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Book Reviews      by Blowfish
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A Town Called Malice
By Adam Abramowitz

Town Called Malice This is a mystery book (2019) with Boston as a backdrop. What makes it of interest to us is that it is filled with references to the Boston Rock scene from punk onward.

In truth, the whole rock thing seems added on, you could take it out and the book would work without it. Having said that, we liked those mentions of the scene we love! That Abramowitz made it a point it put them in there, makes you believe he loves it all too. He grew up in Allston and the South End and worked as a courier, bartender, doorman, and long-time mover, and he graduated from UMass Boston, so he knows the city and seemingly its music scene.

He mentions all the obvious bands: Willie Loco, Nervous Eaters, Neighborhoods, Outlets, Blackjacks, Bosstones, Letters to Cleo, Human Sexual Response and Lyres. He goes a little deeper with The November Group, Titantics, New Models, and Tribe. Some of the mystery involves the metal band called Mass whose heyday was in the 80s.

He gets all the clubs in there too: The Rat, Spit, Chet’s, Paradise, TT the Bears, Middle East and Jumping Jack Flash. In the only flub he locates Green Street Station in Green St Cambridge rather than Jamaica Plain. He has a scene at the Rat where there’s a conversation with Mitch.

He quotes from songs by Robin Lane, Neighborhoods and the Atlantics.

The mystery gets complicated. Abramowitz fills up the pages with snappy dialog and observations on the Boston locale. The idea that the Boston music scene can be used as material to flesh out a story is the point of interest here for us.

His first book, called Bosstown, about a bike messenger, has music references too, he mentions Malachite.

Review by Blowfish

Neon Apocalypse.
By Jake Tringali

Neon Apoocalyse There’s a new poet in town.

Through the years there’s only been Nola Rizzo with one poetry book in 1976, and Dave Morrison currently with a lot of books, some reviewed below.

The problem with a lot of poets (to me) is that they're not talking about issues in our language and imagery. Tringali doesn’t relate things to flowers and seasons, he’s in the clubs and that’s where the subjects come from. There’s lots of bars, drinking, music and tattoos. Boy, are there tattoos. He obviously sees tattoos as an indicator. He even gives God a tattoo.

The poems in the book interrelate. The poem inside a salem parlor has the words “ladies laughed darkly” which is the name of an earlier poem. He has a poem about planets and the person in the next poem dreams of planets. A character described as “the first motorhead on mars” shows up in two poems. A poem that mentions liquor is preceded by a poem with liquor as a main subject.Those repetitions click as you read and help to unify the book.

He does a lot of free verse but he also lets some rapid rhymes pile up for effect as in ladies laughed darkly:

These scorned flowers
With fathomless powers
Mankind cowers
In the late hours.

The poem musical harm takes you into the punk bar environs. It’s dedicated to Keith Brooks, a well-loved punker who has passed. That is appreciated.

He talks you into a punk club scenario in under the merch table. He paints a seamy picture of that punk club and under that merch table it’s the worst ever.

This is material we can all relate to and it’s written sharply and at times can be sexy or rebellious.

Jake is doing some live reading and he knows how to make the internal rhythms become almost song like. He’s well worth seeing.

Having a worthy poet around like Tringali makes the scene richer. This book is for those who want to go to the next level and appreciate punk sensibilities in a wider view.

Review by Blowfish

Your Band Sucks: What I saw at Indie Rock’s Failed Revolution (but can no longer hear)
By Jon Fine

Jon Fine This is pretty cool if you take it at its own level. It’s a look at the workings of an indie band in the late eighties from the inside.

The trio Bitch Magnet were college students that got a band going at a time when there were tons doing the same. A lot of what they went through is what other bands did and that’s why it’s a record of the time.

The author Jon Fine who was the band's guitarist is now a business writer for Inc. Magazine. He doesn’t paint himself as a saint. There were lots of tense times in that band and you could see he was a source of a lot of stress for the others. That’s frank, and hey, that’s how a lot of bands work.

There was a Boston connection. The drummer Orestes lived in Boston for a while. One of their early shows was in Cambridge at the Middle East and it was booked by Billy Ruane. He does a good job describing Billy. He talks about hearing the news of Billy’s death also. The legend of Ruane continues there. He then gives Boston a few pages. He tells of the scene, the radio and the record stores. He calls a few bands “unthrilling guitar pop” and names them. I bristled at that. See, you don’t want to be in a van with this guy.

He says that Austin also had Boston Disease which he describes as where “weirdo musicians…scrape by on local gigs, local kudos, and part-time jobs”. Well, that’s something to mull over and is one of the reasons I like this book. I may disagree with his assessments but he does zero in on these issues that exist for low level bands.

Another chapter is titled “Jonathan Richman Has Ruined Rock for Another Generation”. There he brings up the example of a band he saw that couldn’t play but somehow had people who loved them and they lived in that bubble of adulation. He uses that as a caution. He doesn’t want that to happen to him. How do you know if that is going on? That’s another thing to ponder.

There are lots of issues like that. They are brought up as issues of the band are addressed, as the tours go on, and the miles in the van pile up and the personalities butt heads.

This is not a book for the casual reader, more for people in bands and those steeped in the music scene at a lower level.

Review by Blowfish

Green Day Faq.
By Hank Bordowitz

Green Day Faq
Boy, do some of the old punks hate Green Day. This book won’t change that but it does give the full picture of Green Day’s career which includes a lot to like for punks if they had an open mind.

The ‘FAQ’ in the title might make you think this is just a bunch of random bulleted lists and unrelated stories. In reality it’s a well-researched overview that goes to 338 pages (with some bulleted lists) that ends up being a detailed bio. It's second hand reporting and the story is divided into topics but it does the job. A lot of inside bios get bogged down, this doesn’t.

Green Day’s success came fast and was ginormous. That was the cause of the first backlash. In reality the band did their time playing 924 Gilman St, touring the US twice and Europe, with their own earnings, and releasing two recordings before Dookie. Even if you don’t like pop punk, the Dookie songwriting brilliance cannot be denied.

This book reviews how Green Day tried to keep the business side of things real, even as the runaway success attracted and tempted the business people around them. As you read this you ask yourself if this happened to me – what would I do? Thinking about it makes you realize that they did as well as anyone could.

On the creative side they have the same problem as say REM had; how to keep creative in a long career, and Green Day always wanted a long career. They made sure they have a recording home and they never but never stopped writing.

