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American Hardcore: A Tribal History Paperback – November 9, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House; Reprint. edition (November 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915712
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,228,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Culling quotes from numerous interviews conducted over a five-year period, Blush presents an oral history of the first generation of American hardcore music (1980-86) what he deems its golden age. Charting the rise of bands such as Black Flag and the Misfits, as well as more famous hardcore alumni like the Beastie Boys and Moby, the book is divided into chapters based on different regional scenes. Rather than having a chronological narrative, then, the book bounces back and forth in time, from chapter to chapter, which will possibly confuse readers unfamiliar with the people and bands discussed. The author's tone also veers between that of a jaded ex-hardcore kid and a sentimental old-timer, but his account is nonetheless fascinating and rings with experience (he promoted hardcore shows and tours in the 1980s). It should also be noted that American Hardcore is the first book to document hardcore on a national level; books such as Cynthia Connolly's Banned in D.C. (1988) and Bri Hurley's Making a Scene (o.p.) have regional focuses. Blush also includes an extensive discography (just on vinyl and cassette, however) that lists noteworthy as well as forgettable releases. Recommended for academic libraries and ones with extensive music collections. Vincent Au, New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Hardcore rock music, "an infectious blend of ultra-fast music, thought-provoking lyrics, and fuck-you attitude," sprang from the puddle of post-New Wave punk. According to Blush, punk transformed the pop-music landscape and quickly flamed out. New Wave, a "watered-down" punk, was then "cranked out by major labels . . . for mainstream consumption." Enough interpretation. The meat of the book is an oral-history-style continuum of the comments of scads of hardcore movers and shakers, leavened by squibs from aging hardcore-scene participants. One highlight is a discussion of the merging of a branch of heavy metal with hardcore to create a hybrid called crossover. Metallica's James Hetfield contrasts tellingly with the Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra and D.O.A.'s Joey Shithead, exemplifying the difference between "old school" metal money-mongers and revolutionary punkers. Difference? Well, "an old school manager" wanted hardcorers Black Flag to tour with metal band Motorhead but tried to charge rent for the lights and P.A. "Flag said, 'Fuck you!,' " as well they should. An extraordinary resource on one of pop music's most overlooked influential subgenres. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Great, and Personal overview of the American Underground Hardcore Rock scene.
Glenn S. Hawley
True, the author does make a few snide remarks and inserts quite a bit of opinion into the book but just because one doesn't agree with it does not make it wrong.
Charles D.
If you want to read the rantings of a guy who essentially calls anyone who doesn't agree with him brainwashed, this is your book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Steven Blush, American Hardcore: A Tribal History (Feral House, 2001)

First off, in answer to some of the reviewers who were more general in their comments about the quality of the book (and, specifically, Blush's writing): this is, pure and simple, a nostalgia trip. With the exception of a few specific incidents, where the objective air comes from Blush reporting conflicting viewpoints on certain events, this book seems to have no pretence whatsoever to objectivity. Of course it's inflammatory and opinionated. So was hardcore.

I hate to fall into the trap of "if you weren't there, you wouldn't understand," but I have to. (Actually, I took half a star off my review because that sort of thing bugs me.) It seems ot me that this book's target audience is those who were actually part of the scene (even those of us on the fringes, in towns where there were maybe twenty of us listening to a couple of local bands and the odd Black Flag album that happened to surface-- come to think of it, maybe we're especially the target audience) and want to relive those days. It never struck me, while reading, as the kind of book I could give to someone not alive during that time with the statement "if you want to understand my teenage years, read this." That's the book's major flaw, of course; somewhere along the line, someone will write an objective history of hardcore. This book is not it.

For the most part, Blush gets out of the way and simply reports snippets of interviews he conducted with hundreds of people, mostly those who were in bands, writing zines, producing records.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By David Stork on December 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Yes, this book has its flaws. At times it can be self-righteous, opionated, and even a bit misogynistic in places--very much like hardcore itself often was. The author occasionally rises above his own prejudices, though, and provides a cogent analysis of what hardcore was, what it meant to a generation of social pariahs and misfits, and the built-in factors of obsolescence that led to its demise after only a few years. The oral history is entertaining and informative--I've gotten a kick out of reading the firsthand accounts of how some of my favorite bands came to be, came to prominence, and eventually came to an end. As mentioned in another review, many of the people interviewed have an axe to grind, even after all these years. But the author makes at least a reasonable attempt at balanced reporting through most of the book.
I guess that for me, the primary appeal of this book is that it's like a trip back in time to the days when my buddies and I would listen to the latest SST or Alternative Tentacles comps after school, go to shows at our local "underground" venues and check out the record reviews in the 'zines. Before we were out of high school, we'd formed our own band and were appearing on a small stretch of the northeast HC circuit, with some modest success. My early experiences in the HC years fostered a love of creating and playing music that persists to this day. The overarching message of HC, as far as I was concerned, was this: YOU can do this yourself. YOU can make your own music and your own "scene." You don't have to sit back and wait for the big entertainment companies to spoon-feed you.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Sahlgren on October 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful bunch of quotes, stories and recollections. I spent most of high school listening to and going to see these bands "back in the day." I think it does a real good job of putting it all into perspective. Other reviewers point out that this book doesn't focus enough on the positive aspects of hardcore. Like what? Hardcore was largely about anger and...well, I can't say "disillusionment" as most listeners had prescious few illusions. They were clued into exactly what pissed them off and hardcore is probably representative of protest music in that respect. While there are notable exceptions, I think that saying hardcore had "positive" aspects is like saying Reagan did a lot for airline safety (he fired all the air-controllers for those of you who don't know...ALL of them in a union, anyway).

When I was a kid I was all about hardcore and punk and the scene and have many fond memories of it. For all it's lipservice about individuality and non-conformity, hardcore could be very male-oriented, dogmatic and uniform. Still, hardcore was one of the few subgenres that easily and often mocked itself. If you were in the scene it could be damned funny. I was disappointed that it pretty much disappeared and that younger generations didn't really continue the "I don't care if I can't sing or play well I'm gonna make loud rock and roll" idea. The few sonic elements of hardcore that are still out there have pretty much lost a lot of the humor and/or are mostly about posturing.

Please note that bands like Green Day, Sum-41, Good Charlette et al are NOT at all representative of what your average hardcore band sounded like. Those guys wouldn't ever be on the bill.
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More About the Author

Steven Blush has written three books on the subject of Rock: American Hardcore (Feral House, 2001), a history of the early-80s Hardcore Punk scene; American Hair Metal (Feral House, 2006), a visual tribute to big-haired rockers; and .45 Dangerous Minds (Creation, 2005), a collection of interviews with Pop Culture's most notorious. His writing has appeared in over 25 publications, including Spin, Details, Interview, Village Voice, and The Times Of London. For over 15 years he published the cult magazine Seconds, and still serves as contributing editor to Paper. For years he worked as a New York club DJ/promoter, noted for his "Röck Cändy" parties at Don Hill's and sound design for fashion designer Stephen Sprouse. Blush wrote and produced the American Hardcore documentary film (Sony Picture Classics, 2006), and followed that with an expanded and revised Second Edition of the American Hardcore book (Feral House, 2010).

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