Sunday, May 19, 2024

Book Review: Under a Rock

Debbie Harry defined iconic band Blondie’s look. Her performing partner, lover, and lifelong friend Chris Steinwas its architect and defined its sound. Parallel Lines, their third album, catapulted to #1, sold 20 million copies, and launched singles like “Heart of Glass”, "Hangin' On the Telephone," and “One Way or Another”, providing the beat when Bianca Jagger and Halston danced at Studio 54 and the soundtrack to every 1970’s punk-soundtracked romance.

Chris Stein knows how to tell a story. Under A Rock is his nothing-spared autobiography. It's about the founding of the band, ascending to the heights of pop success, and the hazards of fortune. Famous names march through these pages: Warhol, Bowie, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and more. But you can get famous names anywhere. What you can’t get anywhere else is a plunge into the moments that made a giant 1980's artistic sensation. Stein takes us there in this revelatory, propulsive, distinctive memoir.

Under a Rock by Chris Stein will be published June 11, 2024. St. Martin's Press provided an early galley for review.

At age 74, Stein has experienced a lot of life. As a Blondie fan from almost their start, I was interested to read his story and about the music. To get to that point, though, there was quite a bit of wading in miscellaneous details as we make our way through his rollercoaster life up to his early 20's. While interesting in spots, it might have been less of a slog if it had been delivered with a bit more energy and structure.

I also would have appreciated the detailed focus when it came to discussing the making of the albums and the tours during the band's peek periods. While we get some of that, it also seemed very quick and fleeting. The focus would shift to drugs or random people (some famous, some not) and cats. I found myself quick scanning at parts rather than reading, and I found I did not feel like I had missed anything.

Stein has written other books previously. Maybe one of those might have more of what I am looking for than what this one presented.

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