Heavier Than Heaven

Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

Originally published in 2001 and with a well-written update added to bring it up to date, this is a well-researched book by an author who was around for many of the events at the time. Charles Cross spent 4 years researching, and interviewing 400 people for this book. So you can tell it’s pretty thorough. He tells us how Cobain’s time being famous, from his first album coming out to his death was less than 1000 days. That’s pretty heart-rending to think about. It does a good job of filling out the picture from his beginnings in Aberdeen through growing up and finding success. A lot of focus on his songwriting and touring, practices and time spent making albums. Meeting and marrying Courtney Love and becoming a father. And of course, you know how the story ends, yet it still grabs you. This is a really good book for Nirvana fans. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Charles R Cross, and the publisher for my fair review.


Publisher: Hachette Books – 381 pages
Published: April 2nd, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars

The Author- CHARLES R. CROSS was editor of The Rocket, the Northwest’s highly regarded music and entertainment magazine and the first publication to do a cover story on Nirvana. He is also the author of Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix; Led Zeppelin: Heaven and Hell; Backstreets: Springsteen, the Man and his Music; Nevermind: The Classic Album; and Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Spy, among many other publications. He lives in Seattle.

Don’t Stop Believin’

Don’t Stop Believin’: The Man, the Band, and the Song that Inspired Generations

I’ve been very lucky with running into good music memoirs this year and this is another one I enjoyed, this time by Jonathan Cain. Who doesn’t (or didn’t) love the songs of the group Journey? Well at least if you are in my age group or grew up on their music. Here is a chance to learn about how lots of their music was written. Cain is responsible for many of my favorite hits, and I loved hearing about what was behind the writing of them. Also how he ended up in the band after working so long and hard to get a real start in something good after endlessly paying his dues it seemed. If you’re looking for a groupie groping tell-all, this isn’t it. It is, however a fascinating look at the music world and what can sometimes go on between band members that can fracture bands and long-term friendships that can be unseen from the outside. Things sometimes just don’t make any sense to anyone but the one member who remains obstinate and won’t be persuaded to play.Journey

Publisher:  Zondervan – 303 pages
Published: May 1st, 2018

RATING: 4/5 Stars

The Author Jonathan Cain is a musician best known as the keyboardist and lyricist for the world-renowned band Journey, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His acclaimed worship album, What God Wants to Hear, is filled with personal songs about his faith journey. Jonathan and his wife, Pastor Paula White, live in Apopka, Florida.

I Ran With The Gang

I Ran With The Gang: My Life In and Out of the Bay City Rollers

This was a pleasant trip back to the mid-1970s the time when the group the Bay City Rollers were hot on the music charts. It turned out to be a well-written biography of the guy who started the band, Alan Longmuir, a plumber together with his younger brother Derek and cousin Neil Porteous. They had a lot of members who rotated in and then out of the band over the years. There’s an Introduction by Alwin Turner, a cultural and political historian. Then the good stuff starts in.

I enjoy reading these rock group biographies from that era because we are losing some of these guys and gals every year, and this was a good one. Sadly, Longmuir was among those who passed away in 2018 while working on his book. I enjoyed reading the heartfelt and humble story of his life before, during and after the band. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, authors Alan Longmuir with Martin Knight, and the publisher for my fair review.

Publisher: Luath Press
Published: Nov 28th, 2018

RATED:  5/5 Stars

Queen: Album by Album

Queen: Album by Album

This is an awesome retrospective book on Queen’s 15 studio albums where each album is discussed by a panel of nineteen comprised of Queen experts, rock journalists, musicians, music industry people and superfans put together by author Martin Popoff. Filled with tons of great rare photos and artwork from live performances and candid shots of the band. “Just in time for the 45th anniversary of their debut LP and biopic.” This was really enjoyable to go through and check out all of the albums and read the comments from the various panel members while looking at all of the pictures from back then.

It’s making me want to go see the new movie now. Hard to believe it’s been nearly 50 years since the band was formed. It’s a great choice for any Queen fan, with all of the pictures and commentary of the music experts and fans mixed in. I think most rock fans of this era would love it.  My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Martin Popoff, and the publisher for my fair review.

