Author: Joe Anderson

Publisher: West Butte Books 

ISBN: 098902511X


For decades now, I've tended to ignore the Grammys, at least the high-profile awards we see on the televised version. Everything about them seems artificial and contrived. I'm astonished to see who is nominated and frequently disgusted by who isn't.

On that level alone, the character of Zack Fluett in Joe Anderson's funny new Face the Music  resonated with me. He expresses exactly the same feelings as mine, for different reasons. For Fluett, two nights at the Grammys were milestones in his life. The first time he performed there, he was in the rock band, Cultural Wasteland. The performance ended with Fluett punching the lead singer in the nose. The second time, an event described in minute-by-minute detail throughout the book, Fluett was uneasily waiting to find out if one of his compositions was going to earn "Song of the Year." But things weren't destined to go simply or smoothly that second night either.

Throughout the book in various flashbacks narrated by Fluett, we hear the rock 'n roll story anew—mid-west kid wants more than farm life, learns the keyboards, goes west, joins a rock band, and begins to enjoy the perks of success with the usual heavy doses of sex and drugs. Then, he's out of the band he helped found and virtually grovels to become part of a backup group for a boy band called The Coreys. He's on big budget European tours, enjoys more sex and drugs, and then he's fired again. He teaches himself the guitar, starts a quiet solo career in clubs in Colorado, and begins the road to recovery and a measure of stardom after all manner of self-inflicted wounds.

The story is almost a better history of rock than many an actual autobiography of someone who was there. According to publicity for the author, Joe Anderson was there alright, just not following the same trajectory as Fluett. "Joe Anderson is an entertainment and digital media attorney, record and film producer, musician, and writer. In the 1990s, he was the keyboard player in a San Francisco rock band and ran a small record label that earned three Grammy nominations." Ah, Anderson does know something about Grammy nights. According to reviews I've seen at Amazon, former bandmates claim some of those stories did actually happen back in the day.

Without question, one of the major draws of Face the Music is just how believable the story and characters are. He also establishes verisimilitude by mixing actual performer names with his creations, especially in the fake discographies, Billboard charts and newspaper articles that head every chapter. All this underlines his skewering of the music business from top to bottom, from performers, managers, record companies, to groupies.

Face the Music is a fast-paced entertainment for anyone with a smidgeon of interest in rock, pop, the music industry as a whole. That's not required as the book can be enjoyed simply for the humorous scenes and very human characters. But if you know anything about music, you know all these people and many of these places, just by different names.

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