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American Hardcore: A Tribal History

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,756 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Hardcore punk was an underground tribal movement created with anger and passion but ultimately destroyed by infighting and dissonance. This oral history includes photographs, discographies, and a complete national perspective on the genre.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Feral House (first published November 9th 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jamie
Mar 15, 2013 Jamie rated it it was ok
Shelves: school-reading
An oral history/testimony-style text, this book is a collection of quotes from the alleged originators of hardcore -- people like Jello Biafra, Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, and many more -- and various scene participants who made art, wrote zines, and put out hardcore records. Sounds like a great document of early hardcore, right? Not so much. The author is only interested in documenting his version of what the early hardcore scene was, from his white, dudebro perspective. The text is divided int ...more
Troy
Dec 19, 2015 Troy rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2015
I really wanted to like this.

I felt a tinge of nostalgia and wanted to read about hardcore, esp. about the D.C. scene which I was never a part of and which sounded mythical to my teenage self. We had this at our store and I picked it up, wondering why I'd never read it before. It was structured like Please Kill Me, a book I fucking loved, so I knew it would be good—

Except it wasn't. It is a poor attempt at an oral history. Whereas Please Kill Me is filled with tons of amazing voices, contradict
...more
Scott
Jul 31, 2013 Scott rated it liked it
I can't remember where exactly I read this review (I want to say it was Felix Havoc writing for Heartattack?), but the reviewer nailed it on the head when he said something along the lines of: "it's like Steve Blush did years of patient & thorough research for his masters thesis & then waited until the night before it was due to type it all up."

Couldn't have said it better myself. American Hardcore is full of typos and (at times) inappropriate opinions and biases of the author, but luck
...more
Rick
Apr 17, 2010 Rick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Essential reading for any fan of hardcore punk or for anyone who remembers that early 80s era and wondered what the hell was going on. The author was part of the scene and a show promoter, but most of the book is snippets of interviews with band members and others on the scenes of various cities across the country where hardcore punk popped up. Not a dreamy, nostalgia trip -- one chapter deals on how girls and women were pretty much marginalized by the whole male-dominated scene -- the book exam ...more
Josh
Jan 12, 2015 Josh rated it it was ok
As important of a document as this book has the potential to be, much of it is wasted by the author's intent to glamorize the violence, dismiss any view that isn't white-centric hetero dudebro conservatism, and trivialize the involvement of women and people of color.

"American Hardcore ain't no revisionist history based on what I personally think happened" Blush writes in the forward. Why, then, does he make such a point to demonize MRR, Jello Biafra, or really anyone with whom he disagrees. Str
...more
Sara
May 11, 2014 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mia nonna: «Ho aperto un paio di pagine a caso e provato a leggere qualcosa. Non ho mai visto niente di più disgustoso.»
Secondo la stessa logica che ho riscontrato in Ian McKaye, leader di Minor Threat e Fugazi e padre dello straight edge, non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare che, se mia nonna prova fastidio, allora funziona.
Attraverso la propria esperienza di quei giorni e una valanga di interviste, Blush disegna con impressionante accuratezza il quadro della scena hardcore americana dei primi
...more
Jordan E.
Jan 28, 2010 Jordan E. rated it liked it
I liked this book for what it covered, but hate it for what it didn't cover. There was hardcore after nineteen eighty-whatever. Also, it needed a lot more Descendents....but I could say that about any book.
Wu Ming
Dec 29, 2010 Wu Ming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WM1: Ho letto questo libro l'estate scorsa, vacanza in Dalmazia, perplessa contemplazione della Croazia, paese in cui tornavo per la terza volta in pochi anni, un posto dove la rockstar più famosa (Marko Perkovic Thompson, metti da noi un Ligabue) va sul palco indossando simboli ustascia e saluta a braccio teso, nel tripudio di decine di migliaia di spettatori, che a loro volta hanno in testa la bustina nera degli ustascia e addosso spille e spillette con svastiche e slogan ultra-nazionalisti. S ...more
Kurt
Jun 23, 2011 Kurt rated it really liked it
This book seems to have struck up some controversy since it's release. Some complain that the content is edited to flesh out the authors ideas and theses. Some complain that this or that group doesn't get their due. Some say that Blush diminishes female's roles (and other minorities; gays, blacks) in The Scene. The noise surrounding the book echoes a lot like the music it chronicles. But I really enjoyed the book. I enjoyed it because it was the first I came across that actually tried to get thi ...more
Mike
Dec 28, 2007 Mike rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like their musical memoirs with as little nostalgia as possible
Though it covers some of the same turf as Our Band Could Be Your Life, American Hardcore is by no means a repeat. The raw energy of the original scene comes through in the writing--complete with typos, mistakes, etc. Think of it as a very well-constructed 'zine. Most of the big names are well-represented. If you want Ian Mackaye or Henry Rollins stories, you'll get your money's worth. But it's the vivid descriptions of the far out hardcore scenes in Reno or Vancouver that remind you that just li ...more
Hater Shepard
Nov 28, 2007 Hater Shepard rated it liked it
Whoops-- hiding on my shelf in plain view.
good compendium of band names, and some quality quotes. But the author's voice is mostly aggravating. A fair amount of misinformation and plain old typos/errors. It's a good piece of the puzzle, tho.

