix & Mastering: Koichi Hara (koichihara-mix.com)
“Fundamental Error" Originally Perfomed by GUDON
Logo Type: Kazumichi Maruoka
Design: Fangsanalsatan

Monday, June 29, 2020

On The Ripple Bookshelf: Featuring Ace Frehley, Megaforce - Jon Zazula, and Marky Ramone

Blame it on the Coronavirus, but I've definitely been reading more recently.  Books, magazine, cereal boxes, you name it.  My current passion has been to delve deep into rock music autobiographies, so in that spirit, let's take a quick blast through my current "finished" pile.  A broad mix of autobiographies here, and definitely a mix of quality in the read.   We'll run them down in the order I read them.  My honest opinions, warts and all.


Ace Frehley - No Regrets

Let's face it, I didn't really expect Tolstoy from this book. Ace never struck me as being too much of a thinker, but man, could he play guitar and his work with KISS inspired countless famous axe-men to originally pick up their guitars.  As a long-time KISS fan (I bought Destroyer brand new off the shelf the day it was released) I was really looking forward to this one.  No band has taken more liberties and been protective of their history than KISS.  The “Kiss-speak,”  of "KISS-tory" is almost entirely controlled by leaders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, and is so full of legends and myths that it bears little parallel in reality.  So,it’s always been hard to get at the real truth.

Don't look for it here.

I suspect there is a mighty powerful non-disclosure agreement the band has in place to protect their image, and particularly the images of Gene and Paul, because Ace does almost nothing to give us the much longed for "look behind the curtain."   In fact, once ACE is actually in the band, the book becomes mundane.  Rather, the more interesting stuff was the pre-KISS accounting of his life.  Ace leads us through his childhood, his early bands, his restlessness.  It's all charming and a lot of fun to read.  The bits about the early days of KISS including his famous first audition and the early workings of the band before they reached fame were enticing to read, albeit, too brief, and not nearly enough detail on the creative process, the personalities, limitations or conflicts within the band.   It was interesting to learn that on stage, every single move was choreographed to the precise second, which makes sense as they always had to make sure they were in the exact right spot when a pyrotechnic effect happened or else risk getting burned.  I'd never really thought about how, as Ace relates it, it totally killed any spontaneity, improvisation or fun, such that Ace felt like he was more or less a wind up doll.  This, along with dealing with Gene and Paul, led to Ace's feelings of boredom in the band and his turning to increases amounts of alcohol and drugs to alleviate the monotony.   That was interesting. 

But we learn nothing about the dirt and ugly underbelly of the band other than Gene, even at the formation of the band, was all about the money. No big revelation there.  Gene is portrayed as being completely humorless and so devoid of friends that when he was roasted on the Comedy Channel, they had to hire people to perform, because he had no friends to volunteer.   Paul comes across as just a political mouthpiece for the band who surprisingly plays very little roll in Ace's recounting of his life, and Peter is kinda here and kinda there in stories of alcohol and drugs, and not much else.  We certainly never see his bandmates as fully developed people.

And that's the problem   In truth, there aren't enough stories of alcohol and drugs, or the band mates who achieved amazing fame with Ace.  And even worse, the stories that are told are almost completely without insight or even regret or growth.  Basically, Ace drank because he drank.  He was bored so he drank. He totaled his Delorean because he drank. He lost his house because he drank.  No real insight there.  He glances over any feelings about his long-suffering wife, then mentions his daughter from out of nowhere when he gets her a bit part in the terrible KISS and the Phantom of the Park television movie, and comes across as if he's the father of the year for doing so; whereas she's never even mentioned before that.  He gives no remorse for destroying his family.   His career, his life.

I'm a big fan of Ace, so I'm not disillusioned by the man, just disappointed.   In the end, I didn't come out of this knowing the man any better than before, nor seeing his growth as a man from all the ups and downs of his life.  Add to that there really weren't any major revelations in the book, and it was just a so-so read.


Jon Zazula - Heavy Tales: The Metal.  The Music.  The Madness

I hate to say it, but if I was disappointed by the lack of insight in Ace's book, compared to Jon Zazula's look back at his life and the ascent and crash of Megaforce Records, Ace actually was Tolstoy.  I was really looking forward to this one.  I'd missed most of the thrash metal explosion back in the day because my schooling at the time was too intense to allow me much time to listen to music.  So, my knowledge of Megaforce Records and it's incredible roll in the explosion of speed and thrash metal came after the fact.  One day recently, I was power-washing our front steps and listening to an Eddie Truck podcast where he had Jon Zazula on as his guest, and it was fantastic.  I hadn't known Eddie's roll in Megaforce and his relationship with Jon before, so that was fascinating to learn, and gave me new respect for Trunk.  Hearing Zazula and Trunk talk about the old days, from the record store set up at the Flea Market that birthed Megaforce Records to the early signing of Metallica, I was inspired.  I literally pulled out my phone and ordered the book right then and there from Amazon.

