The Hard Times
November 1st, 2019 by diane92345

You don’t have to be a punk to enjoy The Hard Times—but it helps.

Why is it funny that The Ramones forced their studio’s janitor to change his name to Gary Ramone? Because none of The Ramones were related in real life and all changed their name to enter the band. Why did a punk survive the Kool-Aid at Jonestown? Practice, practice, practice (of ingesting all manner of substances at punk rock concerts).

The articles collected here are actual reprints from the magazine during the past four decades. In between the original stories are a behind-the-scenes look at the zine’s creation and a bit of punk’s evolution over the years. Beginning with the 90s, the zine began covering emo, grunge, and alternative rock bands too.

I was pretty heavily into the LA punk scene from the late 70s through the 80s so I really enjoyed The Hard Times. It reminded me of bands I haven’t thought of in decades. Even if you are not into punk, the stories frequently have a Mad Magazine sense of parody that is enjoyable. 4 stars!

Thanks to Mariner Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Humor Tagged with: , ,

No Future
November 13th, 2017 by diane92345

Meticulously researched history of punk rock.

If you ever wanted to know what punk rock stood for and emerged from, pick up this excellent book. No Future covers the punk scene in England and Ireland from 1976 to 1984. It uses material from the time as its source material thus avoiding the pretentiousness of the last punk history I read (http://dianereviewsbooks.com/punk-dead-modernity-killed-every-night). It asserts that, while punk had a DIY ethos, it also was formed out of boredom of the middle-class life that awaited these teens. Punk died as soon as the ‘look’ became more important than the words. No Future calls the late fashionable arrivals to the scene ‘part-time punks’ but in America they were called poseurs or sometimes disparagingly ‘new wave’.

No Future is highly recommended for those interested in the punk era or its music. Even though I listened to the Sex Pistols at the time, I was surprised by the urbanity and foresight of Johnny Rotten’s quotes, which are sprinkled throughout this book. Many of the bands have been forgotten but their music is still refreshing. I suggest that you grab an adult beverage and play each song as it is mentioned on Apple or Amazon Music while reading this book. The music really is the star but No Future will add the historical, economic and political context that makes the music even more enjoyable. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Cambridge University Press, and Netgalley for an advanced review copy. No Future was published October 27, 2017.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Punk is Dead
October 27th, 2017 by diane92345

Interesting, but pretentious, essays and memoirs about punk rock’s beginnings in England.

The essays here vary tremendously in readability and point of view. Quite a few emphasize the punk “scene” and how awesome it was for the writer to be a part of it. Others interpret punk as a reaction to glam (think New York Dolls and David Bowie in the late 70s). Some suggest the private school uniforms frequently worn by punk rockers at the time represent a rejection of the old fogies (30-year-olds) of 60s rock like the Rolling Stones.

Some of the ideas are good but a reader must wade through a lot of pretension to get to them. As a former punk rocker in 80s Los Angeles, I do recall that enthusiasm for making the music was more important than real talent for playing an instrument or singing. However, punk rockers were not pretentious at all. In fact, they were rebelling against the arrogant rich and those striving to be rich (like on the hit television shows of the time Dallas and Dynasty). The biggest negative for this collection is the absence of the music. Even the Sex Pistols, arguably the first punk rock band, were mentioned more for their appearance and lifestyle than their music.

I would recommend Punk is Dead more as a research source for a college class than for former punk rockers like myself. Sometimes it is best to leave the past in the past. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Zero Books, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy. Punk is Dead: Modernity Killed Every Night will be released October 27, 2017.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,