Category Archives: Music

Shock and Awe

shock

Shock and Awe –
Glam Rock And Its Legacy
By Simon Reynolds
Faber & Faber – £25.00

In his 1969 book Bomb Culture, Jeff Nuttall recalls the mid-sixties moment when art-school attitudes filtered into the beat-group scene: ‘Shoes were painted with Woolworth’s lacquer. Both sexes wore make-up and dyed their hair… ”Kinky” was a word very much in the air. Everywhere there were zippers, leathers, boots, PVC, see-through plastics, male make-up, a thousand overtones of sexual deviation…

SAHB’s combo of musicianship, ‘cartoon violence’ and Harvey’s charisma made the group one of the major concert draws of the British mid-seventies. They stole the show at the Reading Festival in 1974, performing ‘Anthem,’ one of their crowd-pleasing numbers, with a troupe of bagpipers coming on-stage. ‘Framed’ was staged as a crucifixion, Cleminson recalls, with Alex ‘pinned up somehow on a cross we’d dragged on-stage.’ When they played ‘The Faith Healer’ – their greatest, hardest-rocking song – the sun was going down. ‘Alex just stood there, singing, ”Let me put my hands on you,” and you could feel the atmosphere going electric. Just one of the most magic moments I’ve ever experienced in my life.

I’m amazed that a really great book addressing the musical idiom that was Glam and all its tremulous trajectory, hasn’t been written until this one. Unless of course, there is one (or perhaps two) I just don’t know about.

Either way, Shock And Awe – Glam Rock And Its Legacy is a lively, entertaining and altogether fascinating read. It sheds oodles of light on a musical era that was as idiosyncratic as it was influential, and in so doing, sets numerous records straight in one literary swoop of profound, nihilist nostalgia.

Indeed, all the main players – plus a few more besides – are here.

Everyone from David Bowie to Marc Bolan to Mud and Mott and Slade and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, are herein discussed and regally brought to bear amid all the pomp and brazen bravado that they did bequeath. As author Simon Reynolds declares in the book’s Introduction: ”I felt the pull of a time when pop was titanic, idolatrous, unsane, a theatre of inflamed artifice and grandiose gestures. This long-gone, real-gone era seemed the opposite of what pop had become in the post-punk eighties: adult, responsible, caring and socially concerned.”

One absolutely cannot help but agree here.

The idea of Slade’s Noddy Holder discussing the plight of Ethiopia, just wouldn’t, and couldn’t have been taken seriously; whereas Paul Weller aligning himself with the Red Wedge Movement a mere decade later, was not only taken seriously, but in some accounts, wholeheartedly acted upon.

That said, there are numerous sections throughout these twelve chapters, where the writing might well be considered sonorous. Semi-serious even.

In the chapter on Bolan, ‘Boogie Poet,’ Reynolds confronts the whole idea behind Mod when he quotes and writes: ”Mods were effeminate in certain respects – some even wore make-up – without necessarily being in touch with their feminine side or having much time for actual women. Bolan’s ‘The London Boys’ captures the male-dominated vibe of the movement, which was all about boys dressing to impress other boys, not attract girls. Modettes were peripheral figures, never faces. Boy mods ‘simply were not interested… too self-absorbed,’ writes mod scholar Kevin Pearce. Pills played a part, overriding libido (along with other biological needs like food and sleep) in favour of self-admiration and a tribal feeling of collective glory.”

While in chapter four’s ‘Teenage Rampage,’ he not only addresses the comparative validity of the band Slade, but also delves into some of the history of the Black Country: ”In their heyday, though, Slade were taken very seriously. ‘In a few years’ time we may all be saying that Slade are the most important rock group to have emerged since The Beatles,’ wrote their biographer George Tremlett shortly after the release of their film Slade in Flame […]. You can hear the Black Country’s distinctive ‘sing-songy’ accent in the between-song banter of Noddy Holder on Slade’s biggest-selling album, Slade Alive! The stronger retention of Germanic words and unusual expression like ‘Ow bist?’ (How are you? via How be-est you?’) reflect the insularity of the locale, which includes towns like Dudley, Sandwell, Smethwick, Wolverhampton and Bilston, where Don Powell grew up. ‘People always used to say that we came from Birmingham,’ recalls Powell, ‘and we had to explain that although Birmingham is only ten miles away, it might as well be a totally different country.”’

