Neil Daniels – All Pens Blazing Volume II
Well it’s been a couple of months since I received a copy of this book and I was really slacking on getting through it and writing a review on it, because frankly I suck. The internet has caused a generation of A.D.D. people under 30 who can’t sit still long enough to read something outside of a six minute visit to the toilet, and I’ve become the same way unless it’s something so gripping right off of the bat that I can’t put it down. But now that I have sat down long enough to get through APB Vol. II, it’s fair to say that it’s a pretty cool book and a neat idea Mr. Daniels has come up with, but it’s not going to be for the under 30 generation.
The idea behind APB Vol. II was to interview the writers behind the magazines and books that helped to revolutionize and bring notoriety to the hard rock and heavy metal uprising in the late 70’s and early 80’s. While Neil has done a mighty fine job at that, it alienates the younger audience who has never heard of these magazines and even a majority of the hair and glam metal bands that some of the writers are overly giddy about meeting. The big question posed to these writers is if there is a future for printed metal publications, and the problem is that the real answer is an overwhelming ‘No!’ However everybody holds out hope that there will be a revival based purely on nostalgic reasons. Anybody who has picked up an episode of REVOLVER in the past three years can easily compile that the metal magazine is a dying breed for good reason: it’s bloated with ads, filled with irrelevant non-metal bands that will move copies but alienate their core audience, generally useless reviews that are based off of one or two songs leaked online, and biased reviews towards a band that will stand behind them and add a page of commentary to that album.
Let me clarify here that I’m not bashing this book from a writing standpoint or anything, because it’s actually a very interesting read for an open minded metalhead or just music fan that likes hearing about the tales of Dave Mustaine’s predictable attitude or the party stories that are synonymous with metal. I was also very pleased to see an interview with Ian Winwood near the end of the book because I have admired him ever since he called Chad Kroger a cunt in print on multiple occasions. It gave me the warm and fuzzies when he describes Nickelback as ‘complete shit’ which alone makes it worth the price of admission here. Neil has a deep passion for printed media and a lot of respect for the authors who helped to bring them to their glory once upon a time. I will be the first to admit however, when I’m reading about metal, I rarely look at the author’s name unless I’m on Blabbermouth reading reviews, because a certain somebody on there will kiss ass to any Roadrunner releases and shit all over anything else. For the diehard 80’s metal fan that has a catalogue of back issues of these magazines and did actually live month to month based on the credibility of these writers, this is a pretty big deal to read about. If I gave this book to my father he’d be ecstatic about it. Why? Because he doesn’t know how to use a computer and he still sits on the toilet every morning reading metal magazines and taking every word to heart as gospel. He’s the kind of person who would see the names in this book and then associate the writers with magazines and places five years from now whereas I’ll have forgotten most of their names by the time I’m finished writing this. Would I recommend this book? I would in a heartbeat to somebody over 40 who would undoubtedly feel a personal connection to it. Hell, I wish I could make people my age take three or four hours of their life to read it and see where the roots of rock journalism are, but I know better. With that said, I’m happy that I read it and will read more of Neil’s stuff in the future.
I hate sounding like a dick because it’s not my intention when writing this, because for as cool of a book as this is from a musical history standpoint, it targets a small demographic of people my age. Neil asks good, smart questions throughout and pretty much everybody is well versed and at least a little bit diplomatic in their responses, which makes for a nice, painless read. The authors who make a good living still on band biographies are generally happier than those who lost their livelihoods thanks to the internet. To quote Dave Cockett in this book: “The biggest problem now is that since the internet revolution, anyone with a PC and broadband can set himself up as a writer.” This statement is VERY true and is a fairly good assessment of everyone’s feelings here. The best way to describe it is if I interviewed the inventor of LEGOS and asked him what his thoughts on the Playstation 3 that has made his company nostalgic and obsolete were. You and I both know that LEGOS are fucking awesome and I’d still play with them given the opportunity, however kids now want to interactively blow shit up rather than crashing their LEGO car into the fridge and rebuilding it.