Posts Tagged ‘Book’

The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, The MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities by [Kramer, Wayne]

In the late 1960s, Wayne Kramer and his brothers in the radical Detroit punk group MC5 launched a heroic high energy rock and roll assault on US culture in an attempt to bring down the government with a gonzoid manifesto of ‘dope, rock and roll and fucking in the streets’ … Their revolution ended in chaos after being kicked off two record labels and culminating in the band breaking up, with members descending into heroin addiction and imprisonment. The MC5s never had a hit record, but the three classic albums that they made – and their impassioned philosophy and mythology – inspired bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones, and Johnny Thunders, all the way through to Julian Cope, The Cult, and Primal Scream.

Here, for the first time ever on the page, is the inside story of one of the most chaotic and revered bands of all time: a band of brothers from Detroit who – like The Stooges – transformed the power of rock ‘n roll into a revolutionary force.

A rollicking account…from his rough upbringing in post-war Detroit, to his transformation from greaser guitarist to rock ‘n’ roll revolutionary.”–MOJO
“Relives those energising days of the late ’60s, when Detroit’s MC5 mixed rock and revolution with free jazz and exceptional hair…An inspiring and redemptive tale.”–UncutWayne Kramer’s story is an incredible tale of rock ‘n’ roll redemption. The MC5 crystallized the ’60s counterculture movement at its most volatile and basically invented punk rock music. But Wayne’s life proved to be as chaotic as his groundbreaking guitar playing. Rogue, rascal, rebel, revolutionary, artist, addict, inmate, poet, prisoner, and now proud papa, Brother Wayne Kramer is one of the wisest people I know, and he has earned that wisdom the hard way. The world needs to know this man’s story. Here it is.”–Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and Prophets of Rage

Wayne Kramer is the biggest badass in rock ‘n’ roll. Period. And The Hard Stuff proves it. Between these covers is a story of survival, talent, madness, dope, guts, and a sheer, fearless commitment to bringing straight-up enlightenment to this fascist, prison-happy nation we happen to inhabit–even if it meant putting his own freedom, and his own unbelievably epic life, on the line. This just may be the best memoir of the year.”–Jerry Stahl, author of I, Fatty and Permanent Midnight

MC5 fans will relish the opportunity to hear Kramer’s version of events from the band’s history...The Hard Stuff’s lesson is an inspirational one: no matter how far you fall, circumstances can arise which lead you to a better place. Plus it’s just wildly entertaining.”–Midnight to Six

“Often harrowing, sometimes hilarious and always compelling.”–Buffalo News

“The MC5 are the ultimate cult band: a rebellious group from late-1960s Detroit whose raw, proto-punk take on rock’n’roll influenced everyone from the Sex Pistols to Primal Scream. They never made it, though, and when you read this memoir by the guitarist and leader Wayne Kramer, you begin to see why. The Hard Stuff can be read as a manual of how not to become a rock star. Drugs, band feuds, jail and radical politics all combined to prevent stardom. This is a story of bad luck and bad behaviour in equal measure.”–Times of London

“There’s nothing like an autobiography when it comes to really digging deep. Kramer’s The Hard Stuff does exactly that. It’s simultaneously brutally honest, heartbreaking, hilarious, and life-affirming…It’s a frankly wonderful read.”–Detroit Metro Times

“A gritty rock memoir detailing a cult American band’s fall from grace and its subsequent determination not to get up…Gripping and sobering…A manual of how not to be in a band.”–Wanted Online

“He defied death, drugs and detention. Now MC5 legend Wayne Kramer has written an equally full-on memoir…Eye-opening…Wide-ranging…His journey from fatherless child to musical maverick to junkie to upstanding survivor reads like a history of the late 20th century.”–The Observer

Wayne Kramer, legendary guitarist and co-founder of quintessential Detroit proto-punk legends The MC5, tells his story in The Hard Stuff.
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In 1997, Thomas O’Keefe got a call from the management of a rising alt-country band called Whiskeytown, asking if he’d be interested in taking on the job of the group’s tour manager. He was at something of loose ends professionally at the time. And as the bassist for the punk group Antiseen, he’d practically done the job already. So he said yes. But just like a good country song, his tenure – which lasted until the group broke up after a performance in Austin at SXSW in 2000 – was full of drama, erratic personalities, missed opportunities, and no small share of heartbreak along the way.

