Book Reviews: August 2004
Note: Reviews are in no particular order

Add Some Music To Your Day: Analyzing and Enjoying the Music of the Beach Boys
Edited by Don Cunningham and Jeff Bleiel

I fondly remember the fanzines of the '70s and early '80s (some of which survive to this day!) In the pre-internet days of rock 'n roll, the fanzine was a vital source of information on your favorite rock bands. ADD SOME MUSIC TO YOUR DAY is a collection of a "best of" articles from the Add Some Music fanzine that had a 7-year run (with the addition of a few newly written articles).

There are album reviews and essays on individual band members, concert reviews and analysis of the Beach Boys' grown as a band. My personal favorites were the analysis of the musical growth of the Beach Boys, and Brian Wilson in particular. The influence of the Four Freshman on Brian Wilson is chronicled as well in an excellent article. Also, a few of the articles get a little heavy on the musical theory aspects, which a few readers might find tedious (chord theory, etc). While some of these articles might seem a little dated, that is some of the charm. For example, you get to read a 1983 view of Smile. Also there are a few sections that are solely about Beach Boys influenced artists - which I thought were a little off the theme of a total Beach Boys book.

All in all, this book is well worth seeking out for the musical analysis sections alone!

Review by Ronnie

The Darkness: Permission to Rock
By Dick Porter

The Darkness: Permission to Rock by Dick Porter reminds me of all the different books that used to be put out about bands in the 70s and 80s. Quickly written by accumulating facts from periodicals, publishers rushed these books to stores shortly after any band showed the possibility of becoming rock icons. Now this is not a bad thing. Many of those books were extremely entertaining to read, and were often written by scribes like Lester Bangs who did the job because they needed the cash. This is how I view Dick Porter’s book about The Darkness. In fact, because The Darkness are trying to single-handedly bring back the rock of the 70s, this is the perfect way for them to be written about. Do not get this book if you want tearjerking stories of how the boys sold their blood to afford strings for the next gig. This book is designed for fans of the band that feel the need to read the type of press that the UK journalists have been giving the band for a couple of years now. Not bad; just not for everyone.

Review by Jack Teague

Book of Lies
The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult

Edited by Richard Metzger

Richard Metzger has put together a fascinating collection of essays that proclaim to "Being an alchemical formula to rip a hole in the fabric of reality". With such sections of the book entitled: "Magick in theory and practice", "Chemognosis", "Secret Societies" and "Sympathy for the Devil" - this encyclopedic volume guarantees to challenge your mind indeed! There is even a whole section devoted to the Great Beast himself, Aleister Crowley.

The article on Brion Gysin and the cassette recorder as a magickal weapon is really mind blowing - no wonder Brian Jones was fascinated by Gysin. Another great read is "The Secret History of Modern Witchcraft", which questions if Gardner really got his ideas from Crowley. The book also made me aware of such characters as Jack Parsons, Ida Craddock and Rosaleen Norton. By bringing up such fascinating topics and people, this book inspires you to pursue further studies on these topics. That is the greatest gift of this book.

The BOOK OF LIES: THE DISINFORMATION GUIDE TO MAGICK AND THE OCCULT is an excellent resource guide for those practitioners of magick or those who partake in a serious study of this subject. However, I wouldn't recommend it for the beginner - it might be just a little too overwhelming…the novice might do better to pick up IDIOT'S GUIDE TO PAGANISM first (no, I'm not being facetious, that is an excellent beginning guide).

Review by Kano Day-by-Day Song-by-Song Record-by-Record
By Craig Cross Day-by-Day, Song-by-Song, Record-by-Record is really two books in one. You get a day by day history of the band plus a song by song listing - both including fascinating trivia. Sure, there are a couple of books that have either the day by day or total song approach, but this book is your "one stop shopping" source. Based on one of the largest and comprehensive Beatles sites on the web,, the site - the book recreates all of the info from the website. I first found the website & spent countless hours perusing it - until I found out that there was a book available of the entire site!

Here are just a few stories of interest in the book:

  • The fight between the Beatles & the Rolling Stones about who would play first on the May '66 NME poll winner's party (hint-the fabs did NOT get their way!)
  • Yoko also attended the August '67 meeting with the Maharishi in London that the Beatles attended.
  • During the Let It Be sessions, Yoko came up with the clever idea of the Beatles performing the much argued about location of their live performance in front of a "conceptual" audience as in an empty auditorium (after George complained of screaming fans).
  • When George temporarily left the band during Let It Be, his main argument was with John, not Paul!
The only "errors" I found in this book were almost negligible. First there are a couple of instances where "click here" are printed from the website (so this is actually just a typo). The other is the only factual error I found in the entire book: it states that Monkee Micky Dolenz was at the "A Day In The Life" orchestra session, while it was actually Monkee Mike Nesmith (Mike can clearly be seen in the many bootleg videos of this session that are circulating). But like I said, these "errors" don't diminish the worth of this book. I also like the writing style of Craig Cross. His Brit-humor really adds to the flavor of the book. It is a fantastic Beatles reference (my copy is already dog-eared from all the pages that I go back to)! Just take a look at the website and you will want this book!

