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GREG KIHN
Big Rock Beat


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Tom Doherty Associates, New York, 1998
price: $15.95; 352 pages

dedication: This novel is dedicated to Brian Jones, as much as anybody


The blurb on the back:

It's 1967, the summer of love, ten years after legendary B-movie director Landis Woodley's cult horror classic, Cadaver. Now Woodley is shooting a rock and roll movie, complete with beach bunnies, hot rods, monsters, and rock bands.
But as usual, money is tight.
Producer Sol Kravitz introduces Woodley to Tijuana financier Hector Diablo, who invests a huge amount of money in the movie with the proviso that James Dean's death car, which he has rebuilt and named The Impresser, have a starring role.
But something else is attached to this movie that's not in the script. Sol is the first to die. Then others. And payback's a bitch.


opening lines:
‘Cut!’ Landis Woodley shouted, but the actors wouldn’t stop moving. ‘Hey! What are you guys doin’? I said, “Cut!”’


In which the film-making team from Horror Show make a re-appearance ten years older and not a day wiser, as they take on the task of making a rock & roll movie. And it’s not at all bad. In fact there are bits where it’s really terrific. Early on, for example, Beau Young, the guitarist for no-hope San Francisco band the Stone Savages, is wandering around backstage at the Moterey Festival when he (literally) bumps into Brian Jones, who stops to share some thoughts:

’You know, when the Stones first started, we were an R&B band. Strictly blues. I chose the songs. It was my fuckin’ band… It was great, man. It was bloody great. But then they started to pressure Mick ‘n’ Keef to write pop hits. Stupid, simple songs really… Everybody wanted ‘em to be like bloody Lennon and McCartney I couldn’t get a word in. Once the money started rollin’ in, the whole thing went straight down the crapper. (p.34)

I do like that kind of thing. I mean, he’s wrong, of course – the Stones got much better once they’d rid themselves of the dead hand of white boy blues – but since when has truth been allowed to mess with rock & roll mythology?

So Beau is suitably inspired and drifts into making music for a trashy b-movie being made by washed-up horror director, Landis Woodley, and all sorts of wild adventures ensue, involving shysters and gangsters, musicians and mystics, icons and has-beens, and then it’s all tied together and not everyone lives happily ever after.

It’s a neat little book and not dissimilar to Kihn’s music: it may not be the best in its field, may even be described as inconsequential, but it’s entertaining and snappy and will keep you amused whilst reading. Just don’t expect a masterpiece, and you won’t be disappointed.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
4/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
2/5


from the maker of...

Horror Show

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