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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826428460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826428462
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Everyone has a favorite overlooked band they feel should have sold millions of records, filled arenas and enjoyed household-name status; among those commercially unsuccessful stalwarts, the Fleshtones rank as one of America's most enduring musical forces. Crawling out from under New York City's punk and new wave scenes in the mid-1970s, this gang of misfits dubbed their fuzzy yet danceable mix of guitars, Farfisa organ, old-school R&B, rockabilly and surf music as "Super Rock," then watched contemporaries such as the Ramones, Talking Heads, R.E.M. and Blondie became stars. Topping out on the Billboard album charts at no. 174, the Fleshtones, still active 30 years on, make for an unconventional study in rock 'n' roll survival. Bonomo, better known for his essays and poetry, has conducted new interviews with all the principles to provide an exhaustive account of the band's checkered history, colored by excessive amounts of alcohol and drugs, mismanagement and the 2005 suicide of sax man Gordon Spaeth. Bonomo marches a parade of colorful characters in and out of his narrative, including past and present band members, business associates, friends, family members and fellow musicians, to present an honest and dramatic look at rock semi-obscurity. B/w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Joe Bonomo has written a fine book; a book not only about a band or times passed, but also about the rare virtue of endurance.
—Nick Tosches
(Nick Tosches)

"In Sweat, Joe Bonomo confronts the realities of life in one of America's great unsung bands of heroes: the Fleshtones. Rocking the house down night after night, holding on to their unique vision forever, whether laughing inthe face of failure, caught in the rip tides of American culture, battling on the New York streets, or crowdedin the back of a van on its way to the furthest reaches of the solar system...It's a 'Blue Whale' of a story: hilarious, harrowing, and ultimately inspiring."
Peter Case, singer-songwriter


Imagine the myth of Sisyphus recast as a garage band—and a goodone—and you have the story of the Fleshtones. One of the latter-dayCBGBs bands, championed by REM and critically adored for theirexplosive concerts, the 'Tones shoulda been contenders. But whathappened? First-time author (and fan) Bonomo tells their cursed storywith religious fervor and a near-lyrical quality to his prose. Bonomoexpands on a history that would otherwise be summed up by a pithy entryin All Music Guide over a sprawling 400 pages, packed with newinterviews and anecdotes. In cataloging a decadeslong litany ofindignities and misfortunes that did little to deter the Fleshtones'passion, the book raises deeper questions about what making it in musicmeans. Does the distinction of being the only CBGBs-era band to keepgoing without an inactive year count for anything? Consider this themad-eyed older brother of James Greer's biography of the indie-rockband Guided by Voices or Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life. This is the secret history that even NYC punk histories like Please Kill Me couldn't handle. Recommended for libraries with large popular music collections.
—Library Journal
(Library Journal)

"More than an account of a particular band, sound, or specific era in rock history, Joe Bonomo's compelling, well-researched, and thoroughly riveting account of the Fleshtones is an homage to a way of living your life — one that revolves around raucous music, what Jack Kerouac once called the "quest for kicks," and most of all a whole lot of sweat and passion."
Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic, Chicago Sun-Times, and author, Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic.


"Rock and roll is a pretty egalitarian affair. On any given night any band can be the best band in the world, if only for ten minutes. The amazing thing about the Fleshtones is that every night for the last thirty years they have consistently been the best live band on earth. Year in, year out — high, low and in between — the Fleshtones have embodied the very essence of rock and roll. This great book by Joe Bonomo really gets to the heart of who the Fleshtones are, and the price they paid. Now it's up to you to check out the Fleshtones when they hit your town. And in my own defense, that fire that Keith and I started in France was really a very small fire. Not worth mentioning at all. Please."
—Peter Buck, R.E.M.

(Peter Buck)

Mention in Memphis Flyer

"Most bands have a narrative arc that runs from formative years torock-star ascent to inevitable breakup. The Fleshtones' chart flatlinessomewhere between fame and obscurity, and this is where Bonomo takes aninteresting angle.

By recounting the band's Sisyphean chase offame, which is rewarded only with a raging cult following, he offers aunique "view from the bottom" - familiar to 99.9 percent of all bands -of rock's last three decades.

