matt_01.jpgfrom the hoodoo swamps of Noooo Orleans, it’s former cohort in punk rock MATT UHLMANN with his whiskey river quarter on my book reviews yestiddy and the broader topic of punk rock history publishing, incorporated. TAKE IT AWAY MATTY!

Man, don’t give up on rock and roll mike!

you really don’t get that sense of “possibility and excitement” anymore? or just when reading these books??

Just the books, Matt. But I get the sense of possibility and excitement mostly when I hear a field recording of a dead person trying to remember the words to a folksong that their grandparents taught them. Or when I’m playing a gig, I suppose.

remember when there WERE NO BOOKS ABOUT PUNK ROCK?? haha it wasn’t that long ago, was it?…then in the late 80’s one or two came out and mid 90’s they came pouring out…I have to admit I haven’t bought any even when I’ve seen them on the sale rack!! mostly they are repeated tellings of untruths and legends (punk rock happened in NYC and LONDON exclusively, and was an socio-art movement blahblahblah).

“Kill me” is a VH-1 style expose on the sordid lives of some true fuck ups…it IS NOT ABOUT THE MUSIC…which is by the way the only reason said individuals are worth talking about anyway. The fashions, the ideologies, the hair, the ‘life-styles’.

That was one of the problems with punk rock anyway… people didn’t admit that the music was what really mattered and punk rock was part of the bigger history of rock and roll. It’s the flip side of Lipstick Traces by Marcus and even worse: “subculture: the meaning of style” by dick hebdige. These two books also ignore the music – not to talk about the “Dirt”, but to overanalyze the so called ‘artistic’ and ‘socio-political’ aspects of (this time english) punk respectively.

Basically any book that flat out ignores the music is bunk. At least “traces” gives you a sense (however EXTREMELY slanted toward the negative aspects) of what was going on and maybe why. You could read a dry academic-ass book like “Subculture” 20 times and still have no concept of what being a punk (or mod or rocker or whatever) was all about.

I think one of the best and one I would probably actually buy if I saw it for 10 bucks or so is “Hardcore California” remember it? from like ’83 or so…now that was a good book. a good history FROM THE INSIDE that gave you a sense of the scene(s). maybe second and worth a good 5 bucks in the used bin is the re-printed sniffin glue (mostly for the lengthy forward/interview with Mark P. that explodes most of the punk rock myths the other books on punk and histories of rock and roll are trying to build.)

Oh, absolutely I recall Hardcore California. What an anomaly: it came out while all this was still happening, had great pix, good production vaules; hm, I bet it was as instrumental as MRR in propagating things back in the day actually. Sniffin’ Glue reprint was interesting at first but I can’t look at it today, it’s just not up my alley anymore.

also I must admit to having picked up (ALSO USED MIND YOU) the two collected volumes of search and destroy…the main thing for me to say about them is how the bands that framed themselves in the context of the history of rock and roll(or american culture)…eg. Suicide, the Cramps, the Damned, DEVO, etc. make for mostly interesting interviews…the bands that framed themselves in the contexts of ‘destroy the past, the revolution is coming’ (who also were not-coincidentally obsessed with a wider audience–you know “lets get more kids involved”) eg. the DILS, the AVENGERS, Feederz, the ahem–INDUSTRIAL folks, etc. make for mostly laughable/sad interviews.

anyway mike don’t give up the ROCK…I mean when I see a good band (I know, I know, it’s becoming a rare thing) or hear a good lp, or cd or see a good video whether it’s from this week or from 1980 or from 1958 I still feel that roller-coaster feeling inside…

Thank you, MATTY! A big hand, folks, for a man who knows more about the ROCK than I ever did or will!

2 thoughts on “DJ Matty weighs in

  1. The references to an outpouring of punk-related books in the 90’s after a scant few published in the 80’s kind of reminds me of my own brief foray into Civil War music. Around June of 1989 my mother and I and a couple friends got together and recorded a homemade tape of Civil War music (both vocal and instrumental) that I did all the guitar playing/arranging for (as well as some vocals and violin); this was to play on the PA system for a local Civil War exhibit by the Maryland Historical Society in my hometown of Frederick, MD. People visiting the exhibit, and a lot of the museum staff besides, thought the tape was really cool, and we actually sold a number of copies. Approximately a year and a half after that, Civil War music CD’s started pouring onto the market, and one of our original “band” members actually heard a pirated copy of our tape playing on a Maryland radio station (“I know my own violin playing when I hear it!!” she said). We seriously started to wonder if some of our concept ideas (centered around variety of unconventional arrangements, and making Civil War music sound fresher than most previous recorded versions) had been blatantly stolen by somebody or other…Anyway, this is not quite the same topic, but your friend’s analysis of later punk-related books somehow struck an association with the Civil War Music fad in my mind just now…

    By the way (and this is even more off-topic), do you know any songs in Irish or Scottish Gaelic? I figured you might, with your background in Irish/Celtic folk-rock etc…


  2. Not that I’m aware of Karen.

    Unless you count the faux-Gaelic mouth music that got insertedinto so many English-languse Irish tunes: “Mush a ring-diddle um day, whack fol the daddy-o” and so forth.

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