The subtitle of this book is “The uncensored history of the ’80s hard rock explosion.” Having been a writer for Screamer Magazine since 1988, I was familiar with the bands, the personalities and the clubs mentioned in the promotion and reviews for the book. For me, I was looking forward not so much about reading history, but more like reliving history because I was there when it all happened.
My first run through the pages were disappointing, and I barely got through 150 of the 500 pages before giving up. Instead of a flowing narrative, a “behind-the-music” type story, the book is basically a collection of quotes. From page 7 to page 526, there are thousands and thousands of quotes, each ranging from a single sentence to a paragraph or two. The situations and experiences themselves are fascinating: Bands forming, bands breaking up. How songs came to be written and recorded. Life on the road, sex, drugs and alcohol, video shoots, battles with record labels. It’s all there, uncensored as promised, but at first glance it seems more like a rough draft or a collection of notes than a finished book.
The key to enjoying Nothin’ But a Good Time is to accept it for what it is. The second go around I read the book not expecting it to be a conventional telling of history, but rather a collection of interviews, as if I were eavesdropping on a conversation. With that mindset the book becomes vastly more pleasurable. Imagine you’ve got an all-access pass to a concert of your favorite band. After the show everyone from the musicians to the managers to the record label executives to the roadies are sitting around backstage swapping stories and memories, and you’ve been invited to listen in. In essence, that’s what Nothin’ But a Good Time is. For those such as myself who were there it’s a glorious bit of nostalgia, and for those who were too young at the time it’s a glimpse into a crazy, fascinating world that will never be duplicated or forgotten.