Living history

Living history
Reviewer: mdurshimer
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Punk, Post Punk, New Wave:
Onstage, Backstage, In Your Face, 1977-1989
240 pages
November 10, 2020
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

Iconic and never-before-seen images of punk and post-punk’s quintessential bands.

This time, I was there.

Most of the books I review are about the 1960s, and while I was alive during those pivotal years in history, I was a child and my parents probably wouldn’t have let four-year-old me fly to Haight Ashbury to experience the Summer of Love. Or Woodstock two years later.

But lucky for me I was a full-grown college student in Boston, living my best new wave, sometimes punk, life in the 1980s and got to experience that scene firsthand. The photography of Michael Grecco in Punk Post Punk New Wave brought me right back to the sticky floors of the Rat, the weird layout of the Paradise, to every show I saw, which was pretty much every weekend for four years. Everyone from Devo to Lena Lovich, to local bands like The Runes (still friends with Shel!), The Dark, and The New Models. It sounds cliché, but it really was a great time to be young and alive and do whatever the hell I wanted whenever I wanted (between classes and studying, of course).

This coffee table book, mostly photographs, but with some text about each of the clubs, is a fantastic tribute to the artists who came through Boston and the ones who were based in Beantown. It perfectly captures the grittiness, the in-your-face-ness of the time. The memories came flooding back: dancing to Human Sexual Response, one of my all-time favorite bands, while they performed in nurses outfits, white hose and all; standing next to two members of The Cars while ordering drinks (certain I said something stupid to them!); seeing Aimee Mann of ‘Til Tuesday at a local electronics store; worshipping at the feet of Fred Schneider during one of the gazillion times I went to see the B-52’s. (Fred wrote the intro to this book.) Man, what a life I led amongst the greats of punk and new wave.

This isn’t the kind of book you sit down and read. You flip through the pages while you’re eating lunch or talking on the phone to your mother and not really paying attention to her. And remember all the shit you did when you were young that she doesn’t know about! Looking through these great photos makes me realize how lucky I was to be in Boston at a pivotal point in music history.

You know who also was there? Steve, the guy who runs this site. We grew up together, went to Boston University together, enjoyed the same scene. And he’s about to be gifted with a book he’s really gonna dig.

Yeah, we were THERE.