Review by Ronnie

Jim Marshall: The Story of the Man Behind the World's Most Famous Guitar Amplifiers
By Rich Maloof

In Jim Marshall: The Story of the Man Behind the World's Most Famous Guitar Amplifiers, Rich Maloof does a decent job of informing the reader about the life of Jim Marshall from his early years until he takes his rightful place as the founder of THE GREATEST GUITAR AMPLIFIER ever created. The only problem is that Maloof does not know his audience. When doing some research on the book, all I ever read from other reviews was that the book was nowhere as thorough as Michael Doyle’s History of Marshall book. Without ever having seen Doyle’s book, I am not about to compare the two, but I will venture to say that Doyle’s book is probably better researched and filled with details about Marshall ad nausea. Maloof might not be aware of musician’s “gear queer” mentality, where there can never be enough details about an historical piece of musical equipment. Let’s just say that people that would read this book are probably similar to Trekkies in their obsessive – compulsiveness. So let me end this review by saying that Rich Maloof has written an enjoyable book about Jim Marshall and his legendary amplifier, but he missed the boat when it came to living up to the expectations of the readers.

Review by Jack Teague

Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man
By David T. Hardy & Jason Clarke

I love when "sacred cows" are shot down and shown in a true light - and that's exactly what this book does. MICHAEL MOORE IS A BIG FAT STUPID WHITE MAN unveils the myths and deceptions of the "crockumentary" filmmaker and self-proclaimed champion of the "common man".

Rather than using Moore's own modus operandi of media "slight of hand" to put his convoluted and narcissistic views across - authors David Hardy & Jason Clarke factually expose everything from Moore's fictional resume to the half-truths and outright lies that Mr. Moore tries to pass off in his movies & books. The authors take on each and every one of Moore's outrageous "factual" claims and methodically disproves them one by one. It is amazing how easily Moore's "house of cards" falls flat in the face of pure fact.

Mikey's film edited & manipulation is also analyzed along with his knee-jerk reactions to any criticism. In fact, Moore follows such a predicable path in his movies and books that the authors are able to predict what Moore would portray in Fahrenheit 9/11 - and this book came out before the movie!

What is so amazing about this book is the sheer number of people who have fallen for Moore's twisted version of reality - Moore is the P.T. Barnum of our age, getting rich and fat(ter) at the expense of half-wits who swallow his every word hook, line and sinker. Remember - "the TRUTH shall set you free"! That is, unless you are Michael Moore, who's creed is that "the non-truth shall get you a fee!"

MICHAEL MOORE IS A BIG FAT STUPID WHITE MAN is investigative reporting at its very best…

Review by Ronnie

The Walrus Was Ringo: 101 Beatles Myths Debunked
By Alan Clayson & Spencer Leigh

A full-length book on Beatles myth-busting was long overdue. If this book had been printed 25+ years ago, it would have saved the countless propagation of Beatles myths and simple untruths that seemed to be repeated without question in countless books - until they were repeated so many times that they became "fact". Before this book, the only person that took on Beatles myth busting head-on was Bill Harry in his regular column in the fantastic BEATLEFAN fanzine.

While some of the myths in this book were well known (at least to me), the most fascinating were:

  • There was no such person as Raymond Jones, the lad who came into NEMS and asked Brian Epstein for 'My Bonnie'.
  • George Martin chose 'Love Me Do' for The Beatles first single as John and Paul hadn't written anything better.
  • The 50-50 split in songwriting between John and Paul was fair.
  • A kick in the head was the underlying cause of Stuart Sutcliffe's death.
Also, the book contains one of the rare photos of the Beatles taken right after their historic meeting with Elvis Presley in 1965 (cameras were banned inside). Plus, there is a little surprise after the 101 Myths are discussed - a clever piece of "what if" fiction about the Beatles in an "alternate" universe in which John Lennon quit the group early on.

Overall this book is a must for any serious study of the Beatles.