There were also plenty of musical triumphs, often emanating from Whiskeytown’s singer/guitarist/main songwriter, the incredibly talented but sometimes difficult and troubled Ryan Adams.

O’Keefe has just put down on paper with co-author Joe Oestreich his experiences on the road with the group and Adams in the book Waiting to Derail: Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown, Alt-Country’s Brilliant Wreck.

“Tour managing Whiskeytown was going to be like chaperoning eighth graders on a class trip to D.C.,” he writes. “Eighth graders who drank and smoked pot.” Whether you called it alt-country, cowpunk, or No Depression, in the ‘90s there was a resurgence of interest in new music with a classic country sound among young listeners. It respected the genre’s traditions, but fused it with a certain youth and contemporary attitude. Bands like Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, the Jayhawks, Old 97’s, Jason and the Scorchers, and Son Volt were leading the charge.

Whiskeytown spring from one of the music’s geographical centers was the Raleigh-Durham-Chappell Hill area in North Carolina. And Ryan Adams only in his early 20’s, was seen as a real talent. But he did have an ego, and was an enthusiastic intaker of drugs and drinking.

“I had heard of them, but I wasn’t into that kind of music, I liked KISS and Cheap Trick and the Ramones,” O’Keefe says today. “But when I started working and handing out with Ryan, I thought ‘good God, he’s a freak of nature!’ The way he churned out great songs like there was no tomorrow. It’s like he has antennae and he’s just catching songs that are landing in his lap one after another.”

There’s dissection of the Ryan Adams that O’Keefe saw and who for a time lived in his apartment. But also how his personality changed when he slipped into the “character” of Ryan Adams, surely fertile ground for any psychiatrist. And the band admittedly lost a lot of mojo in doing what O’Keefe refers to as just a lot of “dicking around.”

But while Adams was clearly the leader, O’Keefe also had to work with other members of the group – some who rotated in and out, but always with violinist/singer Caitlin Cary. Her sizable contributions to the band are sometimes overlooked. O’Keefe’s tenure with the band coincided before, during, and after the release of their amazing second album, Strangers Almanac, which many predicted would shoot them into the big leagues.

Interestingly, O’Keefe makes a lot of comparisons between Whiskeytown and alt rockers the Replacements, and indeed there are plenty of similarities between the groups, none more so than in the tendency to self-sabotage. Adams (like the ‘Mats Paul Westerberg) would routinely show up to concerts drunk, deliver half-assed, short shows, blow important gigs and media interviews, and alienate and criticize their own audiences who had come to see them.

“With both bands, from night to night there was no consistency. One day, the show would be the most half-baked, clock-in and clock-out bullshit. And then the next night the show would be so magical, it would renew your faith in rock and roll and humanity,” O’Keefe says.

“And then there would be a show with a lot of punk rock antics and behavior. I loved it, because that’s where I came from. But then as tour manager, I would have to go and clean up the mess and try and collect money from a club owner who would be really pissed and ready to kill me. But the head of the snake leads the snake around, and the show was whatever Ryan wanted to make of it.”

While O’Keefe was often frustrated with Adams, he has no such ill feelings about the young musician’s inherent, scarily good talent. He describes a dismal show that has him down, but when Adams returns to the stage solo with an acoustic guitar to serenade the remaining crowd with his song “Avenues,” he and the audience are mesmerized by the power of the material and the performer.

Whiskeytown was tapped for a possible career-making slot opening an outdoor shed tour for John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. But it was clear that the classic rock audience had little interest in Whiskeytown’s hopped up tear-in-my-beer music, simply waiting to hear the CCR classics. Instead of being inspired to the challenge, Adams would openly return the disdain during the band’s performances.

Waiting to Derail (its title taken from a Whiskeytown song) also details the many times O’Keefe would be dispatched to locate Adams or another band member who had not shown up for a hotel lobby call or show, negotiate inter-band squabbles and outer-band romantic relationships, and hide the drugs.

In one incident, the only thing that seemingly saved a complete narcotics bust of the tour bus on the U.S./Canadian border was when band members struck up a conversation with a border agent about their mutual love for the novels of John Steinbeck.

In writing and researching the book, O’Keefe had interviews and reminiscing conversations with all of Whiskeytown’s band members (save a reluctant Adams), record company execs, managers, and crew. But what surprised him was just how little all actually remembered about the touring, so the book is about “95%” of what it would be had he just relied on himself.

