Led Zeppelin: Good Times Bad Times; A Visual Biography of the Ultimate Band

For fans of iconic rock band Led Zeppelin, there will forever be a hole in their collective heart stemming from the tragic death of drummer John Bonham in 1980. There have been several attempts at reunion performances, most recently in 2007 with Bonham’s son Jason pounding the skins for a tribute to Atlantic Records’ founder Ahmet Ertegun. But there has never been another tour, or any new music from the band, nor any real promise of such. And as difficult as that may be to swallow for a Led Zep fan, it may be best to remember these guys as they were – pioneers of hard rock, filling arenas with loud music and prompting young musicians everywhere to dream of becoming rock stars.

And it’s easier to remember the good times when you have books like “Led Zeppelin: Good Times Bad Times (A Visual Biography of the Ultimate Band)” by long-time Led Zep researchers Jerry Prochnicky and Ralph Hulett. This 200-plus page hardcover is filled with some incredible shots of the band from the early days when they were known as the New Yardbirds, all the way up to that 2007 performance that features a white-haired Jimmy Page on guitar. Throughout, there are live shots, shots of the band hanging out at home with their families, shots that might be considered ubiquitous and others that are quite obscure. Sometimes photos can tell a story better than words can, and in this case the authors have put together one of the finest retrospectives possible. The only thing missing is an accompanying music CD, but we suggest drawing from your own Zep collection, and crank it up really loud while you peruse. It’s the only way. (Abrams Books 2009)

  

Anthony Bozza: Why AC/DC Matters

Aptly priced at $16.66, Bozza’s tribute to the “greatest living rock band” is packaged like any of a million little impulse-buy, gift books that clutter the front counters of chain stores and independents alike. Unlike those books, which tend to be scant collections of unfunny jokes, sappy homilies, or sound-bite life instructions, Bozza has written a fiery, fast paced, aggressively written love cry to one of the most indestructible and eminently powerful rock bands ever.

Like AC/DC itself, Bozza’s writing is both straightforward and accessible, while challenging in its condemnation of rock criticism in general and unquestionably catchy as any good story should be. His introduction is as short and hard-hitting as the intro to Back in Black, quickly setting down the purpose behind his book and giving us a personal feel for his relationship with the band and music that has been nearly lifelong. It also provides a quick, but important critique of modern music writing that is a must read for anyone (this reviewer included) who wants to be an authentic voice in musical journalism.

The chapters are divided into small bios of the band members, crossed with succinct but erudite studies of the various musicalities. While getting the story of the “youngest Youngs” Malcolm and Angus and their rise to iconic status, we also get a fine analysis of their guitar method and idiosyncrasies. What comes across is the surprising quality of brotherly support that is not only at the heart of AC/DC’s professional success, but also their self-taught musical skill; skill that can be lost in the visceral impact of the songs themselves. When telling the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale of Bon Scott and the transition to Brian Johnson, Bozza not only grants us an immerse sense of the musical history behind the band, but we get a physiology lesson in hard rock singing. Continuing through Mark Evans, Cliff Williams and the amazing Phil Rudd, he manages to deconstruct AC/DC’s music without killing the magic.

The book ends with a heartfelt ode to the fans who have stood by this band for 36 years, providing a sense of continuity that provides an excellent case study in AC/DC of the massive changes to the music industry; massive changes the band has navigated with an unrelenting forward momentum based on honest, blood & guts, rock & roll integrity.

Bozza loves AC/DC, and with this short, gut punch of a book, he proves you should to.

For those about to rock… read this book!

Click to buy Why AC/DC Matters from Amazon

  

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