"Sweat" reads like a true laborof love. It's a highly detailed account of the band that refused to goaway until, through determination and stamina, they got the book theydeserved."
—The New York Post

(New York Post)

"Rather than chalk up the band to be some amazing quartet who'vesurpassed their time in the spotlight (or lack of in this case), [Bonomo] focuses on their longevity and passion. Thirty years in the game and nohits to be accounted for but the band still holds it together becauseof their love, their pure unadulterated love of rock and roll."
—Spill Magazine
(Spill Magazine)

"I just finished a biography of the band, called Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band. I would have given this book 873 stars, but they only let me give it five. Me? I live to read. I lust for the book that I cannot bear to put down. That is what I like, that is what I look for. This is one of those books. A love letter, a labor of love, and a gripping read about people who have brought nothing but happiness to thousands of people for a long, long time. It helps to already have spent some time living in total intoxication of the Fleshtones, of course, but it is a brilliant book no matter what."
-Chicago Boyz

Interviewed by Rockford Review

"Joe Bonomo, across 410 fact/anecdote-packed pages, follows the trajectory of New York's Fleshtones, from juvenile delinquents Peter Zaremba and Keith Streng falling under the spell of AM radio in the '60s, through the band's mid-'80s college rock ascendency, and on to the present, where the Fleshtones remain a vital force.
It's a quintessential rock 'n' roll story. No shit, man."
Harp Magazine
(Fred Mills)

"Everyonehas a favorite overlooked bank they feel should have sold millions of records,filled arenas and enjoyed household-name status; among those commerciallyunsuccessful stalwarts, the Fleshtones rank as one of America's mostenduring musical forces. Crawling outfrom under New York City's punk and new wave scenes in the mid-1970s, this gangof misfits dubbed their fuzzy yet danceable mix of guitars, Farfisa organ,old-school R&B, rockabilly and surf music as "Super Rock," then watchedcontemporaries such as the Ramones, Talking Heads, R.E.M., and Blondie becomestars. Topping out on the Billboardalbum charts at no. 174, the Fleshtones, still active 30 years on, make for anunconventional study in rock 'n' roll survival. Bonomo, better known for his essays and poetry, has conducted newinterviews with all the principals to provide an exhaustive account of the band'scheckered history, colored by excessive amounts of alcohol and drugs,mismanagement and the 2005 suicide of sax man Gordon Spaeth. Bonomo marches a parade of colorfulcharacters in and out of his narrative, including past and present bandmembers, business associates, friends, family members and fellow musicians, topresent an honest and dramatic look at rock semi-obscurity." —Publishers Weekly Annex

"I would have given this book 873 stars, but they only let me give it five...A love letter, a labor of love, and a gripping read about people who have brought nothing but happiness to thousands of people for a long, long time...it is a brilliant book no matter what."
—Lexington Green, Book Notes, Music
(Book Notes, Music)

'Sweat' reads like a true labor of love. It's a highly detailed account of the band that refused to go away until, through determination and stamina, they got the book they deserved"—Stephen Charles Kleiner, New York Post



Dr. Joe Bonomo interviewed about the writing of Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones by Collin Quick, RRStar.com, September 26, 2007


"A Chicago area resident and teacher at Northern IllinoisUniversity, Joe Bonomo is nearly religious in his devotion to the long-runningcombo fronted by Peter Zaremba, who some may remember from his side job as thehost of MTV's alternative showcase, "120 Minutes." In Sweat: TheStory of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band (Continuum, $19.95), theauthor approaches his tale with the same scholarly devotion that Drummondemployed...In the end, the author concludes that it will go one as long as themusicians are still walking and breathing, and their story is ultimately one ofperseverance and faith in a rough 'n' ready aesthetic originally defined onlong-forgotten 45s but so enduringly powerful that grown men devote their livesto it." —Chicago SunTimes



Nice cars, Playboybunnies, wealth and thrown underwear — as the Nickelback song suggests, theawesome life of a rock 'n' roll band, right? According to NIU English professorJoe Bonomo, not quite. "Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's GarageBand," Bonomo's first biography, was published by Continuum in September.

