Monday, December 17, 2007

Slash's Autobiography

I'm one of the biggest Guns N' Roses fans in the world, and basically started playing guitar because of Slash, but I was a little underwhelmed. Not because it wasn't well written -- that wasn't the case -- but mainly because Motley Crue have already done the definitive L.A. metal autobio.

While I'd rather listen to GNR in most cases than the Crue, I rate "The Dirt" higher than "Slash" for a few reasons.

One, it came out first, and completely raised the bar for tell-alls about sleazy metal band behavior. There have been other books about bands raising hell -- the Led Zep bio "Hammer of the Gods" is probably seen as the standard bearer -- but most of those books, "Hammer" included, face some serious challenges to their authenticity, none of which have been leveled at Motley. Frankly, if it hasn't already, "The Dirt" is probably going to replace "Hammer" as the one that critics refer to most often in the future for a while when referencing historic rock debauchery.

I'm not saying that the Crue seemed crazier than GNR, did more drugs, drank more drinks, etc., but other than his alcohol intake at the peak of his alcoholism (almost a gallon of vodka during the day followed by shots of whiskey and beer chasers all night), there wasn't much that made me raise an eyebrow Slash's book.

Also, the Crue tome is also more effective in that it presents the perspective of each member of the group, whereas Slash's book is a more conventional autobiography that just has his take on his career. Slash deserves a certain amount of credit for noting that Axl has his own take on things every time he blasts Axl's selfishness that ultimately led to the demise of the band in everything but the name. But I was left wondering what Axl would have said...or what Steven Adler or Izzy Stradlin or Gilby Clarke would have had to say.

Another disappointment is that you get very little insight into the music, beyond some of the obvious stuff ("My Michelle," in case it wasn't obvious, is about a girl whose dad worked in the pornography business and mom o.d.'d. But you probably already knew that if you had ears to listen to the music or eyes to read the lyric sheet). Even though Slash wrote a lot of the music, it's not necessarily too informative to read something like "Me and Duff wrote that one while jamming in Chicago," or whatever. I guess that for the most part we'll have to wait for Axl's book...hope it comes out faster than "Chinese Democracy."

One interesting tidbit in this area though is the origin of the "Where do we go now?" bit in "Sweet Child of Mine" coming from a discussion in the studio of where to take the song, not of, say, where the relationship with said girl might be headed.

All that said, the book accomplishes what Slash set out to do with it -- set some memories to print in case he forgets them later, and explains to all of us the hassle of dealing with Axl Rose and thus why we shouldn't ask him "dude, when are you getting the band back together?"

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Insane Cost of Autographs

Just read on the Boston Globe site that Jacoby Ellsbury is signing autographs tomorrow -- cost is just $125 for him to sign a baseball or photo, and $150 to sign a bat or a shirt. In each case, you supply the item.

I can see this going on if ALL of the money is going to charity, but there's no mention of that. On one hand, I can understand the frustration of a celebrity who by signing an ordinary item with little value turns it into something worth much more, and doesn't get a cut. But these guys make millions -- Jacoby might not have his yet, but with his recent signing up with Scott Boras, they're clearly on the way. And in the mean time, I'll bet his contract with the Sox more than pays the rent.

I'm getting a little tired of the Globe and other media outlets covering the player's salaries -- and team profits -- in an exhaustive, breathless fashion, while rarely taking up the cause of the fan. More on that another time.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Santana Sweepstakes

Am I the only one who thinks it's remotely possible that the Sox have been out of the running for Johan Santana for a while now, but that the team and Boston Globe are colluding to feed the perception that it could happen at any moment in order to drive up hits on the Globe site?

Given the 17% stake that the paper has in the team, is this harder to believe than the idea that the teams have really been going back and forth for the past week or whatever?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Random Things I've Been Obsessing Over

1) Those asinine cell phone commercials with the smirky youngsters who blab about needing a phone that works in some smashing together of several cities. If I had three wishes, one would definitely be to punch every single one of those actors in the face so hard that the writers who came up with the commercials felt it.

2) Why did Black Sabbath make a huge shift from slow, doomy metal godliness to fast, generic L.A. metal (not that there is anything wrong with that) when Ronnie James Dio joined? Seriously, the music is almost unrecognizable as Sabbath when Dio joined. Say what you will about Sammy-era VH, but Eddy sounds like Eddy, even if not the same Eddy as before, if that makes any sense. I would normally chalk it up to a switch from pot to coke, but Sabbath had already made their LA coke album, in Los Angeles of course, with Vol. 4, which features the tip of the hat to coke with "Snowblind," so unfortunately I can't necessarily blame LA for this...

3) While it was romantic for Stevie Ray Vaughan to sleep with his Strat, was that really comfortable? Really?

4) And speaking of SRV, which is funnier -- people paying $8,000 for the limited edition "Lenny" Strat that is a replica of a guitar purchased at a pawnshop for $350 in 1980, or people spending $250 or more on replica cigar box guitars that are supposed to be like the ones that poor bluesmen started with? I say its a toss up -- the Strat is more expensive, but the cigar box guitars are just mindblowing....I would love to go back in time 60 years and tell the guys in the Delta that couldn't afford the cheapest of guitars about that one...