I already knew a ton of Jim Saah’s photos. Granted, I’m probably the resident RZC Dischord nerd, but still: tons of his shots are iconic from album art for bands like Jawbox, and from being featured in the crucial Banned in D.C. book, visual representations of scene lore. Ever hear the story of Minor Threat getting back together after Lyle Preslar went to school in Chicago? A portion of the scene called the band a bunch of sellouts for reforming, so of course Ian put on a gold sportjacket and threw money into the crowd to highlight the absurdity. Shots like this are included.
Beyond the pix that are attached to association and narrative, though, Jim Saah’s photos contain what Roland Barthes describes as the punctum, or the subjective thing that “pricks” the viewer. In his fIREHOSE pictures we see Mike Watt wearing a wedding ring, a specific signifier of the era when he and Kira were married. Joey Ramone, getting closer to the end of his legendary tenure, wears bullet belts. On and on like this, specifics which snag attention. Add these to Saah’s impeccable sense of timing, capturing grimaces, stagedives, perfectly arced mic cords, and you’ve got an all-timer. This one’s a bit pricey, sure, but I see something new every time I look through it. The printing and layout are gorgeous, and it’s damn well about time Saah got the recognition he deserves for his keen eye and sharp photography instincts. Crucial. –Michael T. Fournier (Cabin 1 Books By Walden, waldenpublishinghouse.com)