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Steven Blush - American Hardcore [book] (Cover Artwork)

Steven Blush

Steven Blush: American Hardcore [book]American Hardcore [book] (2001)
Feral House Publishing

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: moldyMoldy
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Writing about punk, especially hardcore seems to be a topic that has been passed over by most music writers. You see tons of books about the early days of punk and bands like the Ramones, Clash, Sex Pistols etc..(if you believed what those books said or VH1, punk ended they day Sid Vicous died), b.
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Writing about punk, especially hardcore seems to be a topic that has been passed over by most music writers. You see tons of books about the early days of punk and bands like the Ramones, Clash, Sex Pistols etc..(if you believed what those books said or VH1, punk ended they day Sid Vicous died), but very rarely do groups like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, and the hundreds others that followed in their wake get any coverage from a mainstream media. American Hardcore sets out to fill the missing piece of history that was the hardcore scene. This is an oral history of the scene as told by the author, who was a D.C. promoter and played in a band called No Trend, and interviews done by the author with the people created hardcore. He talks with some of the biggest names in the scene including: Milo Aukermen, Brian Baker, Jello Biafra, Dez Cadena, Glenn Danzig, Greg Ginn, Greg Graffin, Jack Grisham, Brett Gurewitz, Ian Mackaye, Mike Ness, Henry Rollins, Mike Watt, and many more both of larger and smaller bands spread throughout country. This personal accounts and the telling of many private and unknown stories gives the book a very intimate feel and by the end, I felt as if I understood some of the frequent contributors better and was better able to understand some of their more personal lyrics and songs.

The book is divided into four parts, each with its own chapters. The first part takes a look at why hardcore happened, what were the major influences within and around the scene that prompted it to react the way it did. It discusses topics such as violence at shows, the (rightful) hatred and distrust of the police, racism and sexism in scene or more specifically why it was predominately white and male. It also talks about some of the homosexual people that helped create hardcore. The book also talks about things like straight edge, anti-fashion, people coming from middle class suburbs and stuff like that.

The second part is definetly the best part. This part was about the bands and the scenes from all over the country. The best thing is that this book isn't all about the west coast or the east coast, the author attempted and made a really good effort to cover every scene from every area around the country. Some scenes and bands get more attention than others; Black Flag, Misfits, and Bad Brains each got their own chapters, and California was divided into 3 chapters, while others barely get a paragraph. When he does do the chapters on the scenes, the author starts with the bigger bands from that scene and then moves down to the smaller groups. Which is cool that he names the smaller groups along with larger ones, it does get tedious after awhile when you have never heard of some of these bands and just want to skip to the next chapter. Also this is my pet peeve through out the book, when he talks about scenes in different towns he always mentions shows his band played, especially if they were with big bands. While that's cool and I would give my left nut to see the Dead Kennedys play in their prime, let alone open for them, it got really annoying after awhile.

The third part tends to drag on bit as it talks about the formation of labels, artwork, the d.i.y ethic, and media portray in movies and TV. I did learn some interesting things in this section though. For instance Belushi was the person responsible for getting FEAR to play on SNL, one more reason he is a god, and if you look during the second performance at the end Ian Mackaye grabs the mic and yells "New York Sucks!"

The fourth and final section is about the demise of hardcore and why after 86 or so it became irrelevant, at least in this author's eyes, as most of the good bands quit or started new projects that were labeled "post hardcore" or "emo". A really interesting part at the end has many of the big names from the scene discussing punk/hardcore and its relevance today, and how today's scene differs from then. While some comments sounded elitist, I will give them credit that being punk during the time period 80-86 was a lot more dangerous than it is now, I have never been beaten down for the way I looked, or had cops shut down a show with tear gas and billy clubs, in some ways I feel lucky for that. He also includes a discography at the end for almost every band that recorded something, but he limits it to stuff that was only recorded in-between those magic years, or stuff that was done after 86 that the author feels was relevant. Which to me is really heavy-handed, take Bad Religion for instance, under their discography it stops after the "Back To the Known" EP, I would have included "Suffer" which was done in 87 (I think). Same with Social Distortion, with them it seems like they must have quit after "Mommy's Little Monster".