For seven years, Bonomo spent his summers trekking to New York to interview and research for hisbook. As the title suggests, the book chronicles the lives of the Fleshtones, alittle known band Bonomo first heard in the 1980s. According to Bonomo, TheFleshtones are the only band that debuted at CBGB that played togetheruninterrupted since. "The Fleshtonesredefined what it means to be successful," said Bonomo. "They're simply a greatAmerican rock band that no one's heard about."
However, Bonomo says his book is more than just a biography of an obscure rockband. "It's a great story ofperseverance and staying true to your dreams and visions," said Bonomo. The perseverance Bonomo refers to involves ajourney of music that has spanned more than three decades and does not involvefame or fortune. Bonomo joined the band on its Midwesttour in 2001 and discovered the realistic lives of rock stars. "The memory Ihave from that tour is how much they struggled," said Bonomo. "Sleeping onpromoter's floors and in flea-bag motels, playing to half-empty clubs. Itcemented to me why their story is so unique and so interesting, why it's aworthwhile story. They didn't give up and soldiered on." Although the Fleshtones story is enthralling,Bonomo had difficulty getting "Sweat" published. Bonomo believes that while "Sweat" works as amanual for those in a band, it is also an inspirational story for those whohave no affiliation with music. "Ifyou're in a band as a 20-something, this is an absolute crucial book. It showswhat your future is," said Bonomo. "[But]no matter what your passion is, you will find yourself mirrored in this book.As you get older, you have to redefine what success means. The Fleshtones storyis a great example of how to do that." —Northern Star Online


"The story of the Fleshtones is a Behind The Music-worthytale of hard-earned fans and well-deserved debauchery, but lacks one essentialelement: hits. Despite three decades ofdedication, the Fleshtones have yet to produce a wildly popular record that couldpropel them past the dead-end intersection of fame, infamy and obscurity. And yet the Queens-bred bandmates soldier on,refusing to retreat and amassing a growing number of rabid superfans (authorJoe Bonomo included) in the process. Clocking in at an impressive 400 pages, Bonomo's book chronicles theband's career with fluid narratives, interviews, pictures, setlists,discographies and meticulous detail. It'sa story for music-makers and music-lovers alike, with Bonomo finding universalappeal in one small band's trip from the New York City suburbs to a near-permanent residency on theroad. It doesn't matter if readers don'tknow the Fleshtones from the Monotones, as the author's adoring approach, whichmanages to be at once casual and encyclopedic, will convert most skeptics. And even if it doesn't, Sweat is about muchmore than a hard-working band that never quite broke even; it champions theenduring spirit of rock'n'roll, and the lengths to which musicians and fanswill travel to keep that spirit flamed."
-CMJ
(Andrew Leahy)

"[An]elegantly written biography of the Fleshtones." —Popmatters.com

(Robert Short)

"The Fleshtones are a minor footnote in most people'smemories, but Bonomo convincingly explains how a group can stay the same andyet still matter. As a bonus, The Fleshtones aficionados will also appreciatethe biographer's exhaustive, inclusive discography and the extensive listing ofcover songs The Fleshtones have recorded and/or performed on stage." —DougSimpson, Skyscraper Magazine (Doug Simpson)

"Besides being a thorough bio of the band and its members,and a great NYC timepiece, Sweat takes a good hard look at the music industry,of bands who don't quite make it, who are as good or better than bands who domake it, and what their lives are like. It's a story of fighting against theodds with persistence and conviction, but this book certainly isn't just aboutstruggle; it's filled with humor, fun, weirdness, bizarre coincidences, andheady descriptions of their most glorious shows and triumphs...If you alreadyknow and love the band, you're sure to enjoy this book. If you aren't familiarwith the 'Tones, by all means check them out." —Tone and Groove magazine

"As the subtitle accurately describes, the career of theFleshtones could be narrowed down to "30 years, 2,000 shows, 1,000 blue whales,no hits, no sleep". It's always been about fun, and not stardom, for PeterZaremba, Keith Streng, and the rest of this (should be) legendary band. Bonomoaccurately describes not only the positive points in the band's history, butalso the frustrations, addictions, and boredom of never being the right band inthe right place.
Verdict: As they say on the web, Ohmigod! Old CD's wereimmediately copied onto the iPod, and old vinyl was dusted off after years ofstorage. Now if I only was confident enough to attempt to drink some bluewhales, the band's poison of choice." —Prime Magazine

