Nothin’ But a Good Time by Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock

Nöthin’ But a Good Time is a flashback to 80s hard rock music and its history, in uncensored glory. I’ve never been so giddy to receive a book in the mail. I had my 80s rock Spotify playlist at the ready!

The nostalgia was unreal. I loved so many of these bands as a kid, and still do! I was struck by how young these musicians actually were at the time. I was in elementary and middle school in the 80s, so even young 20-somethings seemed “old” to me then. And of course as a kid, especially pre-internet and living overseas, I didn’t know much about these musicians’ backstories, and didn’t hear about all of their antics, which is probably a good thing. I knew they lived pretty wildly, but reading about it in this book, as an adult? Wow, I had no idea. My imagination did not prepare me. There are also full-color photos inside, which took me right back to all those 80s metal magazines I’d pick up at the store, like Circus and Metallix.

Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock formatted Nöthin’ But a Good Time as bits of interviews that are spliced together to create each chapter’s narrative. That setup makes for a somewhat disjointed read, but somehow it works. It’s also a much faster read than you’d expect, so don’t be afraid of the 500+ page count. There are a ton of names in here—a seven-page “cast of characters”!—but thankfully there are who’s who reminders as each person appears.

You know going into this book that it’ll be about as problematic as you’d expect interviews with hard rock musicians from that era to be. There are plenty of cringey moments. But because of the interview format, you also get a sense of which folks grew past those attitudes.

Nostalgia aside, I enjoyed learning about how the groundwork for the 80s hard rock explosion was set in the 70s, which bands paved the way, how the bands got their start, and hearing about the camaraderie (and the rivalries) between them. And let’s be real, reading about all their staging and how they came up with and practiced for it (so much fire in places where fire shouldn’t be)—Nöthin’ But a Good Time offers both history and entertainment.

Were you a fan of 80s hard rock? Who were your favorites?