BooksNonfictionReviews

Martin Popoff – The Big Book of HAIR METAL (book review)

I remember writing a short review of this great publication before, but recently I felt the urge to get it back in my hands as I wanted to peruse it again to find some glam metal. And you can bet your ass there is loads to discover!

Martin Popoff, the author

Martin Popoff is no novice in the world of music journalism (judging from his bibliography), and while I haven’t read (yet) anything else from his works, this book we’re gonna review now makes me to order some other titles. Yes, it’s that good.

So, what’s hidden between the covers of this nice hardcover book? Subtitled “The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal’s Debauched Decade”, it 224 pages are filled with chronography of the releases (many of these have also their covers presented) accompanied with Popoff’s short and to-the-point comments, plus quotes from various musicians, A&R people, managers and the like, who provide a unique look to the times, places, bands, venues and records discussed. And all of this done nicely by the decades.

Decades, indeed! Although glam metal encompass basically just 1980s, Popoff provides also the necessary introduction to the history and development of the glam metal, starting – surprise, suprise! – with Little Richard and Elvis in the 1950s and, more importantly, talking about the important albums from 1960s (many of which I haven’t a clue about, or, for one reason or another, couldn’t be bothered to check before).

Obviously, getting to 1970s I’m getting into the more familiar territory with Led Zeppelin, Sweet, Slade, Kiss and more importantly, stuff like Quiet Riot and Van Halen. Boy, I have missed a lot of great stuff, but being born in the end of 1970s, well… I have to say, though, that listening to some stuff mentioned here in this book, it’s quite hard to get into. 1970s seem so distant (and they actually are), and even I won’t try to diminish or belittle the importance of some bands and albums, they sound really strange to me. You know, all this post-hippie era, psychedelic music, Hendrix and stuff like that. But I am glad Popoff mentions it, as I have the oportunity to go back in time, if only via music, to discover some great tunes.

And then the great 1980s! Obviously, being from the former Eastern Block, from a totally hardcore commie country, I did come to know and listen to many bands only later in the course of my life, and it’s kinda sad I couldn’t experience the novelty of this stuff when it was originally released. At least, majority of it, as, of course, after the fall of the Iron Curtain in the end of 1989 I was pretty much aware of albums being released (say, Guns N’ Roses, Alice Cooper’s “Trash” and the like). And, obviously, as the book also mentions, MTV of old was the driving force, although one has to stay awake till late Sunday to catch “Headbanger’s Ball”…Oh, Vanessa Warwick…those were the days!

Anyway, not to digress…the majority of the book deals with the eventful 80s, up to the beginning of 1990s, which was the end of glam metal as we knew it. Sad, but true and there’s nothing we can do about it. As they say with video killling radio stars, grunge has stepped in to effectively terminated the era of glam metal. That’s even sadder, considering that grunge didn’t actually last that long… but, the damage has been done.

All in all, this book is fantastic and if you love metal, and you’re not afraid to admit you were (or still are) a Crüe fan, or listening to Cinderella, you owe it to yourself to get it, and trust me – you will love every page of it.

The book is available at Amazon here:

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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