Neat Neat Neat. Mostly...

Neat Neat Neat. Mostly...
Reviewer: SteveJ
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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.

Punk rock leveled the playing field in many cities across the US. Gone were the days of being a wunderkind on guitar, replaced, simply, by passion and desire. Anyone could, and did, start a band. The wall between the band and its fans had come down. And Boston was one of the cities whose music scene fully embraced this new dynamic. The Rat, Jonathan Swift’s, The Channel and The Paradise would become legendary, as would Mission of Burma, Human Sexual Response, and The Cars. And Boston, with its oversized college population, would become a mandatory stop for national and international punk bands.

Photographer Michael Grecco was there. He was also tied into the underground music publications of the time, as well as WBCN and the college radio stations that would prove huge getting these local heroes airplay. His access was incredible; he was seemingly at every show, at every club in the late '70s and '80s, and his photos simply must be seen. Boston scribe Jim Sullivan provides an essential Introduction as an insider, and Fred Schneider of The B-52s offers up some artist perspective in the Foreward.

If you were around Boston during this period, or exploring the music of the time, these pictures will take you back in full detail. Well…almost. There’s one very important detail missing from this book, and it’s a crusher in terms of user reference. Many of these musicians are immediately recognizable. Some, however, are not, even to a fan who was there. A caption of the subject would have fixed all this of course, but the book’s index makes this small matter even worse. It’s listed BY BAND….a difficult task if you don’t know whom you are looking at,! The only other way to identify the subject is to note the page number, and then scan the full index for that page. Oh, but if only it were that difficult. You see…also included in the index is any mention of the bands, so going back and forth, only to find the band’s name appears in the text, is almost unavoidable. It’s a drag. In punk rock terms, let’s call it “Anarchy in the Index,” Or maybe “Oh, Reference. Up Yours!”

Still, it’s a beautiful document of a remarkable time in the Boston music scene and Grecco’s book is easy to — ummmm— get lost in.


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