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Under the Big Black Sun explores the nascent Los Angeles punk rock movement and its evolution to hardcore punk as it’s never been told before. Authors John Doe and Tom DeSavia have woven together an enthralling story of the legendary west coast scene from 1977-1982 by enlisting the voices of people who were there. The book shares chapter-length tales from the authors along Under the Big Black Sun explores the nascent Los Angeles punk rock movement and its evolution to hardcore punk as it’s never been told before. Authors John Doe and Tom DeSavia have woven together an enthralling story of the legendary west coast scene from 1977-1982 by enlisting the voices of people who were there. The book shares chapter-length tales from the authors along with personal essays from famous (and infamous) players in the scene. Additional authors include: Exene Cervenka (X), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Mike Watt (The Minutemen), Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey (The Go-Go’s), Dave Alvin (The Blasters), Jack Grisham (TSOL), Teresa Covarrubias (The Brat), Robert Lopez (The Zeros, El Vez), as well as scencesters and journalists Pleasant Gehman, Kristine McKenna, and Chris Morris. Through interstitial commentary, John Doe “narrates” this journey through the land of film noir sunshine, Hollywood back alleys, and suburban sprawl—the place where he met his artistic counterparts Exene, DJ Bonebrake, and Billy Zoom—and formed X, the band that became synonymous with, and in many ways defined, L.A. punk. Under the Big Black Sun shares stories of friendship and love, ambition and feuds, grandiose dreams and cultural rage, all combined with the tattered, glossy sheen of pop culture weirdness that epitomized the operations of Hollywood’s underbelly. Readers will travel to the clubs that defined the scene, as well as to the street corners, empty lots, apartment complexes, and squats that served as de facto salons for the musicians, artists, and fringe players that hashed out what would become punk rock in Los Angeles.


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Under the Big Black Sun explores the nascent Los Angeles punk rock movement and its evolution to hardcore punk as it’s never been told before. Authors John Doe and Tom DeSavia have woven together an enthralling story of the legendary west coast scene from 1977-1982 by enlisting the voices of people who were there. The book shares chapter-length tales from the authors along Under the Big Black Sun explores the nascent Los Angeles punk rock movement and its evolution to hardcore punk as it’s never been told before. Authors John Doe and Tom DeSavia have woven together an enthralling story of the legendary west coast scene from 1977-1982 by enlisting the voices of people who were there. The book shares chapter-length tales from the authors along with personal essays from famous (and infamous) players in the scene. Additional authors include: Exene Cervenka (X), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Mike Watt (The Minutemen), Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey (The Go-Go’s), Dave Alvin (The Blasters), Jack Grisham (TSOL), Teresa Covarrubias (The Brat), Robert Lopez (The Zeros, El Vez), as well as scencesters and journalists Pleasant Gehman, Kristine McKenna, and Chris Morris. Through interstitial commentary, John Doe “narrates” this journey through the land of film noir sunshine, Hollywood back alleys, and suburban sprawl—the place where he met his artistic counterparts Exene, DJ Bonebrake, and Billy Zoom—and formed X, the band that became synonymous with, and in many ways defined, L.A. punk. Under the Big Black Sun shares stories of friendship and love, ambition and feuds, grandiose dreams and cultural rage, all combined with the tattered, glossy sheen of pop culture weirdness that epitomized the operations of Hollywood’s underbelly. Readers will travel to the clubs that defined the scene, as well as to the street corners, empty lots, apartment complexes, and squats that served as de facto salons for the musicians, artists, and fringe players that hashed out what would become punk rock in Los Angeles.