They had a myriad of side projects that were used to keep busy when the Green Day machine slowed down. Some of these side projects would be a career for other people in and of themselves.

There were some drug and health problems. It came to a head in 2012 at the iHeart Radio Music Festival where Billie Joe acted out on stage. He was soon in rehab. At the time Billie was mad at drugs because it got in the way of his drinking. He was a blackout drinker for a while. Is all that fixed? The book doesn’t say.

One famous and notorious incident was Boston based. When they played the Hatch Shell they underestimated the crowd the band would draw and the police weren’t versed in the art of moshing. They pulled the plug and a full scale riot spilled over into the nearby streets.

In the end it all shows you that Billy Joe and company never rested on their ass or took anything for granted. The answer to every problem was work, write songs and tour.

There’s a lot more here; plenty of info on each album, a look at all the side projects, the full story of American Idiot and it’s reception, their gear, business, recording studios they used, explanations of songs…it goes on. You have to be interested. I used it to get up to speed on the group.

Review by Blowfish

Everything is Combustible
By Richard Lloyd

Everything is Combustable Richard Lloyd, ex of Television, admits to being Bipolar and being institutionalized several times. He admits to being both a raging alcoholic and a big drug abuser for extended periods of his life. The question one may ask then is, what do you expect this book to be about?

You get the dramatic drug and alcohol mishaps and resulting medical problems. Surprisingly he’s lucid about all those things - and blunt.
His personal beliefs are out there; he believes that when he was born he was a fully thinking adult. In the crib he had sophisticated Zen thoughts. He has a whole philosophy about wishes.
Beyond that there are some interesting stories. He has a lot of celebrity friend stories. There’s Keith Moon in his glory, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and many visits to Keith Richards’ house in Connecticut. There is also a large parcel of sexual exploits both with male and female partners.

There’s all that, but he does illuminate his time in Television and his resulting solo career. He goes right from the first time seeing Tom Verlaine in a small NYC bar with Richard Hell in attendance. His stories about Tom Verlaine’s oddball personality are funny and frustrating and one imagines true. It’s the same with the Richard Hell stories. All his writing on Television satisfies your curiosity there. He tells of his time living with Terry Ork. I’ve always wondered how Ork fit into the NY scene and TV specifically and this book does that.

When writing about his Television and solo careers he shows you how it was derailed by the drugging and drinking. It’s a very familiar tale for anyone reading rock bios.

Lloyd is always making a point. There are no dead spots, the prose moves along briskly.
Worth getting? Hard to say. You can’t get the insights into Television any other place. With his frank writing you get an idea of his unusual thought process.

Review by Blowfish

Do You Have s Band?
By Daniel Kane

Do You Have a Band10 To be truthful: How many of us read poetry? Not many I’m guessing, but stay with me for a moment. This book is about the intersection of poetry and punk in NYC. The main interest for us would be the obvious people; Patti Smith and Richard Hell. What Kane uncovers there is worth reading.

He first covers the Fugs and Lou Reed before concentrating on the Poetry Project, ongoing poetry readings at St Marks Church (Close to CBGB's.). There the second wave of NYC poets did their thing. Those poets would be Anne Waldman, Frank O’Hara, Ted Berrigan, Eileen Myles and others.

As punk was brewing Smith and Hell found their way to the Poetry Project. That’s where Patti did her first reading with Lenny Kay on 2/10/71. She was a phenomenon from the first reading.
Even before that Richard Hell was doing a mimeographed poetry magazine called Genesis: Grasp (first issue was in 1968).

What Kane does that no one else has is to delve into that period and examine what Hell and Smith were doing in detail and what they were aiming for. He comes up with a few things you might not know. He does a superior job illuminating Smith and her motives.
There is so much that connects the poets and the punks. More than what we would expect going through the same period here in Boston. We didn’t have that synergy at all.

Kane covers Jim Carrol then links in Giorno Poetry Systems and ends talking about poet Dennis Cooper.
Kane’s a wonderful close reader of poems. He even spots a point in Baudelaire that he thinks inspired Hell’s hairdo; “ hairs, time and again/Raised on my scalp because the wind of Fear went by.” He targets the origin of “Blank Generation” to “I Belong to the Beat Generation” a joke record by Rod McKuen.

You don’t have to be a poetry reader to take this in but you do have to have the interest in the NYC early punk era and Hell and Smith. If you have the interest in the poetry too then it really is the book for you.

Review by Blowfish

Lonely Boy
By Steve Jones

Lonely Boys Steve Jones has always come across as the lovable rogue, this book conveys that impression also. He’s funny, blunt and down to earth.
The book has three sections: Before, During and After – the Sex Pistols.

Jones was very poor growing up; and poor in England is worse than poor in America as he points out. He was an inveterate thief from the get go.
He says he woke up every day with the thought, “what am I gonna pilfer today?” He relates many of his notable capers with a laugh but you can’t help think of the victims.

He had a broken family and was sexually abused by the stepfather. As we know that leaves a scar for life.

About the time of the Dolls touring England Jones starts a rag tag band that includes Paul Cook later of the Pistols.

Around 1972 he gets involved with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and their store SEX. Then things heat up. With the Sex Pistols forming you get all the stories from the inside. It all seems similar to what we’ve heard over the years, there are no big surprise revelations. He admits he was drunk and drugged during most of the Sex Pistols years and contributes that to his success. How’s that for a bad drug message?

As the Pistols break up he gets hooked on heroin. He gets Hep C. He eventually finds his way to AA.
He goes through a few groups and ends up with Jonesy’s Jukebox.

Jones is a good story teller so the book is entertaining all the time but it’s not essential. It’s all surface. Jones is not an intellectual; he’s a jovial tour guide.
He does have impeccable taste in music. He mentions that he admired the first Johnathan Richman LP.

Review by Blowfish

Stranded in the Jungle
By Curt Weiss

Jeryy Nolan story It’s no secret and there's no mystery: many of us are fascinated by everything about the NY Dolls and Heartbreakers. Both were pivotal in the swing from old rock to punk. The stories around them are legend and the characters, oh the characters!

Curt Weiss focuses on drummer Jerry Nolan in his book Stranded in the Jungle. Weiss shows that Nolan was as interesting as all the others.

In the subtitle is “a tale of drugs” and you know that’s going to be there however Weiss always keeps the music in the mix. It isn’t just endless drug stories but drugs interfering with the music and career. By doing that you can feel the sadness in the slow decline and imagine the could-have-beens.
There’s lots of detail in the book. Weiss has gone to the source where possible. In many instances he gets a quote from a person who was there and involved to nail a point.

