Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hammer Of The Gods : Led Zeppelin Unauthorized

The Hammer of The Gods, will drive our ships to new lands,
Fight the horde, Sing with Pride, Valhalla I am Coming!!!
- The Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin

Little did Led Zeppelin know that this iconic track would provide the title for one of the most controversial biographies and a rather interesting cobweb :-). And this would be my first book review of any kind. I had actually wanted to write a review on this since 2005, but couldn't due to reasons not known to me.
Hammer of the Gods: Led Zeppelin Unauthorized is "about" one of the most influential bands in Rock n Roll history. Their music has served as basis for many super-groups, such as Aerosmith, Nirvana, Foo Fighters. Ok! Enough of showering praises on my favorite band. It’s now time to rant about the book.
Written by Stephen Davis, HOTG chronicles the rise and fall of Led Zeppelin, their legendary drug and alcohol abuse, their antics at the Continental Riot (Hyatt) House, Page’s connection with the occult, and wherever paper space available, their music. The book starts with the introduction of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones, how they met and formed Led Zeppelin (named so because The Who band-members Keith Moon and John Entwhistle jokingly remarked that the new band Jimmy wanted to form with them would go down like a lead balloon.) goes on to describe the incidents that made the band the epitome for the cliché – Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll.
On the whole the book is overloaded with sensationalism. Instead of telling us more about the band and how they went on to make some of the best music I have ever heard, Stephen Davis tries his best to sell the notion that LZ were actually in cahoots with Satan! Yes, Jimmy Page was a big fan of Aleister Crowley, but that cannot become the core subject of a book meant to deal with the band and their music. Also, the authenticity of most of the information provided in the book is questionable. None of the band members were consulted during the writing of the book. Instead, Davis chose as the source, Richard Cole, the band’s former manager, who was fired shortly before the band broke up and was jailed. I smell vendetta here! My biggest disappointment with the book was the fact that so little was written about the music of the band. Yes, there are mentions of Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, The Song Remains the Same and Achilles Last Stand. Then again, when Davis mentioned Stairway, he preferred to talk about how it was accused of containing hidden messages to Mr.666.
So is there anything positive to take away from this book? Surprisingly, yes. Despite all the waffle, Stephen Davis has somehow managed to capture in words, the aura and the mystique that surrounded Led Zeppelin during their hey-days. And for that alone, I shall give this book a rating of 2/5.

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