Reviewed: December, 2020
Published: 2020, Hachette Press
The 30thanniversary of Megadeth’s most iconic album, RUST IN PEACE is a good a time as any to write a book about it! The good people at Hachette have published just such a thing. The hardcover book is pretty short, coming in at under 200 pages and has a couple dozen black and white photos on glossy plates in the middle. Muscatine’s and Ellefson’s old buddy Slash writes a nice foreward and the book is loaded with metal celebrity endorsements.
Although the book is billed as being written by Dave Mustaine, (with assistance from Joel Selvin) that is not completely the case. We get to enjoy significant contributions from many, many other people. We get insights from managers, producers, mixers, engineers and various other industry people. Most importantly perhaps we also get to hear from ex-members Marty Friedman and Chuck Behler. I’d suggest the book is 50% written by Mustaine, 25% by Ellefson (maybe even more) and the remaining quarter by everyone else.
On this point, I felt it probably took some courage on Mustaine’s part to let everyone else contribute or else the story would be very one-sided. However, what else could he do? To make it complete and have a stronger sense of legitimacy he had to let the people involved in the creation of the epic record have their unfiltered say. There is not an enormous amount of conflict or opposing views, it seems most people were pretty focused on the album, getting clean (mostly) of the drugs and so the stories all line-up most of the time. There is certainly some tension when it comes to money, song-writing credit, publishing royalties as is, unfortunately, very often the case.
In terms of flow, the narrative is purely chronological. The story begins with where the band was at the end of the SO FAR, SO GOOD…SO WHAT! album and tour cycle. The band were all in pretty bad shape (drugs) and we learn of how the band struggled and got clean (again, mostly) revamped the line-up, management and wrote and recorded RUST IN PEACE. Mustaine provides a song-by song analysis explaining his lyrical motivation, which I found very interesting. Then we go on tour, the Clash Of The Titans and more. The book also addresses the couple of ill-fated attempts to reunite the classic line-up years later, with once again money being a stumbling point. Certain ex-members were kind of struggling in their careers and were expecting a full return to the glory days, which was just not financially realistic (or even fair) and accordingly soured the negotiations.
I really enjoyed this deep analysis of the album. The stuff about Jay Reynolds (Malice) wads pretty cool, and I always find the perspective of ex-managers and guys like Max Norman interesting, to provide an alternative perspective. The story of Mustaine’s spontaneous, ‘Hail-mary, fly his ex-girlfriend to Hawaii to propose’ story was pretty decent. Mustaine’s wife even contributes to the book a bit showing a more human, generous and kind side to the man who at times came across as defensive and abrasive.
I must admit, a lot of the information in RUST IN PEACE was already well known to fans. Megadeth was a media savvy band with lots of exposure at the time and many of these stories have already been told time and again. I already own three or four other books about Megadeth, including Mustaine’s previous autobiography, Ellefson’s two autobiographies, (not to mention all the other books and documentaries about Thrash in general) so it seemed at times that we were revisiting familiar ground.
However, I’ll bet for many fans most of this is new territory. The stories of the track ‘Go To Hell’ from the Bill & Ted Bogus Journey soundtrack were neat as well as the cringe-worthy story of the video shoot of the ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ song for the Shocker soundtrack. Muscatine was so drugged out shooting that video he could barely stand up and had to propped up while on screen, meanwhile the other guys standing around with nothing to do including having a roadie stand in, in the background, as a mysterious unnamed fourth band member!
RUST IN PEACE is a compact and rock solid book. It is a well-done and balanced look back at a different era for Thrash, a golden age some might even call it. The sub-title is ‘The Inside Story of The Megadeth Masterpiece’ and I think that nicely says it all.