You Don't Make Me...

You Don't Make Me...
Reviewer: SteveJ
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Richard Hell and the Voidoids "Blank Generation":
33 1/3 Series
144 pages
April 10, 2014
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

Thirty-Three and a Third is a series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the past 40 years.

I guess the over-intellectualization of punk rock was inevitable, but I’m pretty sure when I first heard “Love Comes In Spurts,” at 15 or 16 years old, I did not give Francois Truffaut’s 400 Blows or the Theater of the Absurd or Antonin Artaud one second of thought. Frankly, if I had known who they were, it might have blown the moment. No, what I thought of was this was music simple enough that maybe I could play it. I also thought the title was a very clever — and naughty — double-entendre. And that "double-entendre" was about the only French word I knew…

Richard Hell and The Voidoids Blank Generation was not in my regular rotation of punk records; that would have been the Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. But this record had a reputation as an “important” record and, with that album cover, and that title and that song, I searched it out. Clearly, it did not have the effect on me that it did on Pete Astor, so I decided to discover why, and dove into his installment in the 33 1/3 Series. Or tried to anyway…

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Astor that this record sounded “just right,” in 1977, that is, it gave you the feeling of New York, punk rock and that immediacy anyone not in the scene craved. However, his definition of “just right” loses me when he speaks of “issues that arise when the discussion of the sonic properties of an album’s original medium come up are endemic of the cross-talk between subjectivities, cultural meanings and any objective, ‘scientific’ facts about what actually might be there on the recording.” Umm. What?

And therein lies the problem with this book; it overthinks punk rock, which itself was a reaction to the overthought and overwrought bloated rock’n’roll of the day.

In the book, Hell says “Pop music styles are so nailed to their moment, their era, and that’s a lot of its appeal.” He’s right. And going back to that moment and trying to intellectualize what made you feel good as a teenager is a fool’s errand.

Skip the book. Put on the record. Fill in your own _______.


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