Despite having Ryan Adams at a groomsman in his own wedding, O’Keefe has had little contact with the musician since Whiskeytown’s demise. Adams himself has gone on to considerable success both as a solo act and with his backing group the Cardinals. Adams declined to speak with O’Keefe for his book, but the musician  who has since cleaned up his act and admitted past transgressions is aware of it.

In the years after his tenure with Whiskeytown, O’Keefe has continued his career as a tour manager with acts like Train (“One of the hardest working band in the music business”), Mandy Moore, and Third Eye Blind. His current job is as the veteran tour manager for Weezer.

“Mickey Bradley. That’s the stage name, of course. My real name is Michael Bradley.” When I knew my copy of this book was on its way, I headed for Spotify and listened to as many tracks by The Undertones as I could find. I loved most of it. “Teenage Kicks” is a given, as great a record as a record can be and John Peel (who, by the way, was 39 at the time of its release) gave it his blessing which was a golden endorsement. There is so much raw energy, boisterousness, hyperactivity and humour in the back catalogue that it is impossible not to appreciate that these kids were on to something distinctive and special.

Through his radio shows, I know Michael Bradley’s voice and presentation style and, as I read the book, I could hear him narrating it. Overall, it is conversational, nostalgic, honest and very funny.

The story starts with a bunch of Derry kids with notions of forming a band, even though they had barely a plectrum or drumstick between them. Through Provident and Credit Union loans, Freeman’s catalogue easy payments and however else a few shillings could be scraped, slowly but not always surely, a semi-equipped band emerged, as did the opportunity for a few local gigs. In addition, singer Fergal Sharkey had access to a Radio Rentals van, for transport is essential in the world of rock and roll, even in a small world. The NME was the weekly road map through the music business. McDonald’s grub became the sustenance of choice.

Image result for the undertones

The Undertones’ hangout was a prefab joint in Derry called The Casbah (“one third smoke, one third sweat, one third essence of beer spilled on carpet.”). The seemingly ramshackle repertoire comprised covers of Rolling Stones songs and a few others that took their fancy. Eventually, with some original songs, a bit of a local fan base and a whiff of ambition, they decided to find a way to make a record. Assisted by local legend Terri Hooley and his Good Vibrations venture, a 4-song (including “Teenage Kicks”) EP surfaced which found its way to John Peel who exposed it to a wider world including Sire Records and The Undertones were on their way as a proper band in the roughshod world of punk.

As seems common in stories like this, contractual and other legalities were handled badly. The band was not administratively savvy and advantage was taken. But, on the upside, there was the excitement of London, Europe and US trips, appearing on Top of the Pops, recording singles and LPs, playing gigs, posing for silly publicity photos, meeting a few of their music heroes and all the ballyhoo of being young, carefree guys in a rock band. Through it all, The Undertones wanted to be themselves, feet on the ground Derry lads.

On reflection, an older Michael Bradley says: “I’ve often thought that managing The Undertones would be a thankless task, with our lack of ambition, our accents and our reluctance to engage in the business side of things. Add to that our irrational dislike of touring and people who work in record companies. We didn’t even have any addictions to drink or pharmaceuticals. At least we’d have had something in common with other bands.”

The Undertones released 13 singles and 4 studio albums between 1978 and 1983. They still tour occasionally today. As I read this excellent book, my dislike of the generic word ‘punk’ thawed and I grew fond of The Undertones as people and as musicians. Listening to their catalogue now added to the enjoyment of their story. Michael, Mickey and Mike Bradley have together produced a wonderful book of memories told in a detailed, sincere and entertaining way. Kids forming bands today would benefit from reading this story, the ups and downs and highs and lows of showbiz, and the importance of staying true to their roots. It is nostalgic, witty and a joy to read.

It is perhaps very telling that all of the review blurbs on the back cover of Andy Partridge and Todd Bernhardt’s Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC are written by fellow musicians and songwriters. Andy Partridge has always been a musician’s musician.

Complicated Game is a series of candid and detailed interviews with Andy Partridge about many of XTC’s most well-known songs. Todd Bernhardt, the interviewer, is a fellow musician, XTC mega-fan, and friend of Andy’s, so they don’t shy away from discussing the nitty-gritty details of chord changes, instruments used, studio hacks, and other compositional and engineering minutia.

