Julie 's Reviews > They Just Seem a Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz Remade Rock and Roll

They Just Seem a Little Weird by Doug Brod
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bookshelves: 2021, music, non-fiction, history, e-book

They Just Seem a Little Weird by Doug Brod is a 2020 Hachette Books publication.


Mommy's alright, daddy's alright, they just seem a little weird.
Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away, ay, ay, ay.


The title of this book caught my eye and made me give it a closer look. At first, it confused me- Starz? What does a cable movie channel have to do with seventies arena rock? ๐Ÿ˜•๐Ÿ˜•

As familiar as I thought I was with the music of this era, I honestly have no memory of a rock group named Starz- which is partially the point of this book, as is the way these groups are connected- maybe not through six degrees, but they often rubbed elbows with one another all through the various stages of their careers.

The author alternates chapters between the four featured groups, giving the reader a brief history, and then taking us through their careers as they became successful enough to fill arenas. In the meantime, the author also shows how members of the four groups kept crossing paths in one way or another, even winding up on tour together.

Along the way Aerosmith and KISS had a complicated love/hate relationship, while both groups loved Cheap Trick. Starz on the other hand, who had a similar look to KISS, but had a different, more diverse, sound, had trouble making it off the launching pad. It could easily have gone another way- and the author examines the various elements at play that kept them from enjoying the same success as the other three bands featured in this book.

The author also examines the climate of the seventies that was ripe for the sort of raunchy, choppy, edgy sounds of Aerosmith and the comic book theatrics of KISS. The magazines โ€“ like Creem, and Circus, the famous groupies, the behind- the -scenes dramas within the bands, the songs, their inspiration- lots of cool trivia.

But, of course, the popularity of this brand of rock music reached a peak and the public turned their attention to MTV and the eventual surge of over produced music and hair metal- which certainly owed a debt of gratitude to the bands featured here. But then came grungeโ€ฆ

KISS conventions, and a mega-tour with KISS and Aerosmith kept them in the public eye well into the 2000s, and now Cheap Trick, KISS, and Aerosmith have all been inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame.

After giving us a little background on each band, we move through their highs and lows, breakups and reunions, and where they all eventually ended up. Sometimes it was the luck of the draw that propelled one group to mega stardom, while others are now currently residing in the โ€˜where are they now filesโ€™- but too often it was politics and power plays that promoted one band, while obliterating anotherโ€™s chance for fame and fortune.

The book is very well- researched. In fact, it took me a while to read it, because I spent a healthy amount of time Googling some of names mentioned in the book or reminiscing about some forgotten song or bandโ€ฆ like โ€˜Angelโ€™ for example. I hadnโ€™t thought of that group in decades. I also never heard of Enuff Z'Nuff or Piper - though I do remember Billy Squire- as a solo act.



I have my own opinions about these groups and of course, my opinion is always different from everyone else. I thought KISS remained one-dimensional- not much growth musically, but they did a remarkable job marketing the group as a brand. Rock n Roll All Nite is a quintessential rock anthem- but I have a soft spot for Hard Luck Woman from the early days. I always thought it was ironic that KISS removed their makeup in the hair metal craze, while all the other MTV glitz and glam rock stars were piling it on. Poor KISS โ€“ they struggled in those days.

Aerosmith- always seemed to be compared to other groups- โ€œthe poor manโ€™s Rolling Stonesโ€, for example- were also stuck in a rut for a long time- but managed to pull themselves together for another resurgence. I confess- Iโ€™ve always been a fan, and have seen the group live- in various stages of their career.

Some babeโ€™s talkinโ€™ real loud
Talkinโ€™ all about the new crowd
Try and tell me of an old dream
A new version of the old scene


Cheap Trick- probably the most original of the three- a unique look- no scarves, makeup or costumes- I loved them in my late teens, and I appreciate their contributions and talent- I still turn up โ€˜Dream Policeโ€™ if I hear it and have really fond memories of โ€˜Surrenderโ€™- the song that provided the title for this book.



While I admit I added this book, thinking it would be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, the book turned out be a comprehensive look at select portion of hard rock music, compartmentalized in a moment of time, but one that inspired a myriad of other bands and trends in music and pop culture.

Itโ€™s also examined the way the music transitioned- branching away from mammoth rock pioneers like the Stones and the Who. It takes a deep dive into management, promotion, the competition between bands, and the underbelly of the business.



It occurs to me know now, looking back on the seventies rock era, that there were other rock โ€˜cliquesโ€™, like Styx, Journey and Foreigner, for example. Iโ€™m sure there were other similar groups who ended up as โ€˜also ransโ€™, like Starz.

