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Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 Hardcover – July 31, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am unsure whether Azerrad's doing indie rock revisionism in this work, however. The stories fall within the same narrative confines -- quirky, disenfranchised would-be rockers XYZ run into each other in an amusing fashion; decide to form a band; against all odds, they produce considerable sonic (and, of course, punk rock) excellence until they either implode or join a major label. They all seem to follow this basic arc, which seems a trifle tidy to me.
I came in on the earlier, punkier side of things (Black Flag, the Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat), and I feel like Azerrad is weaving a tapestry linking those important bands to grunge and "alternative," creating a seamless web of musical innovation and negation culminating in Cobain's primal sonic scream. Not like the later bands aren't important, of course, but I think they were very different from each other, while Azerrad tries to paint them all with the same punk rock paintbrush -- it comes out more in the later chapters, where his comments are the equivalent of "how punk rock is THAT?" or "You can't get much more punk rock than that." Sure you can, Michael.Read more ›
So it is a blessing that we have at last a fine, relatively unbiased and intelligent history of Husker Du, the Replacements, Sonic Youth, Beat Happening, the Buttholes, Dino Jr. -- bands that were the equivalent to the Beatles and Stones to me, and whose influence inspired whatever life there was to be found in 1990s pop music.
It's not a perfect book. For one, everyone will have gripes about which bands did and didn't deserve chapter-length studies (the most obvious oversight -- the Meat Puppets, and I'd go to bat for Camper Van Beethoven as well), and did we really need two separate chapters on Ian MacKaye's bands? Once a band signs to a major label its story effectively ends for Azerrad, which is fine when you're covering Dinosaur Jr., for example, but which also means that the Replacements' Tim -- one of their finest records -- isn't even mentioned. An influence of MacKaye's rather hysterical obsession with "purity", perhaps.
Azerrad's writing on the whole is fine, though he occasionally litters his prose with a gruesome slang phrase, like "all about" (viz.Read more ›
Finally, there's the "snubs" or the bands that were left out for whatever reason:
Meat Puppets-I guess having a 3rd SST band would have been too much Greg Ginn worship.
Misfits-Penalized for having 'Walk Among Us' on Ruby Records (distributed by a major) maybe?
Dead Kennedys-The Bay Area punk scene in general was pretty much overlooked by Azerrad.
Pylon-I just figure the legendary Athens GA music scene should have been represented and REM and B52s are way too major for this book. Anyway, I would have picked Pylon before Beat Happening.
But anyway, it was a great book to read and I always find it amazing when someone takes the time to write a whole book on something like 80s indie music. I must admit, growing up mostly in Alabama during the 80s, I didn't hear about a lot of these bands until after they were long gone or had gone major. To hear the stories of their formative years is fun and endearing. I commend Azerrad for his reverence for the underground movement and for not turning this book into an encyclopedia.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I haven't finished the book, but I find it merely OK. Like most music writers, Azerrad thinks that the time period he is discussing (the 1980s) is more important than any other... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Andrew J. Watt
An excellent and detailed overview of some of the more influential underground acts of the 80s.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Good book. Well written. I just want to hit submit. 18 words is a birch. Make it stop. One more.Published 11 months ago by John Oliver
Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad is a fantastic history of punk/indie music in the 1980s that connects punk music of the 1970s (Sex Pistols, The Clash) with the indie... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Dan Cox
Our Band Could Be Your Life is a very throrugh book with about 590 pages to read.
If you are of the age group of the 'Indie' records, you will identify and like reading... Read more
Provides a good overview and intro to American underground music and is an easy read.Published 16 months ago by Jeremy
This is a really good book that is held back by the author's inability to refrain from beating us over the head with his point of view. Read morePublished 17 months ago by morehumanthanhuman