30 review for Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wil Wheaton

    This is the best audiobook I have ever listened to.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Quentin Montemayor

    (Disclaimer: this review is for the audiobook) This is a great fucking book. And if you don't listen to the audiobook you're doing yourself a disservice. All the chapters are read by the people who were there and experienced it all. What a great piece of history told in their own voices. John Doe has the perfect tone of voice for this. He should become a voice actor or something. There's a great Jack Grisham chapter. And I wouldn't want to spoil all that sex for you...so go listen. Do not wait.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lynx

    This isn't a memoir by John Doe, nor is it an oral history like Please Kill Me. This is a collection of personal short stories from an array of amazing, talented people who came into their own in the centre of the LA punk scene. While the overall theme of finding a place they finally felt they belonged is found in each chapter, it's the personal memories, interactions, and how it all shaped them and the art they would create that makes it all fascinating. This was my first ever audiobook and I'm This isn't a memoir by John Doe, nor is it an oral history like Please Kill Me. This is a collection of personal short stories from an array of amazing, talented people who came into their own in the centre of the LA punk scene. While the overall theme of finding a place they finally felt they belonged is found in each chapter, it's the personal memories, interactions, and how it all shaped them and the art they would create that makes it all fascinating. This was my first ever audiobook and I'm so happy I chose that way to experience this collection. Doe chose some awesome subjects to share their stories and hearing them all share their experiences in their own voice greatly enhanced the book for me. I also loved that he made sure to include plenty of incredible women considering how often their contributions have been overlooked. One incredible woman featured in this book is Pleasant Gehman. I had the immense pleasure of chatting with her on my podcast, and those who wish to hear some more fantastic tales from the LA Punk scene can check it out at Muses and Stuff.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    As a superfan of L.A. punk rock I was somewhat let down by Under the Big Black Sun. It's not a memoir, nor is it an oral history, and it's kind of a stretch to call it an anthology. It's a loose collection of essays that covers, more or less, the same ground as Forming: The Early Days of L.A. Punk, Make The Music Go Bang!: The Early L.A. Punk Scene, and We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk. That's fine. The voices collected here all add interesting insights to a story that's be As a superfan of L.A. punk rock I was somewhat let down by Under the Big Black Sun. It's not a memoir, nor is it an oral history, and it's kind of a stretch to call it an anthology. It's a loose collection of essays that covers, more or less, the same ground as Forming: The Early Days of L.A. Punk, Make The Music Go Bang!: The Early L.A. Punk Scene, and We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk. That's fine. The voices collected here all add interesting insights to a story that's been told many times before despite co-author Tom DeSavia's claims that LA punk rock is underdocumented. Interspersed between these pieces are shorter remembrances by John Doe and DeSavia that add little to the collection. I think I would have preferred if they'd stuck to being editors and made it a proper anthology and added more voices to the conversation. If I sound a bit jaded you can thank Allan MacDonell's Punk Elegies: True Tales of Death Trip Kids, Wrongful Sex, and Trial by Angel Dust and Alice Bag's Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story, which are both real and raw and burst the balloon that would have you believe that the early LA punk scene was a magical time of creativity and diversity. There were drugs addicts, hustlers, prostitutes, rapists and rape victims, violence against women and STDs aplenty but you won't find any of that here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aengus

    One could make a pretty good argument that the L.A. punk scene of the late '70's/early '80's was every bit as culturally influential as the London and New York punk movements, if not more so. Besides the music, SoCal popularized the D.I.Y. ethos, gave us the art of Raymond Petttibon, and the documentaries of Penelope Spheeris. It's fairly crying out for a good book about it. "Under the Big Black Sun" is not that book. What is it? A collection of short essays about L.A. in the late '70's, written One could make a pretty good argument that the L.A. punk scene of the late '70's/early '80's was every bit as culturally influential as the London and New York punk movements, if not more so. Besides the music, SoCal popularized the D.I.Y. ethos, gave us the art of Raymond Petttibon, and the documentaries of Penelope Spheeris. It's fairly crying out for a good book about it. "Under the Big Black Sun" is not that book. What is it? A collection of short essays about L.A. in the late '70's, written by several of the musicians and scenesters from those days. It's pretty hit or miss. Most of theses pieces follow the same narrative, and tell the same stories, to wit: 1) "I came here when I was 16, and met others like myself who didn't fit in." 2) "The parties were crazy. Tomata du Plenty made gross appetizers @ the Disgraceland Party and we smoked pot with Tony Curtis!!" (There's a lot of name dropping going on here). 3) "The music was great!!! The first Plugz/Weirdos/Germs show I went to was like nothing I'd ever experienced!!! It was so raw!! 4) "Drugs and Orange County skinheads came and ruined it for everyone, so I moved on." There's not a lot of insight into what made punk music from that time and place so powerful. The best part of the book is Mike Watt's story of the birth of the Minutemen. Written without capital letters, and strewn with teenageisms (prolly, dealio), Watt's essay is a tender paean to his best friend and bandmate, D. Boon, who died in a car accident just when the band was about to take off. It's funny and heartbreaking.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Craig J.