The talent, the look, the music was all there, right on target- just like the bands filling stadiums, but they were extinguished by the powers that be, or didnโ€™t offer kick backs to the radio stations, or caught on just as the fire started to lose its flame.

Whatever happened to all this season's losers of the year?
Every time I got to thinking, where'd they disappear?
When I woke up, mom and dad are rolling on the couch.
Rolling numbers, rock and rolling, got my kiss records out.




As for Starz- they got a raw deal in many ways. I'm glad this book called attention to them and I honestly found their story to one of the more interesting aspects of this book.



This is an absorbing book- itโ€™s one- part musical history and criticism and one part pop culture. The tone is not really one of warm nostalgia, though- as I had originally thought. Itโ€™s more of a serious study, almost like a history class on a concentrated segment of seventies rock music.

Maybe the author will do another book like this one- over another group of rock cliques- maybe one like Deep Purple, Bad Company and Foghat or maybe one with a southern theme- like The Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchett, and Lynyrd Skynyrd โ€“ or like Bob Segar, The Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac- I could probably do this all day- so Iโ€™ll stop there- but if Doug writes another book like this one- Iโ€™ll be the first in line to read it.

4 stars
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Reading Progress

December 2, 2020 – Shelved
December 2, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read
January 23, 2021 – Started Reading
January 23, 2021 – Shelved as: 2021
January 23, 2021 – Shelved as: music
January 23, 2021 – Shelved as: non-fiction
January 23, 2021 – Shelved as: history
January 23, 2021 – Shelved as: e-book
March 3, 2021 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-34 of 34 (34 new)

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message 1: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Love your review Julie ๐Ÿฅฐ. Iโ€™m such a rock fan like yourself and would want to read any of the options you suggested for the author. ๐Ÿ˜๐ŸŽค๐ŸŽธ


Julie Melanie wrote: "Love your review Julie ๐Ÿฅฐ. Iโ€™m such a rock fan like yourself and would want to read any of the options you suggested for the author. ๐Ÿ˜๐ŸŽค๐ŸŽธ"

Thanks so much, Melanie!! I would love to do more deep dives into other seventies rock groups!! ๐Ÿ’–๐ŸŽธ


message 3: by Tina (new)

Tina Sounds very interesting and a fun read! ๐Ÿฅ ๐ŸŽธ ๐ŸŽค A very thorough and detailed review! I love it! ๐Ÿฅฐ


Kat (Books are Comfort Food) Wow, what an excellent review, Julie. This is obviously a book with your name on it and I can feel your enthusiasm. Iโ€™m so happy you enjoyed this book.


Julie Tina wrote: "Sounds very interesting and a fun read! ๐Ÿฅ ๐ŸŽธ ๐ŸŽค A very thorough and detailed review! I love it! ๐Ÿฅฐ"

Thanks so much, dear Tina!! It was a fun read!! ๐Ÿ’–


Julie Kat (Books are Comfort Food!) wrote: "Wow, what an excellent review, Julie. This is obviously a book with your name on it and I can feel your enthusiasm. Iโ€™m so happy you enjoyed this book."

Thank you very much, Kat!! I did have fun with this one! ๐Ÿ’–


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy Another great review! I never was a big KISS fan, and never heard of Starz. But this sounds interesting. Glad you enjoyed.


Julie Amy wrote: "Another great review! I never was a big KISS fan, and never heard of Starz. But this sounds interesting. Glad you enjoyed."

Thanks so much, Amy!! I went through a few phases with KISS - not often or for very long, but, I did love Aerosmith and Cheap Trick. Glad I'm not the only one who never heard of Starz! ๐Ÿ˜It was a very interesting book! ๐Ÿ’–๐ŸŽธ


message 9: by Ceecee (new)

Ceecee From one rock chick to another - fantastic review Julie โค๏ธ


Julie Ceecee wrote: "From one rock chick to another - fantastic review Julie โค๏ธ"

Thank you very much, Ceecee! Rock on! ๐Ÿ’–๐ŸŽธ


message 11: by Maureen (new)

Maureen A real blast from the past Julie, great review ๐Ÿ’•


Julie Maureen wrote: "A real blast from the past Julie, great review ๐Ÿ’•"

Thanks so much, Maureen!! ๐ŸŽธ๐Ÿ’–


message 13: by Richard (new)

Richard Love books like this, and love the depth of your musical knowledge (although I think I already guessed that!) - wonderful review Julie :)


Julie Richard wrote: "Love books like this, and love the depth of your musical knowledge (although I think I already guessed that!) - wonderful review Julie :)"

Thanks so much, Richard!! I love these books too- so fun!! ๐ŸŽธ๐Ÿ˜Š


message 15: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Langford Brilliant review Julie!


