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Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 Paperback – 6 Feb 2003

4.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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  • Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991
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  • Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984
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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown US; New Ed edition (6 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316787531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316787536
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 4.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Azerrad has done so much interviewing that the material will be fresh even for those whose lives these bands were. - Village Voice (A timely reminder that Cobain and company were merely a key regiment in the motley al-rock army.. OUR BAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE narrates, down to the homemade posters and tour van repairs, how these bands gradually built up an audience large enough to make)

Book Description

The story of post-punk indie rock in America, and the bands whose do-it-yourself ethic paved the way for the grunge phenomenon of the 1990s.

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By A Customer on 23 Oct. 2001
Format: Hardcover
A fantastic look at the bands that sowed the seeds for Nirvana's rise to prominence in the early 1990s, although there is nothing on The Pixies as they were signed to a major label i the US.
The title, taken from a Minutemen song, is a mantra running through the career of each of the 13 bands detailed.
Not all of them may have changed the face of music - although several could claim to - but each are admirable in their bloody mindedness and desire to operate outside the ruling major label system.
Azerrad lets band members tell their own stories and, like all music books should do, this sends you scurrying back to the old vinyl you hadn't played in years - and makes the music sound more vital than ever.
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Format: Paperback
This book is fantastic. It's hefty 501 pages are split into sections, each one covering one of 13 important bands that had a noticeable impact on the 80's American punk/indie underground.

They are:
- Black Flag
- The Minutemen
- Mission Of Burma
- Minor Threat
- Husker Du
- The Replacements
- Sonic Youth
- Butthole Surfers
- Big Black
- Dinosaur Jr
- Fugazi
- Mudhoney
- Beat Happening

Azerrad admits at the off-set that the stories of each band trail off or stop completely if they reach a point at which the band signed to a major lable. This can be frustrating, but is understandable as the book was written with the intention of covering independant music only. Because of this, it is primarilly concerned with how bands start up and develop a following, so don't expect a full life story.

Azerrad does a fantastic job of holding your attention and making what could be quite a dull topic into a real "page turner". The book goes into great detail throughout, not just in terms of the bands, but when covering the independant record lables they were on and what was happening in their cities and the culture surrounding them at the time. Azerrad manages to keep this interesting, without ever seeming tedious or unnecessary.

It is also refreshingly honest, which leads to quite a few of the profiles being far from flattering to the artists they cover. (It seems you can't be in a good band unless at least one of your members is staggeringly selfish with an "artistic temperament".)

I can reccomend downloading an album by each artist and listening to it while reading their chapter.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I originally read a borrowed copy of this in 2006 whilst travelling coast to coast across America by train and bought it when I got home and lent it out only to never see it again. Wanted to read it again so bought this and read it over the space of about a week, every bit as enjoyable second time round, very well written, a credit to the author. Prompted me to by the Big Black album and ep which were the only two of their studio albums/ep's I didn't own on vinyl and same with two Killdozer albums
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Format: Paperback
Michael Azerrad's mighty tome is quite simply the definitive statement on this important era in modern music. Admittedly, it might not seem like the most important time in music, but this book rightly elevates it to the position it deserves.

Covering an era when music seemed to really MEAN something, Azerrad allows us to see the wider picture by telling the story through the eyes of the people who were there. Each chapter is devoted to a particular band, focussing on their indie years and tailing off if a major label becomes involved. All the major names contribute to this tale, and one of the key aspects of the story is the way Azerrad allows these voices to reappear in other chapters, linking the narratives and providing a sense of continuity and, more importantly, community. This was a time when the 'scene' was so loosely defined that all the key players in this story knew each other (if only by reputaion more than anything else), and everyone seems to contribute to each other's story. there is almost a sense of 'family', as one individual will pick up the themes established by another.

Much has been said about the omissions in the book, and they do deserve a closer look. Azerrad clearly defines in his introduction the criteria for inclusion in the book. This has lead to compliants of various movers and shakers being left out of the story. Firstly, in a realistic way, it would be almost impossible to comprehensively cover every single band that made some kind of contribution to the American underground scene of the 1980s (for a general over-view, readers would be encouraged to check out Simon Reynold's "Rip it up and Start Again"). And secondly, some of the bigger names are not covered because they do not fit themeatically in the book. R.E.M.
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Format: Paperback
Do you remember when people formed bands because they had something to say or they simply enjoyed playing music? When the music scene wasn't awash with poseurs and opportunists? When being a musician was an often thankless vocation and not a career option? If not, then this book will be something of a revelation. Azerrad documents an entire generation of artists who may now be regarded as mere footnotes in rock's history, fleeting blips on the mainstream radar, but they left a lasting legacy that countless corporate shills have subsequently turned into formulaic wallpaper. Sure, some of them were lured away into the arms of 'the majors'- mostly with catastrophic results - but bands like Fugazi and Black Flag rejected such overtures and charted their own course, creating a genuine counterculture. So, if you think Green Day are blazing a new trail, try listening to Husker Du. If you think the Chillis brought the funk to rock, try listening to The Minutemen. Nirvana were simply the culmination of a decade-long process, set in motion by the likes of Sonic Youth, to offer a genuine alternative to the bloated stadium behemoths who had drained the life from guitar music. 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' meticulously documents that process with missionary vigour. Azerrad also tries to shift the parameters of what we consider 'success'. Very few of these bands shifted many units, but their achievements are manifold - they made music that remains vibrant to this day and they helped to create a mutually sustaining scene where co-operation was valued over competition, that was remarkably free from the vitiating influence of commercial constraints and ambition. As the modern music industry flounders, we can but hope that these values will return; that playing music once again becomes its own reward; that the 'rock star' will become a thing of the past.
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