Get SF Weekly Newsletters


Monday, May 18, 2015

Oakland Writer Pens Book on Devo's Freedom of Choice

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 9:00 AM

The 33 ⅓ book series consists of short monographs focused on a particular album, ranging from the famous to the cult favorites to the unexpected — one recent effort focused on the three minutes of music Japanese artist Koji Kondo created for the original Super Mario Bros. game. Another volume has its book premiere this Thursday at Green Apple’s Clement Street location, where Bay Area-based writer Evie Nagy will be celebrating the release of her study of 1980’s Freedom of Choice, the third album by sharp-eyed Ohio legends Devo.

“The biggest general misconception about Devo,” said Nagy in a recent email conversation, “is that they are a one-hit wonder, 'those guys with the funny hats who sang (Freedom of Choice’s breakout hit) 'Whip It.'" It was in part to correct that misperception that Nagy, currently working for Fast Company but with past editing stints at Billboard and Rolling Stone, wrote the book, but as she notes, that song and album was her own gateway drug:

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Play Something Dancy Says the Life of an S.F. Strip-Club DJ Is Worse Than You Think

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 1:30 PM


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."

See Also:

* Groupie Lit: Sluts Are Great Writers, Jump-Offs Not So Much

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peter Hook on Joy Division, New Order, and His New Book, Unknown Pleasures

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 3:00 AM

Peter Hook, bassist for Joy Division and New Order. - MARK MCNULTY
  • Mark McNulty
  • Peter Hook, bassist for Joy Division and New Order.

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.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Groupie Lit: Sluts Are Great Writers, Jump-Offs Not So Much

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM

The growing canon of groupie-penned literature. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • The growing canon of groupie-penned literature.
Groupie lit is getting around. Two recent publications bookend the extremes of this growing canon of female-authored works -- in other words, one's worth settling down with, while the other should be quit before it's hit.

See Also:
* Groupies, Piss, and Penises: Five Shocking Music Memoirs
* Lose the Groupies: Glitter Wizard Explains How to Be a Rock God on a Budget

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Duran Duran's John Taylor Finds His (and Our) Pleasure Groove

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Groove merchant: John Taylor in San Francisco. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Groove merchant: John Taylor in San Francisco.

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.

See also:

* Saturday Night: Duran Duran Incites Girl Panic, Covers Lady Gaga At The Fillmore

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Smash Mouth and Guy Fieri Team Up For a Bro-Down Cookbook

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Chef Guy Fieri and Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell: together at last.
  • Chef Guy Fieri and Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell: together at last.

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).

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Listen Whitey!: Music Historian Pat Thomas Explores the Sounds of Black Power

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 8:20 AM



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.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Book Murder in the Front Row Tells the Story of Bay Area Thrash Metal in Pictures

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Metallica, way back when.
  • Metallica, way back when.

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.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

See Husker Du's Bob Mould at the Booksmith Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Bob Mould, tonight at The Booksmith.
  • Bob Mould, tonight at The Booksmith.

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.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, and like us at

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Nine Best Revelations From the New Prince Biography

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2011 at 11:39 AM

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."

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"