You think Nolan was ‘just a drummer’? No way, this guy had a whole philosophy of ‘profiling’ which means dressing and acting in proper rock and roll form. Weiss shows how this guiding principle was consistent through his whole career and affected all the groups he was in.
Jerry had a charisma and was rock and roll from the beginning, even before the Dolls he had quite a resume. He played with Curtis Knight, Suzi Quatro, Billy Squire and Jane County and knew Bette Midler too. Peter Criss of Kiss was a childhood buddy.

An interesting fact is that Jerry played with the blunt end of the drumstick, backwards otherwise, to make a bigger bang.

There are lots of New York Dolls and Hearbreakers stories, you’ll get your fix of that. Weiss makes the point a few times that Nolan would relate stories of his time in those groups to people greedy to hear it. So that fixation has been there from the early days.
It’s uplifting to hear about the reception of the Dolls/Heartbreakers in England amongst the punks. They had their day and they had influence.

Let’s get parochial and talk about the locals that get mentioned. Simon Ritt comes in on the later part of Jerry’s career. Simon in the Daughters was on many bills with the Heartbreakers.
Greg Allen was there on the last days and was giving Jerry a big lift by starting a group with him and getting songs lined up. In that group was Vinny Earnshaw who was also in Greg Allen’s Fringe Religion later.
Boby Bear gets a quote talking about the night the Nolan group played the Rat on January 1, 1984.

One big revel is that when Jerry was playing behind Sid Vicious there was a Boston show planed for the Rat on Sept 24, 1978 but Sid was too screwed up to do it and indeed died a month later on Oct 24.

This is the book you want. It’s filled with info and insights, it’s got plentiful tales that reinforce the importance we put on those times and people. It does it’s job making you see the value and contribution of Jerry Nolan and ultimately makes you feel the weight of loss with his death.

Review by Blowfish

By Patti Smith

Devotion by Patti Smith
Devotion is a short book, originally meant to be an essay. Its object is to illustrate how a story writer gets their ideas and makes a story of it.
The book is divided into three parts.

In the first part Patti presents the influences and ideas that work their way into her story. This being Patti the flow of ideas seem random and sometimes dreamlike. Much like they did in M Train. It makes sense here because that's the way the mind works.

The second part is her short story Devotion. Eugenia lives to skate. It's her 'devotion' and she is fulfilled by it. An older rich man Alexander intrudes into her life. Eugenia eventually kills him and goes back to skating. It can be read that Alexander represents the corrupting influences of money and sex. The writing style is similar to the imaginative writing of Haruki Murakami.

The third section is a short five pages on "Why is one compelled to write?"

The book does its job.
It is interesting and instructional but not essential reading.

M Train and Just Kids are the major works all should read. Devotion will be more for completests and those interested in the concept.

Review by Blowfish

'77 Sulfate Strip
By Barry Cain

77 Sulfate Strip This is about the punk scene in England in the year 1977 so you know you care right there. The author Barry Cain was a reporter for the Record Mirror at that time and saw the unfolding at ground zero.

It's basically an excuse to reframe his 1977 columns. Those columns do bring back the crazy heightened tone of the era. In that way they transmit the excitement of that new abrasive music and its purveyors.

Cain and the people he talks to only focus on a few groups: Sex Pistols, Jam, Damned, Clash and the Stranglers. The rest are dismissed as unworthy. Gee, I loved all those other outfits, so it comes up short there.

The last third of the book is new interviews from 2007. The best here is Rat Scabies of the Damned. He remembers and tells many details from stories you have heard through the years. The interview with John Lydon is long but he talks about himself and not nearly enough about '77.

There's not a lot new or things you don't know, it's about wallowing in the punk of the era.

Review by Blowfish

Don't All Thank Me At Once.
By Brett Milano

Scott Miller book by Brett Millano
Scott Miller was the founder of thew bands Game Theory and The Loud Family. Those are probably names you’ve heard but don’t know much about. They've gotten college airplay and have some devoted fans.

   Brett makes the case that there's great music here and that the man behind the groups, Scott Miller, was a genius of sorts. Scott worked for Silicon Valley tech companies and was well versed in James Joyce and T.S. Eliot. Some of that seeped into the music.

    This book is 170 pages of details on the songs, the recordings, the band line ups and the life of Scott. So you have to care a bit. You also have to put in some time to listen to the music if you haven't done that before.

    There wasn’t a big clamber for this book like there probably is now for a similar treatment for David Bowie. It was a labor of love for Brett.

    If you are a fan of Scott, this book is sent from heaven. If not, you can use it to get up to speed on this very interesting musician and his music.

Available on Amazon

Review by Blowfish

M Train
By Patti Smith

M Train

Patti Smith holds a special place for us punks. Piss Factory changed the course of history for us. Horses was refreshing and the first salvo against the 70's rock doldrums. When she quit rock to just be married for a while I felt perplexed and abandoned. Of course this is very similar to what Patti's hero Rimbaud did. Later she returned to rock and did a few albums and her reputation grew again. Then it seemed people cared about her just because she was herself.

   Her previous book Just Kids was very successful not just because it celebrated the 70's New York culture but because it was her story too. Now Patti fills large halls just talking about her newest book.
   It's great that she is a celebrity now. So many of our punk personalities just sort of came and went as far as the general public is concerned. Now we have the latest book. M Train. It's an unusual book. There's no compelling narrative, to the contrary it jumps from thought to thought on a thread. Patti gives us an insight into where her mind (the M Train) leads her.

    Above all she is a poet and she has a poet's mind. She imbues her chotskies with talismanic power. She wanted to bring rocks from a prison in Africa to Jean Genet because the rocks will somehow contain the spirit of desired place. The prose goes from real world description to fantasies, memories and musings. At times the writing borders on surreal or has a slightly drunk quality. She's also working out real problems especially the loss of Fred Sonic Smith. We find that she makes her living giving lectures around the world. That seems so perfect for her; living the life of an artist celebrity.
   Like Just Kids, M Train works because of her sensibilities. She sweeps us along and it's a great read. She's in a unique position and the book is a singularity too. If you care about her you will like the book.

Review by Blowfish

Be Stiff: the Stiff Record Story
By Richard Balls

Stiff Records

Did we love those Stiff releases back in the day or what?
   I was a DJ in the Late Risers Club at that time and we just bought those 45’s whenever we saw one. It didn’t matter who or what it was, if it had the Stiff label we got it and we played it.
   Stiff came into being for the same reason punk came into being: it was a reaction against the corporate rock behemoth.

