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Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen - We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of LA Punk [book] (Cover Artwork)

Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen

Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen: We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of LA Punk [book]We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of LA Punk [book] (2001)
Three Rivers Press

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
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Contributed by: CosCos
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In the annals of punk rock, Los Angeles is largely forgotten. Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me doesn't mention Southern California, other than to reference Iggy & The Stooges post-glam misadventures there. The vast majority of British-centric histories, like Stephen Colgrave's Punk: The Definitive Recor.


In the annals of punk rock, Los Angeles is largely forgotten. Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me doesn't mention Southern California, other than to reference Iggy & The Stooges post-glam misadventures there. The vast majority of British-centric histories, like Stephen Colgrave's Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution, fails to mention it at all (most of them would prefer to ignore America altogether, but that's another story).

Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen's oral history, We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of LA Punk does a more than admirable job of documenting the legacy of Los Angeles. Strangely enough, it begins with a mention of the Doors (who, admittedly, had a pretty great ??fuck you attitude' in Jim Morrison, and Iggy was also a fan) and runs through the pre-punk glam rock scene, anchored by The Runaways. The book's punk focus finally starts to formulate 63 pages in, when we are introduced to 1976 and the Weirdos, the Screamers and later, the Germs kick-start the scene.

From there, the really interesting stories of Los Angeles pour in: Belinda Carlisle (yes, from the Go-Go's) as a former cheerleader and was slated to be the drummer for the Germs; X's Billy Zoom once played with R&B legend Etta James; Jack from TSOL tortures someone in his parent's garage on Easter; scenester, promoter, and all-around scumbag Kim Fowley pops in and out with wonderfully amusing observations (his thoughts on Germs fans are particularly outrageous).

In between, various personalities gravitate towards synth pop, rockabilly, roots rock, and most famously, hardcore. The rise and fall of the Germs' Darby Crash is documented, Penelope Sphears makes the infamous "Decline of Western Civilization" (John Doe: "Didn't care") and punk falls as hardcore rises. Unlike most scenester histories, "We Got the Neutron Bomb" does not just end with 1981–there's a nice epilogue, chronicling Germs guitarist Pat Smear's moonlighting with Nirvana, Bad Religion's popularity, and Epitaph's success.

While its does have its share of oversights–no mention of the Descendents, no mention of the late, great cartoonist Shawn Kerri (she did the Circle Jerks flyers), no Greg Ginn interview–the book does paint a vivid picture of what life must have been like for a young punk back in the day without sounding too jaded.

 

 
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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.
burntorangepeel (December 2, 2004)

anonymous wrote "that is awesome that Mark Spitz, the olympic swimmer, wrote a book on punk rock"

Funny! I noticed the name too...

What IF they were the same person? Or are they....?

burntorangepeel (December 1, 2004)

I found this book at a library in semi-rural Tennessee a few years ago, so it can't be THAT hard to find.

Kim Fowley, although talented and intelligent, is the biggest, most arrogant asshole. If you need some visual proof of this, just watch "The Mayor of the Sunset Strip," a documentary about KROQ's Rodney on the Roq. Great film in general, but whenever Fowley opens his mouth, its make you want to beat the shit out of him.

Anonymous (December 1, 2004)

it's easy to hate l.a.

it's stupid to hate l.a.

but it's easy

5 great things about l.a. that aren't puenk rock

1. the weather
2. the ocean
3. there are people there that aren't white/christian
4. its in a blue state
5. anything you want to do, you can do

oh yeah and the music ain't too bad either (aside from alll the great l.a. bands mentioned below... the beach boys, the doors, red hot chilli peppers, guns and roses, system of a down, nwa.......

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

Just because they played simple music doesn't mean the Ramones weren't talented. Their sets were 20-30 songs long, no breaks (as documented by 5 live albums I own by them), and all extremely tight.

LA, on the other hand, well... Look at the Germs.

-BSD

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

This score is for LA overall.

THIS IS BOSTON NOT LA!

sXenester

lesstalkmorerock (November 30, 2004)

that last one was me

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

"What LA groups besides X, the Weirdos, and the Screamers had the originality/chops of The Ramones, Television, Blondie, Heartbreakers, etc?"

Ramones? Chops? What?

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

"FEAR. Black Flag. Geza X/Deadbeats. Bags. Alleycats. Zolar X..............."

Fear and Black Flag are hardcore bands.

The Bags were cool, but couldn't really play too well. Alleycats weren't that special. Zolar X were cool, but just a trend glam band.

-BSD

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

hye....im nas....i join punk's no dead plz......

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

"What LA groups besides X, the Weirdos, and the Screamers had the originality/chops of The Ramones, Television, Blondie, Heartbreakers, etc?

FEAR. Black Flag. Geza X/Deadbeats. Bags. Alleycats. Zolar X..............."

.........descendents, bad religion, adolescents, social disotrion, circle jerks

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

I'm with bsd, la punk was way behind for an age.

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

What LA groups besides X, the Weirdos, and the Screamers had the originality/chops of The Ramones, Television, Blondie, Heartbreakers, etc?

FEAR. Black Flag. Geza X/Deadbeats. Bags. Alleycats. Zolar X...............

Anonymous (November 30, 2004)

I don't think the Germs were out to write great hooks.

Anonymous (November 29, 2004)

They actually wrote great hooks. More than you can say for the Germs.