Already the author of seven books (among them Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction To Its Own Past, Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 and Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music And Dance Culture), Simon Reynolds can stand back and be mighty proud of having written a true gem in Shock And Awe – a book that is essentially, un-put-down-able.

So if you’re looking for that perfect gift for anyone who was around at the time, this is it.

David Marx

Small Town Talk

hoskyns

Small Town Talk
By Barney Hoskyns
Faber & Faber – £20.00

Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to think of Woodstock without thinking of one of two things – Bob Dylan and/or the Woodstock Festival.

With the exception of Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and The Who’s performances (stunning, terrific all three), the latter has never really held much fascination for me – let alone any inspired sway. Regardless of the fact that the Woodstock Festival was responsible for having triggered many a menagerie of (oft dodgy) festivals in its wake.

In my book, Woodstock quintessentially means one thing, and one thing only: Bob Dylan. Admittedly, replete with a tremendous trajectory of varying off-shoots such as The Band, Van Morrison and Graham Parker to name but three.
Yet, Woodstock still remains Dylan, who, as the one thing/person/artist/whatever, has ceaselessly peaked my interest in the area – which in turn, drew me to Barney Hoskyns’ Small Town Talk.

That Hoskyns is a terrific writer, who has perhaps written the finest ever book on Tom Waits, Lowside Of The Road: A Life Of Tom Waits, further qualifies as a prime reason to read what is, a most colourful read.

From ‘Folk Songs of the Catskills’ to ‘Hundred-and-Forty Dollar Bash,’ to ‘Some Way Out of Here’ to ‘The Ballad of Todd and Albert,’ these eleven chapters (excluding a List of Illustrations, Prologue, Epilogue. Coda, a more than interesting section entitled ‘Take Your Pleasure: Twenty-Five Timeless Tracks, Acknowledgements, Bibliography, Notes and Index) are a superlative traipse through the endearingly rich tapestry of everything Woodstock has come to represent.

But if it’s a fix of Dylan you’re after, look no further than the fifth chapter, ‘Boy in the Bubble’ (among others), where, in relation to that most feisty of Dylan compadres, Bobby Neuwirth alone, Hoskyns informatively writes: ””It was a synergistic relationship. Dylan was not exactly a chameleon, but there was a number of people that he drew from.” Dylan himself would compare Neuwirth to Neal Cassady, the inspiration for Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s On The Road, writing in Chronicles that ”you had to brace yourself when you talked to him” and that he ”ripped and slashed and could make anybody uneasy […].” ”I could never figure out whether it was Dylan who’d copped Neuwirth’s style or vice versa,” wrote Al Aronowitz, one of their many victims. But Al Kooper, who go to know the duo the following year, was convinced that ”Neuwirth was actually the personality: he was the creator of the image and Dylan just jumped on it.”

That said, there really is, and perhaps clearly is, a whole lot more to Woodstock than that of the most brazen Bard of Minnesota; as is somewhat swiftly pointed out by Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue in the book’s Prologue (which benefits from the most Van Morrison of influenced titles, ‘Into The Mystic’): ”Woodstock has a way of down-shifting you from high gears into neutral. It’s not a coincidence that it is a strange attractor for the Tibetans and the Zen people. The Buddhists would have a word for ‘neutral’ – the void. All of that is there, from ages earlier than Dylan. I don’t want to get too mystical about it, but there’s more to Woodstock than it being a cute little town in the mountains where Bob had a place and some funny things happened to The Band on the way to the Forum. It is that place, at least to me – the creeks and the winding roads and the pitch-black nights – but all of that is on the inside. It’s the mountains of the minds.”

”The mountains of the mind,” now there’s a thought!

Throughout Small Town Talk, Hoskyns does indeed recreate Woodstock’s confined community of (sometimes rather brilliant) dysfunctional musicians, opportunistic hippie capitalists, scheming wheeler-dealers and erstwhile freaks; all of whom are unsurprisingly dazed and intermittently confused by their own difficult quest for spiritual truth.

So naturally, depending on point of view, this is a book that is idiosyncratic and informative in equal measure. Entertaining too.

David Marx

Paul McCartney – The Biography

mccarteny-the-biography

Paul McCartney – The Biography
By Philip Norman
Weidenfeld & Nicolson – £25.00

Having attended the premiere of The Beatles’ Eight Days A Week last Thursday, I couldn’t help but come away with a feeling of re-invigorated, inspired awe.

