Wednesday, December 1, 2010
When Steve Blush's acclaimed book American Hardcore: A Tribal History was first published in 2001, no one could have imagined the minute subdivisions in music and subsequent bastardization of the genre's suffix that were to come. (I mean, really, crabcore?) The oral history recounts days of raw punk rock created as a response to the bleak world view of the Reagan years, not an era of vapid self-absorption and auto-tune apps. Which is why the tome's new second edition—replete with 80 pages of new material—couldn't have come at a better time.
Chronicling the '80s punk scenes in NY, LA, DC, Boston and beyond, the narratives of the bold-faced names who lived through it all are quilted together so methodically by Blush, you can almost feel the boot kick to the chin as you read them. Several anecdotes from grandfathers Biafra, MacKaye, Graffin, Danzig and Rollins are included, as well as juicy nuggets from countless other name-check worthy scenesters. From the early days of SST Records to CBGBs legendary matinees, the chapters lay bare rivalries, drug abuse, infighting and all the other rituals native to these collective tribes.
Along with the new edition of American Hardcore, a Web site for the book has been launched with a pretty cool feature—24 Hours of Hardcore—essentially a giant compilation of streamable songs from virtually every punk band that came out before 1987. From 100 Flowers to Zero Defex, all 911 songs are there. Go get them. And while you're on the site, get info on Blush's promotion tour dates that include a stop at NYC's Strand bookstore on December 15 featuring a panel discussion with Dave Smalley and Laura Albert (JT Leroy).
And if you're feeling even more literate and belligerent, seek out .45 Dangerous Minds, a collection of articles from Steve Blush's and George Petros's legendary Q&A-only music magazine, Seconds. A huge inspiration during my early fanzine-obsessed years, the guys weren't afraid to ask brutally frank questions to get often shockingly revealing answers from controversial figures like David Bowie, Anton LaVey, Buddy Miles, Rob't Williams, Wino, James Earl Ray, Rahowa, the Factory Family, Varg Vikernes and many others.
Simply put, buy these books.
And with that, here are some "D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S." from a band that would surely make American History, Pt. 3.
Play us out, Modern Life is War!