An engrossing deep dive into a lurid, free-wheeling moment in pop music.

NÖTHIN' BUT A GOOD TIME

THE UNCENSORED HISTORY OF THE '80S HARD ROCK EXPLOSION

An oral history of the guitar-shredding rise and sleazy, druggy fall of 1980s hair metal.

In this lively, comprehensive saga of the much-maligned genre, Beaujour and Bienstock deliver plenty of the sordid tales of sex and hard living that the music often celebrated—e.g., Motley Crüe’s orgies, a drug-addled Ozzy Osbourne snorting ants, Guns N’ Roses in heroin-steeped disarray—while also showing how many of the musicians were hard workers dedicated to their craft. Guitarists playing the clubs on LA’s Sunset Strip all aspired to Eddie Van Halen’s greatness; acts engaged in full-scale “flyer wars” to get attention for their gigs; and they labored diligently on songs to land lucrative record deals. The hairspray and spandex, by the bands’ lights, were just part of the necessary promotion and evidence of the effort they were putting in. “People are lazy [now],” says designer Al Bane, who outfitted a host of acts, lamenting the end of flashpots and assless chaps. The atmosphere was thick with casual misogyny toward disposable roadies and video models; Poison cynically pursued “ugly fat chicks” to attend shows as a point of differentiation. Throughout, the anecdotes are copious and irresistible: Great White singer Jack Russell’s going to jail after a PCP bender, Axl Rose’s chasing David Bowie out of a club for looking at his girlfriend the wrong way, Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach’s “inhaling beers” and getting into a drunken fistfight his first night with the band. Conventional wisdom dictates that Nirvana and grunge killed hair metal, but the musicians argue that oversaturation of bands was the real culprit. Regardless, the best-known acts now do brisk business on the nostalgia circuit. “The older fans are slightly larger now,” says L.A. Guns’ Tracii Guns, “so it makes the room look even fuller.”

An engrossing deep dive into a lurid, free-wheeling moment in pop music.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-19575-3

Page Count: 560

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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