    Great read about the original Los Angeles punk scene. Really enjoyed the emphasis on the creativity, inclusiveness, and intellect of the scene (which has always been the most most attractive thing about punk to me) rather than just tales of debauch and nihilism, although those are scattered throughout as well. It offers a very nice counter to all the current hype about the early New York punk scene, and successfully documents some great moments illustrating the unique feel the early LA artists b Great read about the original Los Angeles punk scene. Really enjoyed the emphasis on the creativity, inclusiveness, and intellect of the scene (which has always been the most most attractive thing about punk to me) rather than just tales of debauch and nihilism, although those are scattered throughout as well. It offers a very nice counter to all the current hype about the early New York punk scene, and successfully documents some great moments illustrating the unique feel the early LA artists brought to punk while remaining true to the voices of those who participated in creating it. Many of the vignettes are touching eulogies to a brief time that left an impact still felt in music and art today.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Al

    Instead of a John Doe book, this is set up as John Doe curating a book about the LA punk scene. The stated objective of the book is that the Los Angeles punk scene of the late 70s doesn’t get enough respect and attention in comparison to the London and New York scenes. I admire working towards that end, although for me, it’s impossible to beat the UK and NYC for depth and quality, as well as diversity. Still, LA is very important. For starters, Doe’s band X is despite many plaudits, still underap Instead of a John Doe book, this is set up as John Doe curating a book about the LA punk scene. The stated objective of the book is that the Los Angeles punk scene of the late 70s doesn’t get enough respect and attention in comparison to the London and New York scenes. I admire working towards that end, although for me, it’s impossible to beat the UK and NYC for depth and quality, as well as diversity. Still, LA is very important. For starters, Doe’s band X is despite many plaudits, still underappreciated. As is so many of the bands that former the LA scene- the Go-Gos, Fear, TSOL, the Weirdos, the Dickies, the Germs- and there is a wealth of diversity and thought- Black Randy and the Metro Squad, the Blasters, the Bags, the Polecats, the Zeros, the Plugz, the Screamers and many more. The book are short pieces –about 20 or so from 15 of the scene’s members- musicians, journalists, film makers. Billie Joe Armstrong with the introduction, and pieces written by Henry Rollins, Exene Cevenka, and more. The best in my opinion were the ones written by Doe, and Jane Weidlin and Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Gos. They really captured that period of youth where you discover others with the same tastes as you, and start making towards a scene, capturing the energy and the lack of money, no car, dead end jobs but also as the scene evolves over time. I was very inspired to think of my teenage years and early 20s and surely others will be reminded of their local scenes. Maybe not everyone we knew ended up on MTV, but we were inspired and created and made the scene in our lives. Mike Watt has an excellent piece which is a fitting tribute to D Boon but also captures that feeling of being a lonely outsider and is written in the captifying way of ‘wattspeak” like only he can. El Vez (and others) pointed out the openness of the scene and that it was not just a white male scene, but everyone was equal, and the scene was accepting of women, gays, Latinos and everyone. I found Dave Alvin’s piece worthwhile in that it argues over what punk is. If punk is ‘do what you love no matter what’ then the Blasters were indeed punk; but if punk is a haircut or a uniform , his band did not fit in. The Blasters shared stages with acts as diverse as Queen, Fear, Los Lobos, Bo Diddley, and Dwight Yoakam. It was cool that Lee Ving had the band’s back, and that their rockabilly-influenced sound fit in a scene where they did not sound like anyone else. I also really appreciated Jack Grisham’s piece. Most of the book follows the same thread- there was this magical group of outsiders who came together to form art, then hardcore came in, hard drugs were introduced, the scene was violent and testosterone driven. Grisham offers a great rebuttal on what drove bands like TSOL and others to do what they did. They were coming into a scene that had become the establishment it once railed against. Journalist Kristine McKenna and Doe end the book with two pieces that sum up the chapters before. McKenna is a great writer, though I think she is a bit off with postulating that the scene wouldn’t have been created in world of social media. This to me hits a bit too much “Get off my lawn” for me. I get her point, but scenes involve. Now, there are blogs, sites like Bandcamp, kickstarter campaigns, guerilla marketing, and people across the world with similar tastes can connect, and artists like car Seat Headrest can go from home recordings to national stardom without leaving the bedroom. Her other contention borders on the “youth is wasted on the young” meme, which is mostly true. Without being ageist, many of her points are valid. The young have the time and energy and drive, before worrying about bills and families set in, and other motivations drive decisions. Another point made is that the scene once rebellious and considered something the mainstream would ridicule turned into something that corporations like record labels and MTV embraced because they saw financial implications. What was pure art was now being tinged by the greed of Capitalism. Doe ties it all together, capturing the points where the scene moved from a collection of creative souls to where it loses the plot- Go Gos Top 10 success, X’s major label signing and national tour, Darby Crash’s death. These things led to the scene no longer being this pure uncorrupted thing. For me, this book was really powerful, and reminded me so much of my younger years and “the scene”, and I think friends of mine would say the same. Granted, we may not have the level of fame, but the scene for us was just as important to shaping our lives. To McKenna’s point, it was a time that you could get beat up for the way you looked, a nostalgia that the alt-right apparently wants to bring back. When I look at the reviews, they seem mixed. I think it may help that I know these bands very well. For me, this book was perfect for what Doe wanted to accomplish. I would be remiss if I didn’t end this review with a glowing appreciation of my local library. In the last year or so , they have brought in not only this book, but a bunch of significant music biographies- Unfaithful Music, Porcelain, Trouble Boys, How Music Works as well as this book. Not to mention a lot of other cool books like Richard Zacks’ Mark Twain book. This is an amazing selection that I doubt my Big Box store can compete with. Way to go local library!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Angela(Angie)