Anonymous (November 29, 2004)

Yeah, because the Ramones were the epitome of maturity.

-bemused

Anonymous (November 29, 2004)

"just like hip hop, new york invented it, l.a. perfected it"

How? What LA groups besides X, the Weirdos, and the Screamers had the originality/chops of The Ramones, Television, Blondie, Heartbreakers, etc?

To me, LA punk is good, just very amateurish and sillier.

-BSD

Anonymous (November 29, 2004)

Mike Watt is interviewed a lot, but the Minutemen as a band aren't mentioned much.

CallingLondon (November 29, 2004)

wow. it 's los angeLOS.

Anonymous (November 29, 2004)

san pedro is for the most part of part of l.a., so yeah the minutmen would count

germs, x, wierdos, screamers, adolescents, descendents, black flag, circle jerks, social disotrion, bad religion, nofx....................

just like hip hop, new york invented it, l.a. perfected it

Anonymous (November 29, 2004)

This book is awesome, read it and then go buy a Black Randy and The Metrosquad album.

Anonymous (November 28, 2004)

that is awesome that Mark Spitz, the olympic swimmer, wrote a book on punk rock

Anonymous (November 28, 2004)

"but LA never really had a band that could write as well as the Clash or the Pistols."
pistols..ha. minus 10 scene points for you . clash i agree with but LA had some monumental bands.
story of the year. ha. ..funny joke . but if your serious. you have problems.
black flag went down hill after rollins joined.
keith morris owns. bring back SOA.

,
Jet Black

Anonymous (November 28, 2004)

Old punk like totally sucked.

Best bands of the last ten years: Story of the Year, River City High, Fenix TX, and Hazen St.

TheOneTrueBill (November 28, 2004)

Quite possibly my favorite book. Introduced me to The Screamers and the Weirdos. This is a great companion to the Darby Crash biography, which is much harder to find. Get both of the books.

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

Watch? I wanna participate!
~Petro.

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

You'd love to see that wouldn't you?

-Chinatown

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

Chinatown needs to be sodomized with a sandpaper dick.

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

It wasn't pointless at all in the context of what I was saying... Jesus christ, being cynical for the sake of it must suck.

-BSD

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

Should I submit this as news? "Chinatown tries his hand at pointlessly namedropping- Followed by suicide"

-BSD

Hey moron,

That was me mocking your pointless namedropping.

-Chinatown

Pacer (November 27, 2004)

Hey cos, i'm starting an online zine run out of cork and need a book reviewer, could you email me please.

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

Should I submit this as news? "Chinatown tries his hand at pointlessly namedropping- Followed by suicide"

-BSD

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

And "Orange Rhyming Dictionary," "White Thrash Heros," "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain," "Do You Know Who You Are?," "The Lonesome Crowded West," and "There's Nothing Wrong With Love" are some of the best indie rock albums of the 90s.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

The LA hardcore scene started off great (Black Flag, Fear, Circle Jerks, Adolescents, Bad Religion, Middle Class, etc), but none of those bands really stuck to hardcore long enough to be a big part of the nationwide movement. You can't really blame them, but by 82, Black Flag was playing their "My War" album... Circle Jerks started just turning into a regular band... Fear basically broke up, etc.

All said and done, "Fear- the Record", "Group Sex", and everything Black Flag put out up to and including "Damaged" is some of the best hardcore ever.

-BSD

inanechild (November 27, 2004)

I'll second that one BSD. Black Flag and the Circle Jerks started good but lost their edge after the first couple of releases, and the Descendents (if they even count as an LA band) unfortunately went the opposite way and eventually degenerated into making more or less the same release over and over. While many of the LA bands are obscure enough to "raise your cred," I don't think they were as classic as the other scenes.

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

After reading this book, my opinion that a lot of the LA bands sucked didn't change. LA punk was based more off the "anyone can do it" UK guide... but they didn't have any classic bands, really. The Germs were great, and X were good, but LA never really had a band that could write as well as the Clash or the Pistols.

-BSD

inanechild (November 27, 2004)

Sounds not bad, I'll have to check it out. I'll admit while I like the Germs, the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and the Descendents, I don't really know much about the actual history behind the LA scene, since it's generally the New York and UK scene that gets focused on.

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

....because Green Day is old school. Scores for Green Days awwwsome career.

-501

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

You could say that... Or you could say "music with substance week".

-BSD

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

What is this, old-school week?

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

Fucking brilliant... I love the parts about early Black Flag.

-BSD

Anonymous (November 27, 2004)

Man, I wanna read this so bad, but I never see it in any store......accept once when I was fucking BROKE in Chicago at Quimby's. My favorite music ever is the pre-hardcore LA scene......a la Dangerhouse records and Slash. I was even lucky enough to open for The Weirdos on their reunion tour and hear some darby stories first hand............but still, I NEED this book. The Germs book is pretty good, and I thought Please Kill Me was fantastic.......Damn.......

gladimnotemo (November 27, 2004)

Please Kill Me is a good book, but Legs McNeil is such an asshole, after a while, it gets just boring to read.

boldredletters (November 26, 2004)

also, how close is LA to san pedro? shouldn't the minutemen warrant a mention?

boldredletters (November 26, 2004)

Punxxx no read! up the dvd!

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