John Doe with Tom DeSavia - Under The Big Black Sun book review

Personal history of LA punk scene by co-founder of X, featuring contributions from other luminaries.

TODO alt text

Despite its reverence for groups such as The Damned, The Slits and The Pistols, LA punk was different from UK punk. Whereas UK punk sought to cleave British rock history in two, function as an all-destroying blast, LA punk was more of a blast; it’s depicted in this volume of essays and reminiscences as a prolonged, wild party of oddballs of all races and sexual persuasions, disaffected by an FM rock scene but regarding themselves as in the tradition of groups like The Doors.

Whereas UK punk reflected the bleakness of ugly Britain, LA punk took place against a rich, photogenic backdrop of Hollywood history, iconic boulevards and ongoing gangsterism; more glamorous, and more dangerous too. It was a scene that eventually turned sour when it was overrun by a nastier crowd of dudes from Orange County.

This fine collection of essays gives a vivid, detailed, acrid, blood-’n’-lipstick flavour of the LA punk scene, featuring contributions from Jane Wiedlin, Henry Rollins, Chris Morris and Doe himself. It’s less a chronological account, more than one that views all facets of the scene, and puts you back in the squats and dives and the scary roadsides of late 70s LA, paying homage to X, Black Flag, The Blasters, The Germs, The Go-Gos and many more.