    Fabulous!! This is an amazing punk rock history. I enjoyed it in both formats: as an audiobook and as a print book. I recommend both formats--they each offer different appeals. The audiobook was everything I have always wanted from a music biography audiobook-- each chapter was read by the author of that chapter, and there were musical excerpts in between chapters. But of course the print book offers a better way to pore over the lyrics, and also has great photos. We were lucky enough to go the Fabulous!! This is an amazing punk rock history. I enjoyed it in both formats: as an audiobook and as a print book. I recommend both formats--they each offer different appeals. The audiobook was everything I have always wanted from a music biography audiobook-- each chapter was read by the author of that chapter, and there were musical excerpts in between chapters. But of course the print book offers a better way to pore over the lyrics, and also has great photos. We were lucky enough to go the book signing in Austin, and we had a chance to chat with John Doe and thank him for this book. He was charming as always, and also said he hopes to do a follow up book. Can't wait!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Totally rad. I love these oral history books- and it was especially great on audio- because I get to learn more about a time I didn't get to live through myself, and straight from the mouths of the people who were at the center of it. Most of the recollections weren't very pretty, but that's punk.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisastrawberry

    Excellent history, in a quirky random manner that perfectly suits the subject. Many writers co-authored the book with John Doe. I want to check out The Flesheaters and the Minute Men after hearing Jason and Mike give their accounts of the bands, respectively.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    If you are interested in this, may I suggest the audio book! So fun! And so much LA punk history!! I had no idea the Go Go's were involved in the LA punk scene.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Thom

