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The Hollywood Glambangers

beast.jpgHave you read Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal by Ian Christe yet?

I picked up a first edition hardback at a second-hand store. So far, I've found the book an invaluable resource for all things Metal.

First, it's important to note the book is 399 pages long (including an excellent index). The book is sectioned off into historical chapters, meaning you won't lose knowledge if you don't read chronologically.

Not surprisingly, I read chapter ten "The Hollywood Glambangers" before anything else. This chapter didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, still, it's good to see glam history in print. As godfathers of the Sunset Strip hysteria, Christe dedicates a large portion of this chapter to Van Halen and Motley Crue. Naturally, bands like Poison and even Danger Danger get their due. Christe also looks at how MTV spawned this glam music of a generation, and how labels were quick to jump on the Metal bandwagon. Sadly, there is a hint of sarcasm throughout this chapter which undermines Christe's ethos. An established journalist, Christe knows the importance of leaving opinion at the door but in some phrasing, his thoughts on glam are pretty evident. While I appreciate that Christe prefer Slayer to Slaughter, I don't understand the negativity launched toward glam that -quite honestly - put Metal on the map.

That noted, I must admit Sound of the Beast is still an excellent read. Other subjects which earned their own chapter include the P.M.R.C., The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, The Teen Terrorists of Norwegian Black Metal and an extensive chapter on the 90s and the "Black" album. I must say that for all the cynicism in the glam chapter, Christe gives Metallica their due for selling out and commercializing their sound. While the "Black" album helped make Metallica household names a lot fans hated the new, slick sound. Fans hated even more that the band started churning out music videos left and right, appeared at every awards show imaginable, toured with Veruca Salt and tried to take down Napster.

At the very beginning of Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, there is a flow chart, explaining the most important historical moments in Metal history. Not surprising, the chart begins at February 13, 1970 and the day Black Sabbath hit the market. It chronicles the formation of Judas Priest and Motorhead, the death of guitarist Randy Rhodes, Quiet Riot's triumphant rise to the top of the Billboard charts, the debut of Headbanger's Ball on MTV and the day Motley Crue released Girls, Girls, Girls. As the chart whips through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, you notice a decline in the popularity of Metal as music magazines fold, MTV stops playing videos and the members of Metallica cut their hair. Coming full circle, the chart ends with The Osbournes on MTV.

While researching the book, I found Yes, the book is truly interactive as Christe has a nice website, featuring text excerpts and even a corrections page. When I first opened the book to a random page I spotted a grammar error. Sure enough, that error is listed on the corrections page. Apparently, Christe employed the help of every day readers to find mistakes before the first edition paperbacks were printed. Even more exciting, is that Christe has a radio show on SIRIUS Satellite Radio called "Hard Attack." I don't subscribe to the service, or I'd definitely check it out.

Christe makes music, too. Give a listen at






Reader Comments (5)

Sounds pretty cool!
The book that I really want to get is "Life On Planet Rock" by Lonn Friend!
May 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenteraXe mAn
Yep, Lonn's book is good too.Definitely give it a read, Axe Man. I think you can find both these texts at your local library.

May 12, 2007 | Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford
Sounds like a cool book Allyson!

May 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHard Rock Hideout
I've had Ian's book since it first came out and I read it twice a year. It's a good historical read and he gives the reader lists of the top albums of each genre.

The only drawback is that his fandom for Metallica is a main focus. Nothing against Metallica but too much time is spent on them.

A solid read.
May 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRhodeislandrock
Maybe he's so sarcastic about glam because it has as much to do with actual metal as Hawthorne Heights has to do with Rites of Spring or 50 Cent has to do with Public Enemy or Faith Hill has to do with Hank Williams. In the late 80s, glam was a superficial pop shell designed to cash in on a genre that had something to offer but needed to be watered down for mass consumption.
May 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbob_vinyl

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