I'm not disappointed I did, but the book left so much wanting.  The early tales of Jon talking about how me was a restless teenager were cool, and how he basically stumbled into the record store business were great.   The unexpected receipt of a demo tape from Metallica and how it inspired Jon to start his own label was also fun to read.   But . . . .

Perhaps it's because I am a record label owner and know first hand all the work, and trials and tribulations of starting and keeping a label going, I really wanted to see Jon dig deep into the nuts an bolts of what they did.  When Trunk comes on, I really want to learn what day to day was like.  It was the most exciting time in recent music history, but it certainly doesn't read like it. I wanted to know what Trunk did, how they functioned, how they looked for new bands, the fights, the arguments, the total stabs in the dark . . .  All the stuff that makes a look inside a label exciting.   Zazula touches onto bands like Anthrax (cool story) and Raven (sad story) but really just glances over bands like Overkill, Kings X, Merciful Fate and even Ace Frehley.  In the end, I got the idea that he loved metal, and stumbled luckily upon some good bands and every good decision he made he credits to God.  No major examination into his mind and all that was happening.  Just God.

We don't learn any true interesting stories about the bands, other than Metallica being driven and drunks from day one, Scott Ian being a record store rat constantly begging to get his band signed (cool story),  and we learn of Jon's hurt when Metallica ditched him (probably a smart career move on their part) and his disappointment at failing Raven.  But not much else.  Basically, the book reads as if the years were days and it all kinda happened then all kinda fell apart.

His wife Marsha is a part and parcel to the whole wild ride, but I have no idea what she really did.  She's mentioned a lot, but not discussed.  Jon references his mania and depression about as casually as I just wrote those words, but no real insight into this mental state or how Marsha dealt with it all.  This all could have been a fascinating exploration of the merger of his mental state and the business.  The collapse of Megaforce came from a series of really bad decisions, including not staying true to their roots, chasing to try and find the next big things, and it's never really clear why that happened. Jon seems like a nice guys, but I can't say after reading this that I really know him any better.

So, an interesting read.  An easy read.  A fast read, at only 193 pages.  Some great old pics, and a few nifty stories.   But I wouldn't say a meaty read, certainly not the meaty read I was hoping for.



Marky Ramone - Punk Rock Blitzkreig:  My Life as a Ramone

Now this is what an autobiography of a famous rock legend should read like!  Man, not only did I come out of this book learning more than I ever dreamed I'd know about the bands, the Ramones, the punk rock movement, addiction, dysfunction and fame, but I also felt like I got to know the man.

And I gotta say, I like the man.

Marky takes us through his entire life in enough detail to taste the pollution of a rundown New York street, to feel the energy in a raging Brazilian Ramones-mania stadium, to fear the unpredictable nature of Dee Dee's next misadventure, and to smell the week's old, unwashed skin of Joey, complete with debris and detritus in his hair.   Marky recounts his early life and love of the drums, we learn of the struggling years (stealing bread deliveries at delicatessens in the early am hours just so he and his roommate could eat), the rise of Dust, one of America's proto-metal pioneers, and his move to the newly developing punk scene.  His stories of Johnny Thunder and the squalor are worth the price of admission alone, as they're always told without judgement or condescension, just unfailing honesty.

Of course the meat of the book is his time with the Ramones, and his in depth dealings with Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee are fascinating as they are dysfunctional.  Man, the pathology riding in that famous Ramones van as they crisscrossed the country!   Marky does a terrific job of bearing his soul when it comes to his own addictions and recovery, his return to the band, and his torn feelings when the Ramones finally start to get the recognition they're due, like the Lifetime Achievement Award and their entry into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.  His recounting of his friendship with Phil Specter, including the infamous recording sessions, his tales of Joeys' OCD, Johnny's sadistic relationship with his bandmates, and the trials and tribulations of their long-suffering road manager Monte are keenly insightful.

I'd always been a Ramones fan, and had the honor of interviewing Marky once, many years ago, on our Ripple Radio Show, so I came into this book expecting to be pleased, but man, it was so much better than that.  I found myself googling to buy the few Ramones albums I didn't have as I read about them, streaming Rock n Roll High School as Marky talked about adventures on the set, even searching for Marky records with his new band The Intruders.   As Marky walks us through the failing health and passings of his Ramone brothers, it's all relayed with compassion and a touch of regret for lost opportunities.

If you're a Ramones fan, this book is essential and will give you the behind-the-scenes glimpse you've wanted.  If you're a punk rock fan, this book will take you on a wild ride of one of the most influential bands ever in rock music.  And if you just want to read a cool book, about drugs and sex an rock n roll, you won't go wrong here.

Gabba gabba hey.

--Racer.


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