   I always knew Jake Riviera was the main guy but it turns out there was a co-owner; Dave Robinson. Riviera left after a few years and it was Robinson who led the label until the end. Robinson had a strong connection to the pub rock scene and Brinsley Schwarz and that explains the Nick Lowe connection. That pub rock to punk period was interesting and the first section on the book covers that.

   An inspiration for Riviera was Jonathan Richman’s Roadrunner and the Beserkley Record label. From the beginning Balls tells about some real oddball characters and most of them had 45’s. You get their stories and what led up to the recordings, that’s the main attraction of the book for me.
   One running sad joke is the inability of Wreckless Eric to get a hit no matter what Stiff did. Barney Bubbles was one strange guy who did most of the sleeves that we're all familiar with. Strange and brilliant I should add.

   After a few years Riviera left and took Costello, Lowe and the Damned with him and started Radar records. The book continues as plenty is going on with Stiff till the end in 1986. The end is less interesting than the beginning but still quite a tale. This book captures the excitement of those early punk years during the telling of the Stiff story.
    It's a good read but I would only recommend it to those with interest in Stiff Records to begin with and if you are this is a fascinating story.

Review by Blowfish.

Everything I'm Cracked Up To Be
By Jen Trynin

Jen Trynin Jen Trynin can be used as a symbol of the indie rock industry of her day; her day being 1995.
   We have been feed record industry stereotypes; phony, opportunistic, eccentric, power hungry…one could go on. Jen's book is here to confirm those stereotypes. In that sense there is nothing new here.

   The twist is her breezy and flowing prose that makes it all easy to swallow. Just about the entire 350 page story is told in dialog which presents a problem. Do we think she wrote all the dialogs down? Did she remember it? Did she make it up? At what point between real and made up do we slot this book?
   I care about this sort of thing so when I read it I was a little reserved about embracing it.

   Outside of the record industry machinations she relates her personal relationships during the era which holds interest. Much of the action happens in NYC and the West Coast. You don't get a lot that shows the local scene. She name checks TT the Bears, WBCN and not much else outside of a nice scene with Mikey Dee. She mentions bands, people and clubs but changes the names. I didn't ID some of those. The Middle East for example is given a different name. Also, Aimee Mann shows up time and again.

   It's a fun read and we can laugh and learn from a distance as she and her career goes through the record industry ringer.

Review by Blowfish

A Man Called Destruction
By Holly George-Warren

Alex Chilton

      What I thought I knew about Alex Chilton was that outside of some great songs he was erratic in performance and personality and eclectic in music. This biography confirms those impressions.
     His story is not typical of most and no great lessons can be derived from learning the details. All this is to say that this book is for those with enough interest about Alex to spend the time reading those details. I confess I am one who cares.

     I liked getting the background of his Memphis life. I was also happy to get the story of his resurgence with the interest of the punk movement. Here they talk about Terry Ork and his record company. Not much has been written about that and even here there is just enough to give you an idea of what was going on.
     Boston comes into play a few times. They mention that the second set Big Star played at the Performance Center (a club in Harvard Square that had a short life) was the best they ever did. At that gig (backing Badfinger) Billy Squier lent them some equipment. Alex also played the Rat a few times in his solo career.

     Holly George-Warren does a good job. She did lots of research and interviews and you feel like you are getting the real story as much as anyone could. There are lots of twists and turns to his story and many people who he interacted with. I focused on his time collaborating with Jon Tiven another person who you don't hear much about. There are stories about Alex's time with Tav Falco (Panther Burns) and the Cramps.

     Often he was characterized as "tempermental". He would often turn off longtime friends with no compunction. No mental illness is ever mentioned but that's what I would suspect. Through the book you learn his personality and how he lived the way he wanted.
     Alex died suddenly at age 59 on the way to the hospital complaining of chills and shortness of breath.

     Do you care enough about the Box Tops, Big Star and those solo albums to want to know the background? You decide.

Review by Blowfish.

Black Postcards
By Dean Wareham

Dean Wareham

Galaxy 500 was born in Boston but Dean Wareham was born in New Zealand. The family moved to Australia then NYC. He came to Boston to go to Harvard. As much as Boston claims him he seems to be a NYC person. He lives there now.

   There is about a 30 page stretch where he talks about the early Boston days. There are chapters named CHET'S LAST CALL and THE RAT. He mentions how WMBR playing Tugboat helped move Galaxy 500 along.

   What I love about the book the most is the insight into what a less than blockbuster act goes through on the road and in its business dealings. The thing about Wareham is that he is blunt. He's blunt about his band, band members, record companies, Boston and himself. This makes for provocative reading. I don't think I'd want to be around him for any length of time though - too harsh. Surprisingly he talks of empty clubs on his tours with Luna despite them being well known. A lot is written about things as they tour and he makes it interesting by keeping things balanced. There are no repetitive and boring tour excess stories.
   He keeps the spotlight on the music except for his early years and then the affair with Britta the gorgeous bass player that broke up his marriage. Other musicians' autobiographies I've read talk about everything but the music (Eric Clapton). Wareham talks about the songs and the lyrics and how they were inspired and created.

    Near the end of the book he talks about playing the Middle East where he played scared at the beginning of his career. Now more confident going "back to Cambridge was like going back to the old house I lived in as a child, which is somewhat pleasant but slightly depressing, too." He does have that Boston connection.
   The book ends with Luna's breakup.
   In the end it's intelligent and interesting and a good addition to rock lit.

Review by Blowfish

The Sound of Our Town.
By Brett Milano

The Sound of Our Town
This had to be done - a complete story of the rock that has come out of Boston. Brett did the heavy lifting. He manages to review all the important Boston rock acts starting with the G-Clefs and their hit Ka-Ding Dong in 1956. I didn't know about the G-Clefs or the under the radar rockabilly act Gene Malthais with his song Gangwar.
    Almost every other act and era I know most of the story but I enjoyed reading Brett's analysis. He puts things in a bigger context and he is able to sum up an act or era in a few succinct lines often humorously
   He also gets some new comments from the principals with his interviews from; Ocasek, Bruce Arnold of Orpheus, Joey Kramer of Aerosmith, John Felice of The Real Kids, J. Geils, Robin Lane, etc.
   The sixties music is always fun to read about; The Remains, The Ramrods, and the Boston Sound; eventually leading into Aerosmith in the early seventies.
   The punk era is what we really care about and Brett gives it plenty of room. He seems to cover everything and everybody. By the dawn of the eighties the bands proliferate so much that he couldn't be a completest but he manages to get most of the people you can think of.
   The book is published in 2007 so he ends with the scene at the Abbey.
   It's a must have for all fans and would be the go to book for those who got to the scene late or just want the whole damn story.

