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We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  254 ratings  ·  28 reviews
(Book). Includes a code for free CD download of many of the bands featured in this book! Nirvana, the White Stripes, Hole, the Hives all sprang from an underground music scene where similarly raw bands, enjoying various degrees of success and hard luck, played for throngs of fans in venues ranging from dive bars to massive festivals, but were mostly ignored by a music indu ...more
Paperback, 351 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Backbeat Books
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Duke Haney
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
1. I’m too lazy to write a real review for this book, having arbitrarily promised myself that I would review on Goodreads every book I read in 2011, so I’m going to do it this way: sloppily, in a numbered list.

2. I bought this book because I have a sweet tooth for almost any book related to rock & roll, specifically punk (if rock & roll and punk are the same, or almost the same, as some would say they’re not), and I thought this book would fill in some of the gaps in my rock & roll (
Leanne O
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It's only the first month and I already have to make an amendment to my "book a week" goal: if a book is particularly long, I'm giving myself two weeks to finish it instead of one. Eric Davidson's "We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001" caps off at 323 pages and although a great and interesting read, took me a bit longer than a week to finish!

Before going into the review I'm going to tell a story. For a long time I worked as a sorter for The US Postal Service. I stopped working for t
Nov 24, 2010 is currently reading it
Ever wondered why the average punk bio jumps from the hardcore movement straight to Nirvana? Because there's a secret history of punk that has yet to be told. UNTIL NOW. Eric Davidson of the New Bomb Turks takes you through the seedy underground that only true music dorks would care about. He introduces us to the importance of bands like Raunch Hands, Dead Moon, Mummies, Dwarves, Lazy Cowgirls, Supersuckers, Naked Raygun and Rocket From The Crypt. Bands who never truly got their due, yet spawned ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ohioana, non-fiction
It is tricky for me to give this book a proper review. I knew some of the bands mentioned, particularly ones with Cleveland and Columbus ties like New Bomb Turks, Gaunt, Cheater Slicks, and a few others. However, with many of the rest, they were quite new to me. It may just be that it is really tough to describe a band's sound, or I do not read enough music reviews, criticism, and zines to be familiar with the vernacular. Either way, Davidson's descriptions of many acts just seemed like an incom ...more
Phil Overeem
Jun 20, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a book I'd always hoped would be written but never figured could be: the participants are such a bunch of sots and sleazes and idealistic malcontents, and the music is so hard to subject to analysis, that it seemed extremely unlikely. Well, it ain't as good as it could have been--it's too often boring and repetitive, and more biased than it had to be--but it's packed with stories and a pretty decent ebb-and-flow history, and, really, I picked it up to get directed to music I might have m ...more
Aug 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Sloppily written book of a musical scene that barely gets mention. Glad to see it from the point of someone who was there but it's arrangement of story (jumping from band to band in a mix of interviews and scene-jumping), I don't really feel like I've learned why this musical scene was important. Oh well!
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Maybe Kindle has ruined my ability to read actual paper books. I certainly read much more than I did pre-tablet, but I find myself turning away from the cost and inconvenience of carrying around hard copies of books.

That said, I don't think the reason I didn't, and probably never will, finish We Never Learn has to do with the mode of transmission. I guess I kind of lived this in real time, and reading about it now gives me a weird feeling of fake nostalgia. Also the fact that the Spits are on th
Jason S.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm glad books like this exist, that trace the otherwise lost history of punk rock through the 1990s, and Eric Davidson writes with the same verve and swagger that he did while penning songs for NEW BOMB TURKS. Loved going down memory lane and finding out the behind the scenes story of some of my favorite acts like THE LAZY COWGIRLS, THE DEVIL DOGS, JON SPENCER, THE DWARVES, and THE SUPERSUCKERS. And of course, there's the joy of learning about new bands, labels, and compilations, too, that were ...more
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
I came of age (high school and college) in the mid to late 90s and loved almost all the bands Davidson discusses. His band, the New Bomb Turks, are probably my favorite band of all time; others discussed in the book, such as the Supersuckers, the Gories, Gaunt, and Billy Childish were and are huge favorites too. I loved reading about Crypt Records honcho Tim Warren, a real unique, wacky, and unrecognized character in the history of rock music. As singer/songwriter for the New Bomb Turks, Davidso ...more
Oliver Hunt
May 03, 2011 rated it liked it
I expected more from Davidson, actually. His lyrics in the Turks were pointed and funny, and I remember reading some reviews he'd written for Gearhead, which were along the lines of the kinda Your fLESH/Motorbooty type rock writing I liked (continue to like).

There are some good interviews, and some good writing, but so much of the time it feels like Davidson's writing ad-copy for a fanzine page, especially given his overuse of shikka-shikka-gonzoid-hyphenates.

Also, sorry, but a good chunk of wh
Simon Harvey
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
“The Didjits inclination to snugly pummel grew from the Ramones' night school of the instinctual caveman awareness to take no chances when taking no prisoners.” -an actual verbatim sentence from We Never Learn. There are many, many more every bit as appalling to be found inside.

