Smalley "The Last Brigade"
Review By: Jeff Terranova
One of the things that always made music magical to me was the many different ways that people can interpret a song. You hear it, you sing it, and you make it yours. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, you have ingested and digested it and made it a part of your inner being and no one can take that away from you. That is until you watch VH1 True Spin or read The Last Brigade 20 Songs From 20 Years Of Punk Rock by Dave Smalley.
Dave claims in his introduction to the book that he got the idea from Lou Reed when he bought a book of his lyrics and thought that it would be cool if there were explanations of the songs with them. That pretty much sums up this book in a nut shell. If you like Dave's bands, and there is no reason why you shouldn't, because he has done some ground breaking stuff throughout his career, then this book is for you. Dave takes you back to '82 with DYS and the Boston Crew. Then to the mid 80's with Dag Nasty, the late 80's with ALL and the 90's to present day with Down By Law. He picks 20 songs and tells you where they come from. He delves into the state of mind he was in and lays the meanings of each song on the table. Fifty Two pages in all with The last 5 pages consisting of photos and copies of actual handwritten lyrics, which are labeled as original draft or lyrics in progress.
The Last Brigade is a total DIY effort, no big publishing company backing it. The overall layout of the book is well done and quite impressive for a sophomore effort. Hopefully we will be seeing, or should I say reading more from Mr. Smalley in the future. If you are not afraid of having songs spelled out for you by the originator of them, then contact Never Surrender Publishing and get yourself a copy. Even if you don't like what the songs are "really" about, you still have your interpretation of them, no matter what Dave says...