Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: 'Anvil, The Story of Anvil' by Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner

Wow! The global Anvil assault continues as their ‘Anvil, The Story of AnvilDVD and This Is Thirteen’ album continue to fly off the shelves but (the paperback version of) the ace of spades of the Canadian trio has just hit the table!

Anvil, The Story of Anvil’ [VH1] is essentially the Anvil biography. Written by Lips and Robb Reiner and told from both in a first person narrative it’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to Anvil. If you’ve seen the movie, and if you’re reading this blog I hope you have, but if you enjoyed it, lo and behold the book is actually better!

That’s the way it usually works and the Anvil story is no different. As good as the film is, and it is very, very good. I’ve watched it several times since the first time I saw it in the theater and it’s just one of those movies/stories that hasn’t gotten old. I mean the scenes that moved me back in April continue to do so in November and that say’s something.

So the power of this book is like watching an extended version of the movie. You get everything the film touched on but so much more. The book explores the essence of Anvil, the formative years, multiple members as Lips (the band) and the transformation into Anvil and all the dues these guys paid since they joined forces in the late 1970’s. You dig deeper into the family dynamics between the main characters and their parents and how each dealt with the pressures and expectations that come along with wanting to live as artists with a dream.

The relationship between the main characters, which is essentially what all this is about, is blown up and expanded upon and the depth at which these guys bond is just a beautiful thing. You also get to read the extended version of how the Sacha Gervasi tale is woven into a modern 30 year Heavy Metal Cinderella story. Everything I’ve read up to this point sort of glances over the Sacha/Anvil connection, simply associating the two as casual acquaintances who met in the mid 80’s and Gervasi becoming a roadie for the band who then reconnected some 20+ years later doesn’t even begin to describe the serendipity at play. Gervasi’s impact on the duo is yet another relationship that seemingly took 30 years to cement as legendary.

The business of Anvil was obviously a sore spot magnified by the documentary and in book form it’s stretched out over decades. Painful and rather depressing, so many times throughout the book you cringe when a decision is made or a partnership is formed knowing all too well the end result. The failed management deal between (then Aerosmith and Ted Nugent manager) David Krebs is something I think would’ve been beneficial to the movie as it was the brass ring the band had worked so hard for only to have it slip away.

True, it was partially their fault such a career advancing opportunity slipped through their fingers, but it’s a huge part of the Anvil story. There’s other incidents that when looked back upon it’s no wonder the guys dwelled in underground obscurity, a disastrous mid 80’s showcase in Brooklyn at L’Amour’s is a moment I’m sure the band would love to have forgotten but it’s all part of the past that leads us to the present and ultimately the future.

Which brings up a very valid set of questions. The words Anvil and future used to be a sort of Metal oxymoron, I mean pre DVD anyone with a set of ears really didn’t sit around wondering what Anvil’s next move was going to be, not since 1984/85 that is. However the landscape for them has changed drastically, they’re the stars of a hit documentary, they’re all over television, they’ve got this killer book and a fresh round of tour dates for ‘The Anvil Experience’ is set to launch in January 2010.

Without a doubt the eyes and ears of the greater Heavy Metal World are once again upon them, so the question is what do they do with them now?