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Satan Is Alive: A Comic Book Tribute to Mercyful Fate

Mark Rudolph

(CV Comics)


Satan Is Alive: A Comic Book Tribute to Mercyful Fate
Mark Rudolph


A big reason why the music of Mercyful Fate still resonates so powerfully today is because the lyrics of the Danish band’s songs tell stories loaded with indelible imagery, King Diamond’s lyrics vivid and often very unsettling. It’s something begging for visual interpretation, and comic book artist Mark Rudolph did just that, assembling a group of talented artists and writers to create the ultimate print tribute to one of the greatest metal bands in history. A very successful Kickstarter campaign led to its release in September, and it turned out to be every bit as great as promised, part macabre, part wryly funny, and 100 percent sincere in its love and appreciation for all things Mercyful Fate. And as well done as the book is, it’s even better when you have Melissa and Don’t Break the Oath playing while you read. Adrien Begrand


 

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Shut Up and Give Me the Mic

Dee Snider

(Gallery Books)


Shut Up and Give Me the Mic
Dee Snider


An autobiography from multiplatinum-selling, goldilocks-haired Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider might not leap to mind as one of the year’s best, but Shut Up and Give Me the Mic earns its rightful place here for two important reasons. Firstly, it’s a hugely enjoyable tale of the rise and fall of a legendary metal artist and band, and as a marked point of difference, its glimpse into the world of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll comes from an artist who only indulged in the latter—Snider remaining a faithfully married, sober family man for the last 30 years. Secondly, Snider is a complete egomaniac (hilariously so) yet for all his puffed-up bluster he candidly spoke about his struggles, years of fame, and his own mistakes and failings as his career collapsed. Shut Up and Give Me the Mic doesn’t have as much filth or finger-pointing as more sensationalist fare, but Snider is still a loudmouthed and vastly entertaining storyteller. Craig Hayes


 

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Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream

Neil Young

(Blue Rider)


Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream
Neil Young


In his new autobiography Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young laments the fact folks nowadays rarely listen to his albums from start to finish, in the order he intended. His endearing if occasionally frustrating new book practically demands to be read out of sequence. A given chapter might begin with a musical tidbit, perhaps a story about the recording of Harvest, but it will inevitably trail off into a completely random conversation about anything from cars to Jimmy Fallon to drawing inspiration from a broken toe. In other words, it reads just like Uncle Neil’s all-over-the-map musical career. Young may be impetuous and a bit of a scatterbrain but he also has a heart of gold (sorry). He spends a good portion of the book rhapsodizing about his non-musical pursuits (his organization that assists disabled children, a mammoth car that runs on electricity and ethanol, a new high-resolution music service), all projects dedicated in some way to bettering the lives of others. Haunted by the recent deaths of several longtime collaborators, Young, at 66, sounds more determined than ever to fulfill his goals, musical and otherwise. He’s a benevolent rock ‘n’ roll Willy Wonka, the likes of which we might never see again. Daniel Tebo


 

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What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

Laina Dawes

(Bazillion Points)


What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal
Laina Dawes


For all the inclusiveness and safety-in-numbers mentality the metal community loves to espouse, like any other culture it still has a lot of work to do when it comes to being truly open minded. That’s the message metal writer Laina Dawes conveys in her book about her experiences as a metal fan who happens to be a black woman. A courageous memoir and social critique, the book dares to look under stones many in the metal world would prefer remain unturned, and in so doing she shines a light on not only a scene rife with racial discrimination, but also on a lot more black women willing to profess their love of metal and hardcore than some might assume. Metal is nowhere near close to being as truly inclusive as some want to believe, but Dawes’ revelatory book is a terrific step in the right direction. Adrien Begrand


 

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Who I Am: A Memoir

Pete Townshend

(Harper)


Who I Am: A Memoir
Pete Townshend


Just because Pete Townshend spent most of his career living the sort of hedonistic lifestyle befitting of a 1960s rock star doesn’t mean he enjoyed it. In his generous new autobiography Who Am I, Townshend reveals the crippling self-doubt that led to the creation of some of the Who’s masterpieces. Townshend’s story isn’t that dissimilar to that of, say, John Lennon. Boy with a troubled childhood finds salvation in music yet spends his early adulthood full of uncontrollable rage, inevitably turning to drugs and alcohol. Townshend is a master storyteller, however, peppering his book with enough amusing anecdotes (accidentally drinking acid-laced tea at Woodstock, butting heads with a young Jimi Hendrix) to prevent it from turning into a self-pitying rant. From his failed marriage to his more recent child pornography scandal, Towshend bravely lays all of his cards on the table. It’s an unprecedented glimpse into the mind of a man whose music powered a generation. Daniel Tebo


 

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Will Oldham on Bonnie “Prince” Billy

(W.W. Norton)


Will Oldham on Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Alan Licht


Why a book of this magnitude on Will Oldham is surfacing now is another mystery for the Oldham enigma. Regardless of the reasons, however, Will Oldham is trove of insightful commentary, anecdotes, and contradictory observations, all centered on Oldham’s multi-faceted career. The draw of Will Oldham, isn’t what Oldham conveys through conversation with his colleague Alan Licht, it is how much is left unsaid and how little is still unknown about the man behind so many classic records. He’s not intentionally cryptic; rather his vast career and output just cannot be contained in one sitting. As a music fan, it’s a magnetic read, a pulling back of the curtain to reveal the inner workings of the watchmaker. As an Oldham fan, it’s a must-have. Scott Elingburg

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