Julie Lucy wrote: "Brilliant review Julie!"

Thanks so much, dear Lucy!! ๐Ÿ’–


message 17: by Karen (new)

Karen Awesome review Julie!


Julie Karen wrote: "Awesome review Julie!"

Thanks so much, Karen!! ๐Ÿ’–


message 19: by J.K. (new)

J.K. Grice Fabulous review, Julie! What an interesting book. First of all , I really like all three bands. You make good points about each one. Despite the wild makeup, KISS was a great rock band with some memorable songs. Aerosmith blazed to glory early on, and then came out with their greatest post 70's album in the late 80's, PERMANENT VACATION. Other than Honkin' on Bobo, they never really had great albums later in their career, IMO.
Cheap Trick was so cool, and just a hard rocking band from Rockford, IL. To me, they were like a more modern day Grand Funk RR. They could rock hard, but also cross over to pop and maybe even CARS type stuff. Anyway, love all these groups in some shape or form


Julie J.K. wrote: "Fabulous review, Julie! What an interesting book. First of all , I really like all three bands. You make good points about each one. Despite the wild makeup, KISS was a great rock band with some me..."

Thank so much, J.K.!! You might like this book!! Cheap Trick was definitely more diverse! A really great band! ๐ŸŽธ๐Ÿ˜Š


message 21: by Scott (new)

Scott This is a great review, Julie, and I need to get a copy of this book.


Julie Scott wrote: "This is a great review, Julie, and I need to get a copy of this book."

Thanks so much, Scott!! Yes, I think you would really like this book! ๐ŸŽธ


message 23: by PorshaJo (new)

PorshaJo Great review Julie! It's funny, I saw Kiss in concert when they first took off their makeup. I'm always interested in books about rock bands or bands from the 80's, but I'm always worried it just focuses on their wild ways. Glad you liked this one and it seemed to really focus on each of the bands.


Julie PorshaJo wrote: "Great review Julie! It's funny, I saw Kiss in concert when they first took off their makeup. I'm always interested in books about rock bands or bands from the 80's, but I'm always worried it just f..."

Thanks so much, PorshaJo!! This book is really unique- very interesting. You might like it! ๐ŸŽธ๐Ÿ’–


message 25: by Mary Beth (new)

Mary Beth Awesome review! I loved all of these bands. ๐Ÿ’•


Julie Mary Beth wrote: "Awesome review! I loved all of these bands. ๐Ÿ’•"

Thanks so much, dear Mary Beth!! ๐Ÿ’–๐ŸŽธ


message 27: by *TUDOR^QUEEN* (new)

*TUDOR^QUEEN* Julie, I loved your review! I actually did know about the group Starz...lol! My older brother bought their album in the seventies and I liked what I heard, but don't remember it now. I was a huge KISS fan in the early days...my first concert ever at Madison Square Garden at 16 and also the last one I went to in 2019 on their final tour. I kept looking at this book during my routine searches on Amazon for rock biographies and memoirs on kindle...I look for markdowns and buy them cheap....just never seem to get a chance to read them. Anyway, loved going down memory lane with you!


Julie *TUDOR^QUEEN* wrote: "Julie, I loved your review! I actually did know about the group Starz...lol! My older brother bought their album in the seventies and I liked what I heard, but don't remember it now. I was a huge K..."

Thanks so much, TQ!! I think if I had known about Starz, I would have liked their music too. Hope you get a chance to read this one someday- I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! ๐Ÿ’–


message 29: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Talk about a trip down memory lane. Great review. I never heard of Starz before either.


Julie Deborah wrote: "Talk about a trip down memory lane. Great review. I never heard of Starz before either."

Thanks so much, Deborah!! Right? These types of books are always fun to read! ๐ŸŽธ๐Ÿ’–


message 31: by Melissa (new)

Melissa ~ Bantering Books (On Reviewing Hiatus) Amazing review, Julie! I just love how you read all these rock 'n roll biographies. So fun! :)


Julie Melissa wrote: "Amazing review, Julie! I just love how you read all these rock 'n roll biographies. So fun! :)"

Thanks so much, Melissa!! These books are so fun! Good times! ๐Ÿ’–


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews Excellent review, Julie!


Julie Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "Excellent review, Julie!"

Thank you very much, Brenda!! ๐Ÿ’–๐ŸŽธ


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