First off, there’s the relentless number of terrific songs, closely followed by the contagious sense of the fun and all encompassing, teenage induced mayhem. Then there’s the unavoidable sense of energy with which the four members of The Beatles performed – who, need we remind ourselves, were the same age as the all but manufactured, One Direction, during Beatlemania.

Indeed, there really is so much one could continue to write about Ron Howard’s documentation of the band’s period of live performance(s); most notably, the unquestionable abundance of high-octane, astonishing material.

But then there are the four individual Beatles themselves, each one of whom, to varying degrees admittedly, was responsible for making the Fab Four who and what they essentially were: the greatest band in the history of popular music. Period.

What also came across loud and exceedingly clear throughout the film, was the devastating song-writing prowess of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They were the ones who were fundamentally responsible for separating The Beatles from the nine-hundred-thousand-million other (mighty average) bands of the day; which is just one of many, many reasons why Paul McCartney – The Biography, is as idiosyncratically important as it is.

Important for a number of very qualified and varied reasons, one of the most pertinent of which is how the book substantiates the fact that The Beatles were not an overnight success. This is something Sir Paul McCartney made very clear before Thursday’s screening of Eight Days A Week, when interviewed by fellow Liverpudlian, John Bishop.

To be sure, The Beatles honed their craft by having played every superfluous, stinking dive and toilet in Liverpool and Hamburg; before their eventual manager, Brain Epstein, even set eyes on them. A fact which partially accounts for their brilliance, but most definitely accounts for most of today’s artists being pointless and puerile, lacklustre and in truth, fucking awful in comparison.

Then of course, there’s the book’s actual writing itself.

With this being the first actual biography written with McCartney’s approval, and with access to family members and friends closest to him, it ought hardly be surprising that it is as good and quintessentially un-put-downable as it is. There again, it was written by Philip Norman, who, along with having written Fiction and a number of Plays and Musicals, previous books include Shout! The True Story of The Beatles, The Stones, Elton, Days in the Life: John Lennon Remembered, The Age of Parody, Buddy: the Biography, John Lennon: The Life and Mick Jagger.

So, a fine pedigree of a writer, but perhaps of more substantiation, one to be clearly be trusted.

Might it be said that at 816 pages – excluding Acknowledgements, Picture Credits and Index – trust and truth will endeavour to go a very long way; especially given all four Beatles’ penchant for having never held back and for having always told it as it truly was.

So as one can probably imagine, the five parts of this veritable tomb of information (‘Stairway to Paradise,’ ‘The Barnum & Bailey Beatle,’ ‘Home, Family, Love,’ ‘Carrying That Wait’ and ‘Back in the World’), covers nigh every aspect and period of McCartney’s rich and varied life. This also includes the good, the bad and the ugly. The latter of which is traversed amid chapter 53, ‘Even by British tabloid standards, the nastiness has been extraordinary’ – which is an overview of the degree to which the British tabloids had sunk whilst covering McCartney’s divorce from the vile Heather Mills.

But for me, and, I suspect many others, it’s the earlier sections of the book that covers and somewhat analyses the heady days of The Beatles, that invariably makes for the most compelling reading.

For instance, in chapter twelve (‘Did you know he sleeps with his eyes open?’), Norman writes: ”[…] Their innovative presentation, not as lead vocalist and sidemen but four (almost) equals, gave them a wholly unforeseen extra power. On top of their collective charm, each had a distinct character appealing to different sections of their audience: there was the ‘clever’ one, the ‘cute’ one, the ‘quiet’ one and what film producer Walter Shenson called ‘the adorable runt of the litter.’

Together they were more articulate, charming and intelligent – above all funnier – than any pop artistes before, but this alone doesn’t explain the British media’s fixation on them during that rainy summer of 1963. It was a season of unremitting hard news, including the Profumo scandal, the biggest train robbery in history, the thwarting of Britain’s attempt to join the European Economic Community, the resignation of Prime minister Harold Macmillan and the resulting turmoil within the Tory government. Fleet Street initially turned to ‘Beatlemania’ (a term coined by The Daily Mirror) for a bit of light relief, thereby discovering to its surprise that pop-obsessed teenagers read newspapers, too. From then on, there was no surer way to shift copies.

