Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Save the Last Dance For Satan" by Nick Tosches

At times I am taken back by Nick Tosches hard-ass attitude, but if I saw him in a dark alley I would have to be honest, and tell you I'll would be afraid.  I read his biography on Dean Martin on a long plane trip to Japan from Los Angeles, and I finished the book as it hit the pavement of Narita Airport.  It was probably one of the most enjoyable times i spent on a plane, and to this day, I think of that trip in conjunction with that particular book.

The great Norton Records who specialize in re-issues of great garage rock and obscure music now has a publishing wing called Kicks Books.  I suspect, no, I know this is going to be a major press here in the States.  I have a sense that 'they got it" like the label, and its going to be a wild reading ride.

Nick Tosches "Save the Last Dance For Satan" is a fragmentary tale of the great American hustlers who first came upon rock n' roll in the 1950's.  Its a book about early record labels and all the hustlers around that specific world.   I suspect that this is a dream project for Norton Records - but alas let's set that side and just sort of (my attention span is terrible these days) focus on Tosches interest here.

As a writer he likes to give you a snapshot with as much detail one can put in that one photo.  And what you have here is a very small book with poetic details about the early American label scene.  The gangsters (there must be gangsters in every form of art to sometimes make it interesting)) who see music as a means to generate capital, but the side affect is that it becomes something even more important.  An art that can cut through the bullshit and say 'yeah I get it why I am here."   And on a personal level I think Tosches feels that commerce in an interesting way has made art - which is sometimes obscure rock n' roll records or Rhythm and Blues recordings.  Its amusing that Tosches sees Elvis as the property line when it all turn sour.  I don't agree with his theory, but I like how he writes and thinks to get to that place.

So yeah, we have a small paperback, that is for sure poetic more than just the facts man, and its from a press that sees music not only ear candy, but also a rich culture.

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