Runnin' With the Devil (Noel Monk Van Halen book) --> my book review

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DrBeatle, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    Another Van Halen book, this one written by former manager Noel Monk. Definitely a tell all where he spares no punches showing the seedier side of the band, especially the two members of the band he couldn't stand (you'll know who I mean if you've read the book).

    The Rock and Roll Chemist: BOOK REVIEW: Runnin' With the Devil (Van Halen)

    I know a lot of fellow fans on here have read it, so let's discuss!
     
  2. Jachay

    Jachay Well-Known Member

    Location:
    GTA
    I read it and wasn't a fan. The brothers are from from perfect and he certainly shows it. Roth doesn't come out looking good either. The story about Roth at the end of the 1984 tour in the bus, yikes..

    Monks story on how he got the band out of their initial contract with Warner brothers is interesting, the sabbath tour stories too. Overall though lots of negative vibes.

    I'd like to see if Greg Renoff has a follow up in him on his excellent book detailing 78-84.
     
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  3. Jachay

    Jachay Well-Known Member

    Location:
    GTA
    Great review btw..
     
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  4. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    Thanks! For the record I agree with you...it was a pretty down book throughout. I liked it because the guys in the band (apart from Michael) definitely were/still are grade-A a-holes and he doesn't sugarcoat it. But man, it seems like he never made a single mistake in his entire career, doesn't it? :laugh:
     
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  5. Jachay

    Jachay Well-Known Member

    Location:
    GTA
    Ha! yeah good point. He was so good at keeping the Sex Pistols in check he was the obvious choice for VH. He certainly pumps his own tires!
     
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  6. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    He sure does! It's like every time he's about to he prefaces it with "now I'm not saying I'm the greatest, but..." and then proceeds to tell how only he could have seemed to have done it. I don't doubt he worked hard and accomplished a lot, but reading this book it's like he never made a mistake...EVER.

    He had some interesting insight on Alex's inferiority complex towards Eddie, from the talent to their looks. I thought that bit was interesting.

    But it never seemed like Monk really LIKED Van Halen, did it? He makes it seem like it was just a job and nothing else.
     
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  7. Jimmy B.

    Jimmy B. Forum Resident

    The book was a decent read but I sure didn't leave with a good feeling after it. Only Michael comes out looking like a decent person as far as the band goes. The rest came off terrible.
    I vastly, vastly prefer Van Halen Rising.
     
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  8. Jachay

    Jachay Well-Known Member

    Location:
    GTA

    Monks book has no impact on how I view the music. I think most of us can have that separation. I'd be interested in reading Ted Templemans thoughts on working with those guys.
     
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  9. Jachay

    Jachay Well-Known Member

    Location:
    GTA
    Agreed. He did mention how much he loved 1984 though, I think that was his only complimentary thing mentioned about their music. Didn't he mention how Dave played him the Crazy From the Heat stuff, and Monk questioned if it was a parody? :D
     
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  10. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Location:
    Atlanta
    A good and fair review. Here's my thoughts on a couple of issues:

    1. Monk didn't like Van Halen: This may or may not be the case. One reason for the ambivalence may be that things ended so badly that the bad turns he saw are more vivid than anything else, or it may just be that he just happened to be in the right place at the right time and wouldn't pass on the opportunity to manage an up and coming million dollar rock band. He must have at least recognized their potential or he would not have worked to extract them from their WB contract. All things considered, it might have been better for him personally if he'd kept his mouth shut and worked with WB instead of VH. As it is it seems he did work pretty hard for not much payoff. He never got a long term contract with them and I'm sure he didn't take a lot of money with him when he was dismissed.

    2. Monk lived a "charmed life": Seems to me that Van Halen lived a charmed life with a guy who was so willing to work for their millions without getting that much for himself. If all he did was help them get a fair deal out of Warner, that's enough to earn his kudos as far as I'm concerned. If anything he says was correct, WB were going to work those guys into the ground, pocket the millions that they generated, and send them home with bills to pay. If Monk changed that fate, bully for him.

    3. Van Halen guys come off poorly: Well, who coulda seen that coming? The thing is, nothing that Monk says about these guys is a surprise. I actually think the person who comes off worst is Alex as Monk often speaks of Roth's intelligence and represents him as a more self-sufficient person. There was a side of Roth in the book that I wasn't entirely aware of but it all makes sense. It may all seem so bitchy but it rings true for me.

