Reviewed: January, 2023
Published: 2010, Orion
Mick Wall is undeniably one of the titans of Rock/Metal journalism. He has been there and done that and now we get a book about it. His heyday were the heady times when magazines or record companies would pay journalists to hang out. I’m not saying direct payola, but they certainly wined and dined journalists on lavish press junkets, all expenses paid, and more often than to drinks included. Best ‘job’ on the planet I figure! Wall speaks to this in his intro.
I don’t think anyone has accused of Wall being shy and retiring. In fact it seems his ego is quite intact. The English language is a funny thing. The sub-title reads ‘Legendary Encounters with Mick Wall’ Does that mean that Axl Rose, Ozzy and David Lee Roth felt they had ‘legendary’ encounters with the journalist? Or is it the other way around? That is akin to saying, ‘Remember the time the her majesty the Queen met me?’ Regardless, Wall through his years of dedicated service to Rock, Hard Rock and Metal journalism has met a ton of people and these are just a few of his stories.
I’ve known about this book for quite some time but did not rush out to buy it because it is just insider stories. However, there is enough Metal content that it makes the cut to get reviewed here. In full disclosure I didn’t read the interviews/stories about Kate Bush, Chilli Peppers, Linda Perry (who?) or the half dozen alt/grunge guys . Even so, of the 31 chapters, 20 are Hard rock related or events like the Moscow Peace Festival. This standard paperback is a solid 380+pages and no frills and no photos. It runs chronologically from 1985 to 1994 but starts oddly enough with an out-of-chronological order chapter with David Lee Roth in 1988. It’s perfect to dip into at your leisure and read about your favourites rockers. Wall takes us behind the scenes of some of his classic interviews and will follow with an afterthought years later.
Like many of the UK press he comes across as jaded, cynical and world-weary. He complains a lot. The weather. The food. The schedule. The travelling. He says he doesn’t like Motley Crue but threatens their publicist/management that he will work to ruin their career unless he gets an interview. He says he doesn’t like Iron Maiden but he seems to enjoy the weekend press junket to Germany and hang out with the band and drink on someone else’s tab. Like many journalists, he often seems to want to be the center of the story. However, it is his book so why shouldn’t he be the center of the story?
To his credit, Wall is entertaining. He spins a good yarn. His prose is charming, and fun, easy to read and littered with colloquialisms that many readers outside England might not understand. The stories about the interviews ebb and flow, some interviews were mere phone calls, some were conducted over a meal and some were entire three day trips over seas. He really has a storied life of boozy excursions and drinking seems to feature heavily in all of his stories.
I never read Kerrang magazine so the interviews were all new to me, fun and nostalgic. Wall treats us to an insiders look behind the curtain of the heady crazy days of the 80’s, early 90’s Hard Rock/Heavy Metal scene and it was a lot of fun. My minor grumblings about his taste and style aside, you can’t deny he is one of the more committed and respected music journalists and he has stories for days. These are just some of them!