Today, the ‘-mania’ tag is attached to any pop star, or other sort of star, who draws an ardent crowd: ‘Justin Bieber-mania,’ Leonardo DiCaprio-mania,’ One Direction-mania,’ Prince Harry-mania,’ etc., etc. But in the sleepy, orderly Britain of the mid-twentieth century, Beatlemania truly did seem to verge on the psychotic. And it wasn’t just the Mach-speed rise of the band’s records in the charts, the multitudes who queued for their shows, the incessant shrieks that drowned out every song they played, the volleys of jelly babies that were flung at the stage or the rows of seats left drenched in female urine.”

A sanctified, pop-induced image of a bygone era, does the above most accurately depict – just like that of Ron Howard’s just released docu-epic, Eight Days A Week. But where Philip Norman’s Paul McCartney – The Biography differs, apart from the fact that it’s a book, is its overall appreciation and analysis of the Beatles, followed by a more than considered continuation of McCartney’s life since.

Other than being a read that is cool and commendable, analytical and ambitious, it’s simply breath-taking on scope.

Fantabulous. Yeah Yeah Yeah.

David Marx

Prince

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Prince
By Matt Thorne
Faber & Faber – £12.99

Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home.
                                                                  Robert Christagau, The Village Voice

I’m a huge, huge Prince fan, but I have to say, this Updated Edition of Prince by Matt Thorne does rather read like a shopping list. It essentially consists of a chronological treatise of facts, figures and the countless songs recorded by the Minneapolis maverick – although very little else.

There’s no real insight into the actual artist himself, which, I don’t know about you, is what I’d fundamentally like to read about; especially when it comes to such an enigmatic and profoundly influential dean of musicology as he.

Such is all the more substantiated and put succinctly in the book’s third chapter (Wouldn’t You Love To Love Me?’) where former manager, Owen Husney, simply states: ”There was no one else around like him.”

Indeed there wasn’t, which is why reading something like the following makes for just a little too much linearity and dare I say it, dull and laboured reading: ”While working on the Vanity 6 album, Prince had also been preparing The Time’s second album, released a fortnight later. While the first album cover showed the whole band, Morris Day stands alone on What Time Is It?, […]. The record has more character than its predecessor, and although it is similarly structured, with three long dance tracks and three shorter songs, the lyrics are sharper and less generic, the concept now clearly in focus. It would be the hits from the third Time album that would fix the band in the public consciousness. But this is just as good. Prince’s association with the band was now well-established, as they’d supported him on his Controversy tour, but once again he kept his involvement hidden with only the co-production credit for ‘The Starr Company’ – the anonymous Jamie Starr’s new enterprise, also responsible for the Vanity 6 record – hinting at Prince’s involvement” – chapter six, ‘Gigolos Get Lonely Too (Part 1).’

To quote The Daily Telegraph’s Mick Brown, Thorne may well ”bring an exhaustive knowledge and attention to detail to the task,” but Prince as a whole is far too formulaic, far too scientific, to be remotely enjoyable.

David Marx

Led Zeppelin – The Ultimate Collection

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Led Zeppelin – The Ultimate Collection
By Chris Welch
Carlton Books – £50.00

Physical is the word – a smack in the teeth for all those detractors who had begun to doubt Led Zeppelin’s innate ability. Here was an ultra-tough riff with a raunchy beat that showed the band were back in business. They seemed a bolder, better band, playing together with a clearly defined sound and a firm sense of direction. Ne messy beats, no mangled vocals, just a mix of solid drums and guitar which combined to throw a custard pie in the face of a cynical world. John Paul Jones provided a sprightly electric clavinet riff in the background to a theme that has its roots in Blind Boy Fuller’s 1939 recording ‘I Want Some Of Your Pie.’

Along with such publications as When Giants Walked The Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin by Mick Wall, Led Zeppelin On Led Zeppelin by Hank Bordowitz and an array of others, you might be wrong to assume that almost everything has already been written on one of the world’s most toptastic and innovative of ‘great bands.’

Yet Chris Welch’s Led Zeppelin – The Ultimate Collection can finally put the inquisitive, guessing game to rest.

In this m-i-g-h-t-y tomb of an assortment that includes not only a 168-page book (that as well as being lavishly bound, is riddled with pull-out posters, tickets and a menagerie of surprising trinkets that’ll put a smile on the face of even the most jaded of cynics), there’s a DVD with archive interviews and never-before-seen film footage, along with thirty rare, removable documents and items of memorabilia.

If that weren’t enough, there are also five ready to mount, photographic art prints. So in all, one can herein rest assured that nigh every nook and Zeppelin induced cranny has finally been signed, sealed and delivered by way of innovative packaging.

