Thursday, February 11, 2010

BLAZE BAYLEY: At The End Of The Day - Lawrence Paterson

'Singing The Number Of The Beast onstage in Jerusalem...well, how can many people say they've done that?'

If you don't read anymore you got to say there's no arguing with that!! In the world of music books there are few, very and alarmingly so if the world wasn't so clogged with pointless bands - as many as pitiful celebrities writing biographies about their tireless toil to get an agent - that really do deserve the accolade of demanding the attention of anyone who ever had a passing interest in band-life or jumping / jumped into that pareticular pond of pleasure and poison. Uniquely written (in that it's written by him, he's not gone all Nick Cave or Irvine Welsh and written the bulk of it in Bayley's black country b(l)urr) by the drummer, it will more than just brush your teeth with a dirty drumstick next time you unleash traditional barrage of drummer jokes, that Mr Paterson is a World War Two historian means a better class of tour-guide than any written by band member tag would usually infer. A book of two halves, filling out the background of Bayley from the Black Country to Wolfsbane to Maiden to solo slog before shifting to first person when Paterson clambers aboard ship. Never self-congratulatory, nor a white-washing idolisation session of BB. Far from it. Indefatigably down to earth, if not tunnelling below it, it's brutally honest as it travels the minutaie of making it in music aside from X Factor la la lame llama land, including the admittance of falling for a musical equivalent of an internet lotto / long lost Nigerian cousin who's ascended the throne of a country that they'll invent when you send them your neighbours savings secured in his wife's leg socket scam that less secure folk would have barely alluded to, and lays bare the harsh realities facing / conspiring against everyone this, or that, deep in the trenches. Every piece that slips into place seems to come at massive personal cost. Many bands refer to being cursed but it does have its claws deep here. I mean, there's life lessons, and fucking hideous tragedy. As related here you'll come away full of respect and affection for them, especially BB and his attributes from not riding on the ex-Iron Maiden angle to his personal strength overturning devastation to ride out hallowed on a high at the bittersweetly triumphant end. Tis a torrential storm of struggle indeed. The only slight gripe some may encounter is the platter of 'no hard feelings wish them well' and 'bloody nice bloke' polititudes but it's actually rather pleasant that not everyone in la biz turns out to be an affected caricature with no self-awareness (and, lo, ain't that just one itselvis!?), and even if it does get a bit bogged-down in the backyard of band life and day to day touring travails of pizza and itinerary details, I still couldn't help thinking several times it really would make a hell of a documentary, like the Motorhead one a few years back. And I'd rather read Paterson's easy-going reflections from grass-roots than a tedious why-not-just-make-haggis-with-my-scrotum, many thanks, self-congratulatory / nothin' to say 'then we did an album, then went on tour, had someone to blow my nose and scratch my ring' scenario. It'll no doubt open a few eyes to the SAS-like endurance necessary to keep the machine moving and is a great stick to your guns saga (without getting all arms aloft Bon Jovi ballad style) that a small-scale band can survive and if not prosper at least to get some dustily just deserts for (literally in Blaze's case) giving all they've got. But with and without that it's one of the most enjoyable music books I've ever read, fuck its lack of industry formula-following, like we give a tootin' hoot about that. It's bushy-tailed, not overly blokey, but breezy jolly boys outings across the world tallying up tirades against passport controls and particularly Ryanair, with plenty of often refreshingly open-palmed piss-taking asides and humourous anecdotes from describing a singer in an old band as 'as non-speaking as Stephen Hawking supping a McDonald's thick shake' to the author's experience of being band-ridden with an odiously self-obsessed guitarist, whose band they dubbed Reggie Malmsteen's Rising Damp to Blaze's realisation that the post-Maiden day-job didn't exactly suit him to glorious Tap-tour moments like everyone being so geared up for a terrible, un-road-tested young drummer to mess up a song for a DVD release, that the guitarist made bollocknese out of it instead. There's much more of that in this refreshing, endearing, charmingly compelling book of wrestling wonder from woe and ultimately a reason to believe. Buy it while it's on a limited run and do likewise (believe, that is). Essential for any of us kings of the underdogs.

'I had always wanted to call the band Blaze Bayley...but nobody agreed. There's a hip-hop band called Blaze, there's a stripper called Blaze there's probably a bloody horse called Blaze..' - Mr Bayley's route to choosing a band name
Stu Gibson

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