"What a long, strange trip it's been. That Grateful Dead designation really belongs to The Fleshtones, New York City's long-running garage rock band. Sweat, Joe Bonomo's energetic, warts-and-all biography, encapsulates The Fleshtones' three-decade and counting career) as the cover proclaims: "30 years, 2,000 shows, 1,000 Blue Whales, no hits, no sleep"), but the book is actually a story of determination, perseverance, and persistence...While Sweat is geared toward fans, this is one of the rare rock music biographies neophytes can peruse with enjoyment, due to the band's brio and banter, which gives Sweat more clarity and candor than typical like-minded accounts. Discover for yourself how Wigstock, Joan Osbourne, Jason and the Scorchers, The Hoodoo Gurus, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, Seve Albini, the Big Apple's disco scene, horror movies and Gene Simmons all have one thing in common: The Fleshtones..."—Doug Simpson, Skyscraper Mag, Spring 2008
(Doug Simpson)

FIVE STARS
"As far as rock biographies go, Joe Bonomo's 400-page labour of love isalmost impossible to fault. It's got it all: social and musicalbackground, undying belief, frustration, heartache, tragedy,laugh-out-loud anecdotes and a welter of rock'n'roll excess from thelate 60s onwards. It's also another thrilling testament to the lost NewYork. Bonomo's research is peerless, his writing engaging and theband's narratives frequently hilarious. Most importantly, the bookinstils the desire to track down some of these lost classics. Ifnothing else, when they do finally hang up their guitars, TheFleshtones will have this magnificent tribute to tell them what theydid, and that they did make their mark."
—Record Collector
(Kris Needs)

"Bonomo writes with verve, objectivity, humor, and always just the right note of seriousness. The result is an enjoyable, satisfying, and very necessary study of a band on the edge.
Sweat is a comprehensive book, thoroughly researched with interviews from seemingly anyone remotely connected with the band, quotations from articles and reviews from long defunct but important New York newspapers and magazines, an extensive bibliography, discography, and a list of over 250 covers performed at one time or another by the Fleshtones. Ultimately, though, Sweat is about the cultural power of rock and roll and its ability to shape lives."
—Popular Music and Society
(Popular Music & Society)

"Formed in New York in 1976, the Fleshtones have never experienced evena moment of Next Big Thing-ness, and yet they just keep playing. It'slike they couldn't stop even if they wanted to. Joe Bonomo's Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Bandwas unputdownable: the people and places who drifted through its pageswere memorable, and the story stubbornly refused to stoop to pathos."
-The Chicago Reader


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 "Pursuing an unquenchable lust for life, music, and partyingsince forming in a debauched Queens basement, The Fleshtones have paid homageto Archie Bell and the Drells, Standells-era pink and also plugged into thehedonistic energy of the New Yorkexperience at gay club The Cock Ring. Dismissed by one critic as a 'mindlesstwist band' the Fleshtones weren't feted like their contemporaries but,undaunted, have released some 20 albums and have gigged relentlessly, remainingundimmed of spirit and happy that Suicide are fans. Bonomo's beautifullywritten band assisted account is both hilarious and tragic. There's heroicexcess, dogged obsession, personal tragedy and slapstick situations, and evenif the Hall of Fame never beckons, The Fleshtones can at least count their nameon one of the great music biographies." —Mojo, UK


"What's a Northern Illinois University English professor at Northern Illinois University doing writing a 400-page tome about an obscure post-punk band from Whitestone, Queens, who barely ever reached the outer regions of the Billboard Hot 200? God only knows, but the 'Tones' passion and longevity doing their thing—a rousing combination of Nuggets-style psychedelic rock, R&B beats and a British Invasion take on American soul—is matched by the author's dogged recreation of their long, winding, and mostly hidden, history."
-Sonic Boomers


Joe Bonomo has written a fine book; a book not only about a band or times passed, but also about the rare virtue of endurance.
—Nick Tosches
(Sanford Lakoff)

"In Sweat, Joe Bonomo confronts the realities of life in one of America's great unsung bands of heroes: the Fleshtones. Rocking the house down night after night, holding on to their unique vision forever, whether laughing in the face of failure, caught in the rip tides of American culture, battling on the New York streets, or crowded in the back of a van on its way to the furthest reaches of the solar system…It's a 'Blue Whale' of a story: hilarious, harrowing, and ultimately inspiring."
Peter Case, singer-songwriter


"Rock and roll is a pretty egalitarian affair. On any given night any band can be the best band in the world, if only for ten minutes. The amazing thing about the Fleshtones is that  every night for the last thirty years they have consistently been the best live band on earth. Year in, year out — high, low and in between — the Fleshtones have embodied the very essence of rock and roll. This great book by Joe Bonomo really gets to the heart of who the Fleshtones are, and the price they paid. Now it's up to you to check out the Fleshtones  when they hit your town. And in my own defense, that fire that Keith and I started in France was really a very small fire. Not worth mentioning at all. Please."
—Peter Buck, R.E.M.

