American Hardcore: A Tribal History
by Steven Blush
We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk
by Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen
Three Rivers Press
Now that the punks of the late-’70s and early-’80s have reached the “disposable income” bracket, seems like books and retrospectives are turning up left and right. While a few of the heroes of the day are either dead, in jail, or remaining silent, some recent attempts at chronicling the experience have emerged, giving an insider’s look at the history of time that for some of us seems like yesterday — but to others might as well not ever have existed.
Much like the music it champions, American Hardcore is loud, fast, and questions the status quo with every sentence. Based largely on interviews with most of the notables of the hardcore scene (Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Mike Watt, Jello Biafra, plus dozens of others), this labor of love documents a brief but busy time during the early-’80s when punk moved forward, and bands such as Black Flag, Minor Threat, and Bad Brains ruled. Illusions are quickly swept aside, minor voices are championed, and the entire movement gets an honest appraisal, particularly the end days, when a once vital force degenerated into “lunkheads with a look.” Crammed with hundreds of pictures, an exhaustive discography and a razor sharp ability to separate the wheat from the shaved-head chaff, this is most likely the only book you’ll ever need (and probably the only to ever be written) about the American hardcore movement.
No matter where you aligned yourself during the heady days of the late-’70s — New York with The Ramones, Washington with Minor Threat, or the U.K with The Sex Pistols, there is no denying the power of punk as it came from Los Angeles. X, The Germs, and a score of others created lasting, vital music that still has an effect today. We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk gives us a glimpse behind the rise of the L.A. scene — the story of The Runaways, Kim Fowley, Rodney Bingenheimer, and the genius who wanted to be a Stooge, Darby Crash, is arresting reading. Neutron Bomb helps you understand the climate and culture that led down a path from The Beach Boys to X to Black Flag and beyond. Essential reading, best enjoyed with X’s Wild Gift and The Gun Club’s Fire Of Love blaring.