This is right up there with Please Kill Me and The True Adventures of The Rolling Stones as one of those foundational rocknroll books with a You Are There feeling throughout Basically, if you were under the impression that punk died when Mick Jones got kicked out of The Clash and wasn t revived until Nirvana released Nevermind, do yourself a favor and read this book Yes, there are a few omissions okay, just one that kind of sticks out in my mind Meat Puppets They re mentioned several times, but don t merit their own chapter but overall this is a great way to learn about a lot of bands you don t know, or learn about bands you thought you knew all about The way the book is constructed forms a roughly chronological timeline, with bands and labels dovetailing neatly into each others stories I like Azerrad s decision to omit some of the bigger bands, like REM and The Pixies, and to end each chapter when the band either broke up or signed to a major label Also, it s really inspiring, even to an old fogey like me If I had read this book when I was 18, I probably would have started my own record label But, thankfully, I read it as a nearing middle ager who already tried that whole get in the van thing, so I just came home from work and put on some Dinosaur Jr and Minutemen albums instead But if I knew an 18 year old who had aspirations of being in a band, or starting their own label, or what have you, this is the book I d put in their clammy little hands Go forth, youngsters, and scream your little hearts out This Is The Never Before Told Story Of The Musical Revolution That Happened Right Under The Nose Of The Reagan Eighties When A Small But Sprawling Network Of Bands, Labels, Fanzines, Radio Stations, And Other Subversives Reenergized American Rock With Punk Rock S Do It Yourself Credo And Created Music That Was Deeply Personal, Often Brilliant, Always Challenging, And Immensely Influential This Sweeping Chronicle Of Music, Politics, Drugs, Fear, Loathing, And Faith Has Been Recognized As An Indie Rock Classic In Its Own Right Among The Bands Profiled Mission Of Burma, Butthole Surfers, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Big Black, H Sker D , Fugazi, Minor Threat, Mudhoney, The Replacements, Beat Happening, And Dinosaur Jr This is such a GUY book The band histories are filled with the drama and backbiting you would expect from teenage girls, but are posited as Very Important Cultural Happenings I guess that is the book s strength, and its entire reason for existing documenting a whole bunch of assholes and taking them seriously, even at their most hapless and idiotic I mean, he manages to write a deathly serious chapter on Black Flag, whereas I just giggle at the thought of Henry Rollins circa 81, standing on stage in his teeny little black shorts and screaming at people Let s see it s all very journalistic The writer isn t a character and he doesn t talk about his own memories or involvement So, it s interesting that he s trying to do something a bit documentary like rather than a personal history And he keeps pretty neutral for most of it, but then squanders whatever currency he has built up as an objective observer on weird little jabs at specific bands you don t like The Cure or Ministry, I GET IT There are points when the fanboyism is a little too obvious Explaining away Ian Mackaye s and Henry Rollins early, weird race things as misunderstandings wastes a good chance to actually talk about what they meant And he gives way too much slack to Steve Albini Hmmm I guess this book is good at being the book that it is, and most of my annoyance and disappointment that it is not the book that it is not.
I have read the chapters on Black Flag and The Minutemen and am loving this book It revived so many old feelings and memories, and I didn t know it was possible to love Mike Watt any than I already did, but I find myself even enad of The Minutemen Next I think I ll skip to the Husker Du chapter should be interesting in light of Bob Mould s recent coming out memoir.
I just finished the book and absolutely adored it I think Azerrad does a brilliant job of tracing the geography of local cultural movements in this case specifically a type of music loosely called punk I really enjoyed the sense of place embedded in each chapter I also found an eerie parallel to my own life s arc during the late 80s through the early 90s the book starts with Black Flag, a decidedly Southern California band, and ends in Seattle with the explosion and implosion of SubPop and its bands As a kid growing up in Southern California I was very aware of Black Flag s influence and I loved the Minutemen and later fIREHOSE As the music industry shifted its attention to the growing scene in the Pacific Northwest, traced nicely in this book, I found myself in Seattle in the early 90s, a sort of ground zero of the co opting of the punk and alternative music scene Great read, I highly recommend it Wow, what a read The big plus for this tome is that Azerrad spills as much ink on some bands who were slipping off the radar notably Mission of Burma at least at the time the hardcover was published, pre reunion and on how he s able to let the story of one band from this geographic region lead into this band from that region so at the end the reader has an idea of how 6,7,8 different little underground scenes birthed a nationwide network that is still around and supporting interesting artists today.