    To be fair to both parties, I think that the unspoken truth here is that Van Halen never really considered Monk to be their manager. He was their road manager, and they were happy to keep him around for a few years while they scoped out other prospects but they didn't want him as their actual full time manager. It seems that there's a certain indecision and laziness among the members of the band and making such decisions while on the run from studio to tour is difficult and forbidding. Monk probably should have seen the writing on the wall and bailed after it became apparent that they only wanted him month to month, but he kept hanging on hoping to be accepted. They may have had very good reasons for not wanting Monk as their permanent manager or they may have had stupid reasons, but in the end it wasn't really meshing, no matter how many problems Monk may have solved or how much better VH's rewards became because of his efforts. I can't disdain Monk though, I think he really did try very hard to work for those guys and I think he really did do some good things for them.
     
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  11. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    He did, but I can see that. Dave *WAS* cheesy...still is! It's pretty crazy that he walked away from VH to do that kinda stuff but he's a strange cat anyway. You're right, 1984 was the only one he was positive about...that and the debut (but more for the sales figures than the music)
     
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  12. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    Agreed. Eddie came off like an imbecile, Alex as an alcoholic scumbag, and Dave...well, we all know what Dave's deal is. I still thought it was a good book but it was very negative, that's for sure.

    I do wish Renoff would write a Van Halen bio on this era in the same vein as Van Halen Rising...that book was so good.
     
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  13. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    EXCELLENT post. Great points all around. I did forget to mention Dave's intelligence, which also came across in Van Halen Rising. He's a lot smarter than he comes across as, although he definitely has some mental issues that are beyond repair (for instance, it's no surprise he's never had a long term relationship, ever).

    Agree with Alex, too...he doesn't seem like an in-your-face a-hole, but his conniving and backstabbing make it even worse. And what an inferiority complex he has toward his brother, who has him beat in both the looks and musical ability departments.
     
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  14. Jimmy B.

    Jimmy B. Forum Resident

    It has no impact on me either. I listen to Van Halen all the time.
     
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  15. Jimmy B.

    Jimmy B. Forum Resident

    well he wanted to do the movie Crazy From The Heat. He wanted to be a movie star and have Van Halen do the soundtrack for him, which Eddie balked at of course.
    I don't remember the whole planned plot of the movie but it ended with Dave singing That's Life in some dive or something - or maybe it was Vegas? I can't remember...a lounge act of some kind...I just know that some of the musical ideas he had supposedly wound up on Eat Em and Smile...obviously different than if VH worked on it, but...
    but yeah he caused the breakup, the final straw really just over that EP....bizarre when you think about it that way...
    also strange for him to think Eddie would like him doing the EP (or want to help Dave launch his film career!)
     
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  16. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    The craziest thing was how brazen and up front Dave was about all of that. Most normal people plotting something like that would've kept it secret for as long as possible, but he didn't give an eff. That's Dave for ya! :laugh:
     
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  17. Jachay

    Jachay Well-Known Member

    Location:
    GTA
    Dave probably thought it was a normal request, and Ed should have jumped at the chance. Dave was a different cat.
     
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  18. Zoot Marimba

    Zoot Marimba And I’m The Critic Of The Group

    Location:
    Georgia
    Good review, btw.
     
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  19. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    He sure was. It's weird that he wanted to go completely in that direction of schlocky, chintzy cabaret crap after he was able to successfully meld those impulses with the hard rock tendencies of the other three. Maybe he'd just had enough? Who knows...Dave is a VERY strange guy and it's probably pointless trying to figure out what goes on in his head (although it's still fun to speculate).
     
  20. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    Was anyone else surprised that Monk didn't include the whole drama behind the cover shoot for Women and Children First in this book? That's info that's been out there for a while and surely he knew about it since he was the bloody manager. Not even a peep about it in the book, just the mention of the Roth bondage poster included in the record was all. Seems like a strange thing to leave out.
     
  21. Jachay

    Jachay Well-Known Member

    Location:
    GTA
    Yeah, the photo shoot that almost broke the band up. Odd omission come to think about it.
     
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  22. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    Glad it wasn't just me. I thought maybe that great article I'd read about it by Greg Renoff came out during or after when Monk was writing his book, but it was from 2015, TWO YEARS before Monk's book was released. Plenty of time for it to be included. Given how much it contributed to the band splitting and how the main thesis of Monk's book seemed to be that the guys were a ticking time bomb from almost day one, it seemed like a obvious thing to include and a pretty big thing to leave out. I'm not sure if it was by design or simply omitted out of ignorance (in the literal sense of the word) but it was very noticeable. I kept waiting for it to be mentioned and it just never was.
     

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