Voyageur Press   224 pages
Pub: Nov 13th, 2018

RATED: 4/5 Stars

The AuthorMartin Popoff has been described as the world’s most famous heavy-metal journalist, though he has covered plenty of Punk and New Wave albums in his career of 7,000-plus album reviews. He has penned many books on various bands, genres of rock, and record collecting, including Voyageur Press’ Rush: The Illustrated HistoryMetallica: The Complete Illustrated HistoryThe Art of Metal; and The Big Book of Hair Metal. He has also worked on film documentaries about Rush and ZZ Top. Popoff lives in Toronto.

Stone Free


Stone Free: Jimi Hendrix in London, September 1966-June 1967

In many respects, Jimi changed the sound of rock far more than the Beatles. You know, they brought songwriting to rock and roll, but Jimi changed the sound of the guitar.

— Pete Townshend

This is a great book for most any Jimi Hendrix fan, it focuses on the nine month period of time when he went to London and really changed the entire trajectory of his career. He worked his behind off developing everything from his wardrobe, his performing skills, expressing himself vocally, etc. Making use of every moment he morphed himself from a backup player to the headlining star he was meant to be. He got a bass player and a drummer, Noel Redding, and John “Mitch” Mitchell, and formed a trio, Jimi Hendrix and the Experience, and they rehearsed some songs until they felt they were ready to go on stage as an opener for another group. This is how he developed himself into a full act, moving from the back of the stage to the front. Then Chas Chandler, formerly of the group The Animals, along with Animals manager Mike Jeffery, who’d gotten Hendrix to go to London in the first place, and were co-managing him, got the band some work in France, Germany and in England to give them the experience they needed.

In October 1966 Chandler also got the band their first studio recording session for “Hey Joe”. Hendrix was still uncertain about his singing voice and wanted to bury the vocals under the music. Chandler wouldn’t allow it though and made Jimi turn the volume back down. Once he got that song down, they needed a song for the B side and Jimi was told he needed to write his own songs in order to get publishing royalties. So, no problem, Hendrix transitions from player to player/songwriter, boom. “He had attempted writing songs before, but the true flowering of Jimi Hendrix, composer, occurred after his move into Hyde Park Towers.” “Stone Free” was his first official composition for the Experience, written in the Hyde Park Towers a day or two after the initial “Hey Joe” session. Soon after, he was playing it in clubs and recording it. Other songs soon followed. Jimi also jammed with lots of other artists, many of whom were world famous names like Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, etc. His very shy, polite manner made him easy to get along with.

The book follows him through that whole period of time, as he transforms from a veritable unknown to someone everyone has heard of and are eagerly awaiting his show back in the US. My thanks for the electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Jas Obrecht, and the publisher for my fair review.

University of North Carolina Press   256 pages
Pub: Nov 12th, 2018

RATED:  4/5 Stars


The Author– Jas Obrecht is an award-winning music journalist and former editor of Guitar Player magazine. He has written for Rolling Stone, Living Blues, and many other publications. His many books include Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Let’s Go!: Benjamin Orr and the Cars

Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars

This was a well-researched book about The Cars and Benjamin Orr, born Orzechowski aka “Benny 11-Letters” because so many of his friends and acquaintances had trouble pronouncing his name. He was almost universally liked as he was making his way in the music business, seemingly a genuinely nice and caring man. Ben was also quite talented when it came to singing and drumming, and learning other musical instruments from what many of his friends had to say in the book. You certainly could use a scorecard for this one to keep up with all of the band incarnations and band member rotations. I was amazed at the number of times the name of the band changed, and it didn’t always depend on whether any members were moved in or out. There were some interesting anecdotes in the book of things that happened to the band members.

The Grasshoppers dissolved in 1965. Orr joined a band called The Proof Sets, playing for about 6 months before changing the name to The Mixed Emotions, playing extensively all over Ohio. Then that band ended in 1967. Then they were The Rush for a while. Then near the end of 1967 several of them got back together again and became the band Colours with Ben and Wayne Weston, John Matuska, and a new manager, a local promoter named Bob Bobchuck They stayed busy with gigs and even cut a single, “You Came into My Life.” Things were going well and they had some interest from Roulette Records in Florida. They were driving down to meet with them when they called home and got a message that Ben had to fly back immediately because he’d been drafted. Everything stopped right then. It took a year before he could get out on a hardship discharge, being the only son. By this time it was 1969 and he had mixed feelings about a music career, as he’d be starting all over basically.

