Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir (Review) 2/5

Before I go into the book, here's where I stand with Megadeth...they were one of my favorite bands in High School and I consider the first 2 albums and "Rust in Piece" to be classics. (I like "So far so good" but I think it falls short of the other 80s material). I tried to get into "Countdown" but for me they really lost the edge on that one and became too soft. Whatever - opinions are like assholes right? In any case, I suppose I came at this mainly wanting some gory details on the early years and an unexpectedly engrossing story about Mustaine giving up music, coming back, and finding Christ. I figured with material like this, how could his book NOT be fascinating from start to finish? Well folks, Mustaine found a way to make the story dull.

Maybe I just know way too much about Mustaine already, but I pretty much feel I could have written the first half of this book myself. It's really just a summary of all the classic Mustaine stories we kinda already know about. "Mustaine comes from a broken home." I was expecting horror stories about Dave getting beat by his father. Not that I wanted that to be the case, but all we basically get is "everyone was really scared of dad." I mean, he doesn't exactly paint a picture we can see. It's about as informative as an number of guitar center interviews from way back when where Dave gets personal for a paragraph or so. I didn't know Mustaine had a sister. Nor do I feel any more informed by his mentioning of her. "I have sister." Great. And what did you eat for dinner back then Dave??? His mom basically let him do what he wanted and kicked him out because he was selling weed. Well you know Dave, my heart really bleeds for you, but if you are selling weed outta the house and having your Jehova's Witness mom collect the money for you while you are away, yeah you might get kicked out...

Regarding Dave's "difficult" upbringing...I have no doubt Dave had it tough. But the problem is he lays it out in what I would call a pretty damned vague and tame manner. He comes off sounding like a fucking crybaby to be honest. "I heard Dad beat up my sister pretty bad once." Gee Dave, I'm so sorry you had to hear such scary news as a child! In Sammy Hagar's book, you really feel like you are in the room with Sammy, fist fighting his own father. And it doesn't come off as play acting or fake at all. He just lays it out. With Dave, it comes off as very sculpted to come off the way Dave wants it to come off, and that is not the point of a "frank" memoir.

Now, the first chapter in the book is called "A Horseshow in my ass" or something, which is appearantly what James Hetfield said to Dave once. He begins his book with a James Hetfield criticism of him. If that doesn't speak volumes I dunno what does. If anything, I do sympathize MUCH more with the hardships Dave has dealt with regarding his being "booted" from Metallica, because truth be told - there are heavily contributed Mustaine tracks included on the first 2 Metallica albums. Grant it, this was a very long time ago. But we all know those first demos and first albums are what MADE Metallica. The band does owe Dave, and I do feel they don't give him enough credit. I see this as where most of Dave's arrogant comments come from. Little details like when he talks about showing Kerry King "the devil's interval" or whatever the fuck he calls it. Then he's all "it would be used in almost every Slayer song after." Ok sure Dave, you taught Kerry King a scale and it helped him invent Slayer. Got it buddy. And just little comments about how his influence seeped through every corner of Metal and how he basically is responsible for Thrash Metal in some obscure way. Look, Dave is a Thrash Metal legend. And his solos are fucking insane in the early days. And Kirk Hammett absolutely learned his solos in the early days, and for me some of the best Metallica solos are the ones Dave wrote. But don't get carried away Dave, there were others with tons of influence as well!

Dave found a way for this story to sound old, tired, and redundant. How he can make one of the most interesting rivalries in Metal sound redundant is beyond me. I mean, there's a few moments where I really feel bad for him. The whole story about driving cross country to NY only to get fired? Well, I admit that was pretty sad. There really wasn't much he added and we've heard the stories before. He even left out the "well you want me to jump out of the window or what?" quote. Ok, maybe he didn't say that. Point is, I got this story many years ago from any number on interviews. It's a well documented tale and he didn't really add shit to it, and again, that is the point of a book like this.

One more thing regarding the whole "Metallica" issue - I have to say that over the years, between Dave and Newsted's comments, and between things I have heard from people who knew Metallica in the early days - they do seem like they could be pretty damned fucked up and inconsiderate. And being what I would call a "musician who never really made it" myself, I can certainly relate to feeling "discounted" or not receiving due credit for efforts. But I can also see that it's a situation of needing to "hate the game, not the player." Lars and Hetfield instinctively knew the game and played it hard. And in the end, it was this attitude, not just the music that brought them to the top. Easier said than done I know, but clearly Dave musical career was mostly driven by a need to meet Metallica's approval which is a real trip if you think about it. But again, we all kinda knew this already. The book just enforced it more.

The best part about this book, for me, is the drugged out first 2 album recaps. Why? Because Megadeth was just so fucking cool and out of control and fucking badass angry back then. I was really hoping for some good info on Gar and Chris Poland - but I really felt he glossed over them. I dunno if it's because he wants to distance himself from that era or what. Maybe he just doesn't remember much. I don't need Dave to tell me over and over how great Gar and Chris were. I have the albums Dave, I know they were awesome. Tell me something I don't know maybe??? I mean, he doesn't even mention Gar's death. Really? Were you that finished with Gar after he left the band?

The whole section about Jeff Young? Seriously, I read that story in greater details years ago somewhere in some rag. He comes off as a very immature and confused guy - but hey, that was Megadeth history. Go into it Dave! Again, it's like he doesn't wanna give anyone any credit by giving them too many pages. His relationship to Dave Ellefson is another one that just doesn't get real detailed. I mean we all know they were connected at the hip. He was the only stable member in Megadeth since the beginning. We could guess he was your "drug buddy." The only interesting details he went into were regarding the legal/court battle they were briefly embroiled in. He might as well have just said "JR sued me, I won. Of course I was gonna win!" Wow, way to embellish the story Dave...

The rest is about as boring and bland as Megadeth's material of the past 20 years or so. Went into rehab. Got sober. Got back on drugs. Broke up with my wife. Went back to rehab. Fucked my arm up. Quit music. Started music. Got sober. Found god. I'm not political. Yes I am. I'm not like other Christians. Yada yada...yawn yawn.

I like Dave more after reading this book, I really do. But he's one of those guys who is so far removed from his past that he can't even relay it in depth anymore without sounding like a ghost writer, which is obviously who really wrote the book. I certainly appreciate that Dave's word's are scrutinized in great detail and that he probably has to over think everything he says a million times. But again, don't write a fucking book unless you are gonna lay it out. That's just my feeling. This book is entertaining for the most part, but given the insanely interesting material he had to work with, I find it amazing he managed to make it fairly dull for the most part.

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