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Ouch

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Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic of The Chicago Sun Times eviscerates Ian Christie’s Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga.

I read the book the day it was first released and didn’t find it to be that bad. It wasn’t as good as I was hoping, but I didn’t think it was awful. My main criticism of it was that I didn’t really learn much new in it. There wasn’t a great deal of depth (particularly if you already know quite a bit of VH history) or new material in it.

DeRogatis’s review raises an interesting question, however. How does a reviewer of a book put aside his opinions of the book’s subject? There’s no doubt that Christie goes a bit far in his praise of Van Halen. So DeRogatis definitely has a point with some of his criticisms. But with lines in the review such as “the overdressed, over-amplified, prone-to-overplaying heavy-metal cartoons who gave us Jump, Dance the Night Away and Poundcake” it makes me wonder how DeRogatis feels about the band. Christie could have done a better job, sure. But if DeRogatis goes into it with a dislike of Van Halen, then how does the book stand a chance?

It’s a difficult stance to maintain. I’ve reviewed books about music genres that I didn’t like. And although I like to think I put aside my distate for X genre or Y musician and focused solely on the book’s merits, it is definitely a struggle.