I am a nutter for punk rock history books. The good ones, the bad ones, it doesn’t matter. I read them all. I find, for the most part, I get pissed off with glaring omissions or inaccuracies, but I feel it’s important to glean as much trivial information about punk rock and shove it in my brain hole.
Right off the bat, Gimmie Something Better gets on my good side by using the oral history format. This is the only way a punk history book should be written, in my opinion. Reading the stories in the words of those involved just makes the impact that much better.
So here we are with the history of punk rock in San Francisco and the Bay Area, a scene that has been crucial for all eras of North American punk and hardcore. I’ve been a fan of many of the bands in the region over the years, but in reading this, found that I really had no idea of the story of the scene as a whole.
It starts at the beginning with bands like The Nuns and Crime, continues with The Avengers, Dead Kennedys, and so many more in the first wave. It covers the creation of Maximumrocknroll, Alternative Tentacles, Lookout! Records, Gilman Street, the hardcore years, Jak’s Team, the Texas invasion, and later bands like Operation Ivy, Green Day, and Rancid, not to mention so much in between.
Like I said, the oral history format really shines when you’re dealing with this many different personalities telling their tales. The book smoothly flows through years and decades to the point where I realized that I was hammering through the book at a rapid pace without even noticing. There are lots of differing opinions, funny stories, tragic stories, and plenty of photos to tie it all together.
A daunting task that was pulled off amazingly well. Highly recommended. –Ty Stranglehold (Penguin)