SPOTLIGHT | PREMIER GUITAR: HOOKED
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
ever since discovering PREMIER GUITARS' HOOKED series I have been totally enamored with it. the series, mostly shot at home during the pandemic, follows prominent guitarists talking about the song that got them interested in GUITAR-BASED MUSIC as a kid. its a great concept as it lends itself to juxtaposing CLASSIC ARTISTS with MODERN PLAYERS that you normally wouldnt associate with one another (such as JADE PUGET of AFI and his DIRE STRAITS choice). just goes to prove that music in universal.
the series also inevitably makes one self-assess what their choice would have been given the opportunity to participate. in my case the most memorable childhood memory i have of being swept up by a guitar sound was ANDY SUMMERS echoing and reverb-drenched opening guitar riff in "WALKING ON THE MOON." likewise the song that made me want to pick up a guitar in first grade was R.E.M.'s "SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE," which ironically was a mandolin being played by PETER BUCK i believe. at the time he was apparently over guitars in general.
regardless, this is a great concept and such a gift for musicians and fans of GUITAR-BASED MUSIC. i look forward to watching more of them as they are published online.
BOOK REVIEW | "CORPORATE ROCK SUCKS: THE RISE & FALLOF SST RECORDS" BY JIM RULAND
photo & text by nacrowe
my introduction to SST RECORDS as a teenager, like i presume with most people, was through the AMERICAN HARDCORE icons BLACK FLAG. for me the record label, much like DISCHORD, EPITAPH, ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES or FAT WRECK CHORDS, was the symbolic representation of the DIY ethic and the attached value system of SELF-DEPENDENCE and COMMUNITY-BUILDING that 80s HARDCORE epitomizes. BLACK FLAG, more than any other band of that era, trail-blazed and literally fought for a nationwide network of alternate venues that later bands of multiple genres benefitted from.
so for me reading CORPORATE ROCK SUCKS: THE RISE & FALL OF SST RECORDS (HATCHETTE, 2022) by JIM RULAND was pretty eye-opening in that it very much showcases the CONFLICTED, DUAL LEGACY of a legendary label that both opened doors for untapped talent (from DINOSAUR JR, THE MEAT PUPPETS, HUSKER DU and SONIC YOUTH to SAINT VITUS, THE MINUTEMEN, SOUNDGARDEN and OXBOW among countless others) yet effectively exploited them in turn. and it is that second legacy of EXPLOITATION that feels incongruous with the initial ETHOS and CULTURAL WEIGHT of BLACK FLAG, as the band exemplifies more than any other of its era the idea of uncompromising INTEGRITY. such is the crux of this incredible book.
the band and the label both came out of a bloated 1970s cultural scene in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA that saw radio and means of promotion being corporatized to the point that all ALTERNATIVE VIEWPOINTS were seemingly edged out of the conversation. what GREG GINN accomplished with his band and label was to promote an ALTERNATIVE COMMUNITY that appreciated different perspectives and musical ideas. his label very much promoted emerging scenes from seemingly unrelated genres of INDIE ROCK (DINOSAUR JR), MELODIC HARDCORE (THE MINUTEMEN, HUSKER DU, THE DESCENDENTS), DOOM METAL (SAINT VITUS), PSYCHEDELIA (THE MEAT PUPPETS) and even experimental NOISE ROCK (SONIC YOUTH). in turn, the CULTURAL LEGACY of the label was one of being at the forefront of culture, well beyond its HARDCORE roots. these bands mentioned are the well-known ones, for the label put out many, many more by more OBSCURE and AVANT-GARDE musicians that ran the gamut from JAZZ and ELECTRONIC experiments to IMPROVISATIONAL SPOKEN WORD performances. the label was very much over the map.
which gets at the current state of SST RECORDS. a dormant label that has largely been abandoned by its founder and has not nurtured the immense cultural legacies of its artists with comprehensive re-releases of landmark albums. worse, there are rumors that it has either misplaced or improperly stored master tapes. it just feels tragic that for a label that gave so many artists access to a community it fought so hard to initiate, that in the end they left it all to rot. or worse stagnate and fester as GINN refuses to voluntarily give artists their music rights back. music that his label has chosen to sit on, in some cases, for decades.
its that dual notion of GINN as both a RIGHTEOUS SUPPORTER and a CORPORATE GOON that is difficult to swallow for those on the outside. just the idea that SST RECORDS is as much a part of that soulless corporate business-as-usual approach that they supposedly were fighting against.
it is unfortunate.
FILM REVIEW | REALITY 86'D
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
REALITY 86'D (WE GOT POWER FILMS, 1991) is a documentary parceled together from footage of the last 1986 tour conducted by legendary HARDCORE band BLACK FLAG in support of their final experimental IN MY HEAD (SST, 1985) record. it showcases the final touring lineup of HENRY ROLLINS, GREG GINN, C'EL REVUELTA and ANTHONY MARTINEZ as they make their way around the country playing small venues and dealing with uppity local POLICE, belligerent FANS and deceitful CONCERT PROMOTERS. in many ways this film feels like the documentary version of the ROLLINS' memoir GET IN THE VAN (review linked HERE) which similarly chronicles his touring career with BLACK FLAG and the immense PHYSICAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL toll that came with that experience.
given the SPARTAN, self-made, DIY nature of the band and the HARDCORE movement in general, what really strikes me about this film is how UNGLAMOROUS touring life was during this period for an INDEPENDENT band. obviously BLACK FLAG were the early pioneers that blazed the trail, establishing the very UNDERGROUND network of VENUES, BACKYARDS, BASEMENTS and VFW halls that made up the independent TOURING CIRCUIT that later PUNK-influenced ALTERNATIVE ROCK bands of the next decade would commercially benefit from. its a real gift to see how MUNDANE and AWFUL it is to watch a bunch of anemic vegans carting in their own speakers and equipment to shitty venues and then drive the bus to the next town. just the act of watching it feels EXHAUSTING.
and that may be the point. this film really stands as a document of what PUNK ROCK and HARDCORE once was in its infancy. you get the sense that what was lost in terms of creature comforts back in the day was made up for handsomely with a begrudging, hard-earned sense of CAMARADERIE, which is ironic given that this film is essentially a documentation of the breakup of a POWERFUL and massively INFLUENTIAL band.
id consider REALITY 86'D required viewing. definitely worth checking out for anyone interested in the 1980s HARDCORE and INDIE ROCK scenes that paved the way for 1990s ALTERNATIVE ROCK. compelling stuff.