“Hollywood Rocks: The Ultimate Guide to the 1980’s Music Scene” by Brian Roccio

Author: Brian Roccio
Title: “Hollywood Rocks: The Ultimate Guide to the 1980’s Music Scene”
Publisher: Cleopatra Records
Release Date: 9/2003
Genre: Glam Rock History
Rating: 4/5

No matter how you slice it, the big hair and spandex wearing bands of the Hair Metal Glam Rock scene of Hollywood, Los Angeles were often larger than life characters that delivered music with as much personality as the images they were presenting. The book “Hollywood Rocks” is a veritable tour guide of the scene and the groups that performed on the often infamous Sunset Strip and in its 200 plus pages we are literally taking a trip back in time that is not only proves to be a lot of fun, but also is one that will send the reader looking into cabinets for old vinyl and tapes that they might have long ago forgotten about. The book is loaded with hundreds upon hundreds of killer photos and is segmented into chapters that break it down by bands, flyers, media, venues and fashion. With this in mind we shall examine the sections in a little more detail by presenting the bands that brought this scene to everyone’s attention.

The Bands: L.A. Guns, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Stryper, Rough Cutt, Salty Dog, Tuff, W.A.S.P., Warrant, Johnny Crash, D’Molls, Candy (Gilby Clarke), Dokken, Cathouse, Pretty Boy Floyd, Jetboy, Glamour Punks, Black ‘N Blue, Steeler, Armored Saint, Guns ‘N Roses, Bang Tango, Lizzy Borden, London, Ratt, Leatherwolf, Great White, Poison, Ruby Slippers, Razzle, Rebel Rebel, Lions & Ghosts, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faster Pussycat, Jane’s Addiction.

*** The list of bands featured in the book reads like a “Who’s Who” in the Glam & Trash Rock scene and while it counts many of the most vital luminaries of the genre like Motley Crue and Guns ‘N Roses, it also features some of the local heroes who have long since been forgotten as the decade passed from one to another. The Bands chapter brings you up to page 127 and this means that the majority of the book is spent in this area but I am sure that few will mind once they get their fingers flipping through it. As noted we find the heavyweights in this area but some of them get a little more exposure than even I expected to find. Guns ‘N Roses gets about twenty pages of their own and Jane’s Addiction is only a few less than that. I was surprised that Poison only had about eight devoted to them but Motley Crue shows their stuff on ten. These photos are incredible to look at and find the bands young and on fire as each one of them raise their own personal bar in their quest for the ever elusive brass ring. I also mentioned there are a large amount of bands that many who never really studied the genre will chime in a loud “Who’s that again?” and this is a shame because groups like Tuff, Pretty Boy Floyd and D’Molls were really true to their style and brought a lot of cool stuff to the table. Of course they all had deals, but the stratospheric fame of a band like Guns or Crue eluded them time and time again. As I looked through this section the bands that left me scratching my head were Razzle, Lions & Ghosts and The Glamour Punks. We also find the band London presented for a small section of their own which was nice since they were a group that many others of note got their launching off point from.

I think I enjoyed the Flyers section the most after the bands chapter because if you were ever a musician during your life you were well aware of how important your gig flyers were back in the day. It’s pretty cool to see these same things for groups like Guns, or Hanoi Rocks and the like but the downside is that the chapter features a lot of them from bands that might be a mystery to the average listener. Still the artwork and commentary are often amusing and you get to see the way all of these players looked when they were just starting out.

The Media and Venues chapters could have been expanded upon in my opinion as they allow you to walk the same paths of the bands as they hit the stages of the famous clubs of the time such as Gazarri’s, The Whiskey and The Troubadour and with the media stuff we are getting the chance to see press clippings, magazine covers and articles that brought the bands to the printed page and allowed them to be enjoyed by a wider fan demographic than their geographic location offered them the chance to. Remember, there was not only no MySpace or Facebook during this decade but no real public Internet either. Yes my friends this is true information and as a result the bands had to work all the more harder. The Fashion chapter while necessary for the context of the rest of the material I felt was a piece that could have been sacrificed in order to present longer other chapters. Essentially this shows you some of the hair salons and tattoo parlors where the musicians got whatever it was they needed done and how it helped bring their image to your attention that much more.

If you are one of those music fans who holds this decade in a special place in your heart to this day then you really need to pick up a copy of the book because it helps you remember why you liked it so much and perhaps it will even brighten up your outlook as you head to the normal day to day drudgery as opposed to the way that you rocked out when you were younger. Maybe you are a younger fan who has only heard about the magic of this time from your older brothers and sisters, or even your parents, and if this is the case then here is your chance to check out what they were talking about and decide for yourself if they were onto something. It’s pretty safe to say that they were since we are in 2008 now and bands like Motley Crue, Guns ‘N Roses, Dokken, Poison, Cinderella and many, many more are still doing what they do best.

Notes: Cleopatra Records has also released an audio companion boxed set to the book and this features four CD’s of rare recordings of these bands and also gives you a comprehensive book that gives you liner notes about every single track.

Chapter Listing:
1. Bands
2. Flyers
3. Media
4. Venues
5. Fashion
6. Index

Official Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glam_metal

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