(Sanford Lakoff)

"Most bands have a narrative arc that runs from formative years torock-star ascent to inevitable breakup. The Fleshtones’ chart flatlinessomewhere between fame and obscurity, and this is where Bonomo takes aninteresting angle.

By recounting the band’s Sisyphean chase offame, which is rewarded only with a raging cult following, he offers aunique “view from the bottom” - familiar to 99.9 percent of all bands -of rock’s last three decades.

“Sweat” reads like a true laborof love. It’s a highly detailed account of the band that refused to goaway until, through determination and stamina, they got the book theydeserved."
—The New York Post

(Sanford Lakoff)

"Rather than chalk up the band to be some amazing quartet who'vesurpassed their time in the spotlight (or lack of in this case), [Bonomo] focuses on their longevity and passion. Thirty years in the game and nohits to be accounted for but the band still holds it together becauseof their love, their pure unadulterated love of rock and roll."
—Spill Magazine
(Sanford Lakoff)

"I just finished a biography of the band, called Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band.  I would have given this book 873 stars, but they only let me give it five.  Me? I live to read.  I lust for the book that I cannot bear to put down.  That is what I like, that is what I look for.  This is one of those books.  A love letter, a labor of love, and a gripping read about people who have brought nothing but happiness to thousands of people for a long, long time.  It helps to already have spent some time living in total intoxication of the Fleshtones, of course, but it is a brilliant  book no matter what."
-Chicago Boyz

"Joe Bonomo, across 410 fact/anecdote-packed pages, follows the trajectory of New York's Fleshtones, from juvenile delinquents Peter Zaremba and Keith Streng falling under the spell of AM radio in the '60s, through the band's mid-'80s college rock ascendency, and on to the present, where the Fleshtones remain a vital force.
It's a quintessential rock 'n' roll story.  No shit, man."
Harp Magazine
(Sanford Lakoff)

“Everyonehas a favorite overlooked bank they feel should have sold millions of records,filled arenas and enjoyed household-name status; among those commerciallyunsuccessful stalwarts, the Fleshtones rank as one of America’s mostenduring musical forces. Crawling outfrom under New York City’s punk and new wave scenes in the mid-1970s, this gangof misfits dubbed their fuzzy yet danceable mix of guitars, Farfisa organ,old-school R&B, rockabilly and surf music as “Super Rock,” then watchedcontemporaries such as the Ramones, Talking Heads, R.E.M., and Blondie becomestars. Topping out on the Billboardalbum charts at no. 174, the Fleshtones, still active 30 years on, make for anunconventional study in rock 'n’ roll survival. Bonomo, better known for his essays and poetry, has conducted newinterviews with all the principals to provide an exhaustive account of the band’scheckered history, colored by excessive amounts of alcohol and drugs,mismanagement and the 2005 suicide of sax man Gordon Spaeth. Bonomo marches a parade of colorfulcharacters in and out of his narrative, including past and present bandmembers, business associates, friends, family members and fellow musicians, topresent an honest and dramatic look at rock semi-obscurity.” –Publishers Weekly Annex

"I would have given this book 873 stars, but they only let me give it five…A love letter, a labor of love, and a gripping read about people who have brought nothing but happiness to thousands of people for a long, long time…it is a brilliant book no matter what."
—Lexington Green, Book Notes, Music
(Sanford Lakoff)

'Sweat’ reads like a true labor of love. It's a highly detailed account of the band that refused to go away until, through determination and stamina, they got the book they deserved"—Stephen Charles Kleiner, New York Post



A Chicago area resident and teacher at Northern IllinoisUniversity, Joe Bonomo is nearly religious in his devotion to the long-runningcombo fronted by Peter Zaremba, who some may remember from his side job as thehost of MTV's alternative showcase, "120 Minutes." In Sweat: TheStory of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band (Continuum, $19.95), theauthor approaches his tale with the same scholarly devotion that Drummondemployed…In the end, the author concludes that it will go one as long as themusicians are still walking and breathing, and their story is ultimately one ofperseverance and faith in a rough 'n' ready aesthetic originally defined onlong-forgotten 45s but so enduringly powerful that grown men devote their livesto it.” —Chicago SunTimes



Nice cars, Playboybunnies, wealth and thrown underwear — as the Nickelback song suggests, theawesome life of a rock 'n’ roll band, right? According to NIU English professorJoe Bonomo, not quite. “Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America’s GarageBand,” Bonomo’s first biography, was published by Continuum in September.

