Released: 2007, Omnibus Press
Last month was Maiden Month, so this month is AC/DC month! I’m taking a look at four AC/DC related books this month. Feel free to also check out my reviews of DIRTY DEEDS (Evans), LET THERE BE ROCK (Masino), TWO SIDES TO EVERY GLORY (Stenning) and HIGH VOLTAGE ROCK AND ROLL (Sutcliffe)
Susan is a journalist from the American Mid-west and she is a life-long fan and friend of the band. With three or four AC/DC biographies already on the market it is an ambitious band to tackle yet again. However, the legions of fans of the band (myself included) will always welcome another perspective and Susan does a pretty good job. The book like most follows a linear history of the band with each chapter roughly corresponding to an album/tour cycle. There is a decent discography and about 50 black and white photos, some rare and some common publicity shots that have been seen many times before. Masino covers a ton of material, some industry stuff, music, production, much of it culled from many interviews with various band and crew-members over the years. I like the fact that she does the little extra things like discussing the Bonfire box-set or talking about the Toronto SARS Benefit concert, and the video shoots. There is a ton of technical detail in THE STORY OF AC/DC: LET THERE BE ROCK.
Masino’s writing style is quite personable, her prose is unassuming and quite intimate and personalized. By that I mean she talks about her relationship with the band rather than presenting a detached look at the band. She writes first and foremost as a fan and journalist secondly. That is not to say she does a poor job, by any means, it is refreshing to read someone articulating their love for a band, in this case her band, AC/DC. Masino talks about her personal feelings for one of the roadies she made a connection with and she talks about her experiences meeting the band on many occasions, all of it in a humble manner.
The occasional downside to her very personal style is that her journalistic credibility could be called into question at times. At times her love and enthusiasm for the band compromises her ability to detach herself and she makes a number of comments that are bordering on gushing fan-girl and lacking in perspective. For example she suggests than Gene Simmons of Kiss looked to Bon Scott as a model for sexual promiscuity. Considering that in the very early 70’s it is highly unlikely than either band would be aware of each other, one playing bars in Australia and the other playing bars in North America. AC/DC eventually opened for KISS. Another example of her mild hyperbole is her suggestion on page 190 that the song, ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’, “…has the stature of being the most popular song played in strip clubs.” How can she justify that statement? There is no empirical way of measuring things like that. I think that award probably would go to ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ by Motley Crue! Masino has a heavy use of italics, which is useful where she interjects her own personal, subjective opinion and keeps it a bit distinct from the factual/objective text typed in regular font. It's a clever idea to keep the two part distinct. She has a habit of interjecting little missive or jokes about the band and how awesome they are. I agree with her opinion for the most part but I felt at times they detracted (slightly) from any attempt at neutrality. However, it is her book, she loves the band, and her enthusiasm works well to engage the reader.
The main thrust of her book is the early years of the band the mid-70’s to late 80’s and over time she seems to have drifted away from the band. As the book wore on there was less and less detail, other than a rote repetition of basic facts, album names, tour dates and so on. However she does interview a number of the production crew and she provides some great insight into the bells, cannons, giant Angus statue and other interesting stories about the development and deployment of various stage props in the latter stages of the bands career.
THE STORY OF AC/DC is one of the better books about the band, bolstered by Masino’s good interviews, cleverly selected quotes, attention to detail and her undying and infectious enthusiasm for one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time.