Lipps, & Reiner, Robb
Anvil - The Story of Anvil (Book Review)
Released: 2010, Bantam Press
2009 was the year of Canadian Metal stalwarts, Anvil. The band had a critically acclaimed, award winning film, partial catalogue reissues, talk-show appearances, tours and a book! Anvil-The Story Of Anvil was undoubtedly published in order to capitalize on the bands resurgence and new-found momentum.
As metal books go, this is pretty nice. Released by a big-name publishing firm, rather than the indies we are used to seeing metal-related publications on, this hardcover weighs in at over 300 pages with a flattering foreward by Slash. It also has about three-dozen rare full-colour photos. I could do without the naked photo of Lips however.
The story itself is a fairly conventional story that details the life of the protagonists and authors. It goes into to considerably more detail than the movie about the early years of the band and the struggles they endure. Told in a linear fashion there are many anecdotes and stories about the road, the various members who have come and gone. The book also details more about the relationship of the band with Sacha Gervais, the filmmaker who took the band on as his project, resulting in the renewed popularity of the band.
As with many biographies and autobiographies the book is heavily weighted in favour of the ‘glory’ years, namely the good ol’ days. These books are supposed to be about documenting the past however so many books fall short on telling the full story about the band. For example, almost two-thirds of the book are dedicated to the 1980’s, 200 pages worth. Fair enough. It’s a good story and needed to be told. Then we get a mere 40 pages cover the entire 90’s decade and that represents four full albums! Where are the stories about those years? The information was very sparse, it like a Coles Notes version. “We did an album and then a tour. Then we did another album and a tour. And then we did another album and a tour.” Where? When? There should have been at least another 100 pages to cover the mid-years when the band soldiered on.
It gets worse. The next five years (2000-2005) are completely ignored! The band recorded three albums and toured sporadically and yet there is no information about it at all. The bands 2002 album, Still Going Strong, and the 2004 album, Back To Basics are covered in three (yes 3!) measly paragraphs. Less than one page! Unacceptable. I personally was insulted. As a life-long fan supporting the band buying the albums to have them completely disregard and ignore those albums was terrible, a major short-coming. Where are the stories about touring Europe with Riot? The lost weekend in Greece? The festivals? Where were the albums recorded? With who? When? So many unanswered questions and untold stories, Lipps and Robb really need to go back and completely re-write and redo a second book from the lost years from 1990-2005. I was extremely disappointed. It was obviously rushed out by the publisher to meet a deadline and capitalize on the market. The book should have been twice as long.
The last 50 pages or so covers the band resurgence, the movie, the awards shows and so on but totally ignores the long-overdue and finished 14th album. It comes across as the band saying, “Oh yeah, we recorded another album, but decided not to release it.” So the true fans are being punished while the band does the American talk-show circuit for house-wives who would never buy an Anvil album to begin with. As a fan, the whole last third of the book left me with a really sour taste in my mouth. I’m glad for their success, I’m pleased to read the story of the band’s so-called return, even though they never went anywhere, but enough is enough. The band need to get their head out of the clouds and back to do doing what they do best, pounding out true metal.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Very personal criticism aside, it is a great story and I’m delighted that the band is finally get the attention and respect they deserve. I was just hoping for so much more about the band, the music, the albums and the metal.