For seven years, Bonomo spent his summers trekking to New York to interview and research for hisbook. As the title suggests, the book chronicles the lives of the Fleshtones, alittle known band Bonomo first heard in the 1980s. According to Bonomo, TheFleshtones are the only band that debuted at CBGB that played togetheruninterrupted since. “The Fleshtonesredefined what it means to be successful,” said Bonomo. “They’re simply a greatAmerican rock band that no one’s heard about.”
However, Bonomo says his book is more than just a biography of an obscure rockband. “It’s a great story ofperseverance and staying true to your dreams and visions,” said Bonomo. The perseverance Bonomo refers to involves ajourney of music that has spanned more than three decades and does not involvefame or fortune. Bonomo joined the band on its Midwesttour in 2001 and discovered the realistic lives of rock stars. “The memory Ihave from that tour is how much they struggled,” said Bonomo. “Sleeping onpromoter’s floors and in flea-bag motels, playing to half-empty clubs. Itcemented to me why their story is so unique and so interesting, why it’s aworthwhile story. They didn’t give up and soldiered on.” Although the Fleshtones story is enthralling,Bonomo had difficulty getting “Sweat” published. Bonomo believes that while “Sweat” works as amanual for those in a band, it is also an inspirational story for those whohave no affiliation with music. “Ifyou’re in a band as a 20-something, this is an absolute crucial book. It showswhat your future is,” said Bonomo. “[But]no matter what your passion is, you will find yourself mirrored in this book.As you get older, you have to redefine what success means. The Fleshtones storyis a great example of how to do that.” –Northern Star Online


“The story of the Fleshtones is a Behind The Music-worthytale of hard-earned fans and well-deserved debauchery, but lacks one essentialelement: hits. Despite three decades ofdedication, the Fleshtones have yet to produce a wildly popular record that couldpropel them past the dead-end intersection of fame, infamy and obscurity. And yet the Queens-bred bandmates soldier on,refusing to retreat and amassing a growing number of rabid superfans (authorJoe Bonomo included) in the process. Clocking in at an impressive 400 pages, Bonomo’s book chronicles theband’s career with fluid narratives, interviews, pictures, setlists,discographies and meticulous detail. It’sa story for music-makers and music-lovers alike, with Bonomo finding universalappeal in one small band’s trip from the New York City suburbs to a near-permanent residency on theroad. It doesn’t matter if readers don’tknow the Fleshtones from the Monotones, as the author’s adoring approach, whichmanages to be at once casual and encyclopedic, will convert most skeptics. And even if it doesn’t, Sweat is about muchmore than a hard-working band that never quite broke even; it champions theenduring spirit of rock’n’roll, and the lengths to which musicians and fanswill travel to keep that spirit flamed.”
-CMJ
(Sanford Lakoff)

“[An]elegantly written biography of the Fleshtones.” –Popmatters.com

(Sanford Lakoff)

“The Fleshtones are a minor footnote in most people’smemories, but Bonomo convincingly explains how a group can stay the same andyet still matter. As a bonus, The Fleshtones aficionados will also appreciatethe biographer’s exhaustive, inclusive discography and the extensive listing ofcover songs The Fleshtones have recorded and/or performed on stage.” —DougSimpson, Skyscraper Magazine (Sanford Lakoff)

“Besides being a thorough bio of the band and its members,and a great NYC timepiece, Sweat takes a good hard look at the music industry,of bands who don't quite make it, who are as good or better than bands who domake it, and what their lives are like. It's a story of fighting against theodds with persistence and conviction, but this book certainly isn't just aboutstruggle; it's filled with humor, fun, weirdness, bizarre coincidences, andheady descriptions of their most glorious shows and triumphs...If you alreadyknow and love the band, you're sure to enjoy this book. If you aren't familiarwith the 'Tones, by all means check them out.” –Tone and Groove magazine