By Morrissey


If you are not a fan of Morrissey you should move along now; there's nothing for you here. Fans, however, will be riveted with the tales of childhood, the outrages slags he loves to throw and the insightful capsule reviews of the people and music he loves.
   He writes about the things he sings about which is probably the way it should be and that helps us see clearer what we sort of know. The first example is that early schooling that seems to have been abusive, well yes, big time corporal and mental abuse that the Moz cannot let be. He goes on about it for a while.
   He is Manchester to the bone. He makes so many references to English culture I was googling names constantly. It's a whole other set of artists, songs and authors that mean next to nothing to an American. I took it as a chance to find out about them.
   As far as his personal interactions goes his writing manages to be both ambiguous and ambivalent which is a mind bending combination. No matter how much he writes you still just don't know what to think.
   When he talks about music he's very sharp and that was some of my favorite bits.
   The ending section of the book he talks about his big tours and records (in very general terms). One jaw dropping moment he talks about his gig at Lowell Memorial Hall and the city. He claims to be "seduced" by it and asks, "Would they let me stay?" Really? Lowell? Maybe it has that mill-town feel like Manchester that he is relating to. Odd.
   There's lots more in this than I can talk about but all fans will love this pointed and lively autobiography.

Review by Blowfish

Next Big Thing
By Terry Kitchen

Next Big Thing by Terry Kitchen

People have threatened to do this from the beginning; that is write a novel centered on the Boston scene. Forward 30 plus years and here it is. So, right there it is congratulations to Terry Kitchen who was in Loose Ties and knows the ins and outs of the scene and nails it.
   No pussy footing around he makes the story one of a band from out of town working their way through the club scene, a perfect way to name check places and to put you in familiar situations. Along with the band story is the romance. Pistonhead by Hauck (see below) covers some of this territory but didn't have the wealth of detail as this.
   His clever trick is making the story unfold in two time frames - one from '81 to 83 the other '86. That way you get to see the early dreams versus real life. The band starts on the North Shore and you get many references from there like Dogtown. Later they live in Brighton.

     You get the early band drama at the beginning of the novel then the local references really pick up at page 105. He has characters getting excited at their first trip to Kenmore Sq and the Rat. He mentions Cantones, Jumbo's (where Radio is now), Twin Donuts, Bunratty's, Jumping Jack Flash, Channel, In Your Ear (he calls In Your Face), Deli Haus, IHOP (OMG - many a late night there) and more. He gets the details right and it all adds to the veracity of the tale. When someone goes into a record store he makes sure someone asks to check their bag. This is where Terry shines. There's people out there, like me, that care about that similitude. The band progresses and ends up in the Bean Pot a stand in for the Rumble.

     This is very good for a first novel. There is enough drama and romance to keep the story going. Terry makes the stressful dynamics of being in a rock group painfully real. It was exciting to read a story based on what you love and know. I don't think this is the last word on this even from Terry. He should continue to write and develop.
    The book also comes with a CD of songs from the mock group. Ghosts of Kenmore Square is about the after effects of the Rat closing.
    Book is available as an ebook too at

Review by Blowfish

New York Hardcore 1986-1993
By David Koenig

NYC hardcore by David Koenig

     Koenig never actually finished writing this book so he posted the raw info as an ebook. Good for us. Even in this form is gives a lot of insight into what was going on in the Big Apple. The format of a big section of this is a question followed by answers by a large group of people, then another question, etc. In the process you get familiar with the venues, bands and personalities of the scene. Later he lists the song titles in many band demos and the gigs at CBGB's, not surprisingly the main focus of the scene.

     Even raw and unfinished I found it more interesting than a John Grisham novel…that's what punk does to you, I guess. You know whether you care about this too.

     Download the book here…did I mention FREE?…

Review by Blowfish

I Dreamed I was a Very Clean Tramp - An Autobiography
By Richard Hell

Richard Hell - I Dreamed I was a Very Clean Tramp

      As always, and even after this book, I am ambivalent about Richard Hell. He talks pretty candidly about himself here and readily points out when he was wrong or made stupid choices or was a jerk but it's pretty obvious he's still madly in love with himself as he gives himself credit for everything from creating punk rock and its fashion to being solely responsible for the scene at CBGB! Come on now Richie it was a movement, a product of its time, and a generation…yeah, "blank" I'll give you that! But hey that's Richard Hell…I remember meeting him when he played at the Rat in 78 or so. He was so sure every girl in the place was hot for him that when I tried to talk to him he actually said "We are like two ships passing in the wasn't meant to be." I was like "Huh? I just want to ask you a few questions for the BGN." Imagine my surprise when I read in this book that his friend Jennifer, at that time, used to say "My thoughts and me are like ships passing in the night." So I guess that wasn't an original phrase for him!

     This book is about Hell's life up until he decided to give up music in 1983. He starts out talking about his childhood and admits it was mundane…playing cowboys and Indians and living in a suburban town like any other suburban town. Let's face it I read this book to get to the part about punk, and then it becomes, for folks like us, an amazingly great read. So now I like Richard Hell again, and have lots of respect for him. I learn he left home with no money at 17 to make it in NYC. He wanted to be a poet but slowly veers toward music with school chum Tom Miller/Verlaine. He makes intentional life and fashion choices that point to the beginnings of the punk ethos.

    Then when describing the nascent scene at CBGB he says something that makes me totally love him and know that he was and is and always will be the real thing: "This was the essence of CBGB then and there that we, with our rejected and extreme sets of beliefs and values and intentions, had managed to materialize an environment in which we were not outside, but at home ourselves. Where we were the positive standards of being, rather than examples of failure, depravity, criminality and ugliness. It was a world of rock and roll and poetry and anger and revelry and drunkenness and sex…it brought real life, as opposed to the conventions of popular songs, back to rock and roll…The traits and signs of what came to be called punk were the ways that we'd systematically invented or discovered a means of displaying on the outside what was inside us. That's the origin of the funny, lyrical, angry music, the haircuts, the clothes, the names and everything else that identified us. What defined the club was that it was where we were completely ourselves." Whew!! If that doesn't sum it all up, and perfectly, I don't know what does. That can only come from someone who truly knew.

