Friday, November 20, 2009
Trapped in a Scene
Like it says, UK Hardcore, 1985-1989 and personally speaking also the era immediately before i became involved in anything punk related.
Anyway, Ian Glasper's written a third book about the development of the UK underground punk scene.
I must confess to having not read the other two books in the series as i pretty much hate most peace punk and the mental stranglehold i feel it placed on European punk for twenty plus years. And the UK82 brigade were never a bunch i had much time for on any level whatsoever, i dunno, i'm just reminded of the Post Card Punks that could do little else but drink cider, fall over and bleed everywhere. I think that breed finally died out in the late 90s but they had a good run.
Anyway, Trapped in a Scene gets my thumbs up, it covers the essentials and a lot of stuff that was anything but essential (often in great detail).
Reading UK message boards i see a lot of bitching and complaining about the book, from the mundane ("nobody called it UKHC") to the missing the point ("the author didn't send any of the interviewees a copy"; seemingly some people thought it was a zine and not a 500+ page book). But fuck, the British are either mindlessly violent or mindlessly petty, frequently both and on the whole aren't worth listening to as a nation. So ignore their message boards.
Sure, it's not perfect, personally i feel a better approach would be to focus on a handful of the important bands (which is not necessarily the ones that released records, which the book definitely gets right) for each area and give a broad overview of the political situation and punk landscape rather than interview (almost) every band from the region. For example the Warzone Collective in Belfast, The Station in Gateshead and 1 in 12 Club in Bradford were/ are monumentally important aspects of the UK scene and the point isn't really made to people who wouldn't necessarily know. Plus any non-UK readers (or readers younger than a certain age) won't be clued in to certain political aspects like life under Thatcher or the Northern Ireland issues.
Other than that a small amount of editing wouldn't have gone amiss; way too many exclamation marks (an irrational personal ire of mine) and there's far too much text that reads something like:
"then Darren joined on bass, but switched to guitar when Becki left and then Trogg didn't show up to practice in 1987 so we had Adda from Apocalyptic Pig Torture fill in for six gigs in Dudley and then Jimmy returned when Spastic Thatcher broke up".
Lots of talk of John Peel and his role in popularising the scene as well which is great, a true legend whose importance can neither be downplayed nor really understood fully by outsiders.
I also have to give Glasper a backhanded compliment, i liked his book despite the voice and validity he gave to countless stupid London and Belgian bands in the pages of Terrorizer throughout the 1990s and lets face it, the inevitable two books on 90s UK hardcore should be interesting and potentially aggravating. Well, as long as my own personal favourites Downfall, Kito, Disaffect and Health Hazard/ Suffer make it in there somewhere i can skim through a few hundred pages of a bunch of southerners talking about how they reinvented the wheel (Knuckledust excluded, which is surely a sign i'm getting old if i'll finally recognise the effort they put in to getting their shit done).
What really struck me whilst reading the book is just how many of the major players from over twenty years ago are still very much active, still very DIY and are not mellowing with age, which is something i haven't found in North America on the whole. Bar Eric Wood (Peace Corpse - Bastard Noise) and John Brannon (Negative Approach - Easy Action) and a few others pretty much all the players dropped out or tried continuing to trade on decidedly past it legacies. Fuck, would you rather have Geriatric Unit or Dave Smalley playing the acoustic guitar opening up for Negative Approach? Hell, if anything one thing the UK is still good for (other than curry) is forty year old men playing really hard punk and grindcore.
Anyway, i totally commend all the old bastards from the 80s scene still going strong in Bait, Violent Arrest, After Birth, Meat Locker and a shit load more.
Some of my favourite recordings from the bands from era covered in the book:
Heresy - Whose Generation? 7"
Ripcord - Harvest Gardcore 7"
Napalm Death - Scum LP (duh)
Hellbastard - Ripper Crust demo
Doctor and the Crippens - Raphanadosis LP
Sedition - Dealing With Cliches 7"
Pink Turds in Space - Greatest Shits LP
Generic - For a Free and Liberated South Africa 7"
Stupids - Peruvian Vacation LP
Intense Degree - War in my Head LP
Deviated Instinct - Rock n Roll Conformity LP
Geriatric Unit (ex Heresy):
Jinn (ex Generic, who i couldn't find a video of):
Gruel (ex Generic):
Bait (ex Deviated Instinct):