Book Reviews – September 2012

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Dream Big: The Journey of the Jazz Bear
Aron Simkins
Sweetwater Books
Street: 09.11
This book is either a children’s book or written for really, really dumb adults—or really drunk adults who don’t read so good, such as myself. It’s a compelling story of the journey of the Jazz Bear, and how he got the job that includes hyping up the Jazz crowd, fucking with the refs, silly-stringing Lakers fans and risking racking his nuts on a nightly basis. It’s a touching story, but lacks credibility. One of the biggest flaws of the book is that the Jazz Bear talks. Another huge flaw in this book is that it encourages children to reach their dreams by working hard. So let me just break it down to the kids right now and save their parents the hassle of reading this cute little book to them at night: Sure, you can dream big, but some folks is lucky and some ain’t. When you are old enough, drop out of high school and fuck as many sluts as you can, because there is only one Jazz Bear and you will never be him. –Mike Brown

Instrument
Pat Graham
Chronicle Books
Street Date: 10.05.11
This book is basically pornography for musicians. If you like guitars, basses, vintage keyboards and percussion instruments, this book has more photos than a Musician’s Friend catalog. Photographer Pat Graham has spent years on tour photographing bands over his ten-plus-year career. For his most recent endeavor, he chose to focus his photographs not on the live shows and lifestyles of the musicians themselves, but on the instruments that they play. The book is composed of portraits of these instruments, including gems such as Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis’ Vox Phantom VI and the vintage Fender Jazzmasters of Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. A nice addition to the photographs in this book is the text, primarily culled from narratives that the musicians shared regarding the personal connections they have made with many of the instruments over the years. The book contains mostly guitars, but there are a few photographs of keyboards and percussion instruments as well. If you enjoy looking at instruments in catalogs, but always wish you could see what they look like after they have been beat to hell for ten years by someone who plays noisy rock music, this book would be a nice addition to your personal library. –Giuseppe Ventrella

Murder in the Front Row
Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew
Bazillion Points
Street: 01.24
Before Korn blew the doors off the Bakersfield trailer park, and before San Diego housed a trillion boring mathcore bands and South-Central Los Angeles degenerated into the gilded palace of gangsta rap, California bred a metal movement so fierce, vital and exuberant, it took the unsuspecting genius of zitty, tape-trading heshers to unlock its prowess: Bay Area thrash. Home to some of the scene’s most influential bands (Exodus, Forbidden, Testament and a transplanted Metallica), the Bay is still a holy land for cranium crashers the world over, and this extensive tome does it plenty of justice. Having meticulously documented their own experiences through photo and anecdote, longtime metal historians Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew piece together their experiences in watching the scene come to fruition with exclusive shots and write-ups by key players (Holt, Quintana, Skolnick). Murder is the standing, definitive document of one of metal’s most creative and prolific periods and comes highly recommended for the Cliff Burton (RIP) content alone. If you’ve ever screamed yourself silly over who was the better Exodus vocalist, dubbed a third generation No Life ‘Til Leather cassette or paid upwards of $50 for a back-issue of Metal Maniacs magazine … this one’s for you. –Dylan Chadwick

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