Read Get In The Van, Our Band Could Be Your Life (gentrification of hardcore!), watch We Jam Econo-- also good resources. Azerrad's inclusion of some bands to the exclusion of others is utterly ridiculous, no matter how arbitrary your account for "taste".

Whe
...more
Gabriel Strange
Feb 14, 2012 Gabriel Strange rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, music
Steven Blush was biased throughout the book. However, I can forgive this as most of the bands in the Hardcore Scene from what I gather were all about spitting their own biased agenda regardless. Seeing as he was a kid involved in the scene at the time, I believe it's fitting.


It took me a little while longer than normal to finish this book as I wanted to allow some of the information to set in each chapter and do some of my own research into the great/terrible bands presented within the book.

Grea
...more
Jeff Lanter
Jul 18, 2010 Jeff Lanter rated it it was ok
This book should be a great resource full of information from the people in bands or that went to shows in the 80's. Instead, it all too often devolves into the author's personal attacks or biases. The tipping point is when he claims that hardcore (or you get the feeling punk music too) aren't relevant anymore, because the music and the people involved aren't lucky enough to live when he did. This is total nonsense. There is good information in this book, but the problems are glaring enough that ...more
matt
Apr 03, 2012 matt rated it it was ok
Having gone the past ten years without reading this, I picked it up hoping for illuminating quotes/insights for an article I'm writing but Blush's editorializing and poor framing of the subject matter is pretty distracting. He has a pretty even hand in showing the idiocy and brilliance of each band/scene but there's a sloppiness to the writing/editing that is inexcusable regardless of how 'punk' that might be. Certainly better than the film but more of a slog to get through than an oral history ...more
Greg Talbot
Jul 06, 2014 Greg Talbot rated it liked it
Like the magnificent punk opus: "Please Kill Me: The Uncensored History of Punk Rock", Blush examines the U.S. hardcore scene from 1979 to its demise in 1986. Geographically carving out areas and fleshing out its key bands, Blush amplifies the regional differences. He shows how some areas like D.C. and L.A. were more consequential and impacting.

The last 20 pages may be the most important. These pages venture into territory about hardcore's authenticity, it's connected-ness, it's violence and fra
...more
Krotpong
Jan 28, 2008 Krotpong rated it it was ok
An oral history gathered from people with biases, grudges, and faulty memories. Much of the book is poorly written/edited and there are some glaring omissions and mistakes. Hardcore didn't end in 1986. "If you was there man, you'd know what it was all about, man. But you wasn't. I was there, man. I was cool!" is what I take away from "American Hardcore". Still, if you're nostalgic and don't particularly feel like thinking about what you're reading, it can be mildly entertaining. The graphics are ...more
Mike
Dec 08, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
If you're at all interested in punk or hardcore music, read this book. It's a good history of the 80's hardcore scene that uses interviews with musicians and zine writers as a basis. This book strips the nostalgia and glory from the scene in favor of realism and accuracy. For the most part, I was engaged, but there's a chunk in the middle that just goes through small scenes that didn't have much impact. This part is boring, but probably because what actually happened is boring.
wolfhunter
May 21, 2009 wolfhunter rated it it was amazing
Excellent. I completely fell in love this book. Really interesting and shares a good amount of information that will certainly keep you engaged and reading until the end. It's an in depth reality about how it all started, and the bands that kept hardcore alive and dead. My favorite, so far. If you're interested in this kind of music, you'll love it. If you don't have a clue about what this music is and represents, then you're better off not touching it. Grreeeaatttt!
Sonika
Jan 11, 2016 Sonika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: musica, punk, hardcore, eighty
Sul libro in sé posso solo unirmi a tutti i lettori che ne parlano come del più grande documentario scritto sull'argomento. Immenso, quasi a rischio di noia da quanto dettagliato sia su ogni singola scena di ogni cazzo di cittadina degli Stati Uniti.
E però ho voglia di dire altro, più personale.
L'hardcore, nella mia piccola realtà sudica e italiana, mi è stato vicino. Non sono mai stata una vera appassionata, ma negli anni dell'adolescenza ne ho ascoltato tanto. Così, leggere nel 2008 nomi di ba
...more
John Gentry
May 23, 2015 John Gentry rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, maddys, music
I wanted to give this book five stars but after finishing it I found myself grasping to just give it four instead of three. the problem has to do with the author style. any time he focuses more on his opinion rather than testimonials he gets pushy, smartassed, and hard to listen to. it's like that friend you have who isn't really a friend, more just someone you're forced to be around because of circumstance. they think they know everything and are willing to argue that you know nothing. he comes ...more
Nosmo
Feb 27, 2015 Nosmo rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-hold, abandoned
I don't think I'm gonna be able to get through this book completely. It's enormous, and the problems I started to feel throughout the book only became more and more prominent as time goes on.

