Hammered: Heavy Tales From The Hard-Rock Highway
Plexus Publishing (2012)
Hammered: Heavy Tales From The Hard-Rock Highway collects previously unpublished stories taken from the rock ’n’ roll escapades of music journalist and erstwhile Metal Hammer and Metal CD editor Kirk Blows, stories divided into eight separate chapters: ‘Heading Out To The Highway’, ‘Feuds And Fall-Outs’, ‘Boys On The Booze’, ‘Chemical Capers’, ‘Sex On The Brain’, ‘Candid Conversations’, ‘Comedy Occasions’, and ‘The Soho Scene’. Kirk has also written articles for RAW, Music Week, Rock CD, International Musician, What’s On In London, Penthouse and The London Paper, among others.
Journalistic memoirs rely upon the name value of those encountered in the course of the job and this is no different, featuring the likes of Judas Priest, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Queen, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, UFO, Meat Loaf, Guns N’ Roses, and many others. Booze, sex, and drugs figure heavily, of course. Some tales simply last a page or two while others span across several pages, and it’s arguably the latter which supplies the meatier content.
‘Motörhead: Lemmy’s Iron Fist’ (taken from ‘Feuds And Fall-Outs’) sheds much light on the 1995 departure of guitarist Würzel (Michael Burston) from the outfit’s ranks, the author trading verbal comebacks with vocalist / bassist Lemmy following a revealing conversation with the axeman.
Other highlights include a July 1992 conversation with Queen guitarist Brian May, a summer 1994 talk with Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, and a November 1992 discussion with German shredder Michael Schenker (Michael Schenker Group / UFO). The July 1992 conversation with May follows eight months following the death of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, May sharing his heartfelt emotions properly for the first time. Dickinson, meanwhile, airs his perspective on his 1993 Maiden departure, making some fair points. Schenker rambles quite a bit in discussing positivity, but Kirk’s subsequent call to UFO bassist Pete Way regarding Schenker’s proposal for a UFO reformation provides a chuckle.
Certain readers might be the under the impression that musicians are integral to each and every story, but this isn’t the case. In some cases the musicians in question aren’t integral, as is the case with the Gamma Ray tale as well as all of those in the chapter ‘Comedy Occasions’. Where that chapter is concerned, Kirk relates comedic brushes with artists during the course of his journalistic work. Sadly however, while one could appreciate the stories were funny to experience, laughter doesn’t translate onto the page. Those more interested in the artists themselves as opposed to the journalist chronicling the tale – readers like myself – will find this somewhat disappointing, even if the stories are well-written and presented.
Overall, Hammered is an entertaining collection of stories which provide interesting – albeit small – nuggets of information on several of the artists involved. Though slightly disappointing by comparison, the stories where the musicians are more incidental aren’t without merit, supplying glimpses into the life of a rock journalist (like the swansong chapter ‘The Soho Scene’, for instance) for those who find the topic an appealing one. Due to its very nature – being a collection of stories regarding several subjects as opposed to concentrating on one smaller, definitive subject – Hammered isn’t an essential purchase, but it’s nonetheless a pleasant addition to the bookshelf.