    This book is a collection of short histories by the people who were there, along with some great photos from the time. Better still is the audio book, where each of the authors reads their own section - telling their story. Combining the two - awesome! John Doe writes (and narrates) the majority of the chapters, and they do a nice job of covering history from early LA punk - from glam to hardcore. This sets the scene for the other authors - Dave Alvin, Charlotte Caffey, Exene Cervenka, Teresa Cov This book is a collection of short histories by the people who were there, along with some great photos from the time. Better still is the audio book, where each of the authors reads their own section - telling their story. Combining the two - awesome! John Doe writes (and narrates) the majority of the chapters, and they do a nice job of covering history from early LA punk - from glam to hardcore. This sets the scene for the other authors - Dave Alvin, Charlotte Caffey, Exene Cervenka, Teresa Covarrubias, Pleasant Gehman, Jack Grisham, Robert Lopez (aka El Vez), Kristine McKenna, Chris Morris, Henry Rollins, Mike Watt, and Jane Wiedlin. If you have *any* interest at all in this subject or this music, go get the book and the audiobook (probably both available at the library) and dig in!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Over twenty-four chapters from a host of scenesters from the emergent punk scene of Los Angeles in the late 70s and early 80s, John Doe et al relate their personal histories and various manifestos in “Under the Big Black Sun,” a “personal history of L.A. punk.” It’s an engaging and endearing read, if at times predictably repetitive. Then again, the people, places, and events might mesh into one, but the individuality of the memories is what makes each one special and unique. Doe’s name is in big Over twenty-four chapters from a host of scenesters from the emergent punk scene of Los Angeles in the late 70s and early 80s, John Doe et al relate their personal histories and various manifestos in “Under the Big Black Sun,” a “personal history of L.A. punk.” It’s an engaging and endearing read, if at times predictably repetitive. Then again, the people, places, and events might mesh into one, but the individuality of the memories is what makes each one special and unique. Doe’s name is in big print on the cover, but the stories are told by a variety of folks (Doe contributes a little over a third) including his partner in crime Exene Cervenka, Go-Go’s alumni Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin, Henry Rollins, Dave Alvin, and a handful of others. Some stories are band histories while others tell of how they ended up in the scene. Doe writes a wonderfully comprehensive chapter about the punk ethos that was at the core of the scene while Mike Watt of the Minutemen writes a fascinating stream-of-consciousness piece about the beginning, short life, and quick end of his infamous band. It’s touching how much he still misses D. Boon some thirty years gone. If you don’t know who D. Boon or the Minutemen are, then I’m not really sure why you’d want to read this book because, at heart, this is a love letter written by the people who made it happen to both themselves and their audience. Then again, maybe reading it for the uninitiated will open doors to this music and remind people of the critical role punk plays in the survival of rock music. I love X and I’ll never forget meeting them outside a show in Pittsburgh moons ago in which I stammered something about how incredible it was to finally meet them in person. John Doe deadpanned with charm and his quick smile, “Well, here we are.” He and the band were humble and genuinely appreciative that a nobody had taken the time to wait alone in the dark alley outside their show just so he could say thanks for making his life better with their music. In that brief yet unforgettable moment before they climbed the step into their bus, my long-held belief that X was a great band full of great people was solidified. As I stood outside yet another small club venue the band has played over their decades in the business, watching their bus back out and waving like a dorky fan, I realized the thin line between those who are committed and those who aren’t. I would’ve given anything to be a part of the L.A. punk scene described in this book (or the similar movements in NYC or London), but I didn’t have the courage or the dedication. It’s a bitter pill to keep swallowing, but if we can’t be honest with ourselves, then we have bigger problems than lamenting days gone by. In this book, John Doe and friends at least provide an outsider like me a personal insight into the environment, and from that I take comfort and crank up Under the Big Black Sun once again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessie McMains

    A few of the chapters were a little meh, which is to be expected in a book written by many different people, but overall it was an excellent look back at the first wave of L.A. punk, from many of the main players.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    I love this book. Unlike other books I've read about the history of punk music, this book heavily discusses the way people of color influenced the punk scene. Others have either glossed over it or don't discuss it at all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leenda dela Luna