      As a woman reading this book I also learned a bit about how men think. He keeps sport of sidetracking to write about some the women in his life and remembers things like how their hair would shine a certain way in the light or what parts of their bodies were like.

     He also talks about his decent into addiction and how it caused him to be an ass and make bad choices. But all in all this book is a fascinating walk down memory lane and then some…and it's so cool to read about NYC in those days and the life of someone who was there through it all. There's photos too, not a ton but good ones to bring you back to the good old days too!

Review by Miss Lyn.

By Paul Harding

Tinkers by Paul Harding

      The buzz on this book was that it was written by a Boston Punk (he was in Cold Water Flat). That got my attention. Harding has also taught writing at Harvard and the University of Iowa and that is more to the point because this is some serious writing.

      The material is austere and stark. The cover is a clue here. This is the winter landscape of the mind. Harding is trying to get to the nub of what we are when there is nothing left in life and then life itself begins to ebb. This is not the feel good book of the year.
     Time and time again the focus becomes the intersection of man and nature. This theme contrasts with our constant-in-touch technology driven lifestyle and can be a welcome wake up for us.
     It's a short book that looks deep into mans existential battle.
     It's a Pulitzer Prize winner so you really don't need me to tell you it's worth the read but be in the right frame of mind to take this in.

Review by Blowfish

By Dave Morrison


      I had hopes for this. A book of poetry focused on the rock and roll lifestyle -- this could go either way. As it turns out, it's right on the mark. Dave has the right voice for this look at Clubland.
      It seems like Dave has remembered everything from his days in the Trademarks and put it to good use here. He never missteps in his wistful yet frank look at the bars, motels, managers, band members and girl friends that make up the world of Boston Citgo sign-Bunratty's-hit Storrow Drive to get there rock.
      He captures the moments with friends and lovers, bar veterans, music fans with fidelity. Time and time again the poems brought me to a place or feeling that was so familiar. Mysterious Gift has a point that reminds me of the way I feel in the middle of a great show:

"And just like that point when a plane leaves the ground
she's no longer thinking, watching, aware
she's swimming alone in a womb of sound
she's simultaneously there and not there."

      Dave says in the afterward that he was trying to use this material first as a book but I like the way these scenes play out in short form like the piece called Come On. The short lines describe a scene that sticks in the mind in a way I think a prose version wouldn't. One stanza goes :

"But a Saturday night should not be missed
these moments just don't last that long
she smiled and grabbed him by his wrist
"come on" she said "I love this song!""

      In Walking Home there is an image that the whole city could appreciate:

"The morning traffic jams up Storrow Drive.
like thoroughbreds bunched up along the rail"

      There is more structure in the poems this time around but this is light material: it's like a pop song not a symphony. Morrison can be trusted to not waste your time; every poem is worth the read. It's a perfect book for late night with a drink and a good gift for someone on the scene.
      We now have a poetry book that comes from Boston rock; how cool is that?

Get it here -

The Band CRIME - Punk77 Revisited .
By James Stark

Crime Photo book

      This is one of those books that just makes me so jealous because I wish a similar thing was done for one of our Boston old school punk bands.

     Crime was one of the earliest LA punk bands. We're talking 1976. Here in Boston we knew them because they got an early 45 out - Hot Wire My Heart - and they had a LOOK. That photo on the 45 sleeve said they were outrageous and the music backed it up. Crime was also lucky because the photographer that took that picture was good and took many pictures of them that helped spread their reputation.
     This is a book of those pictures. They capture that early punk feel of the band in posed pictures and in performance. The text is terse but does the job. You get a story of the band and some posters also. It's all good. It's a 7x10 inch book on glossy paper.

     So, this is the thing - where's Boston's version of this? I don't know if a photographer of quality had a connection to one of the early bands and could do this. What about Phil'n'Phlash? Where's his book? He must have stuff piled up somewhere.
     This successful photo book shows us where Boston comes up short.

By Thomas A Hauck

By Dave Morrison

Piston and sweet
      Two more Boston ex-rockers have put out books.

     Thomas A. Hauck was the bass player of the Atlantics whose members have turned out to be a fruitful bunch.
     Pistonhead is in the young adult genre. The main character is a musician in a band whose success level is about the same as that attained by the Atlantics. The character also has a day job in a software assembly line. Both scenarios ring true and one assumes Hauck brings his experiences to the story.
     One scene brings an ex-girlfriend to the apartment, as she begins to flirt, it comes out that her new boyfriend is waiting in the car outside: real scummy and you know that sort of thing happens all the time in those circles. There is also a funny sex scene and a character dealing with drugs.
     I can’t say I’m an expert on young adult books but the elements make a good mix and Hauck keeps them from being too graphic. It’s a story that would appeal to a young rocker.
     Get at

     Dave Morrison was in the underappreciated Trademarks and True Blue. I’d love to see a CD of that material…hint, hint, suggestion.
     Dave has become a focused writer and has put many stories on line. He also has material about his band days that include scenes in Cantone’s. With his latest effort: sweet, we have a book of poetry…now don’t stop reading! I know poetry is not a big thing for many people; of course that’s what Dave is up against here. I’m here to tell you that sweet is a good read.
     None of this is too long or ponderous or technically complicated. There are over 50 easy to digest poems from the perspective of a onetime Boston rocker. His sensibilities and concerns are very appealing to me and I assume to some of you.
     He writes about drinking, women, the struggle with the writer’s muse, along with the subject of life itself. He has clever lines, clear images and observations that capture you for that one moment that marks a good poem.
     I enjoyed all of sweet.
     Dave Morrison web site.

Dead on the Internet.
By Johnny Barnes

Barnes Dead on the Internet

      This is the 3rd installment in the Jack Kelly series by Barnes (review of the first two below) with this one, the character and series have been fully established. I looked forward to this as I do a new mystery by Sue Grafton or Philip Craig (to spotlight another local writer). I also wanted to hear the new wisecracks from the main character Jack Kelly.
      This book is longer than the previous ones and the extra length is used to establish character and detail in the plot. Much time is spent on bringing the villain to life and that helps to give the story more weight than the two previous ones.
      In some spots the writing is very vivid and a few scenes, including the opening one, you can imagine on TV or in a movie. Indeed, at this point it seems like someone could grab this series and run with it a la Spencer For Hire.
      One of the attractions of these stories is the Boston locale. In this book it's MIT and environs that frame the action. The Miracle of Science restaurant and Central Square show up a few times. Discoveries at the MIT Artificial Intelligence lab fuel the plot.

