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Shredders!: The Oral History Of Speed Guitar (And More) Paperback – March 14, 2017
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Prato shreds it (sorry!) on this stellar oral history of shredders. --Vintage Guitar Magazine
An amazingly comprehensive look at the lineage of some of the greatest guitarists of all time in their own words. I greatly enjoyed the format and stories from the wide range of players represented. --Eddie Trunk, Trunk Nation SiriusXM Radio
Prato's already worked out the magic of getting oral history right with his definitive grunge book, Grunge is Dead. Now tackling guitar shred, artfully covering the main hub and then all the spokes that make the wheel go round and round, Prato talks to all the luminaries--this is serious interview snagging here--and lays down the somewhat obscure and challenging story with great flow and lots of humor from the speakers, shredders and those who have to deal with them (like Graham Bonnet). What results is a weighty academic work, an erstwhile history of heavy metal, really, but manna from heaven if you are a guitar player. Forewords and afterwords by Alex Lifeson and Uli Jon Roth underscore the substance Prato has laid down here. --Martin Popoff, book author/journalist
I love this book! I personally know many of the guitarists featured, but I'm also a huge fan of their work. I've never read a book about famous guitarists and how other famous guitarists view them. I was captivated from beginning to end. This is a "must read" for anyone that loves the guitar and really a "must read" for anyone that loves music. I highly recommend this book! --Michael Angelo Batio (Nitro guitarist, solo artist)
Told by the guitars players themselves, this book gives personal insight into what makes them who they are, and how they got there. Guitarists talking about the guitarists that made an impact and gave inspiration. I'm so proud to be included in this book. --Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, solo artist & Guns N' Roses guitarist (2006-2014)
I vividly recall devouring magazines like Guitar Player back in the late '80s and early '90s...reading this book evoked a lot of memories from that time, but with one significant difference: back in the day, these kind of insights into other players' approaches and perspectives would trickle out in tantalizing monthly installments, whereas Greg's book facilitates a more voracious approach. Reading it felt rather reminiscent of being able to "binge" on the whole boxed set of a TV series, rather than having to wait for each new episode to air. A fascinating read, if this kind of guitar playing is your metaphorical "cup of tea." --Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats, Asia, GPS, & solo guitarist)
Greg steers the ship and lets the truth do the talking. With Shredders!: The Oral History Of Speed Guitar (And More), same result - Alex Lifeson (who wrote the foreword) gets you preparedfor the journey...then fasten your seat belt to the land of guitaraerobics. A MUST FOR ANY FAN OF SPEED GUITAR HEROES!!! --Keith Roth, Ozzy's Boneyard & Electric Ballroom
Although this is not a short book, music fans and guitar enthusiasts will find themselves engrossed and not able to put this book down. Prato never disappoints. --Screamer Magazine
Greg Prato covers the history of shredding from its early days (the most influential early shredder cited as Eddie Van Halen) through to the current day. The oral history style of the book means that each chapter subject (e.g. Steve Vai, special effects, Shrapnel Records, etc.) has related quotes and anecdotes along with views from musicians and journalists. Edited well in this book, this format is entertaining and provides a fascinating view of guitarists talking about their peers --Fireworks Magazine
About the Author
Greg Prato is a New York-based writer and author whose books include Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History Of Seattle Rock Music, Survival Of The Fittest: Heavy Metal In The 1990s, and A Devil On One Shoulder And An Angel On The Other: The Story Of Shannon Hoon And Blind Melon. His writing has also appeared in publications including Guitar Player, Vintage Guitar, and Rolling Stone.
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First off, I am sucker for great presentation in a book, and I was surprised by how cool this book looks and feels. It has French flaps and very heavy paper, making it a much higher quality book than I expected when I ordered it. Kudos to Jawbone Press for taking the time and effort to make this a lovely edition.
Second off, I an a HUGE music fan. My tastes span the gamut from classic rock to hardcore punk. I swing with jazz, I adore Americana, I can metal it up with anybody. I even have a fair amount of hip-hop in my massive music collection. As a big music fan I am always on the lookout for good bios and histories of music and musicians. This book fit the bill to slake my thirst for more knowledge of a decade that seems to have lost a bit of luster in hindsight. The 80's were certainly a decade of excess and overindulgence, and you can get a feel for that by reading this book.
So if you were a music and MTV fan in the 1980's then you are probably familiar with the term "shred". The term was ubiquitous and was typically used to denote a guitarist with amazingly fast chops. It was often used as a compliment, though over time it became somewhat derogatory, often used to categorize players who had great technical skills but no "groove" or "soul" in their repertoire. The transition from 70's-era guitar heroes like Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi was sharp indeed, and can be traced to the first Van Halen album, released in 1978. Eddie Van Halen revolutionized rock guitar in a way that no other player had since Jimi Hendrix. This book starts there, with Eddie as the Godfather of Shred, his reinterpretation of what a guitar could do in the context of rock spawning a multitude of imitators.
From Eddie, we move to Randy Rhoads, the Ozzy Osbourne sideman who introduced classical elements to heavy metal guitar in an age where most players were still trading off of standard blues progressions. Then you get Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, two guys who practically defined the term "shred" with their faster than light fingering and scaling. You get a TON of great information here from the players who were integral to the metal scene in the 80's. You get a chapter on bass shredders, you get a GREAT section on Shrapnel Records, the premier label for aspiring shredders run by Mike Varney, who comes across as some kind of "shredder savant", pulling guys in to make records of off the strength of a lightning fast demo tape.
You see the apex of the shredder scene in the mid-to late 80's, and the inevitable decline in shredder's fortunes as the grunge scene and the new focus on lyrical content and song craftsmanship pretty much killed off the virtuoso guitar player for the better part of 15 years of rock history. But of course, music is a cyclical thing, and we are now in an era where guitar is back into an extended role in rock music. There is a ton of great information and history to be had here, along with a couple of small photo sections.
So as for my minor gripes.....WAY too many typos in the text. Needed a better proofreader and less reliance on spellcheck. And of course as a music nerd I can't resist the urge to wonder at all the players who were left OUT of the text. I appreciated the focus on some of the lesser known purveyors of the craft, but the omission of so many high-profile shredders weakens the text somewhat. Mick Mars gets only a passing reference? Really? No Vita Bratta? No Chuck Schuldiner? Criminal!!
Still, though, this is a fantastic book if you have any interest in the subject matter. I came of age in the 70's and 80's, the two golden eras for guitar histrionics. I will tell you that this book expanded my knowledge and made head to YouTube to research some of the players and bands found within these pages. Never too late to learn new things about a decade that I thought I had down pat as far as hard rock and metal went. That alone makes this a worthy addition to my library.
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