“As the subtitle accurately describes, the career of theFleshtones could be narrowed down to “30 years, 2,000 shows, 1,000 blue whales,no hits, no sleep”. It’s always been about fun, and not stardom, for PeterZaremba, Keith Streng, and the rest of this (should be) legendary band. Bonomoaccurately describes not only the positive points in the band’s history, butalso the frustrations, addictions, and boredom of never being the right band inthe right place.
Verdict: As they say on the web, Ohmigod! Old CD’s wereimmediately copied onto the iPod, and old vinyl was dusted off after years ofstorage. Now if I only was confident enough to attempt to drink some bluewhales, the band’s poison of choice.” –Prime Magazine

"What a long, strange trip it’s been. That Grateful Dead designation really belongs to The Fleshtones, New York City’s long-running garage rock band. Sweat, Joe Bonomo’s energetic, warts-and-all biography, encapsulates The Fleshtones’ three-decade and counting career) as the cover proclaims: “30 years, 2,000 shows, 1,000 Blue Whales, no hits, no sleep”), but the book is actually a story of determination, perseverance, and persistence…While Sweat is geared toward fans, this is one of the rare rock music biographies neophytes can peruse with enjoyment, due to the band’s brio and banter, which gives Sweat more clarity and candor than typical like-minded accounts. Discover for yourself how Wigstock, Joan Osbourne, Jason and the Scorchers, The Hoodoo Gurus, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Seve Albini, the Big Apple’s disco scene, horror movies and Gene Simmons all have one thing in common: The Fleshtones…"—Doug Simpson, Skyscraper Mag, Spring 2008
(Sanford Lakoff)

FIVE STARS
"As far as rock biographies go, Joe Bonomo’s 400-page labour of love isalmost impossible to fault. It’s got it all: social and musicalbackground, undying belief, frustration, heartache, tragedy,laugh-out-loud anecdotes and a welter of rock’n’roll excess from thelate 60s onwards. It’s also another thrilling testament to the lost NewYork. Bonomo’s research is peerless, his writing engaging and theband’s narratives frequently hilarious. Most importantly, the bookinstils the desire to track down some of these lost classics. Ifnothing else, when they do finally hang up their guitars, TheFleshtones will have this magnificent tribute to tell them what theydid, and that they did make their mark."
—Record Collector
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Bonomo writes with verve, objectivity, humor, and always just the right note of seriousness.  The result is an enjoyable, satisfying, and very necessary study of a band on the edge.  
Sweat is a comprehensive book, thoroughly researched with interviews from seemingly anyone remotely connected with the band, quotations from articles and reviews from long defunct but important New York newspapers and magazines, an extensive bibliography, discography, and a list of over 250 covers performed at one time or another by the Fleshtones.  Ultimately, though, Sweat is about the cultural power of rock and roll and its ability to shape lives."
—Popular Music and Society
(Popular Music & Society)

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 “Pursuing an unquenchable lust for life, music, and partyingsince forming in a debauched Queens basement, The Fleshtones have paid homageto Archie Bell and the Drells, Standells-era pink and also plugged into thehedonistic energy of the New Yorkexperience at gay club The Cock Ring. Dismissed by one critic as a 'mindlesstwist band’ the Fleshtones weren’t feted like their contemporaries but,undaunted, have released some 20 albums and have gigged relentlessly, remainingundimmed of spirit and happy that Suicide are fans. Bonomo’s beautifullywritten band assisted account is both hilarious and tragic. There’s heroicexcess, dogged obsession, personal tragedy and slapstick situations, and evenif the Hall of Fame never beckons, The Fleshtones can at least count their nameon one of the great music biographies.” –Mojo, UK

More About the Author

Joe Bonomo's books include This Must Be Where My Obsession With Infinity Began (essays), Conversations With Greil Marcus (Literary Conversations Series), AC/DC's Highway to Hell (33 1/3 Series), Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found, Installations (National Poetry Series), and Sweat: The Story of The Fleshtones, America's Garage Band. He teaches at Northern Illinois University, and appears online at No Such Thing As Was (www.nosuchthingaswas.com).