      There are so many books and movies about violent murderers I would think it would be hard to find a novel way for them to act but Barnes comes up with a few real surprises and he notches up the gross factor a few times and it works. His final hostage scene will stick with me for a long time.

Sweat: The Story of The Fleshtones, America's Garage Band.
By Joe Bonomo

Sweat   a book about the Fleshtones
     This is a well researched, well written book on the career of the Fleshtones. Their start in Queens, NY, their recording history, their touring, their striving for big time rock glory just beyond their reach is all here. This is a must read for all Fleshtones' fans. Now, if you're not a die hard Fleshtones' fan there is still a few reasons why you might be interested in reading these 388 pages.

     The early days in the Queens, NY 'band house' make you wish you were there and then the story quickly goes to the NYC scene. Arriving after the first wave of punk they have a slightly outsider view of the scene. This is covered with plenty of interviews from the band members, Hilly Crystal, and Dictator Andy Shernoff . They also describe the dance (disco/gay) club scene a world I didn't know. In this first 1/3 of the book which was the most interesting for me they give Boston a big compliment (It's on page 94 if you go looking.). Peter Zaremba calls Boston the Hidden Rock and Roll Capital of the World and name checks for DMZ, Lyres and The Real Kids are all through the book.
     Bonomo does a great job in describing a botched Fleshtones' recording session, going back and forth between band members and the producer (Paul Wexler) in a Rashomon-like attempt at the truth. There's no answer of course but it illustrates how the entanglement of peoples shortcomings and perceptions cause misunderstanding and ultimately, in the rock and roll world, bad recordings.
     You get stories and good quotes from the main players like: Richard Gottehrer, Steve Albini, Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus, Marty Thau of Red Star, and Miriam Linna.
     The last half of the book relates the inevitable drug and drinking problems and how they short circuit the band's success. By the time you finish you have a good picture of what a career mid-level rock band goes through just to play the music they love. Many of the bands we love here at the BGN are in this situation so that story resonates.
     I'm actually jealous of this well done band bio because I wish someone would do something similar for a Boston band, lucky Fleshtones.

     Link to the publisher's web site...Continuum Books

Gentlemanly Repose.
By Michael Ruffino

Gentlemanly Repose One funny book
      This is one of the funniest books on rock ever. Ruffino was the bass player of the Unband from western Mass that managed to get some high profile arena gigs with Dio and Anthrax. He writes this history of the band and it's antics in a pseudo sophisticated style like he's P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves looking dispassionately at the hoi polloi. This elevated tone next to the lowlife goings on makes for a comic masterpiece.

     He has his own language. Morning becomes "unforgivably ante meridian" or "ass o'clock". Hungry is a "nutritional black hole". Los Angeles is the 'City of Fights'. There is a hysterical scene at the Rat but again that's just one in a book full of funny scenes. It's half real and half drunken remembrance wrapped in colorful verbiage.

     I saw Ruffino in another band, Old Money, and his act was basically trying to keep vertical for an hour all the while dealing with a plague of zipper problems, all very amusing and the music was good. He's one talented guy.
     This book is actually from 2004 but I find it slipped past most people. Google the title and you can find it for sale around the web. Very much worth it.

Review by Blowfish

By Michael Muhammad Knight

Taqwacores by MM Knight
     This is a fictional story of Muslim punks in Buffalo who are inspired by a movement of Muslim hardcore punks from California called taqwacore. The twist is that it has inspired real life Muslim groups to form; this has been written about in Newsweek and elsewhere. Wikipedia has the story and some links to follow up on...Wikipedia link.

     The concepts here are more important than the literature. The underlying story is of teenagers coming to grips with life, but that becomes trivial next to the issues being raised about Islam. You're knee deep in Arabic phrases from the beginning and are shown the customs and tenants of Islam as seen through these Buffalo punks. It's all extremely interesting.
      Knight puts Islam through some outrageous paces. He never flinches from out and out blasphemy. Considering the sensitivity of Islamic issues it comes across as courageous to write this book and almost feels dangerous to read it. If a cartoon on one hand and a few lines in Rushdie' s book on the other caused so much trouble the only reason this hasn't generated a fatwa is because it's not on the radar yet.
     I got this book through Alternative Tentacles (Link to Alternative Tentacles) you should too and support the independent press.

Easter Rising.
By Michael Patrick MacDonald

Easter Rising by Patrick Michael MacDonald
     In his memoir of growing up in South Boston MacDonald readily and repeatedly refers to his fellow city residents as violent parochial racists. MacDonald now resides in Brooklyn, NY. Hi oh!

     The first 100 pages see Michael on the Boston punk scene and that’s very interesting for us here. Starting in 1979 he spends all his time at gigs at The Rat, Thayer Street, The Bradford Hotel, and The Channel. He has some stories involving Rita Ratt and Springa. All ring true as do his observations of the scene and its people types. Skipping school and unencumbered by a job he spent a LOT of time on the scene. He snuck into a lot of shows because he was underage, penniless and had a brother who was doorman at the Rat.
     After being a 24 hour party boy in NYC, he has a mental breakdown and then goes to UMASS to study…wait for it…Irish History. Way to bring the coals to Newcastle, Michael.
     The last third of the book is about his trips to…all together now…Ireland.
     His family history which is the center of his story is a soul crushing litany of tragedies.

     All Bostonians will want to read this for its depiction of the Southie mentality as Patrick presents it. Boston rock fans, especially those who were around from about 1979 to 1983, will get a big kick out of those first 100 pages.

Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Legendary Neighborhood.
By Michael Walker

Laurel Canyon
     Being part of the Boston Punk scene was an exciting experience and makes me interested in the dynamics of other scenes. The main elements of a scene as I see it are - time, place, creativity and commerce. Here, Walker looks at those aspects in California's Laurel Canyon.
     The special thing about Laurel Canyon is the topography. The ultra steep hill with winding roads makes for small houses in a dense neighborhood. Then it ends abruptly in the flat Sunset Boulevard. It's as if the creations of the artists roll down the hill and into the Whiskey A Go-Go, The Rainbow, The Troubadour etc..
     The main musicians talked about: Joni Mitchell, John Mayal, The Mamas and Papas, Carole King, The Eagles, Frank Zappa, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, The Turtles and groupie Pamela Des Barres.
     The book is most satisfying in the first half where the Canyon is the main subject after that the focus goes to the music scene at the foot of the canyon and even though that is of note it has been told in other places.
     The musicians of Laurel Canyon are the ones we hated when punk started. Walker tells the story of their decline fuelled by drug abuse. I loved that section but I'm not a nice person.
     It's an easy read if you have the interest.

