Steve Earles’ book reviews: Worldwide Gothic & Crazy Train:The High Life and Tragic Death of Randy Rhoads

By Steve Earles

Two fine books to review this month.

The first…

Worldwide Gothic by Natasha Scharf comes from Martin Roach’s respected Independent Music Press, whose output is usually of the best quality (Martin’s own first-hand biography of The Prodigy is a case in point). Now, the Gothic influence on metal in the last two decades cannot be denied. Lacuna Coil, Cradle of Filth, Paradise Lost, Dimmu Borgir, Type O Negative and many more all owe a huge visual and musical debt to the Gothic Genre. Now, while the excellently monickered Natasha Scharf covers the music influence of Gothic Music in detail, touching on the aforementioned bands and more, she also delves into the genre’s origins in great detail, covering all its aspects. This isn’t surprising as she is an expert on the genre, appearing in Metal Hammer and Terrorizer. This insider-view makes the book a delight to read and I found it opened my eyes to many things I wasn’t aware of. A pleasant surprise, plenty here for both metal fans and those interested in Gothic, and where both collide, a definite must-have.

 

  The second book reviewed this month comes from one the UK’s most respected metal writers (and definitely the hardest working)- Crazy Train: The High Life and Tragic Death of Randy Rhoads by Joel McIvor. Now, Joel has previously covered the life of another gifted musician who was taken from us far too early in To Live Is To Die: The Life and Death of Metallica’s Cliff Burton, so he’s experienced in what is a difficult task, giving a fair and accurate portrait of a musician who can no longer speak for himself, but like an insect trapped in amber, has only the impressions left while living.

Joel has done a fabulous job, speaking to a vast array of people who knew Randy. He covers Randy’s childhood, and formative years in great and poignant detail, before moving onto the Quiet Riot years, and thence to Ozzy.

I have no wish to spoil the book, as it presents many stories you will never have heard before. I highly recommend it, and, as well as being a writer, Joel is also a musician and he’s able to present Randy’s legacy in a way few writers could as a result.

Joel also brings a great deal of empathy and warmth to his subject, and it is this more than anything else than makes this a special book.

Worldwide Gothic By Natasha Scharf, published by IMP Publishing- info@impbooks.com

Crazy Train: The High Life and Tragic Death of Randy Rhoads By Joel McIver, published by Jawbone Press, www.jawbonepress.com, www.joelmciver.co.uk

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.