Monday, June 14, 2021

Reader's Diary #2211 - Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock: Nothin' But a Good Time

The subtitle of Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock's Nothin' But a Good Time is The Uncensored History of the 80's Hard Rock Explosion but make no mistake, this is a book about glam or hair metal. I think too many bands from that time never excepted those terms, or have since turned on the classification, but to me that's what it's always been. I don't attach much stigma to the terminology and would consider myself a fan of a good many such bands. 

Told as quick responses from interviews with ton of band members from that time (Skid Row, Warrant, Guns n' Roses, Quiet Riot, Ozzy, the Scorpions, Poison, Winger, Skid Row, Cinderella, etc) as well as other industry insiders, the book clocks in at a whopping 500+ pages but it goes by fast. It's always entertaining, sometimes insightful, and provides a great history lesson of a crazy time in rock history. 

It largely focuses on the early days when glam metal was competing to make itself known among the new age and punk bands on the Sunset Strip of Hollywood. I wish I'd known more about this time when I visited there a few years back. I checked out the Rainbow Bar where I know many bands at that era had frequented, but now I regret not having visited the Troubadour and the Whisky, both of which seem to have been quite important landmarks according to this book.

In some cases, my impressions on these bands didn't change. I was surprised to still hear some Motley Crue anecdotes I hadn't heard before, but nothing that endeared them to me any more. There were bands like Skid Row and Cinderella that I wound up liking more. And then there were ones like Faster Pussycat who, sorry, Taime Downe came across as more of a tool than I realized. Largely though I was pleasantly taken aback by the hard work and creativity of these bands back in the day. I was also impressed that most (not all!) were quite perceptive and honest about their status, quality, and level of talent. I guess being dropped from labels, moving from big venues to small crowds, combined with a lot of time and maturity has given ample time for these folks to reflect. Speaking of which, it was very interesting to hear how many acknowledge the rampant sexism of the time (Taime didn't appear to get the memo). 

Also fascinating to me was the exploration of the idea that Nirvana didn't kill hair metal as I've long believed. It seems to be more the case that the scene had just grown too large, too stale, and had worn out its welcome. Nirvana, more than anything, just happened to come along at the right time. People were desperate for something different. Of course, it helped that Nirvana were great. 

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