Admittedly, the quality of some of the posters might be a little fuzzy, but there again, one does need to take into account when they were originally shot – probably the early seventies. And for what purpose?

Many of these enlarged photographs were no doubt initially taken, for no other reason than to be re-produced in one of the early seventies music papers. Not to be blown-up more than forty years later with a view to perhaps being mountd on people’s walls. That said, the subject matter of predominantly Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in full-quintessential-flight, is, for true fans at least, unquestionably charismatic enough to outweigh any blurring of doubt. A quality, which in and of itself, might be considered as part of the charm anyway.

Moreover, it is at the end of the day, the book’s writing that has to be this collection’s most intrinsically central, inviting aspect.

From the very outset of the book’s Prologue, where Welch writes: ”When Led Zeppelin burst on the scene with their debut album in 1969, the reaction ranged from stunned disbelief to incomprehension. The electrifying excitement of ‘Dazed and Confused,’ the menace of ‘How Many More Times’ and the frantic exuberance of ‘Communication Breakdown’ were just some of the performances that instantly set Led Zeppelin apart. Here was an album that would redefine rock music, shaping it for the next 25 years.,” right through to its final chapter, ‘The Long Farewell,’ upon which the author simply reflects: ”Jimmy Page and Robert P;ant were like nomads wandering in the desert, after the demise of Led Zeppelin. Exhausted and thirsty, they paused at the oasis of each new solo musical endeavour, hoping to find sustenance. Driven apart by the stresses and strains of the old group’s latter days, they could not work together, but despite their best efforts, they could not work apart.,” there’s an inviting simplicity to the writing, which, the more one finds out, the more one wants to delve into.

Replete with great colour and black and white photographs, there are separate chapters on all four members of the band, as well as chapters that chronologically follow and describe each of the band’s nine albums (excluding Remasters and Unledded), all of which go some way in deciphering just some of the magic: ””Bonzo” was the heart and soul of Led Zeppelin. The Bonham sound, purposeful and commanding, was woven into their creative fabric. Many numbers were built around the drums and guitar riffs he and Page worked out together, such as ‘Immigrant Song,’ Black Dog,’ and ‘When The Levee Breaks.’ His sense of swing came from his jazz and blues roots, and it was Bonham’s clever use of cymbals and percussion that brought such drama to ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love.’

An exquisite compilation, Led Zeppelin – The Ultimate Collection has to be an absolute must for any fan of the band or seventies rock in general; as here is where so much of loud’n’brash, yet intelligent rock’n’roll, truly started.

David Marx

1971 – Never A Dull Moment

1971

1971 – Never A Dull Moment
Rock’s Golden Year
By David Hepworth
Bantam Press – £20.00

          It was the best of times because in many respects it seemed to be the first of times.

What an utterly inviting, engaging and rather revelatory read 1971 – Never A Dull Moment has turned out to be.

As a regular reviewer of books, it can become relatively easy to slip into the subliminal slipstream of literary nonchalance, whereby the many inexorable words on the page are no longer punctuated by any form of inspired attraction. Although such is most certainly not the case with regards this glittering testimonial to the year 1971 – the year David Hepworth has described as ”rock’s best year.”

To be honest, it’s hard to disagree.

One need only randomly refer to any of the book’s twelve chapters (one for each month of the year along with a Prologue and an Epilogue) to ascertain just how idiosyncratic, how invigorating, how very, very valuable and important, popular music once was. A time when the music industry, and dare I say it, society at large, wasn’t so (kn)obsessed with a plethora of boy-bands and/or wailing tarts – for whom the parameters of music continues to entail nothing other than a cloying cleavage and all the vocal finesse of Benito Mussolini.

Reason being, 1971 was still a regal time of unquestioned innocence; which Hepworth is (unsurprisingly) keen to already alert us to in the very first chapter ‘January,’ wherein he writes: ”Smokers every where. On tube trains, in pubs, in offices, even in hospitals. No joggers, no health shops, no gyms, no leisurewear, no trainers, no mineral water, no Lycra, no fast food, no obesity. Wiry people […]. The only people with tattoos got them in the services […]. No security industry. No gates on Downing Street, no full body scans, no surveillance cameras, no speed bumps. Football fans pay two bob at the turnstile and then shove […]. no political correctness.”

No political correctness, yet there was still such a thing as society.

There again, Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet of Einsatzgruppen hadn’t yet arrived to evoke such sullen economic mockery amid the myopic naivety of the working class. No wonder rock’n’roll meant precisely that: rock and fucking roll.

