I'm a punk fan (mainly UK) and tend to buy most books on this genre. I didn't know much about American hardcore (apart from liking Flipper and the Minutemen) and this book was a great introduction. As others here have mentioned it details how the hardcore scene developed in various corners of the USA and Canada. It certainly made me want to check out the music and some of the history's of the bands included in the book. I would have liked to have known a bit more on the split with the 'punk' scene as hardcore seemed to follow the same values as punk to me (in the UK at least). Though the UK did create its own hardcore, oi and anarcho scenes these very much came under the 'punk' umbrella unlike hardcore in America. The US hardcore split seems to be based on US punk being elitist and full of 'poseurs' who derided the hardcore fans and their music (similar to how the UK hardcore, oi, anarcho scene was criticised by many 76/77 punks). Another confusing part for me was the mentality of many people in the hardcore scene where physical violence against others in the scene seems the norm. From reading the book it does sound like many behaved just like the 'jocks' they despised, the book rarely offers any real criticism of this.
The main critcism of the book would be the writing style of the author, Steven Blush. His writing is very subjective and he's not afraid to offer his opinion on the people and the music and the gripes he had with punk, new wave and various people and magazines (he's got it in for Maximum Rock 'n' Roll!). He frequently makes outlandish and high minded statements, for example:
i) Hardcore music style was 'unique' - Really? Apart from the Minutemen and a couple of others it sounds very much in the punk mould to my ears. ii) Hardcore was the first rock music to 'eschew sexuality' - didn't punk do this? I'm sure there are others as well.
Anyway fortunatley most of the book is centred around quotes from people the author interviewed and many of them are inciteful and fascinating though it does include a few people who sound like utter morons but that what makes it an interesting book. There are certainly a few story's I would like to have seen expanded on (for example criticism of the SST label for ripping off people, one quote seems to suggest it was due to their distributors going bust and not paying them therefore they couldn't afford to pay the bands. The one quote from Ray Pettibon on SST also seems to leave many questions unanswered). Surprisingly there's also a section on the Misfits which the book itself admits were not really a hardcore band. But interesting for me as I knew nothing about the band, only becoming aware of them in the late 80's due to their singles suddenly making an appearence at UK record fairs for high prices.
American Hardcore is a must have for any fans of this type of music or anyone who has any interest in the American hardcore scene. It breaks down the diverse US punk movement into regional scenes, bands from those scenes, quotes from famous names etc., has anecdotes and stories told, explains certain myths that came hand in hand with the music, gives opinions and comments from band members about the old days and generally dives head first into the whole hardcore scene gossip & history from that era ( mainly 1979 - 1986). Totally compelling - i haven't managed to put the book down yet! definately a must have for any hardcore fan. has unreleased photos, flyers and a massive discography with probably every US hardcore band who released anything ... bands featured include DK's, SSD , Black Flag,Misfits,Minor Threat and what seems like a million other classic bands
if like me you are in your mid forties and can remember when hardcore was something new and energetic then this book is a must. In 1981-82 it was hard to get hardcore records by the likers of Flipper, T.S.O.L.The Lewd etc.I had to get them on import and most of the hardcore stuff blew my mind . While the uk. scene was ok, the us. scene was far superior,onto the book, first off some of the stories are of violence and gang mentality as well as the music. But packed with facts about the hardcore scene I didn't know ( the BAD BRAINS story is fantastic). The author has painstakingly trawled through hours and hours of interviews, with out a doubt the best book on punk/hardcore I have ever read.
For anybody who was into the original US hardcore this book will entertain,educate and maybe help relive the days when this music was fresh and inspiring.Contains comments and recollections from most of the main faces and many scenesters of the period.Great photos,flyers and a discography.I read it over 2 days and feel like reading it again a couple of days later.
A great book - informative, insightful, well written, with many interviews. However, be sure to check that the seller you are buying from is offering the edition you want. I assumed that I was buying the updated second edition based on the photo, but received the first edition (which I already have). I wanted to get the update when it was released, but couldn't bring myself to shell out full price again for what amounted to minor additions. So when a seller was offering the book at what seemed a bargain price, so I ordered impulsively. A cautionary tale if ever there was one!