Jack Boulware / Silke Tudor - Gimme Something Better [book] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Jack Boulware / Silke Tudor

Gimme Something Better 📕 (2009)


With Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day, authors Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor have compiled a comprehensive work that chronicles one of the most successful and powerful punk scenes in the United States. The book is in the 'ol "oral" format, much like the exhausting American Hardcore, but thankfully the interviewees are modest and spare a lot of the "you had to be there, man" attitude.

Most notably, Gimme Something Better doesn't focus on the actual output of the profiled bands; the book doesn't tell the reader what album to listen or when what band peaked (which is more than what can be said for Our Band Could Be Your Life). Instead, we're put smack dab in the middle of the scene, to the bands' humble beginnings with many of--but admittedly, not all--the key players. It's common to see a local declaring the Dead Kennedys as "legends," only to turn the page to a musician dismissing them as "boring." Furthermore, the reader is introduced to local venues like the Mabuhay and 924 Gilman St. and labels like Lookout! within the words of Green Day, NOFX, Flipper, the Avengers, Operation Ivy, Filth, Crimpshine and many, many others.

Perhaps what's most surprising is how interesting the social and cultural aspects of the Bay Area are. Boulware and Tudor include the stories of skinheads, skate gangs, squats and noteworthy people within the scene, complete with gossip and name-calling. I often found myself more enveloped in the stories of the common punks than the bands themselves. The tales range from political activism to self-destruction, and sandwhiched between the music talk, it keeps the reader turning the pages.

Unfortunately, it's kind of hard to keep track of time while reading Gimme Something Better. I was having trouble putting something into context or if certain events were happening at the same time as others. Additionally, the book doesn't touch on much of the more recent history and bands. But those don't take much away from the book. It's a compelling documentation that's as informative as it is addicting.