Cheap Shots By Chris Barrows, 144 pgs.

You probably know Chris Barrows as the vocalist of one of the best punk bands to ever come out of Florida (and that’s saying a hell of a lot), the Pink Lincolns. His new book Cheap Shots delivers an immense and impressive collection of his minimalist band photography, mostly from the ’80s and ’90s, which includes bands like D.R.I., Redd Kross, The Damned, The Donnas, D.O.A., Los Crudos, Circle Jerks, MDC, and a ton more. With a completely different vibe than most books of this genre, Cheap Shots captures punk rock in its natural state: unedited, unwashed, and uncorrupted by the threat of mass appeal.

The Pink Lincolns’ brand of punk rock was perfectly stripped-down leaving the music to speak for itself, which it did in heaping helpings. In Cheap Shots, Barrows applies a similar philosophy to his photography. There are no fisheye lenses or blurred light effects. No digital bullshit. Barrows suggests in the notes that some of the photos were taken with old school point-and-shoot film cameras. Indeed, Cheap Shots is not a collection of glossy live pics of hip young bands taken on good hair days, with audience members thrusting fists in the air as the stage divers do their thing for the camera.

Instead, Cheap Shots exposes a very real day-to-day side of punk rock. A young Greg Ginn (Black Flag) is caught smiling and eating a slice of watermelon. Milo Aukerman (Descendents) doesn’t look as much like a scientist here as he does someone you might consider suspect when your weed goes missing. Glenn Danzig (Misfits) doesn’t resemble the ultra-intimidating rock’n’roll antichrist we know him as, rather a grinning dorky metal dude stoked to be on tour with his friends. There’s no theme here, but it’s obvious that the subjects throughout the book seem to have been captured with their guard down.

On a side note, the grimy dirtiness of punk rock tour life is in no way concealed in Cheap Shots. Florida is a hot and humid (and sometimes disgusting) place, and this shows, especially in the live and post-show band photos—a lot of fucked up, greasy hair and unusually dirty, sweat-stained clothing. As Ben Weasel says in the foreword: “Just be thankful it’s not a scratch-n-sniff!”

Subject-wise, Cheap Shots sticks to bands, and there’s a wide range of time periods, musical styles, and ultimate success levels represented here: Sonic Youth to Pork Dukes, and PiL to Roach Motel. There’s a never-before-seen shot of U2 on their first U.S. tour playing to thirty people in an unspecified tiny space. Three photos of Jawbreaker in nearly identical poses from three chronological tours show the band members literally growing up before the reader’s eyes from weird young punk kids into weird adults.

There is almost nothing in the way of text here (each photo has maybe a one-sentence caption), but in no way does that undermine the gravity of the content. Cheap Shots isn’t just a killer punk rock photobook. It’s also a vital rock’n’roll history document. –Buddha (Rare Bird Books, rarebirdlit.com)