I d give it a higher rating if there was new material contained within but most of the quotes are from already published interviews Still, it is quite a feat to compile such an engaging and spirited survey of one of the few truly American arts Highly, highly recommended.
I m going to be candid herewait, when am I not This book is really only for the hard core music fans The ones that want to know everything about it From the formation and inspiration of the music to the gritty work ethics so many musicians and bands take to make it What I love best about this one this is that this book is purely about true indie bands These were the bands that didn t want to sign with major labels bc they felt it would sacrifice their integrity and the integrity of the music Now, for MOST people I know they aren t fans of Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr.
, Husker Du, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, etc Most find these bands to just be making some sort of racket But I can guarantee you with the way Azerrad writes the personal history of these bands, you re going to at least want to hear the music afterward Why Bc you can practically see and feel the blood, sweat, tears and feces that these bands put up with to hold on to everything they believed in for the music that meant so much to them and the world that they came from.
And you better believe I just used the word feces in a review That just HAPPENED.
But, I digress most won t be able to make it through the book so easily It s not a fast paced thriller hearing about having no food and living in a smelly, sweaty van with the only thing pushing you forward are the handful of loyal fans waiting for you at the next VFW hall Only the very dedicated appreciate such stories, bc at one point they were one of those handful of dedicated fans Long story short I m freaking amazing OR, the bands who gave it all to keep every last bit of control over what they loved the most without sacrificing it for easy and fame are To you it may be noise, to someone else it may be their reason to get up in the morning.
Video review as a kid i assumed punk hardcore was right wing music from the safe confines of long island it seemed the nose ringed mohawked or shirtless skinheaded were all about death and destruction and i naturally figured they d be so inclined to support the party which always seemed to advocate dropping bombs and throwing some fuck you to the poor yeah, dead wrong about the punks and a bit of a caricature regarding the grand ol party must admit i was kinda disappointed when i discovered most punks were practically socialists it all felt a bit wimpy and let s get alongsy for such an aggressive music the thing i hate about punk and hardcore, ironically, is that it all just smacks of such good taste and i hate good taste everyone into good music digs black flag the clash, etc and they re great, yeah, but so is steely dan but, ya throw on pretzel logic and you re a goddamn pariah to music people well, duchamp is an old master and the fauvists ended up in the museums that s just how it goes it s as stupid to deliberately swim against stream as it is to deliberately swim with the stream but, it is fun and, of course, rockpop is all about the theatrics goth, punk, glam, country, psychedelia, etc, all have their aesthetic, and it enriches the experience if one has a problem with the cool aspect of rockpop, one basically has a problem with all of rockpop but i m a born contrarian and punk now reminds me of seeing the kinks and watching thousands of people singing along with the band as they repeat the chorus, I m not like everybody else ray davies had to ve appreciated the irony this book is pretty great, by the way highly recommended whether or not you re familiar with the bands discussed, azerrad sucks you right into the life of the music here s who the book s about black flagthe minutemenmission of burmaminor threath sker d replacementssonic youthbutthole surfersbig black dinosaur jr fugazi mudhoneybeat happeningsome random stuff i kinda loathe henry rollins, all macho and spoken wordish and always very very very good tastish he ain t half the man that morrissey is even though tv party makes me happy every single time i hear it i was never into buttonhole surfers my spellcheck changed the name of the band made me smile, so i m gonna leave it but have gotten into them since reading this book they re great i just can t get past ian mckaye s voice i ve never heard a single song by mission to burma or beat happening my 10 favorite punk albums pretty specific taste here 1 ramones ramones 2 ramones rocket to russia3 stooges fun house4 buzzcocks singles going steady5 bad brains bad brains6 dead kennedys fresh fruit for rotting vegetables7 stooges raw power8 ramones leave home9 ramones road to ruin10 OFF first four EPs
A list of my experiences with every band featured in the book Black Flag The only band in the book I was aware of and listened to however involuntarily as their music was coming out and happening I like Black Flag but I had to endure far too many fraternity parties while hearing it, and as it was my fraternity and I lived in the fraternity house I had nowhere to escape Much of my college career was spent feeling this beer and punk induced claustrophobia A guy I knew from the fraternity listened to Black Flag exclusively He had large dark eyebrows and was quite imposing Sometimes I would ride with him places and he would blast Black Flag and drink beer from cans while driving On a simple half hour excursion he could consume almost a six pack I remember looking through the tape collection in his car nothing but Black Flag and Mozart It was his dad s car His dad listened to nothing but Mozart I don t really care to hear much Black Flag again, and I can t stand Henry Rollins these days.