Four blokes like The Who, making a great B-I-G colossal noise that actually meant something. That actually endeavoured to at least traverse such opium dullness as that of today’s grey, dull, barren, not to mention seismically redundant excuse of a pathetic music industry.

Indeed, from The Who’s Who’s Next to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, from Carole King’s Tapestry to Led Zeppelin’s IV, from The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers to Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells A Story, from Pink Floyd’s Relics and Meddle to John Lennon’s Imagine; in 1971, there really wasn’t, as this book’s title more than aptly suggests, a dull moment.

As Hepworth states in the book’s Epilogue: ”The middle of the road was the only place to be. Underground was over ground, anything could be a hit. It was into this moment of panic and opportunity that all these 1971 masterpieces were hurled […]. If my twenty-one year old self could have been transported from 1971 to 2016 he would be struck dumb by the laptops, the phones, the affluence, the foreign tongues on the street, the idea that music could be accessed as if from a tap, the fact that three out of five stories in the news were about the sex lives of famous people and the puzzling realization that he couldn’t just go out on Saturday evening and buy a ticket on the door for any show in town.”

The high-octane realization ought to surely be the fact that there are no shows in town actually worth going to, while those that are, cost somewhere in the region of almost a hundred pounds per ticket…

To be sure, one could conclude that for those of a certain age, 1971 – Never A Dull Moment is a truly terrific book; but to be perfectly honest, for anyone remotely interested in the truth and what the sanctity of music once meant (and perhaps, could once again), this book will and ought to appeal to those of any age.

David Marx

Red Hot Chili Peppers

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Red Hot Chili Peppers
By Gillian G. Gaar
Carlton books – £30.00

After co-founders Anthony and Flea, Chad Smith is the longest serving Chili Pepper, a man whom Flea fondly calls ”the lovable behemoth” and my true partner in rhythm… a man who grounds us from floating off into the sissy-boy ether.

A prescient black and white photo of a young embracing Anthony Keidis K and Flea on the cover of this altogether flash’n’fetching book – simply entitled Red Hot Chili Peppers Exclusive Box Set – suggests the fan/reader is in for a photographically bumpy ride.

Never a band to rest on their laurels nor subscribe to the Status Quo wardrobe of denim and erm, denim, Red Hot Chili Peppers have always gone out of their way to confront conformity, which this fully illustrated book (that includes five posters and twelve memorabilia items) reflects: ”For over 30 years now, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been there. They’ve managed to withstand blows that would have felled many a lesser band. Line-up changes. Substance abuse. Death. Yet they’ve always managed to bounce back, recharged, regrouped, and re-energized, just as anxious as their fans to find out what the future has in store for them.”

I first came across the Peppers whilst living in Brooklyn, where a flat mate leant me a couple of live tapes. And it was apparent immediately, that this lot could really play like muvvas; although at the time, they were still a relatively unknown, underground band.

As authoress Gillian G. Gaar goes on to explain, the (ever-changing) foursome have always courted success as if it were second nature: ”One secret to their success is their ability to continually reinvent themselves. Sometimes it’s because they’ve had no other choice, as when they lost a band member. On other occasions, it’s been because they’ve recognised that some kind of change was needed in order to keep the forward momentum going.”

Replete with entertaining drop quotes such as Hillel Slovak’s ”We prefer to be known as bone-crunching mayhem funk” and Anthony Keidis’s ”Even when we’re pissed off with each other we sit in a room and work,” this book is essentially written chronologically – album by album.

Littered with an array of zany colour photos, which in a round-a-bout way, highlights the band’s varying mood swings, temperaments and nuanced changes – whether by choice, necessity or death – Red Hot Chili Peppers Exclusive Box Set is, as always with Carlton, a really well conceived/put together package.

It addresses the issue of all the band’s guitar players, and needless to say, it delves into the lives of the band’s prime protagonists: ”You simply can’t imagine the Red Hot Chili Peppers without Anthony. His swaggering brashness is tempered by a mischievous spirit and a generous slice of self-deprecation – all welcome attributes for the lead singer of a rambunctious and ridiculously energetic, band […]. When he was 12, Anthony moved in with his father, who by now was supplementing his acting career with drug dealing. Father and son became a bizarre double act, hitting nightclubs together, drinking and doing drugs together; even chasing women together.”

If you’re a fan, this book’s no doubt for you.

David Marx