The book’s overall angle on a lot of the more negative parts of hardcore seems to be “we were shitty and it was awesome”. There’s about as much considered reflection in the book as that implies.

Much of the book's insight on issues in punk is painfully sexist and tokenistic, incredibly biased to the point o
...more
Christopher Ashley
Mar 07, 2012 Christopher Ashley rated it liked it
While filled with a ton of anecdotal history, it was nearly impossible to finish this book...it just ended up feeling like a bi-coastal circlejerk about who played with whom, who fought whom, and how it all got fucked up. if you dig old-school hardcore, it is worth reading the chapters about bands you care about, though.
Greg Franklin
Apr 30, 2010 Greg Franklin rated it it was amazing
I grew up on the tail end of this movement in 1980s America. I hung around a few times with members of one of the bands mentioned in the book. This book gives excellent perspective to a splintered musical genre that developed in the 80s, and provided me with background on how it developed and spread across the USA.
Danno
May 16, 2014 Danno rated it did not like it
I was hoping this would book would be a memoir of the good ole days, alas it was as good as waking up in the morning on the floor at a party and thinking the red cup is just soda only to find out there's more whisky than soda in that solo cup.

I've read many books about punk and hardcore, and what I would have liked to seen here is more of a narrative than 300 pages of essentially is the author's Twiiter feed. Rather than spending a chapter on certain bands or cities, writing chronologically so t
...more
Nate
Dec 04, 2008 Nate rated it it was amazing
A good compliment to "Our Band Could Be Your Life", Blush documents the hardcore side of the 80's underground. I don't know if this will convey what the big deal was to anyone who wasn't around at the time, but it meant a lot to me and is an excellent document of a mostly forgotten era.
Ludovico
Aug 04, 2011 Ludovico rated it liked it
Not bad, it gives you a deep insight on the scene at that time, sometimes maybe even too deep mentioning maybe every single band of the time but without much criticism...definitely worth reading for everyone whose heart has beaten with Minor threat, gorilla biscuits and dead kennedys...
Brendan
Jul 30, 2011 Brendan rated it it was ok
not the best book about hardcore out there, mostly because the author's shitty attitude kind of gets in the way of my enjoyment of the content he's providing. and speaking of that content, there are a shit ton of factual errors in this, especially in the section about western mass.
Jim
Feb 21, 2011 Jim rated it liked it
This book is worth reading for sure. I read it a long time ago, but some of the stories and histories still stand out to me. There are some great photos as well. However, the author's bias, attitude, and slight tendency to repeat himself get annoying.
Dante Johnson
Oct 04, 2010 Dante Johnson rated it it was amazing
Being a music fan I love books about the history and evolution of music. I do have a tendency to get bored with them. I found this book to be very interesting and well written. A great look into the American Hardcore Punk scene in the late 70's and 80's
Ed Wagemann
Apr 02, 2012 Ed Wagemann rated it it was ok
I experienced the Chicago Hardcore scene during the summer of '85. By that time Hardcore had become redundant with no new content to offer. Skinheads were taking over and there was all this macho posturing going on. It was no better than the high school cheerleader mentality that hardcore proclaimed it loathed.

At around that same time Penelope Spheeris' Decline of the Western Civilization was released (and has since come to be touted as the definitive documentary on the subject--eventhough that
...more
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Steven Blush is an American author, publisher and promoter.
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“Yeah I have an attitude. You weren't subjected to what I was subjected to, so don't try to tell me how I am.” 1 likes
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