I do however confess to being a great fan of The Cars back in the day, I just loved them and listened all the time. I was surprised to learn in the book that Ric Ocasek also modified his name. It was Richard Otcasek struggling as a draftsman for Ohio Bell, starting out. He also had a band called ID Nirvana he formed in 1967. He met Ben in 1968. They started playing together after Orr joined the band, and they began opening for shows for such Ohio notables as The Bob Seger System, Alice Cooper, The Lemon Pipers and The Strawberry Alarm Clock. To make ends meet, Ric also managed a clothing store called Family Britches, hiring Ben too. They would later become The Cars and famous, The rest is in the book and history. This would be a good read for fans of The Cars or Ben Orr. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Joe Milliken, and the publisher for my fair review.

Rowman & Littlefield 216
Pub: Nov 11th, 2018

RATED: 3.5/5 Stars

The AuthorJoe Milliken has been a music journalist, editor, and website publisher for 20 years. A life-long rock music fan with a degree in visual arts, Joe would turn to writing as his creative outlet, starting as a local reporter, then a Sports/Arts & Entertainment editor, while also freelancing for various national publications. In 2014, he launched Standing Room Only, a website dedicated to promoting music, the arts and specialty food on both a local (Boston, New England) and national level. Originally from Boston, he now resides in southern Vermont with his family. Let’s Go is his first book.

Pink Floyd: Album by Album

A great look at the band and its output, the albums of Pink Floyd by Martin Popoff. Filled with tons of great pictures and covers, plus information gleaned about the guys and their albums. Known for playing the genres of progressive rock and psychedelic rock. This one is likely to be treasured by most Floyd fans for its nostalgic trip to the past and attention to detail.

My thanks for the advance digital copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Martin Popoff, and the publisher for my unbiased review.

Quarto Publishing Group – Voyageur Press
Publication: June 26, 2018

Once Upon a Farm: Lessons on Growing Love, Life, and Hope on a New Frontier

This was a sad yet uplifting book by Rory Feek of Rory and Joey fame, his second book sharing about his life. I was not aware of the story of this pair until it came out that Joey was dying of cancer, leaving behind a devoted husband and baby daughter. That was about all I knew then. This book really helped to fill in the story and then some, sharing their beautiful love story and their strong faith, and telling how Rory is now raising Indiana. An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley & Edelweiss , authors Rory Feek, and the publisher for my unbiased review.

Thomas Nelson
Publication: June 19, 2018

Hunting Charles Manson: The Quest for Justice in the Days of Helter Skelter

This is a new book about the Manson murders by Lis Wiehl and Caitlin Rother. An updated look, It does cover much of the same ground as many other books have, but I was pleased to find new material. It covers things like Manson’s children and grandchildren’s lives, his death and the fight for his body and estate, and also things like ATWA and his near-marriage to Star, along with much more.

Definitely worth a read, for sure if you are curious about the whole topic, into true crime and have read many of the other books on the crimes as I have. I also found things I didn’t remember hearing about that had happened, like when Manson had been lit on fire and badly burned by another prisoner back in 1984. Which was understandable, as I’d been rather busy in ’84 having moved twice and having my only child at the end of it. An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Lis Wiehl with Caitlin Rother, and the publisher for my unbiased review.

Thomas Nelson Books

Published June 5th, 2018

RATING: 4/5 stars

Memoirs of a Mongol without a Pony

This is an enjoyable memoir about a memorable boy growing into a young man written by his father with Shawn’s input. You see the boy just happened to be born with Down’s Syndrome. That’s where the reference to a Mongol comes from, as the condition used to be called or Mongolism or being a Mongoloid. But this is basically the story of a family and things happened as the boy was growing up. Shawn is a very happy kid, as he says most “Downer’s” are, as he calls himself and others like him. His mom goes to school to become an artist and his dad is going to school to be a doctor, but he also refers to them as hippie type parents in some ways.

This is an endearing read and I’d recommend it for those who like memoirs of this type with a lot of feel-good moments. It does say in the beginning of the book that it’s not completely non-fiction, because of memory issues or whatever, which I totally relate to having the same problem. But you can decide for yourself if that is a problem for you or not in reading. It’s still a lovely book, regardless and the father’s intelligent input makes it very readable. An advance digital copy was provided by Goodreads, author R.G. Stern, and the publisher for my unbiased review.

Banal Press

Published March 17, 2016

RATING: 4/5 stars