SAMI YAFFA  -  THE ROAD BENDS An Autobiography  (Rare Bird, 2022 )

I was looking forward to have it and, as soon as it arrived, I simply devoured it. It kept me company in the summer heat, a journey over forty years through the immense career of the legendary Finnish bass player. A flowing and direct style, which makes the reading fast and exciting. SAMI YAFFA tells his life in a free, disenchanted, intense and ironic way, for 363 pages. A glorious musical career, full of ups and downs, adventures and misfortunes. His vicissitudes have the scent of a novel. SAMI found himself from being a young punk living by gimmicks in the slums of Helsinki and Stockholm to touring the world with HANOI ROCKS, from being forced to make money by busking in Barcelona to being one step away from becoming the new bassist of ROLLING STONES, from selling bootleg CDs and cassettes to make ends meet to becoming the bassist of JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS. And again, from being employed in a car repair shop to even becoming an official member of the reunited NEW YORK DOLLS, with whom he recorded two albums and traveled the world far and wide...With a disarming sincerity and an equally direct language, SAMI tells us about his experiences with drugs and alcohol, his family and sentimental ties, and it is also really interesting to read about his deep relationship with his ‘brothers – band-mates' NASTY SUICIDE and MICHAEL MONROE (“… through our shared misery… we became brothers…”). On the other hand, SAMI YAFFA's career is inextricably linked to MICHAEL MONROE, the wild blond front-man who SAMI defines as "a brother from another mother". The two have established a memorable musical relationship (despite some small misunderstandings) ranging from HANOI ROCKS, passing through JERUSALEM SLIM and the legendary punk band DEMOLITION 23, up to the present day with the MICHAEL MONROE's band (of which SAMI is a permanent member), a band that is an unstoppable steamroller, that churns out one after another flawless albums and that live is second to none for energy, power and unpredictability. With such a career behind him it is inevitable to find in the book also many funny anecdotes and characters who are part of the world of ‘Rock’ with the capital 'R': from GENE SIMMONS to ABBA, from SYD BARRETT to RONNIE WOOD, from SLASH to BOB EZRIN , from JOHNNY THUNDERS to LEMMY, while remaining in the HANOI ROCKS camp, I found very interesting the way in which SAMI speaks in the book of the unruly genius ANDY McCOY, who is portrayed as an awkward character, with a huge ego, but considered fundamental for the birth of HANOI ROCKS and who is defined with respect, especially in the early years of the band, a “genius... a very important teacher ... Unbelievable musician ...". I also found irresistible, to say the least, the chapters that describe the beginnings of his career, the pre-HANOI ROCKS period, his experience with the punk rockers PELLE MILJOONA OY and the pages dedicated to the MAD JUANA project, an original and unconventional band, which it would have deserved much more attention from the public and from the various record labels. In these pages we find the description of challenging times, that were not easy for the author, who had to make do in different ways to keep himself afloat but always trying to remain faithful and coherent towards his ideas and towards his musical project.
In conclusion, the great privilege granted to us with this book is to enter the behind the scenes of the life of a 'real' rocker, punk from head to toe, a man and a musician who has always been pervaded by an ‘artistic and emotional restlessness’ that has always led him to follow his instincts and his soul, refusing to remain mired in stagnant or not stimulating situations and who has learned, on his skin, not to give in to compromises of any kind. An all-around portrait of a unique and unrepeatable life, narrated in these pages with simplicity and heart in hand, by an artist who today does things seriously but never takes himself too seriously, and who can tell himself with irony, sarcasm and with that pinch of wisdom that the years and the many experiences, unfortunately not always positive, have given him.
Oy Vey !!! Highly recommended.