Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Review: IRON MAN by Tony Iommi (4/5)

This book's been out for a while but I just got around to reading it. After Heaven and Hell's touring, Dio's death, Ozzy's return, and the new Sabbath, I'd had my fill of all things Sabbath for the past few years. But being that Tony has always been a pretty reserved guy, I always wondered, "what the hell kinda demons are in this guy? What made him create this fucked up music?" He's done a great job of keeping this a mystery over the years. I guess I can say it's been somewhat solved by this book. Tony's basically a normal guy who has been chosen to witness and experience some amazing/abnormal things. From ghosts to death to satanic cults congregating outside his hotel room. But even now, I still feel there is some things we will never know about Tony and he will take his mysteries to the grave.

My impression of Tony Iommi before reading this was of a somewhat uptight old school British guy, a bit shy, extremely humble, and extremely talented. I've never met him, but I had the distinct honor of catching his gaze from the stage and after our eyes locked, he kinda shook his head and turned the other way in discomfort. In the words of a friend of mine "you freaked out Tony Iommi dude!" Anyway, I just thought it was so funny that a guy like him who's been on stage so many years gets uncomfortable on stage. In fact, I watched him step back from the front of the stage, play a solo, then went back to the front of the stage when he was done. Uh...isn't that kinda reverse? I thought the foot went on the front of the stage monitor when you solo??? But you see, this is why I love him. He's such an ANTI rock star and he retains that air of mystery about him that he probably can't even pin point himself.

Anyway, the book recaps his youth, which was very much working class as he's always maintained. Now in Dave Mustaine's book, he'd be like "this big dude challenged me to a fight first day of school! We almost fought but nothing happened! It was a close call! Yeah, I came from the wrong side of the tracks I guess!" Well Iommi's book is more like this: "I heard screaming and yelling and when I looked out the window my drunk mother and the neighbor were yelling at each other. Then my father was out there yelling. Then they were trying to beat the neighbor over the head with a broom!" Or he'll be like "Me and John Bonham and Ian gillan went to a bar, got shifaced, next thing you know someone pulls out a knife, I punch a guy, the cook comes out and breaks a bottle over someone's head, the whole place broke out into a brawl, there's blood everywhere!" THAT's Tony's book. And it doesn't come off fake. It almost sounds like a reference book. Like he's just stating one fact after another, without embellishing much. He doesn't have to because the stories are so fucking entertaining and absurd already!

There are countless Ozzy interviews out there where we get this generally controlling/scary/passive aggressive/mysterious/asshole sort of image of Tony. But you really gotta take Ozzy's recaps with a grain of salt. I mean sure, it's great to see a madman on stage. But working with someone like that? I have much more respect for Iommi's point of view through the years from this book. And it's not because he sets out to straighten anything out here, but when he talks about not being able to find Ozzy a half hour before the show and there's a crowd set to riot if Sabbath doesn't play, and promoters are talking about suing...well I'd be like Tony too, I'd be like "what the fuck Oz, get the fuck over here!"

One thing that I really discovered is what a great sense of humor Tony has, which borders on sadistic. Dropping Ozzy's drunk ass off miles away from his house after practice on a street that looks exactly like his - that had me laughing out loud. And he says he did it more than once! That's fucked up, but funny as hell! There's too many funny stories in this book, and I don't wanna spoil it. But between drunk ass John Bonham and coked out glen hughes, man this thing is full of Spinal Tap moments! In fact, the name Spinal Tap comes up like every 10 pages, so that tells you how aware Iommi is of the comedy of it all.

I was hoping for a bit more detail regarding the darker Sabbath years (Hughes/Martin eras) but we get enough to know is was not the happiest of times for the band.

The last section made me a bit choked up, because Tony spends a few chapters just giving thanks for all the love and support he's gotten in the past few years, and the fact he is feeling his mortality really comes through.

Overall, I loved the book but Tony's life is like a 5 book saga, and it left me wanting more because there wasn't enough pages here. Hopefully he releases more which are specific to an era.