In the chapter on “Senses Working Overtime,” Andy explains how the whole song came about as he was fooling around on a new Martin guitar and he played a “messed-up E-flat.” He thought it sounded very Medieval so he tried to find other chords that went with it (A-flat minor and D-flat). He says the rest of the song sort of composed itself from there. We also learn that “English Settlement” was their “new instruments record.” The band members had all just gotten new instruments (Andy, the Martin, Dave Gregory, a 12-string Richenbacker, Colin Moulding, a fretless bass) and they were excited to noodle around on them to see what they could do.

There are many other interesting and fun revelations in the book. “This is Pop,” from White Music, was Andy’s way of rejecting the pigeonholing of the punk label, making sure that everyone was reminded that this is pop music, plain and simple, and that ain’t a dirty word. About Wasp Star’s “Church of Women,” Partridge, being uncharacteristically boastful, claims that his guitar solo on that track “is as good as any Steely Dan guitar solo. There! I’ve said it now.” In discussing the very early (1977) Be Bop Deluxe-inspired “Statue of Liberty,” Andy reveals that the lyrics came to him while he was playing around with the “real Lou Reed kind of chord change” of C,G, A-minor, back to G. He looked up to see his then-girlfriend and future wife, Marianne, ironing. As she held the iron aloft in one hand, trying to untangle the cord, holding clothes in the other, her hair wild from having just washed it, she looked to Andy like some “weird, futuristic version of the Statue of Liberty.” And the song was born. There are countless wonderful little gems like this throughout the book.

Complicated Game also includes a walking tour of Swindon, Andy’s hometown, and reproductions of original lyric sheets and some of Partridge’s design sketches for album art. Jawbone Press has done a really admirable job in putting this collection together.

For XTC fans, I cannot recommend Complicated Game game enough. My only criticism of it is that, given how wonderful the included song chapters are, I found myself wishing to read about some of my favorite songs that aren’t included (the book features 30 songs). Bernhardt has actually conducted over 80 interviews with Partridge.

'Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge,' by Martin Hawkins

The Louisiana singer and harp player Slim Harpo was a rara avis among black deep-South bluesmen in 1966: a crossover star whose lyrically coy, rhythmically slinky Number One R&B single “Baby Scratch My Back” also crashed the Top 20 on Billboard’s pop chart in the late winter of that year. But Harpo – born James Moore in a western parish of Baton Rouge – was no one-hit wonder. Starting with “I’m a King Bee” in 1957, he cut a series of bayou-blues classics that not only made him a regional star but reverberated in electric-R&B Britain where Harpo’s unique blend of swampy-R&B crawl, sleepy vocal magnetism and crafty, minimalist melodies were a foundation text for the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, Van Morrison’s Them and the early Moody Blues (who named themselves after a Harpo instrumental). Moore died only four years after “Baby Scratch My Back,” at 46, of a heart attack, leaving few interviews and a scattered press-clips trail. Yet this biography by the British blues scholar Martin Hawkins is a passionate, encyclopedic triumph, bringing the enigmatic Harpo to life and tracing his remarkable mainstream ascension – from the rich central-Louisiana blues scene to gigs at the Fillmore East – with deep local research and detailed portraits of the singer’s peers, sidemen and record-business associates. Everything you need to know about Harpo is here. It is also everything there is to know.

“Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.” —Bruce Springsteen, from the pages of Born to Run

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began.

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs (“Thunder Road,” “Badlands,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “The River,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “The Rising,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” to name just a few), Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

 

Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.

Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs, Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

Cured: Signed Edition - The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys (Hardback)

Coming of age in Thatcher’s Britain in the late 70s and early 80s was really tough, especially if you lived in Crawley. But against the grinding austerity, social unrest and suburban boredom, the spark of rebellion that was punk set alight three young men who would become one of the most revered and successful bands of their generation.

The Cure. Cured is a memoir by Lol Tolhurst, one of the founding imaginary boys, who met Robert Smith when they were five. Lol threads the genesis of The Cure through his schoolboy years with Smith, the iconic leader of the group, and the band’s most successful era in the 1980s. He takes us up to the present day, a riveting forty years since the band’s inception. The band’s journey to worldwide success is woven into a story not only of great highs and lows but also of love, friendship, pain, forgiveness and, ultimately, redemption on a beach in Hawaii. Cured highlights those parts of the creative journey that are not normally revealed to fans, incorporating many first-hand recollections around Lol’s personal odyssey. From suburban London to the Mojave desert, Cured brings an acute eye for the times to bear on a lifelong friendship, with tales of addiction and despair along the way. Cured is the story of a timeless band and a life truly lived.

