Going Underground: American Punk 1979 – 1992 Book
By George Hurchalla
There’s been a few different books about punk rock and its history, but not that many that really cover the hardcore years that were post-1980. The most notable one to cover this era is the American Hardcore book by Steven Blush, which while having some interesting information, was inherently flawed by the author spending too much time trying to put himself over, and trying to get across his agenda that punk died on a certain date and was full of scandal. It tainted what would have otherwise been a fantastic book.
That is where George Hurchalla comes in. George, only a few years older than me, has a great passion for punk rock even to this day. His only agenda was to share stories and history with interested people who might want to learn more about a very special time and a very special world that was the punk rock scene in American in the 1980s. It was fascinating to read the stories on how he came to discover punk and the various bands, venues, etc. Many of his stories were very similar to my own experiences back then, except unlike me, George traveled the country and experienced punk scenes in many different places in the US.
The book reads almost like a tour, Hurchalla does a wonderful job of weaving stories together that focus on different regions of the country. The information was culled from countless hours of reading old interviews, speaking to various band members from that time, and even from websites such as this one and the Spontaneous Combustion site! I was flattered to see my sites listed as a source of information.
Every scene touched on in this book was done justice and I learned a bunch of things about various bands and scenes that I didn’t know before reading this book! I was particularly fond of the stuff on Husker Du, the Chicago scene, and the less recognized bands such as Electric Love Muffin from Philly. Unlike the “other hardcore book” there is no embellished drama and scandal, it just reports the facts, intertwined with Hurchalla’s stories of how he came to discover the various bands and scenes. There is a good amount of pictures of bands, records and old flyers sprinkled in the book as well.
Weighing in at a little over 300 pages and the large size make it a book you wont finish in one sitting. The one fault of the book, if you could call it a fault, is that there wasn’t more. I only say that because I found it so hard to put down, I was hooked and just kept reading and reading until my eyes couldn’t take it anymore. When I was done, I was yearning for just a few more chapters, it was that good of a read.
As a person who was there for a good chunk of the time period this book covers, it was not only a wonderful trip down memory lane, but also served as an enhancement to my “punk rock education” as there was plenty of stories I’ve never heard before, and information I wasn’t aware of. If someone who wasn’t there at the time were to read this, they’d come out of it with a great understanding of what the world of punk rock was like back then and will hopefully appreciate it and respect it as much as the author, who’s passion for the old punk scene never seemed to fade or sour like some people. I can’t recommend this book enough, and hopefully there is more like it to come in the future.