Gifted to me for my birthday due to them making up a large part of my record collection, Dead Gods takes a look at some of the more famous members of the 27 Club – Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones and Robert Johnson – all extremely talented musicians who passed away in their 27th year.
Despite nominally being about the 27 Club, aside from a couple of paragraphs in the introduction, there’s no real effort to talk about that particular coincidence (probably wisely, as other than pointing out said coincidence there’s probably not a huge amount to be said about it) and it’s instead used as a theme in which to rattle through the short lives and careers of those named.
As I was already a pretty big fan of and had widely read about most of those featured, there wasn’t a huge amount of new information that was imparted – only the Amy Winehouse and Robert Johnson chapters told me anything I didn’t already know – and so I was left to nitpick instead writing that was, at times, distinctly dodgy – whether it be moments that were well and truly overwritten (his waffling on about the “watery end for the Piscean [Brian Jones], who for years had been slowly evaporating through the fire of the Leonine Mick Jagger and the Sagittarean Keith Richards” nearly made me roll my eyes out of my head) or just plain forgetting what had already been written a page ago (on Janis Joplin, he writes that Big Brother and the Holding Company had become the house band at The Avalon, before writing on the very next that at The Avalon, they “had almost become the house band’), all things I’d have probably overlooked if I wasn’t being sung the same old tunes.
There was nothing within Dead Gods that really attempted to show anything other than the tabloid versions of who these people really were, and I gathered more insight by simply listening to their music while reading each of their chapters. Unless you know nothing about any of the people listed on its cover, and only want the bare bones of their lives, I’d probably skip Dead Gods and just listen to their albums instead.