The Minutemen I was introduced to them through a local station here in Philly WKDU out of Drexel University about ten years ago, which was the beginning of my punk rebirth, when I began listening to it as actual music, rather than just a party and or anger catalyst I was immediately smitten and sensed an immediate kinship, largely through a connection made between their music and the classic rock I listened to almost exclusively growing up They remain a favorite Mission of Burma I had heard of them before reading this book but had never listened to them I picked up Vs before finishing the chapter on them Excellent album Powerful.
Minor Threat I m sure I heard them during my claustrophobic frat party years, but I have no memory, even after listening to a few of their tunes while reading their chapter Good stuff, but probably not something that will mean all that much to me now though Ian MacKaye s approach to conducting his life is inspiring and jives with some of my own philosophies, though I m far from straight edged.
Husker Du I picked up New Day Rising a few years ago and it quickly became a favorite The combination of raw power and intelligence immediately appealed to me A very large enveloping sound I ll than likely check out of their albums.
The Replacements Another band that has far too many associations with my claustrophobic frat party years Even so than Black Flag I have Let It Be and think it s good, but I still have a hard time hearing it with fresh non beer soaked ears and socially paranoid mind I doubt I ll explore them beyond the one album in my possession.
Sonic Youth For some reason I always got them confused with Soft Machine and so thought they had been around since at least the early 70 s It wasn t until just a few years ago that I listened to them with any kind of rounded awareness, when I picked up Daydream Nation, and proceeded to listen to it nonstop for a month or I can t imagine ever getting tired of it It is easily a favorite album of mine, but I still have not listened to any of their other albums, though I did see Lee Renaldo live once improvising to a Stan Brakhage film a film which Brakhage by the way intentionally made as a silent film.
Butthole Surfers I somehow got turned on to them in the late 80 s and they immediately struck a chord They were probably my favorite band for a year or so while I was living a down and out existence after graduating from college At the time I thought it was possible to live completely from one s primal body I saw no barriers between my digestive system and the world at large The Buttholes fit perfectly into this intuitive approach to a rather dangerous and fraught way of living I still like them and think Gibby Haynes can be hilarious.
Big Black I probably heard them also during my claustrophobic frat party years but I have no tangible recollection, and I have not even been able to sample them on Spotify as they do not appear to be participating in it From the descriptions in the book I think I would like them, though I probably wouldn t listen to them that often Steve Albini reminds me of Robert Crumb in the level of his intelligent disgust with almost all things.
Dinosaur Jr Didn t listen to them until I put my wife s two albums of theirs she had on our iPod My only thought was that Pavement got a lot from them, but I didn t think much about them After reading this I am intrigued by J Mascis, though I m not sure I want to put much effort into getting inside his head I will probably pick up You re Living All Over Me, which I think I ll like.
Fugazi I don t recall ever hearing a Fugazi tune, though I m sure I have on WKDU They interest me much than Minor Threat I plan on picking up one of their albums after reading this book Sounds like they could offer the kind of thorny jumpy intelligence I often crave.
Mudhoney I had never previously listened to them, but I checked out a few of their songs while reading their chapter I like their raw rock out approach, but I m not too intrigued and doubt I ll explore them further than an occasional listen on Spotify or Youtube.
Beat Happening Being a long time Jonathan Richman fan I immediately linked the two when I started reading their chapter A few pages in Richman was mentioned as an inspiration for Calvin Johnson, so I thought maybe I have always been cooler than I thought I will definitely be listening to a lot of Beat Happening in the near future.