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THIS IS A CALL by Paul Brannigan

THIS IS A CALL

The Life and Times of Dave Grohl

By Paul Brannigan

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-306-81956-8
Publisher: Da Capo/Perseus

Former Kerrang! editor Brannigan’s scattershot attempt at presenting a definitive biographical portrait of reluctant rock star Dave Grohl.

The author’s unauthorized bio of Nirvana drummer turned Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl is his first book, and in some ways it reflects the author’s lack of experience. Brannigan allows his subject’s personal history to be swallowed up by the larger cultural history that his bands helped to shape. For example, when broaching the subject of Grohl’s early interest in punk, the author provides a mediocre textbook history of punk rock, followed by a surface-skimming overview of the Washington, D.C., hardcore scene that would eventually lure Grohl into its clutches. Grohl was a high-school dropout touring with hardcore bands by the time he was 17; yet he was rarely the dominant personality in any of his bands, from his younger days in hardcore outfits Dain Bramage and Scream, to his drumming duties in world-conquering grunge band Nirvana. Brannigan begins to deal with Grohl’s tenure in Nirvana during the peak of that band’s success around 1992. Even in his own post-Nirvana project Foo Fighters, it wasn’t until almost a decade into this second career that he finally embraced his public role as bandleader. Brannigan, obviously stretching his limited access to Grohl, takes a bio-by-the-numbers approach to the Foo Fighters legacy. We’re privy to a few mild controversies and personality clashes during the making of each album, as well as the predictable listing of critical notices from the rock press and Grohl's always-brief side of things.  If this book is a reliable measure, Grohl is a simple, uncontroversial, not-particularly-quotable guy who saves his self-expression for his music. If nothing else, Brannigan salutes a musician who’s surfaced, prosperous and sane, from the perils of an extended punk-rock adolescence that not all of his friends survived. 

Reverent and informative, but too distanced from its subject.