    A collection of short memoirs from people who were part of the early LA Punk scene. Have only read 4 chapters so far but I am LOVING this book!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Craig D. Mitchell

    The “personal history” part of the title is correct because it’s a collection of essays not just from John Doe and Exene, but from the other bands, and scenesters as well. It was of great value to be able to see those moments in time through so many different people’s eyes. The only downside was that some of those that contributed saw the exact same thing. However, while some of their essays might have contained few new details, they provided confirmation, and generally included at least one wil The “personal history” part of the title is correct because it’s a collection of essays not just from John Doe and Exene, but from the other bands, and scenesters as well. It was of great value to be able to see those moments in time through so many different people’s eyes. The only downside was that some of those that contributed saw the exact same thing. However, while some of their essays might have contained few new details, they provided confirmation, and generally included at least one wild story no one else had mentioned. Let me be clear on one thing. All of those wild, perverted Go-Go’s stories you might have heard over the years? They’re apparently true. That cute, adorable, and seemingly innocent lil’ Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s I was so smitten by in high school? As she tells her story, well... not even close to innocent. Nowhere in the same neighborhood as innocent, ok? I won’t ruin it for you but let’s just say she would have been a very, VERY interesting girl to know or date back then. Sheezus. They have a bunch of those wonderful, thrown together or drawn, last minute, and often brilliant punk flyers between every essay— of the same type I remember from my midwestern punk days. And I believe the history goes no further than Black Flag— those guys many of the writers were in full agreement on: “And then Black Flag came along, and then you had the utter violence that always seemed to follow them around.” I guess The Minutemen were in there, and quite a few others— too many to mention. I liked this book enough that it actually made me turn around and decide to see X when they’re in town next month— all of the original members including Billy Zoom! I read a few reviews of the shows they’ve played in recent years, and if there was one thing everyone agreed on: “X can still bring it!”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    At the reading John Doe gave at Diesel Books in Oakland (June 2016), I asked him "Are we sure the Go-Gos were punk?" Some people laughed but John assured us all - yes, punk. Finally, nearly two years later I read the book. He's right, and I asked a naive question! The Go-Go's came out of the same community stew that gave us X, The Blasters, Los Lobos, The Flesh Eaters, The Germs, El Vez, and The Minutemen. The history of L.A's punk scene as told here starts with a communal fun vibe of DIY everythi At the reading John Doe gave at Diesel Books in Oakland (June 2016), I asked him "Are we sure the Go-Gos were punk?" Some people laughed but John assured us all - yes, punk. Finally, nearly two years later I read the book. He's right, and I asked a naive question! The Go-Go's came out of the same community stew that gave us X, The Blasters, Los Lobos, The Flesh Eaters, The Germs, El Vez, and The Minutemen. The history of L.A's punk scene as told here starts with a communal fun vibe of DIY everything. It connected East L.A to Hollywood and mixed rock, latin, bluegrass, & roots. And then around 1982 (the year I arrived in L.A) it gave way to an angry and violent expression lead by Black Flag. This collection of memoirettes gives a nice oral history of the L.A music scene as it moves from its fun, bohemian, indulgent party days to its serious, angry, thrasher indulgent party days. The majority of the memoirrettes chronicle the happy fun days of 1975-1979. Henry Rollins' piece introduces a change in the narration. I bet Rollins knew he was going to be seen as the bad guy in this book, and so he keeps it short: his view of L.A of 1981 is not flattering, he doesn't see the fun community that John Doe, Exene, and Jane Wiedlin saw. He's not impressed at all. Then the writing by Jack Grisham (lead singer of TSOL) reads like a rebuttal to all the "happy days" memoirs. He chronicles an L.A of police violence, relentless harassment, and communal rejection. Yeah, he makes his case for the violent side of punk. No apologies from him! The two who seemed to really bridge the divide and enjoyed both eras (the happy & the angry) were Mike Watt (The Minutemen) & Dave Alvin (The Blasters). And their stories (Watt's and Alvin's) were the best in this collection.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    I loved this book so much. I listened to the Audiobook version and as a result, was able to hear the author of the work and it's contributors voices as they read their memoirs. There were many of the big names of the early LA Punk scene(1977-1982) John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Jane Weidlin, Dave Alvin, Henry Rollins, Alice Bag, and many many more people lent their perspective to this work. I HIGHLY recommend this work to anyone who loves punk, it's a completely great time. I felt like I knew punk pret I loved this book so much. I listened to the Audiobook version and as a result, was able to hear the author of the work and it's contributors voices as they read their memoirs. There were many of the big names of the early LA Punk scene(1977-1982) John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Jane Weidlin, Dave Alvin, Henry Rollins, Alice Bag, and many many more people lent their perspective to this work. I HIGHLY recommend this work to anyone who loves punk, it's a completely great time. I felt like I knew punk pretty well but was introduced to bands like "The Brat", "The Weirdo's" and more than I wish I had heard years ago. Even though the punks who penned this work are the narrators the Star of this work seems to be LA herself, in all her hard glory. Henry Rollins in this work described LA as a stucco-covered killing field, what a great and perfect description. The Weirdo's Helium Bar https://youtu.be/WWjyxtTpfRA

