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Book Review: Hammered: Heavy Tales from the Hard-Rock Highway by Kirk Blows

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Heavy metal music brings to mind images of bad behavior on and off stage, heavy drinking, drugs, and of course, sex. Hammered: Heavy Tales from the Hard-Rock Highway does nothing to dispel those images. Former editor of the German music magazine Metal Hammer Kurt Blows shares tales from his encounters with many groups, both well-known and less successful, over the years.

Most of these stories are from the 1980s and 1990s so in a sense they are old news. Also, “heavy metal” is a term that can encompass a rather wide range of styles, since this book includes not only groups like Metallica, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but Meat Loaf, Joe Walsh, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Black Crowes as well.

But even though these articles are old, they are often quite fascinating. From a poignant conversation with Brian May of Queen not long after Freddie Mercury’s death to hilarious meals with Meat Loaf and Ozzy Osbourne, from revealing chats with a surprisingly candid Henry Rollins about his difficulties letting people get close to him to being nearly trampled onstage with Metallica, Blows has been up close and personal with hundreds of metal celebrities, and he shares over 200 stories here.

Probably, if you read this book, you will expect it to be crude, sexist, and frankly fairly appalling in places, and it is. There are some more in-depth pieces, especially in the chapter entitled “Candid Conversations.” But for the most part it is less about music and more about getting wild and crazy, with booze and sex getting more attention than shows and songs.

Fans of heavy metal, hard rock, and even classic rock who are prepared for raunchy stories of rock ‘n roll’s past twenty plus years and not averse to hearing about vomit and other unpleasant subjects will certainly find much to entertain them in Hammered,

One problem I had with the book is the design. There are graphic backgrounds consisting of the names of bands on most of the pages and the type is written over these graphics. This sometimes made the text somewhat hard to read.

On the other hand, there are a number of full color photos in the book, which are a nice touch.

So, while the quality of the stories is uneven and by the end of the book I was a bit tired of it all, overall this is a quick and easy read that is worthwhile even if you only read about the groups you really care about and skip those you never heard of.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.
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