Tim Burgess

TIM BURGESS
TIM BOOK TWO (LTD EDITION)

Signed special edition of Tim Book Two: follow-up to Telling Stories, the hugely successful memoir of Tim Burgess, singer of The Charlatans.
Limited to 500 copies in 2012, Tim published his hugely successful and critically acclaimed memoir, Telling Stories. Tim really enjoyed his new role as an author, and so here it is: Tim Book Two – a tale of Tim’s lifelong passion for records, the shops that sell them, and the people who make them. Designed by acclaimed artist Pete Fowler, signed by Tim Burgess and Pete Fowler with a foreward by Ian Rankin

“Tim Burgess is a crusader and vinyl’s epic voyager.
He knows why pop’s art, a culture and a cure. Learn and listen. He knows good things” – Johnny Marr

Signed Book: "Under the Big Black Sun"
£38 GBP (approx.)

Under the Big Black Sun explores the nascent Los Angeles punk rock movement and its evolution to hardcore punk as it’s never been told before. Authors John Doe and Tom DeSavia have woven together an enthralling story of the legendary west coast scene from 1977-1982 by enlisting the voices of people who were there. The book shares chapter-length tales from the authors along with personal essays from famous (and infamous) players in the scene. Additional authors include: Exene Cervenka (X), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Mike Watt (The Minutemen), Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey (The Go-Go’s), Dave Alvin (The Blasters), Chris D. (Flesh Eaters), Jack Grisham (TSOL), Teresa Covarrubias (The Brat), Robert Lopez (The Zeros, El Vez), as well as scencesters and journalists Pleasant Gehman, Kristine McKenna, and Chris Morris. Through interstitial commentary, John Doe “narrates” this journey through the land of film noir sunshine, Hollywood back alleys, and suburban sprawl—the place where he met his artistic counterparts Exene, DJ Bonebrake, and Billy Zoom—and formed X, the band that became synonymous with, and in many ways defined, L.A. punk.

Under the Big Black Sun shares stories of friendship and love, ambition and feuds, grandiose dreams and cultural rage, all combined with the tattered, glossy sheen of pop culture weirdness that epitomized the operations of Hollywood’s underbelly. Readers will travel to the clubs that defined the scene, as well as to the street corners, empty lots, apartment complexes, and squats that served as de facto salons for the musicians, artists, and fringe players that hashed out what would become punk rock in Los Angeles.

NICK CAVE – Sick Bag

Posted: June 6, 2015 in MUSIC
Tags: , ,

The Sick Bag Song is an exploration of love, inspiration and memory shaped around the events of Nick Cave’s 2014 tour of North America. It began life scribbled on airline sick bags during Cave’s 22-city tour of North America in 2014. It soon grew into a restless full-length contemporary epic. Spurred by encounters with modern day North America, and racked by romantic longing and exhaustion, Cave teases out the significant moments, the people, the books and the music that have influenced and inspired him, and drops them into his Sick Bag.

The Sick Bag Song blends poetry, lyrics, memories, musings, flights of fancy and journal entries. Both mythic and contemporary, it lies somewhere between The Wasteland and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and explores and develops the imaginative universe of Nick Cave.

The sumptuous physical edition reproduces in full colour twenty-two sick bags, each hand-customised by Nick, that are integrated throughout the text.THE SICK BAG SONG (THE UNLIMITED EDITION) features three formats in one: an exquisite boxed hardback edition of The Sick Bag Song; the audio download of Nick Cave reading the book (unabridged); and the ebook edition.

Nick Cave has been performing music for more than thirty years as the lead singer of The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Grinderman. He is also an acclaimed film score composer, screenwriter, novelist and occasional actor. His first novel, And The Ass Saw The Angel, was published in 1989 and The Death of Bunny Munro was published in 2009. Cave has also published a collection of lyrics & prose – The Complete Lyrics.

Born in Australia, Cave now lives in Brighton, England. He continues to record and tour with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and is involved in an ever-increasing variety of music, literary, film and theatre projects. His new book – a long-form prose/poem called The Sick Bag Song – was released this year.