Popoff, Martin – All Access: The Art And History Of The Backstage Pass (Book Review)

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Reviewed: March 2012
Released: 2008, Cleopatra Records
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: JP


Gorgeous tome compiling hundreds of photos of backstage passes from across the ages.

This is just going to be a quick review because this book is not specifically about Metal but may have general interest of Rock and Metal fans. The sub-title of ALL ACCESS says it all, THE ART AND HISTORY OF THE BACKSTAGE PASS. This is Martin Popoff’s 30th, 40th, 50th book… I dunno I’ve lost track but as always it’s a beauty! It’s a hardbound, coffee-table size tome with over 110 pages of full colour on nice glossy paper; yep, it looks good and feels good.

The script of the book is a lengthy discussion of the Backstage Pass, it’s origins, evolution and so on. The book is heavily anchored by interviews with three of the most prominent Backstage Pass collectors and sellers, Allan Poulin, Jerry Steele and Bruce Kessler. For these gentlemen the Pass is more than a curious collectible, it is a way of life. There has never been a more detailed documentation of this piece of rock industry.

There are hundreds of pictures of passes in this book, which for me is the neat part. From pictures of simple cards for The Beatles to satins, modern laminates with 3-D holograms and everything in between. The art and design on some of these passes are amazing. They really do range from utilitarian to pieces of art commissioned specifically to tie in with the theme of the album or tour. Passes from all the big bands are here, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera, Alice Cooper; all the rockers, Kiss, AC/DC, Motley Crue, Scorpions, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Van Halen; the Prog dudes, Rush, Dream Theater, lots of 90’s grunge and alt. Metal passes, tons of cool ones from The Grateful Dead; the list goes on, including tons of rarities from the 70’s as well.

For many of us the Backstage Pass is something we only get a quick glimpse of as we happen to glance at one, dangling from a neck as a roadie passes by, wandering through the crowd at a concert. For a lucky few fans, they might have a treasured place in our collection of memories of concerts long gone by; a contest won, a meet and greet or more likely these days an expensive VIP package! For others it is a sign of a working man; I’m here to do a job on the show and the passes get tucked away, given away or eventually discarded. To most, they symbolize access to the magic and mystery of the ‘backstage’ and it’s not surprising that they now have an entire cottage collectible industry of their own. ALL ACCESS tells their tale.

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Format Reviewed:
Publisher: Cleopatra Records
Pages: 112