By Bob Nalbandian

Bang Your Head: The Rise And Fall of Heavy Metal
Author: David Konow (Three Rivers Press 2002)

Here is the perfect example that anyone can write a book on heavy metal. Author David Konow proves that in order to write a book about metal, you don't have to live it, you don't have to breathe it, you don't even have to listen to it, just as long as you can quote enough people that have some degree of knowledge about this form of music, you too can write a book on heavy metal. Nothing against this author, I've in fact met him while he was collaborating information for this book and I do respect and admire his genuine enthusiasm on the subject matter. I also respect the time he devoted researching and preparing for the book. By research, I simply mean interviewing other musicians, journalists, record execs and fans, as well as using direct quotes from music magazines, books and other sources. This is nothing more than a novice hard rock fan that compiled a book of quotes, which is immediately apparent after reading into the first chapter (actually, for me, this became immediately evident after reading the lame-ass title of the book!)

Despite the book being plagued with inaccuracies, I do admire the fact that Konow touches on several aspects of hard rock [it would be inappropriate to use the term "metal" when describing much of the contents in this book] and particularly gives detail to the Los Angeles club scene of not only the'80s, which was largely over-exposed (with the exception of a few key artists) but of the late '70s, which heralded the truly underrated musicians of the Los Angeles club scene. These particular chapters [I can't really pinpoint a particular chapter since, time-frame wise, this book is all over the place] I found very interesting and somewhat informative. I applaud Konow for exposing this grand era of musical greatness, something that has, for some strange reason, been sorely overlooked in the past by music journalists and authors. Konow delves into the early club days of future megastars Van Halen and Quiet Riot (back when Randy Rhoads was on guitar). The author interviews several key musicians and fans from that era, with emphasis on early club performances at The Whisky, Gazzarri's, and The Starwood. Fans that were quoted in the book unveil little known facts such as David Lee Roth's on-stage infatuation with Black Oak Arkansas' Jim Dandy while others talk about the extreme debauchery and decadence that surrounded the Starwood. I commend David for giving props to the great, underrated artists from that era who have rarely been publicized in the past. Bands such as A La Carte, Stormer, The Boyz (featuring George Lynch), Wolfgang (who later softened their sound and became Autograph), Stormer, and Greg Leon Invasion are discussed and interviewed throughout the chapter. [Although he neglected to mention other notable artists like; Snow, Legs Diamond, Smile, Satyr, Pretty Poison (who later became Sharks, then Shark Island), and Nor-Cal boys Yesterday and Today who were also making waves on the LA circuit back in the day]. I was also pleasantly impressed by the author's inclusion of early '80s bands such as Sound Barrier (the first all-black rock/metal band) who were perhaps the most underrated band on the LA circuit. Of course, these accounts are not cited by the author himself, but told from such visionary metal connoisseurs such as Jon Sutherland and the like.

There are other chapters in the book that were somewhat informative, but, as I mentioned earlier, Konow seems to wander aimlessly throughout this book, skipping from one era or scene to another, which makes the book somewhat hard to follow. And the fact that he relies solely on quotes from other people or other sources, he delivers very few opinions or assertions of his own, with the exception of senseless synopsis and very unfunny anecdotes. Recommended for the novice rock/metal fan.

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