Review by Ronnie

Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 Tour that Changed the World
By Larry Kane

You might ask, "Who needs another book on the Beatles by an 'insider'?" Well, this book is the exception. TTR was written by Larry Kane, the only American reporter to tour with the Beatles to every concert on their '64 and '65 tour of America. And most importantly, Kane was a newsman, so you know the facts are there and he observed all the goings-on from a special perspective. And Kane was the first to actually ask the Beatles "real" questions, not just the typical "how did the Beatles haircut come about?" type ones. This endeared Kane to the Beatles and they felt comfortable answering questions such as the Vietnam subject.

I found Kane's description of both tours both insightful and entertaining. He includes humorous stories of the antics of fans trying anything to get to the Beatles (including mothers!). I'm sure that these alone would fill up a separate book. Also, I had always believed that the Beatles were bored with touring the U.S. after the '64 tour - not so, suggests Larry Kane, as the Beatles were really able to enjoy the fruits of their success on the '65 tour. He also recalls the time that Brian Epstein attempted to seduce him, albeit in a tasteful way. It is too bad that Larry Kane did not accompany the Beatles on their '66 tour, as his observations would have been priceless.

A special "bonus" to this book is the audio CD that comes with it, full of personal interviews with the Beatles that Kane conducted whilst on the tours.

Even if you are not a huge Beatles fan, you will find this book interesting in that it tells what it was like being on the first real major rock and roll tour! If you are a Beatles fan like me, this book is a great research guide to find out what happened at certain gigs on the '64 & '65 tour that you have the bootleg recordings of. A priceless diary of those historic first tours of The Beatles.

Review by Ronnie

Hal Lifson's 1966!
By Hal Lifson, Adam West, Nancy Sinatra

My favorite book on the 60's used to be 60's-A CATALOGUE OF MEMORIES AND ARTIFACTS by John and Gordon Javna. That book covered just about every area of what made the decade of the 60's so magical - fashion, music, fads, movies, etc. Only one problem with the book - other than its fab cover, every photo within is in black and white! You can't truly represent the Technicolor '60s with a book layout that looks like pages from the Eisenhower years. To fully represent the 60's, you've gotta feel like Dorothy passing through that black and white world of the farmhouse into the colorful Oz - THAT was the 60's!

Enter Hal Lifson. His book "1966!" takes Dorothy into the colorful world of the swinging '60s in glorious color. However, Lifson concentrates on a single year of the cultural renaissance decade, 1966 - which many claim as the highlight of the 60's. Like the Javna book, topics include: television, cinema, sounds playtime, reading, fashion, food & drink and, of course faces & places. But Lifson puts a personal spin on it, relaying how this almost sensory-overload pop-culture that defined that year affected his adolescent life. Stamps of authenticity come from Adam West and Nancy Sinatra, both of who write forewords to the book.

Although I only vaguely remember 1966 (I was only two years old and my very first memory was seeing the Beatles on TV in 1966), the book did jog my memory on certain things, be it popular toys, TV shows that I remember watching or advertisements.

The stunning graphics are one of the keys to putting across the "feel" of 1966. And of course you have the style of Lifson's narrative, which explains the essence of the 60's without sounding…well, like some PBS documentary! In a mere 224 pages Hal Lifson truly captures the magic of the 60's. So, the next time a kid asks you about the '60s (assuming you were there), just show them THIS book. HAL LIFSON'S 1966! is the only time capsule of 1966 that you need!

Review by Ronnie

Unfinished Business: The Life and Times of Danny Gatton
By Ralph Heibutzki, Ralph Biebutzki

If you want to be depressed, please read this book. Unfinished Business: The Life and Times of Danny Gatton, written by Ralph Heibutzki, is the horribly depressing story of guitar phenom Danny Gatton. In the guitar community, Gatton was thought of as a misunderstood genius who refused to lower his artistic standards in order to find fame and fortune. Well, they were right. Gatton was one of those few people who seemed to have mastered his instrument but was troubled by his gift. When reading about Danny Gatton, I think about the equally talented and tortured guitarist Shawn Lane. I remember waiting for that first album, and then finding out that he had backed off of his guitar playing in order to concentrate on the piano. ARGGHHHHH!!!! From the consumer angle, dealing with genius is a royal pain. Those who have been touched by the gods of talent usually have great difficulty dealing with the real world and its expectations, and Gatton was a prime example of this. While reading the book, you are waiting for someone to slap some sense into him, but it was never to be. Gatton was one of those artists who constantly shot himself in the foot when it came to achieving fame.

Heitbutzki is obviously a huge fan of Gatton, which can be a detriment to the book. Too much reverence can get in the way of writing any biography. No matter what, Heitbutzki definitely did his homework, and now it is your duty to read about another of our great talents that was lost due to the conflict between artistry and commerce.

Review by Jack Teague