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    So, so so Great! I'm so glad @wilwheaton recommended it and the audio version at that. 99% of the contributors had interesting and profound things to say about this time and did it so well. Some write better than they read but that's to be expected. Just listen for content, not professional tone and modulation. And I'm so surprised they can all remember so much from these crazy days! I was not in LA in the late 70s or early 80s when this is centered but got to San Diego in 84 and could see a lot So, so so Great! I'm so glad @wilwheaton recommended it and the audio version at that. 99% of the contributors had interesting and profound things to say about this time and did it so well. Some write better than they read but that's to be expected. Just listen for content, not professional tone and modulation. And I'm so surprised they can all remember so much from these crazy days! I was not in LA in the late 70s or early 80s when this is centered but got to San Diego in 84 and could see a lot of what the authors mention as how things were changed or changing by that time. Blast from the past is right. Nostalgic in all the right ways. Good mix of collaborators. Only music included is X and it would be nice if there had been other excerpts by each band but oh well. If listening, stay till the very, very end! ;-)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brian Johnson

    The approach in writing about the early punk rock movement in L.A. is refreshing. I enjoyed hearing the multitude of perspectives, the accounts, memories, and stories told through the eyes of the people who were there. I have read a lot and have been told many stories from people who were in LA through those years and still I came away with having a clearer picture of what it was like then and how the first wave of Punk rock was a more bohemian lifestyle, before hardcore sort of took over. Great The approach in writing about the early punk rock movement in L.A. is refreshing. I enjoyed hearing the multitude of perspectives, the accounts, memories, and stories told through the eyes of the people who were there. I have read a lot and have been told many stories from people who were in LA through those years and still I came away with having a clearer picture of what it was like then and how the first wave of Punk rock was a more bohemian lifestyle, before hardcore sort of took over. Great read. I recommend this for anyone interested in the subject.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Georgiane

    The life I was too young to have Luckily, some of these bands were still playing when I was old enough to go see them. I listened to the book and it was awesome to hear the artists themselves telling their own history. It was great to hear from several of them about the rush of the discovery of music, from mags to radio to record shops.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Plants

    Every chapter is written by a different influencer of the early punk scene in LA, and, for me, it felt like a double-edged sword: some of the chapters were AMAZING and others were bland, dull and forgettable. Nevertheless, I respect that it was a group effort and not just one person’s story. Worth a read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Demelza

    I enjoyed the diversity of voices from the scene, hearing stories read by those who wrote them, about their experiences.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is an incredibly enjoyable audiobook. Even for me, despite my disgust with the ease with which Boomers got everything (and then destroyed it for future generations).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    It is a fascinating read that opened my eyes to a history of which I was unaware. I loved learning about how art, philosophy, and literature influenced a movement that most would see as devoid of culture. Granted, there was a dark side as well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trent

