Sunday, August 01, 2010

Full Metal Jacket: Certified by Jackie Kajzer

Full Metal Jackie: Certified is intended to be, in the

words of its frontcover, as an exposition on the 50 most
influential heavy metal songs of the 80s, and the true
stories behind their lyrics. The book consists of an
anthology of the songs, with a short section consisting of
a few pages and black and white photographs devoted to
each, along with a section containing color pictures in
the center. The 323 page compendium contains several
sections containing background and relevant information
for every song, and also often contains interviews and
unique tidbits of pertinency. Much of the book is devoted
to analysis of the lyrics of the songs themselves, at
times deriving these analyses from the songwriter
themselves, or from contextual information researched by
the author. It also provides surprisingly profound
commentary on the impact and origins of the songs,
especially to the political and social situations that
stimulated their authors.

My review of the book must be
considered in light of the fact that I chose it
accidentally. It was my hope to encounter classic rock
songs from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, and
AC/DC. However, most of these were necessarily ruled out
when I noticed the caption after recieving it, which
limited the time frame to the 1980s. Thus, as I admit that
I am no expert in (recent) Heavy Metal music, my review of
this book will be be through the scope of a novice,
uncolored by the filter of appreciation for the songs this
book was chosen about. Resultingly, I will review this
book on the merits of its writing and content alone, and
not on the songs or bands selected or any of the
characteristics that will appeal to the Heavy Metal fans,
familiar with the subject matter, who it is clearly
directed at.

The book is quite long; as mentioned before, it is over
300 pages. Although this pales in light of recent and
historical novels, for an anthological analysis it is
quite large, and thus requires a generous time commitment.
However, while not exactly absorbing, it does prove quite
interesting. The prose demonstrates maturity and
thoughtfulness in its analyses, revealing an intimate
knowledge of the topic and presenting a firsthand account.
There exist several dimensions of analysis, ranging from
subjective to contextual, much of which is supplemented by
statements from bandmembers and interesting sidenotes
about the relationships of the members. At the same time,
the content eventually approaches redundant and
repetitive, relying too often on political and
rebellious sentiments to account for lyrics. Although
this might be out of sheer necessity, additional topics
would be appreciated. Presentation wise, Full Metal Jacket
proves mostly utilitarian, the grayscale color scheme
rubbing thin at times later on. Whether this is
intentional, to reflect the moodyness of the topic matter,
or merely a fiduciary measure, it does not significantly
impact the overall appeal of the book. A section devoted
to color photographs halfway through is a nice touch, as
are the accompanying captions.

Overall a fine book and excellent coffee-table material,
Full Metal Jacket: Certified's contradictory facets
detract somewhat from its overall score.

Adult Language/Profanity at times

Reviewer Age:16
City, State and Country: Shrewsbury, MA USA