Overall this book offers a very intimate and personal account of hardcore punk between the years 1980-1986. Although at times the author and contributors sound heavy handed as we started this so we are more hardcore and what not, it still is a really enjoyable read, I couldn't put it down and finished it in about a week. If for nothing else the some of the pictures are worth the price of the book alone. Some great live shots and just pictures of people hanging out and being part of the scene are cool, along with the, at times, arty pictures at the beginning of each chapter. (My favorite is called "America" and is a picture of an old worn out chair sitting in front of a busted TV set in a vacant lot). I think that anyone who is a fan of older punk bands should check this out, it gives some great background on your favorite bands and introduces you to some that time has passed over. I know I have been trying to track down some of these bands after reading about them to listen to them.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (July 25, 2002)

I give it a 2 - for the pictures and for the fact that he had the time to put it all together... as far as facts and timelines, whoa! not even close!
Didn't you used to work at Seconds? That sucked too!

Anonymous (July 24, 2002)

Good book, cause well, there aren't any around like it, but the writer does throw in his opinion way too much. And the whole '80-'86 thing is lame. Yeah, those were the glory years, when it was pure and untainted, but I wouldn't go and say it's dead after that.

Anonymous (July 24, 2002)

Lot's of bands don't sound like Black Flag cause it was such a unique sound. I'm happy no band sounds like them cause only they could pull off that primitive sound and be great. And it's easier to sound like the Cro-Mags because they have a more current sound (Age or Quarrel came out in '86)

I think you'd havea tough time finding one HC band out there there isn't influenced by one of the Black Flag eras somehow. There are many bands and people that aren't into the Cro-Mags. (Though they are also a great and infulential band)

Anonymous (July 24, 2002)

Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm not trashing black flag. but i still don't think that many modern hc bands take from black flag. that's not taking away from anything they've accomplished, they sure built it up, but in terms of influence? i don't agree with any of the "influence" bands from a few posts below.

lots of people would say cro-mags isn't recreatable either. though age of quarrel is probably the most covered HC album out there.

but that's not discounting black flag. i just don't see that much influence today. MY WAR is a really underrated album though.

Anonymous (July 24, 2002)

here's a review that i think sums up the book quite well

http://www.havocrex.com/review_americanhardcore.html

Anonymous (July 24, 2002)

actually i was discussing Black Flags influence at a party this weekend, with 2 friends of mine, one was a punk(ben), they other not really but he is interested(tim).
Ben agreed with me in saying that all hard, heavy music is some how influenced by black flag, all hardcore punk but thats a given, we were using mainstream bands. Think about it:

Pantera: black flag w/ guitar solos
Metallica: Black Flag/Misfits, with solos
Slayer: Black Flag/Misfits/TSOL/Satan with guitar solos
Nirvana: Black Flag/Beatles, with melodies and a couple solos
RATM: Black Flag/Public Enemy/Stalin

Anonymous (July 24, 2002)

I have to agree with the guy down there, the author was a bit pretencious about hardcore ending in 86 and whatever, but not about that black flag comment.

I think one reason is that there arent any direct black flag rip offs is that it is impossible to recreate that sound, intensity, and power that they could, every song i have ever heard both live and studio is just pure power and energy. To me BF will always be the best punk band, not only did they streach the boundaries of hardcore, but they helped to pioneer the independant tour circut, they opened up many towns that usually didnt book indie bands on tour.

Not only that but they are cool enough to leave the legacy alone, no reunion tours, no bitching over royalties, no suing each other, they earn their respect.

Not to trash the Cro-Mags, a good band that i personally never got into them, but they may have more copycats, but that could be beacause they are easier to copy

Anonymous (July 23, 2002)

Therwe wouldn't be hardcore without Black Flag. It all started in CA and it was Black Flag that went out and inspired all the kids over there to get in on this new thing happening. The Cro-Mags are great, but they came much later than Black Flag.

