Old-school metal fans in San Francisco might know Dee Simon, author of Play Something Dancy: The Tragic Tales of a Strip Club DJ, by his old KUSF radio moniker of Dirty Sanchez. There he had the kind of show most unlikely for a Jesuit campus and the one every DJ did not want to follow.
Simon's new e-book begins with an earnest attempt at trying to make it in radio and ends after several hardening years of working the sleazier flesh palaces of the city. Simon feels compelled to change the names of the people and places, but a reader can guess that he spent quite a lot of time on Broadway. Before he delves into the depths of his life as a nude lady mixmaster, he is careful to add a prominent disclaimer: "The dialogue and events have been recreated solely from memory, and I've smoked a lot of drugs since these events occurred."
There are few bands that have generated as much mythology about their origins and eventual destruction as Joy Division. But most of the discussion around this pioneering Manchester punk outfit has come from the perspective of an outsider looking in. With Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division fans can finally hear the band's story from someone who was there from the very beginning -- iconic bassist Peter Hook. We caught up with Hooky at the beginning of his American book tour to get his take on where this book fits into the band's enduring legacy. He speaks at San Francisco's Jewish Community Center this Thursday, Jan. 31.
It's been a long time since Joy Division came to an end. Why did you decide to write about it now?
That's always the same first question, the most pertinent. When I did the Hacienda book, which was about four years ago, I'd never considered writing about anything to do with my career. Then I realized that anything was possible. What happened after that was that I got used to reading books about Joy Division, which to me focused on just certain parts of our appeal. And I read one book too many about Joy Division by somebody who wasn't with Joy Division, and I just thought it was time to write the story with focus on the human side -- you know, what the people were like, opposed to what the group did.
It took us almost 30 years to make it upstairs to Duran Duran bassist John Taylor's hotel room, fulfilling a dream that started as a tweenage fantasy. A few hours before last night's sold-out appearance at the Art Institute, Taylor indulged a former president of her junior high school Duran Duran Fan Club (1984-1986) at the St. Regis San Francisco to speak about his new memoir, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran.
Hide your kids, hide your wife: The apocalypse of interdisciplinary bro-downs will soon be upon us. Smash Mouth, the Bay Area's most vilified one-hit wonders, has high-fived Guy Fieri, the Bay Area's most maligned reality TV chef, to get some of the guest recipes for Smash Mouth: Recipes from the Road: a Rock 'n' Roll Cookbook (Seapoint Books; October 15).
By J POET
Most people know that songs like "We Shall Overcome," "Blowin' in the Wind," and "We Shall Not Be Moved" were important parts of the soundtrack of the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements of the '60s. The Black Power movement also used music to inspire and motivate people. Longtime Bay Area resident Pat Thomas explores the history of those sounds in Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 (Fantagraphics Books), which is out today, Feb. 28. Thomas has been investigating obscure music for most of his life. He was the A&R director of the reissue labels Water Records and 4 Men With Beards, headed the avant-folk logo Heyday, and currently works for Seattle's Light in the Attic, another company that specializes in unearthing forgotten folk, rock, country, and jazz albums. Light in the Attic will be releasing a 16-track soundtrack to accompany the book. We recently spoke with Thomas about the inspiration behind the book and the process of writing it.
What got a white guy interested in the Black Power movement? How did that interest evolve into the Listen Whitey! book and CD?
I read Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book in the 1970s. It led me to the Chicago 8 Trial, then to Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver. After moving to Oakland in 1999, I started seeking out the members of the Black Panther Party still living in Oakland. I wanted to know more about the history of the place I was now calling home. Then, I got involved in reissuing Black Panther member Elaine Brown's 1969 album Seize The Time, the early recordings of the Watts Prophets (a poetry and jazz collective from Los Angeles), and similar works. My interest in the project grew out of music, more than the social-political side, but eventually the importance of the social-political side took over. I knew that I needed, more than wanted, to write a book. Having a soundtrack CD seemed like a logical connection to the book and vice versa.
Everyone knows Metallica. But not everyone knows that Metallica was the product of a full-blown '80s thrash metal scene in the Bay Area -- a scene that fostered other notable local bands like Testament, Death Angel, and Exodus. These weren't the makeup-wearing pretty boys strutting around MTV playing diluted hard rock. They were misfits trying to push their music to the fastest, loudest, most chaotic edge they could find in sweaty S.F. and East Bay clubs. And a few of the bands, along with their L.A. peers like Slayer, eventually even found some mainstream notoriety, helping to establish this thrash-derived sound as the quintessential American heavy metal. Just look at the success of the Big Four tour.
A new book aims to capture the early days of this scene. In more than 400 photographs from Brian Lew and Harald Oimoen, Murder in the Front Row tells the story of Bay Area thrash in the '80s through pictures of such notable events as Clif Burton's first rehearsal and gig with Metallica, Dave Mustaine's tenure in an early edition of the band, Slayer's Kerry King performing onstage with Megadeth, and more. In addition to the live shots, there are also many pictures showing the raucous post-show parties -- the kinds of places where Metallica began to earn its old nickname, Alcoholica.
In case you missed the post from our pals at SF Weekly's arts and culture blog the Exhibitionist, Hüsker Dü and legendary crank Bob Mould will be making an appearance at the Booksmith tonight, reading from his memoir See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody.
Mould wrote the book with Michael Azerrad, author of the definitive indie rock bible Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991. It's a no-holds-barred account of Mould's life -- before, during, and after his time with one of the seminal college rock bands.
Bob Mould appears Tue., June 28, at 8 p.m. at the Booksmith.
Let me preface this by saying that the new Prince biography isn't especially good, insightful or interesting. Jason Draper pretty much digs through the same scant published interviews that fuel all bios of our Purple Sex Dwarf.
Draper appears not to have interviewed anyone himself, and every thirty pages or so he writes a variation on the following sentence: "It was becoming increasingly clear that Prince might not have been the savviest of businessmen."
All that distinguishes this from previous entries in the genre is that Draper's book grinds on through a couple more 2000s Prince albums, a couple more 2000s Prince girlfriends, and a couple more 2000s Prince CD distribution schemes. (2009's underrated LotusFlow3r is only $4.99 at Target!)
Oh, and in 2011's most clueless bit of music criticism, it dismisses "Sexy M.F." as "a catchy riff in search of a song." And it has a weirdly unsympathetic view of black America:
"The whole thing was aimed squarely and transparently at black audiences, with song titles such as 'Black MF in the House' and artwork full of fast cars, scantily clad women, and gaudy jewelry."