Customer Reviews

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I just finished the book--WOW, What a great read!
M. Kishel
And if you never heard of the Fleshtones and want to know what it's like to be in a REAL rock and roll band - this book is for you.
Eric C. Fusco
Like the latter the Fleshtones went back to the core of R&R. They found their inspiration in a time when 45 was king.
Soulboogiealex

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lexington Green on September 17, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best rock'n'roll show I ever saw was the Fleshtones, at the Cubby Bear probably Fall 1982. The show spilled out into the street after the power was shut off, something that had to be experienced to be believed. I saw these guys I think eight times and they always gave 110%. The Fleshtones were one of the greatest live bands ever, and possibly THE greatest. That power did not translate in all its glory to vinyl, alas. They have lived the Rock Life to the fullest, tasting the bitter dregs, and hitting the Olympian heights of crowd-pleasing frenzy -- but never making any serious money, never having a hit record ... . There is no rest for the righteous, no justice for the pure of heart, no big pile of cash for the true heroes of rock-for-its-own-sweet-sake. But there is the satisfaction of being GREAT and knowing it, whatever the world at large may do in response.

This is a great American story of guys who brought fun and excitement and happiness into the lives of thousands of people.

If they come to your town, go see them.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lindsay Hutton on September 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
A great read that reminds me exactly why I keep bashing my brains out against a seemingly impregnable brick wall. If you listen to the band while reading, you'll hear that the lack of commercial hits these guys have been chasing for more than a quarter century certainly isn't down to them. They have powers way in excess of whatever the alleged hipsters are offering you and if you haven't seen them live then I envy you. Joe's documentation of the band's struggle is a fantastic portrait of a combo who will go to death defying ends to deliver what is precious to all of us. A music book about a band with a story worth telling, you don't get many of those to the pound these days.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Soulboogiealex on December 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
R&R is not defined by its stars. Although undoubtedly R&R in their hey days Elvis, the Stones or Springsteen do not define the genre. The may make up for its aspirations, but they are not at the core of what R&R is. At its heart R&R is literally thousands of bands busting their chops in the garages and sordid basements all over the world, dreaming to make it in the big league one day. The Fleshtones have been at this game for about 30 years now, never escaping the basement. In a sense they are the text book example of R&R. Joe Bonomo's book "Sweat" captures their ongoing search for ever elusive fame perfectly. Anybody familiar with the band couldn't have thought of a better tittle to this autobiography. The Fleshtones have been guaranteed to give the best R&R show around for as long as they've been together. Yet the subtitle to sweat, "30 Years, 2.000 Shows, 1.000 Blue Whales, No Hits, No Sleep" gives the perfect summary of what to expect when reading "Sweat".

The Fleshtones story starts in a basement in Queens. Much to the dismay of the neighbors, some of the key members of what later would become the Fleshtones, throw legendary Blue Whale parties while churning out raggedy R&R, barely being able to master their instruments. A Blue Whale apparently is quite the toxic mix of various kinds of alcohol, preferably served in big barrels. That loud and lethal mix of three chord R&R would be a constant in the band's bumpy career. It would get them kicked out of their apartments, make them lose record companies, would find them in bloody brawls, turn them in the gutter but would also make living legends out of them. Although there are way to little people to recognize them. For the lucky few who fell under their spell, they are R&R best hidden deities.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ifutureman on March 27, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From about 1985 onward, I've been a steady fan of the mighty Fleshtones, although I confess that by about 1993 I sort of stopped keeping up with them. But if for no other reason than to understand why "Roman Gods" and "Hexbreaker" have never been reissued on CD, I bought this book. Little did I know how insane the story of the Fleshtones really is.

In a nutshell, "Sweat" reveals that despite the jolly, party-time atmosphere that is the essence of the Fleshtones, the band and its individual members have truly been through hell along the way. The well-documented drug use by this band is nothing short of legendary, and at least one member, Marek Pakulski, ultimately had to leave the group do to his uncontrollable heroin addiction. Other members, particularly Keith Streng and Bill Milhizer, are probably lucky to be alive considering the amount of alcohol they've consumed. As for Peter Zaremba, it's surprising his body didn't just blast off into orbit, with the amount of speed he was taking!

Funny personal story - I saw the Fleshtones in Boston back around 1988, and got a chance to meet them before the show. I'd brought along the cover of my "Fleshtones vs. Reality" CD and Keith, Bill and Peter all cheerfully signed it. But Peter was irked by the fact that the label, Roadrunner, had included one of those anti-drug public service messages inside it. So Peter scribbled over the message and wrote underneath, "Do what thou willst! A.C." (An Aleister Crowley quote) I had no idea at the time just how serious he was!

Then of course there's the most notorious Fleshtone of all, Gordon Spaeth (R.I.P.). Who would have thought that a member of the Fleshtones served several years in prison after killing a man in a drunken fight?!
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