Anonymous (July 23, 2002)

hey, i'm the guy who wrote the NYHC comment before. I've NEVER READ THE BOOK.

but besides that, it seems like this book, from most of the reviews, has a focus on DC and CA.

maybe it's just where i live (Toronto) but not only do i personally pick NY or Boston over DC and CA any day, i think you're ignoring some influence here. if you're going to say that black flag was the most INFLUENTIAL hardcore band (i don't know if anyone did) i'd have to disagree. how many clones are there today? how many bands even say they're a direct influence? groundbreakers, maybe, but influential? i may get ripped on for this, but i see a lot more cro-mags influence in today's hardcore.

(cro-mags are fucking awesome)

or just random noise-core bullshit. whatever.

and it's pretty pretentious of this author fellow to seem to say that HIS area was the centre of the hardcore universe, and that it ended in 86.

i must admit - i like the new school too.

TERROR is fucking amazing.

peace.

- BITTER

Anonymous (July 23, 2002)

DC/NY/Boston=Olden day enemies

waste_elite (July 22, 2002)

and what's this about ian?

waste_elite (July 22, 2002)

i didn't know fear played SNL

cool

cawknocker (July 22, 2002)

save it dorks, go get the motley crue book. that shit is dope! besides punks dont read anyway, dont' post book reviews. especially about hardcore. i though hc kids were to busy hating drugs and fighting each other and sucking e/o dicks. fuck sXe and hardcore. does anyone even care?

Anonymous (July 22, 2002)

Yeah, Himsa rules.

Anonymous (July 22, 2002)

Hardcore in the early '80's had more intensity and atmosphere than most current hardcore bands. It was more than just a bunch of screams put together- Black Flag during their Henry years is the best example of an ever growing hardcore band- both musically and lyrically. That is not to say that hardcore bands today cant be better- I hope they will, but as of now all i hear are screams and nothing else. Screams are great but you need more. Himsa is a great example of a current hardcore band that can hold it's own to past hardcore bands. But I think hardcore is gonna get better and evenmtually create a whole new form of itself hopefully, not rehashing the same stuff over and over.

Anonymous (July 20, 2002)

Uh, there is a whole section about New York. (Which is quite good) So don't complain about NYHC being left out.

Anonymous (July 20, 2002)

Some of the dates are off, but there aren't that many errors. The book is basically made up of quotes, so it's not really his fault if the quotes are wrong.

Anonymous (July 19, 2002)

also riddled with factual errors... can't any of these clowns get it right?

Anonymous (July 19, 2002)

"Terrible book written by a close minded buffoon who can only be accurately described as a 'snob'."

I agree, fuck this book, waste of $20

Anonymous (July 19, 2002)

Terrible book written by a close minded buffoon who can only be accurately described as a 'snob'. In this book he claims that hardcore and punk died in 1986 and that everything after it was a mockery of the original bands. The author is condescending and ill informed and quick to brag about all the shows and records he has instead of being an objective writer. In all honesty,this dick is just a 1980's version of the big mouthed, know it all hardcore punk kid of today who claims to know everything and shoots his/her mouth of about it all the time that you just can not stand to be around.

With that being said, if you look past the author's obvious bias and bullshit, the quotes and general history that is detailed is pretty good, I suppose. Its not like there are plenty of other books to choose from though. By the way, you can get this book at Borders and all major chain book retailers.

Anonymous (July 19, 2002)

Not that I've read this book, or that I'm knocking the author's personal account or any of the bands, but where's NYHC? I'd probably say that the NYHC stuff is arguably just as important to today's hardcore, if not the hardcore of yore...

seek (July 19, 2002)

Moldy, great review. I'll definitely have to buy this. A shame it'll never be in my local library, eh?

Anonymous (July 19, 2002)

FUCK YEAH!!!! Black Flag? Misfits? Bad Brains? THINGS DONT GET ANY BETTER!

Anonymous (July 19, 2002)

Great book.

TheOneTrueBill (July 19, 2002)

i jsut got done reading this book today, after getting it yesterday afternoon. i couldn't put it down, and read it throughout last night. great book

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