Ahhh, the 1990’s, a ten year period when rock music suffered a serious identity crisis. Amidst the musically confused landscape, there were numerous tales of success, both long and short lived. There were of course several units that would emerge from the decade as household names with careers that continue to this day. There are also tales of outfits who shot into the stratosphere, only to crash and burn out as quickly as they had ascended. This book is not about either of those types of entities. The Uninvited – On The Road With The Greatest Rock Band You Never Heard chronicles the rise and fall of one of the most anonymously prolific groups to emerge from the last tenth of the 20th Century.
This narrative is told by Steven Vance Taylor, one-half of the sibling duo who fronted The Uninvited. Along with his younger and more than slightly larger brother, John “J.T.” Taylor, they fronted a foursome that released six full-length albums in ten years. Taking the oration duties of the songs which they individually penned, they racked up a body of work that would make seasoned touring bands envious. So now we come to the uncomfortable question, “How come you never heard of The Uninvited?”
The answer to the previously posited query can be found within pages of this easy to read book, recounting of the wrong turns, bumps in the road, slight miscalculations and flat victimization of circumstances that can cause the most unsinkable vessel to sail the seas to ram headlong into an iceberg. While not exactly the tale of in ill-fated ocean liner, the events surrounding the trajectory of The Uninvited are told with the same sardonic wit and yarn weaving which characterizes Steven Taylor’s songwriting. After all, songwriting is storytelling and Taylor puts you right in the back of the group’s Ford Econoline. Before you know it, you’re riding shotgun with the guys as they shimmy down an endless highway with not a landmark in sight to the next gig.
Taylor’s remembrances may be ever so lightly embellished by the passing of time and the rose colored lens of hindsight. I will mention however, I was privy to hearing several of them previously, and the ones with which I was familiar are retold much as I remember them. Now, one particular element to this memoir is the introduction of a ceramic lawn gnome. In addition to being a constant passenger for the antics of the road, the gnome acts as an antagonist of sorts, and alter-ego for Taylor himself. Supposed conversations between he and the dashboard sage serve as a proverbial devil on the shoulder. The gnome seems to have no respect for anyone in the band, leastways Taylor. Whether other members of the group had deep conversations with this landscaping guru is ambiguous, but he sure knew how to push Steve’s buttons.
In the end, this book is a love story. I know, sappy, right? But at its core, that’s what it is. It is about a boy who becomes a man and never loses his love for making music. It is about a man who loves his brother and the two, along with a few other friends, hurtle down the road to rock and roll obscurity at break-neck speed. It is about a man who met his one true love through making music, spoiler alert, that love story continues to this day. It is about the bond shared by four people who engage in an joint and almost undying trek to realize the rock n’ roll dream. It is a love letter to everyone who Taylor has crossed paths with, who helped to create a life that some would say ended in disappointment. I have a feeling that Taylor would tell you, in his self-deprecating way, that his life (to this point) was a complete success, and that these stories are just mileposts on the road to fulfillment.