Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stay off my lawn!

I just really like this cover.

Who gets to say that they were at the nascent stage of a given movement? I mean really at that first moment before the thing became watered down, which is probably when more than a handful of people heard/saw it. In this case I’m thinking specifically about hardcore, or punk if you want to describe that particular branch of rock music another, slightly broader, way. In American Hardcore, the period of 1980 – 86 is considered not so much the first era of hardcore (which it certainly is), but the only real era of it, before things drifted towards metal, emo, etc. I would disagree that the later eras are invalid (at least in being labeled “hardcore”). In fact, I might even attempt to argue that they are closer to a better definition of hardcore, sort of like an extra polishing or refinement. For me the sound of the late 80’s into the early 90’s remains fairly close to that of the early era (Black Flag and Bad Brains being some of the better examples of the standard sound, if that can even be quantified), even with the creeping in of metal. NYC and Boston produced a pure sound, but with a tighter message. In my experience the largest difference was in the turning away from the excesses of punk, and in the direction of straight edge. Bands didn’t need to be straight edge – the idea that it was a strong element in the scene had a subtle effect on what would be tolerated and what was considered foolish. As an example, it seemed like heroin raced through the scene in the early 80’s but was not a strong thread later in the decade, according to American Hardcore. I yield to no one in my love for the Misfits, but SOIA and Slapshot always seemed more direct and focused, even when they weren’t screaming about sxe or the like (I know SOIA was never straight edge). I can’t say anything bad about the book though. Reading interviews with all the heavyweights is inherently interesting, even if it makes some of them look like fools. Perhaps the simple reality is that I was young and into hardcore for the first time in the late 80’s and the author was first exposed in 1980. The kids today seem to think that their records are “amazing,” though they seem weak and should be in the cut-out bin, and by cut-out bin I mean garbage can. I suspect the author of American Hardcore laughs at the way I hold “Step on It” and “We’re Not in this Alone” close to my heart. He can wait to take me on with his “ROIR” cassette until I tend to the kids running around with their American Nightmare and Fall Out Boy records. I think there is some truth in all the perspectives flying back and forth across the generations, but the fact that music nerds can be so foolishly passionate at times makes books like this endlessly fascinating in their attempt to describe and document something so wonderful, pure, and beyond description. As more books are released I expect I will read them all and argue incessantly with each of them.

I am such and old man.

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