Thursday, December 16, 2010


The Real Seattle Music Story

By Clark Humphrey

Feral House

This book is a note by note, almost day by day, it seems, account of modern Seattle music history, that begins with Native Americans (not too much on them, but the fact that they get a mention is exemplary of the kind of detail that plagues this book), goes through the city's entire history, including Tacoma garage bands, the 70's punk "explosion," and continuing on to about 1994 when the scene that made Seattle famous began to die away. I feel like the book is a response to other "Seattle Scene" books that have come out which basically begin with Soundgarden and end with Nirvana, and perhaps mention the Melvins as an anecdotal side note (those guys sure were wacky!). Beginning with the first Seattle punk bands, seemingly every group, band member, breakup, breakdown, overdose (there were a lot), venue, and historic concert is worth a mention. The manuscript is almost annoyingly thorough, at least for someone who isn't familiar with every Emerald City punk band ever. While I'm glad that this book exists, for I believe (obviously) that underground rock history should be preserved and documented in every way possible, I don't know If necessarily needed to read it.

Spanish Castle Magic

The text is mainly composed of narration directly from the author, who is no Stephen Blush, and articulates well without letting any of his own opinions and biases get in the way. There some direct quotes from history's participants, in the vein of the other "classic" oral history punk books, but I'm pretty sure they are all archival quotes from old interviews, and they are sprinkled in here and there, not packed everywhere. After all, who wants to hear the ramblings of an aging rocker recounting their glory days through the haze of major heroin addiction, a few trips to rehab, and the mind altering forces of group therapy? Not me.

The U-Men

The best thing about this book is the layout. The book is packed wall to wall, bulging with side bars of band photos, live shots, fliers, and even pictures of the venues. Fuck yeah! This time someone realized that the aesthetic of the scene was just as important as the reminiscing of a jaded writer and some fucked up ex junkie musicians. Seattle "grunge" designer Art Chantry goes all out here, making the book look like a giant glorified zine. Well done.

Corporate rock books still suck!

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