I'm really disappointed in this almost impossibly badly-written book. I always though Davidson was a great singer in NBT, but the schtick wore thin live-- all that mugging and posturing was so contrived. Perhaps unsurpris
Ned Bajic
Dec 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
There are a lot flaws in this book but the author is not a novelist or historian so this is to be expected. But it fits with the kind of music he's covered, often badly recorded, released on labels you've never heard of and played in tiny run down venues to obnoxious drunks. This is not about profesionalism or career opportunities (though a few actually managed that!), its what was happening underneath grunge, gangster rap, nu metal and other media invented 'movements'.

I'm old enough to remember
Tom Weber
Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Exciting book. Delves into the bowels of a music scene that smelled almost as rank as the music it was kicking out. Some of my favorite bands are here and a host that I had barely heard of before reading We Never Learn. Of important note - I recommend reading this like a short story collection. The author has an over the top style that works great in short, spastic doses and each chapter is pretty self contained. Read straight through like a novel - I may have rated a little lower - but my coupl ...more
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
I loved reading and checking out all the bands in this book, but it was a chore to work through the author's "style". You know how as a writer you have to kill your darlings? Every sentence is Eric Davidson's darling. If you edited out all the alliteration, cliches, ridiculous similes, and unnecessary adjectives, this book would be half as long as it is. Eventually I got used to his writing enough to just ignore how over-the-top it was, but I'd still groan and roll my eyes when I'd come across a ...more
Gerry LaFemina
Aug 18, 2016 rated it liked it
As much as I liked many of the bands this book talks about, and I like Davidson's willingness to poke at some sacred cows (how nice to see Jack White be taken off the pedestal), the prose feels a bit forced-gunk-punk cool at times, and giving us complete transcripts of interviews with the questions, etc may work in a 'zine, but I'd have preferred those moments be delivered as oral history--we're smart enough to infer the questions. A good read, but a book that pales in comparison to other histor ...more
Nicholas Coleman
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Very comprehensive tour through the garage-rock scenes of the 80's, 90's and 2000's. I had only heard or heard of a few of the bands mentioned (New Bomb Turks, RFTC, Pussy Galore, White Stripes, etc.) and will definitely be looking into many of the others mentioned. The writing can be a bit precious and the organization of the book is a bit slapdash, but oddly enough the roughness works as an asset by reflecting the anarchic character of the music it describes. Unfortunately the publisher or aut ...more
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
Unromantic but affectionate and written by the leader of The New Bomb Turks We Never Learn is required reading for any fan of garage punk (or whatever you want to call it.)The best thing is that Eric Davidson has an endless supply of things to call it. Few books on rock history evince as much love for language as they do for a scene or genre like this one does. Writing in the tone of a smirking carnival barker Davidson never runs out of inventive ways to call a band a bunch of drunk assholes who ...more
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
I enjoyed reading this book even though it does become a bit samey as it goes on. A few bands have very similar 'they were great but not amazingly successful and broke up' stories without much extra meat. However even in those cases the author's enthusiasm for the music really shines through and makes you want to listen to almost every band - I haven't been disappointed in that respect yet! There are a lot of genuinely fascinating characters who are a joy to read about too, Tim Warren and Billy ...more
Matt Ogborn
Aug 12, 2010 rated it liked it
This book has a lot of flaws, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit despite the fact that it's not about a type of music I've ever cared about too much. The Billy Childish stuff was my favorite, though...
Alex Herter
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really informative read regarding late 80s-through 00s of underground music rarely covered in mainstream music rags. Most bands featured in this book are named checked these days in current independent music.
Bryce Warman
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Overly anecdotal and subjective. Tries to wrangle too many divergent sound under one umbrella. The 90's were a fallow period for real punk bands. A handy compendium of band profiles and tour stories from the underground.
Joe Ehrbar
Jan 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Pretty good survey of dirty, nasty, garage-y punk rock from the dates listed on the book's cover. Author Eric Davidson was a member of the New Bomb Turks, a volatile punk combo from Ohio who knocked my socks off when I saw the group play a tiny grange hall in Airway Heights, WA, in 1994.
Jul 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
badly written piece of shit/nothing.
Aude Lising
Jul 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
Never managed to finish this, kept it through two moves, thinking I'd pick it back up someday. Finally pawned it off to my roommate today, maybe she can tell me how it ends.
Essential for all fans of scuzz punk
Andrea Rizzo
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
A nice time capsule of a burgeoning underground garage rock scene.
Jon Rose
Apr 23, 2010 rated it liked it
The interviews were good but I expected the author to better tie together all of the different stories.
Alexander Rubin
rated it liked it
Oct 02, 2014
rated it really liked it
Mar 09, 2018
Michael Dube
rated it it was ok
May 29, 2014
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Eric Davidson had his share of sleazy good times and success as the singer of the Columbus, Ohio punk band New Bomb Turks, who have played hundreds of gigs in dozens of countries on three continents and countless labels. Visit for more!"