Friday, October 12, 2012
Perfect Youth - The Birth of Canadian Punk by Sam Sutherland
This book takes its name from the first LP by Canada's Pointed Sticks. I love some of their tracks, and thru listening to DOA and other Canadian punk bands have grown an interest in the Canadian punk scene. When I read a few months ago that this book was coming out, I had to get my hands on it to see what it was going to be about. Till now, I was not aware of any book that covered the punk scenes across Canada similar to that of American Hardcore, Burning Britain, etc (some of the books at the top of the blog page).
The book is broken down into individual chapters that discuss the beginning eras of local scenes in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, the Eastern provinces, Hamilton, Victoria, Saskatchewan, and Ottawa. There are also a few chapters dedicated primarily to an individual band: The Diodes, Pointed Sticks, DOA, Forgotten Rebels, The Mods, Subhumans, and Teenage Head.
Each chapter is a collection of facts about band releases, venues that supported the scene and/or were opened by members within the scene, and some interview quotes from members of the bands, their managers, and other prominent people with knowledge of what happened back in the day.
There are interesting stories about the band personalities. I had never heard of the Viletones and was unaware of their singer having a punk persona that was a cross between Darby Crash and GG Allin. Several of the leaders of the scene have gone on to wealthy careers in politics, as lawyers, as recording agents, etc. In fact, one of the guys mentioned is the COO of Live Nation.
The scenes all had their challenges and unique personalities. Some were strongly supported by the gay community. Others had to create their own places to play that opposed the local musician unions.
Some, like DOA, toured endlessly back and forth across the country creating paths for others to follow. While doing so, they also spurred local bands to start up and get up on stage. I was also surprised to read about some of the bands playing quite frequently in NYC.
The book has open my eyes to a lot of bands that I had never heard of, and I will be in search of their music. I wish they would have had discographies listed of the bands that they mention in each chapter.
If you have any interest in the first wave of Canadian punk across many regions and provinces, I would highly recommend this book. It was a quick read for a 350+ page book.