Book Review: Nothin’ But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the ’80s Hard Rock Explosion By Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock (St. Martins Press)

By: Jesse Striewski

With renewed interest in the decade of decadence continually growing each year, there’s no shortage of various media information on ’80s hard rock (a.k.a. ‘hair’ or ‘glam’ rock) and heavy metal out there these days. But this new book by rock journalists Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock (with a brief forward by Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor) is truly the new bible on ’80s hard rock and heavy metal.

Largely tracing it’s roots back to the influence Van Halen had on the movement in the mid to late ’70s, here the two authors put together a collection of interviews that includes numerous musicians, producers, promoters, magazine editors, and the like, to help tell the tale of arguably one of rock’s greatest eras. Various key members of such staple acts as Motley Crue, Ratt, Guns N’ Roses, Quiet Riot, Dokken, L.A. Guns, W.A.S.P., Poison, Cinderella, and Warrant, – as well as numerous Rewind It Magazine interviewees from over the years – including Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister, Jack Russell of Great White, Brian Forsthye of Kix, and Rachel Bolan of Skid Row (among many others), are just some who help recall the foundation of the genre that changed it all in great detail.

The perspective is unique and fresh, despite some of the stories already found in other published works (many of those involved have previously published their own individual biographies). There’s even a brief but brilliant collection of many never-before-seen photos included as well. In short, Nothin’ But a Good Time is a rollercoaster ride of literature from start to finish, and one of the best of it’s kind currently available on the subject. It simply ‘don’t get better than this.’

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Album Review: Quiet Riot – Hollywood Cowboys (Frontiers Music srl)

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By: Jesse Striewski

If ever there was a band worthy of comparison to Spinal Tap, it has got to be today’s incarnation of Quiet Riot. As if the album cover didn’t already give it away, Hollywood Cowboys is a bit on the amateurish side.

On their second (and now final) studio album recorded with former American Idol singer James Durbin on vocals (ex-vocalist Jizzy Pearl has now stepped back in to fill the spot once again), unfortunately what the band has compiled here doesn’t sound much better than essentially a demo recording. I was honestly surprised the band didn’t rush back in to re-record Durbin’s vocals with Pearl, much like they had done when Durbin replaced previous singer Sean Nicols on 2017’s Road Rage album.

All things considered, some of the songs found here actually aren’t that bad. Tracks like “Insanity” actually contains some fairly impressive guitar work, and “Hellbender” probably stands above everything else here. But the mix is still so off throughout the entire album, with the drums simply overpowering everything else. Perfect example; look up lead off single “Don’t Call it Love” on YouTube and see how many people agree with that exact same sentiment in the comment section.

I’m not the kind of person who enjoys being overly critical for the sake of being harsh, but I’m also not going to sugar coat things. I actually really dug Quiet Riot back in the day (one of the best concerts I’ve actually ever been to was a bill they were on with Skid Row back in 2006, a year before original lead singer Kevin Dubrow’s untimely passing), and I honestly sympathize with drummer Frankie Banali’s recent cancer diagnosis (and wish him the best with it). But there’s a reason why some bands from their era don’t maintain the same status as an act like Motley Crue. There’s also usually a fairly good (and dysfunctional) reason for so many rotating lineups in a band, and Durbin most likely wisely stepped down from his now former group.

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

Film Review: The Dirt (Netflix)

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By: Jesse Striewski

After years of false starts in development, the long-awaited film adaptation of Motley Crue’s 2001 book The Dirt finally saw the light of day on Netflix this past Friday, March 22…and what a ride it was!

I’ve made no secrets about being a die hard Crue head ever since the day my brother-in-law gave me his old copy of Shout at the Devil (on cassette!) when I was 13 or 14. While the cover confused me at first (I honestly couldn’t tell if they were guys or girls!), the music instantly blew me away, and Nikki Sixx quickly became one of my bass heroes (I had just gotten my first bass guitar, and the intro to the title track was one of the very first riffs I ever learned to play). During their run, I was even lucky enough to catch the band live a couple of times, and their music continued to stay with me, even when it wasn’t considered “cool” to like anything from their era.

Having already read the book, I had a pretty good idea what to expect from the film version of The Dirt. While some critics are giving the film a bad rap for not really adding anything new (how can you really?), I found it completely mesmerizing reliving the band’s saga via this format. Sure, there are a few moments that were indeed over the top, but that was Motley! And hearing early tracks like “On with the Show,” “Take Me to the Top,” and Merry Go Round” was a welcomed trip down memory lane (and it’s good to see these songs are actually being introduced to a new generation).

Granted there are some noticeable inconsistencies here; for example, Vince Neil’s daughter Skylar -who unfortunately passed away at just 4 years old – is shown more than once in scenes that take place during the ’80s, when she in fact wasn’t even born until 1991. But everything from Sixx’s 1987 overdose, to Neil’s 1984 DUI/vehicular manslaughter charge that included the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingely, are all covered with total effectiveness (I was even glad to see that brief/underrated singer John Corabi was given some screen time and not just skipped over). The actors portraying the band all pull off admirable jobs as well – especially Douglas Booth and Colson Baker, who seem as though they were born to play Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, respectively.

In a time full of uber-PC thought police (supposedly fighting “against” fascism, yet ultimately creating more of it themselves without even realizing it) where we’re constantly being updated on what is and isn’t considered “accepted” these days, it’s refreshing to see something that doesn’t hold back just to please everyone. And it definitely is not for everyone, but it does capture a moment in rock n’ roll history that was unlike any other, and likely never will be again.

Rating: 4/5 Stars