Rock Tease:The Golden Era of Rock T-Shirts.
By Erica Easley and Ed Chalfa

All about rock T-shirts
     I never thought this could be a subject for a book but here it is.
     The book is light on text and heavy on pictures, although I found the text more interesting than the pictures. There are very short profiles of Richard Hell, Wayne Kramer, Mark Arm and Arturo Vega.
     It's hard to think of a time when there weren't rock shirts but they started in the late sixties during the psychedelic era. The first big rock t-shirt printer was Phil Graham.
     The authors go into the changes in t-shirts styles and motifs. They all seem very subtle to me and don't make for a dramatic showcase. The t-shirts are photographed on mannequins which is a lost opportunity. It would be a lot more fun to see the Skynyrd shirt on a mullethead or the Stray Cat shirt on a rockabilly babe.
     There are plentiful pictures of the shirts illustrating all eras of rock and roll which will be a big kick to the t-shirt fan. I might be more blase about the shirts having been exposed to them so much.
     Rolling Stone just had an article on the huge resurgence of vintage rock T-shirts recreations. They are now selling in Target and Wal-Mart and giving classic rock acts a substantial chunk of money.
     That proves there is an audience for this book, which would make this a good buy for them or a good present.

Trash! The Complete New York Dolls.
By Kris Needs and Dick Porter

Trash The New York Dolls story
     You might expect that a Dolls book would be a sleazy expose. It turns out not to be true and that would be redundant anyway. What they have done here is make sure they have covered all the Dolls history and present the sleaze and facts in a straight forward manner. The writing is filled with snappy concise sentences that nail the point every time.
     This book would not convert a new fan, you need the records for that, what it does is give the full arc of their career, and quite a story it is. Drugs play a big part - surprise. Jane County shows up a lot and deserves a book all her own.
     The story goes into the early punk years and brings in the usual subjects: Malcolm McLaren, Nancy Spungen, Sex Pistols, et al.
     The main Dolls story ends half way through the book and then it's mainly the Johnny Thunders' story which is full of ups and downs, and uppers and downers.
     The final two chapters tell about the unexpected group reunion and album. It's like a fairy tale and very inspiring, even more so because the authors have told the story without adornment or false cheerleading.
     This is recommended for all those who want the Dolls/Johnny Thunders history and especially those that are not familiar with the orgins of early NYC punk and punk in general. .

Dead Men Talk/Sleep When I'm Dead.
by Johnny Barnes

Johnny Barnes Books      The Johnny Barnes Group was a hard working outfit in the seventies and early eighties playing clubs with regularity. They had an early single Street Rail Blues and later some LP's. Now Johnny has resurfaced with some new CD’s and these books.
     These both feature the same detective, Jack Kelly, a joke cracking Bostonian. The stories are packed with local color and plenty of laughs. I defy you to read this next to someone and not try some of the jokes on them.
     These are just made for Boston punk rockers. References to Boston rock clubs abound with some characters sporting the names of local rockers.
      Lots of action happens in the Fort Point area. Johnny used to live there and helped to book The Channel which was there on Necco Street.
     The books are enjoyable light reading that are the perfect beach read or rainy day book.

     Johnny has a website at I took a day trip to Bev’s Books in Rochester, MA. to get the books. You can also find them on or barnes& or his website.

Salad Days
By Charles Romalotti

Salad Days by Charles Romalotti       It took a long time to get to this, a fictional account of a punk life that has worthy writing. Off hand I can't think of another book that does this. This is a story of Frank who lives out a life with the values he finds inherent in the Hardcore scene. This is a big chore especially since he lives in Kansas. Frank is uncompromising and as such makes a good focus for the story. The way people act around him illuminate their values and give you the side stories.
     I got the biggest kick out of reading the actions of people who live on the scene. You know like us. Their lives revolve around the music and the scene. Other parts of their lives suffer because the music takes up most of the time and energy they have.
     The book is over 300 pages and never flags at all. It's not James Joyce but Romalotti does a good job. Many books like this can be just so embarrassing as they pander to the audience. Romalotti has a valid voice that discribes the hardcore lifestyle with authority.
     The way I see it is that there is no where else to get this sort of book at the moment. Romalotti has done a real service to the punk community. I enjoyed it from front to back.

     Available online at a good price here....Link to Layman Books

Vinyl Junkie.
By Brett Milano

Viny Junkie by Brett Milano       I'm so close to this I never realized it could be a book. Milano was right though, what a weird bunch record collectors are.
     I have thousands of LP's and 45's but I always claim I just want the music not a specific piece of vinyl. I stand by that but I have to say collecting vinyl is fun the way CD's never are, never mind shoving the digital info into an MP3. The 12 inch glossy canvas that was an LP lent itself to wonderful presentations that had a visceral whomp. Well, there I go, waxing poetically over vinyl.
     What Brett has done is to tell the stories of different types of record collectors their peculiarities, their dream searches and the like. He gives a few psychological explanations for their actions but it's just the crazy stories that you want to hear. The goings on with Monoman and Pat McGrath are a high point.
     In the end Milano has covered the subject and put it to rest. You know if you want this. I would suggest that if you are interested to get it soon. I think the book is becoming collectable itself. The irony.

by Bob Dylan

Chronicles by Bob Dylan      The information you want comes in bits and pieces but Dylan is an entertaining writer, and if you believe him, he has a great memory.
     He seems to be a big reader and mentions many authors. That is important because it would be clues to where those amazing lyrics came from. He has an interest in the French Romantic writers like Villion and Baudelaire which was expected but also Thucydides, Sophocles, Pericles, Balzac, Milton and many more.
     He comes back to the point several times on how he looks at the world and the news in an objective way and gets ideas. Obvious maybe but it’s nice to hear him admit it.
     He delves into his early formative years in folk in detail and that is very satisfying.
     Dylan relates that his songwriting breakthrough came by dissecting the song Pirate Jenny a Brecht/Weill song from the Threepenny Opera. That was unexpected, but there it is.
     It’s not mind blowing just revealing but for Dylan fans only.

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