    As with everything in life, so goes the LA Punk scene -- a-holes ruin everything.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I really wish this book had been available years ago. There are so many great bands that came out of the LA scene, but I had very little idea how that all fit together. One of the most interesting revelations for me was the pre-hardcore relationship between the early LA punk scene and the "roots" scene. Reading this (or, listening, as the case may be) reminded me how little time I've spent giving bands like Los Lobos their due consideration, though it's clear they were a part of this community, I really wish this book had been available years ago. There are so many great bands that came out of the LA scene, but I had very little idea how that all fit together. One of the most interesting revelations for me was the pre-hardcore relationship between the early LA punk scene and the "roots" scene. Reading this (or, listening, as the case may be) reminded me how little time I've spent giving bands like Los Lobos their due consideration, though it's clear they were a part of this community, too. One note: if you're able to, I'd highly recommend listening to the audiobook. The individual contributions are read by the authors themselves and nothing quite like hearing Mike Watt or Jane Wiedlin telling their stories in their own voice.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    An oral history of the late 1970's Los Angeles punk scene, told by the people who were there. Fascinating on a musical and cultural level, plus a tragic reminder of the fleetingness of youth. The audiobook is an enjoyable listen because it is narrated by many of the featured musicians and there are clips of X songs between each of the chapters.

  30. 4 out of 5

    ElphaReads

    3.5 Stars. So back in my high school years I was a huge, HUGE fan of late 1970s punk music. I still am. My tastes started in an act of rebellion, with me buying 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here Are The Sex Pistols' just because I knew my Mom didn't approve. BUT IT WAS MY MONEY AND I WAS A BADASS! I ended up really loving it, and expanded my repertoire to other punk groups, mostly American ones. One of these bands was X, a Los Angeles based group that was thrashing, pissed off, and fronted by Exene 3.5 Stars. So back in my high school years I was a huge, HUGE fan of late 1970s punk music. I still am. My tastes started in an act of rebellion, with me buying 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here Are The Sex Pistols' just because I knew my Mom didn't approve. BUT IT WAS MY MONEY AND I WAS A BADASS! I ended up really loving it, and expanded my repertoire to other punk groups, mostly American ones. One of these bands was X, a Los Angeles based group that was thrashing, pissed off, and fronted by Exene Cervenka on vocals and John Doe on vocals on bass. Boy did I have a thing for John Doe. While I had a vocal thing for Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols (Because I'm what? EMBARRASSING!), John Doe had an all American swagger about him, and had the distinct positive factor of never killing his girlfriend (I still wonder what actually happened in the Chelsea Hotel that night between Sid and Nancy. Maybe that makes me a bad person). So when I found out that he'd compiled some thoughts on L.A. punk into the book UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN, along with other relevant voices from the movement, I couldn't resist. In the 1970s, punk music was on the rise in reaction to the pretentious bloat of rock music. in Los Angeles, a movement was growing, involving bands such as X, The Go-Gos, the Germs, the Zeroes, and a number of other groups that were thrashing and crowing their way into music history and relevance. This collection of essays is a rememberance from those who were there, told in their own words. When I picked this up, I thought that it was going to be pretty much all John Doe, but I was mistaken about that. While he definitely has the majority of the essays, the voices are from all over the movement, and I am ashamed to say that a fair number of the people were some I had never heard of. The good news is that I've expanded my Spotify collection to involve a lot of artists I wasn't familiar with, and they're all RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. The bad news, unfortunately, as that this wasn't what I was expecting, and while I really liked getting some light shed on this movement from a large number of voices, I was kind of hoping for more narrative. Essays are all well and good and they work in this instance because it gives the progression of L.A. punk a more loose and organic feel. But I kind of wanted to learn more about John Doe and the band X specifically. ANd I also wish that more had been said by Exene, whose pre-goth snarly attitude was one I tried to emulate in high school to very little success. All that said, I really liked hearing about the roots of this movement and how different groups brought different sounds, specifically a Chicano sound that L.A. had because of course it would. I learned a lot, and I greatly enjoyed what I learned. UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN is a must for fans of punk music, but don't go in looking for a cohesive plot line. Just go in looking to learn about this awesome music movement.

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