Books

The Best Books We Read This Year

Books

We spent countless hours reading books this year and picked the best ones that deserve your utmost attention. Some titles are more than a decade old, and some are released this year. All these books are essential reading material you should check out.


A Hardcore Heart: Adventures In A DIY Scene By David Gamage (Earth Island Books)

A Hardcore Heart: Adventures In A DIY Scene by David Gamage

Packed with first-hand stories and unpolished nuggets, this hefty but very-readable book plots a path through UKHC in the ‘90s as it developed into an underground scene.

Focusing on the people; artists, promoters, venues, record labels and fanzines, and following the evolution of the author’s bands, it looks at the intricacies of the post-punk genre and bursts with ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ hardcore anecdotes that’ll keep you turning the pages.

You’ll read about touring and gigs with hundreds of bands, including Green Day, NOFX, Alice Donut, Jailcell Recipes, The BBMFs, Majority Of One, Spermbirds, The Babies Three, Understand, Samiam, Down By Law, Alloy, Hot Water Music, Bob Tilton, Tribute, Discount, Blue Tip, Leiah, Leatherface, Spy Versus Spy, Hunter Gatherer, Dismemberment Plan, Burning Airlines, Piebald and many more.

If you were ever in a band, then you’ll recognise and empathise with much of the narrative. And if you’ve wondered what it would be like to tour and release records at the underdog end of the alternative music scene, then this book will take you on an invigorating and enlightening roller-coaster ride.

Order the book HERE

Punks Listen! By Hope Collective

Punks Listen by Niall McGuirk & Michael Murphy

PUNKS LISTEN is the third in a series of ‘benefit books’ from the Hope Collective, Dublin’s punk/Do-It-Yourself Collective.

It is designed to raise funds for the Red Cross Ukraine Refugee appeal.

The new book is a collection of pieces of writing from musicians, writers, actors and music fans. They were asked to write about a record (or a gig) that was particularly significant to them. The responses make for some very interesting reading.

Order the book HERE

Burning Britain by Ian Glasper

Burning Britain by Ian Glasper

As the Seventies drew to a close and the media declared punk dead and buried, a whole new breed of band was emerging from the gutter. Harder and faster than their ’76–’77 predecessors, not to mention more aggressive and political, the likes of Discharge, the Exploited, and G.B.H. were to prove not only more relevant but arguably just as influential.

Several years in the making and featuring hundreds of new interviews and photographs, Burning Britain is the true story of the UK punk scene from 1980 to 1984 told for the first time by the bands and record labels that created it. Covering the country region by region, author Ian Glasper profiles legendary bands like Vice Squad, Angelic Upstarts, Blitz, Anti-Nowhere League, Cockney Rejects, and the UK Subs as well as the more obscure groups like Xtract, The Skroteez, and Soldier Dolls.

The grim reality of being a teenage punk rocker in Thatcher’s Britain resulted in some of the most primal and potent music ever committed to plastic. Burning Britain is the definitive overview of that previously overlooked era.

Order the book HERE


The Day the Country Died: A History Of Anarcho Punk 1980 To 1984 By Ian Glasper - PM Press

The Day The Country Died by Ian Glasper

The Day the Country Died features author, historian, and musician Ian Glasper (Burning Britain) exploring in minute detail the influential, esoteric, UK anarcho punk scene of the early Eighties.

If the colorful ’80s punk bands captured in Burning Britain were loud, political, and uncompromising, those examined in The Day the Country Died were even more so, totally prepared to risk their liberty to communicate the ideals they believed in so passionately.

With Crass and Poison Girls opening the floodgates, the arrival of bands such as Zounds, Flux of Pink Indians, Conflict, Subhumans, Chumbawamba, Amebix, Rudimentary Peni, Antisect, Omega Tribe, and Icons of Filth heralded a brand new age of honesty and integrity in underground music. With a backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain, punk music became self-sufficient and considerably more aggressive, blending a DIY ethos with activism to create the perfectly bleak soundtrack to the zeitgeist of a discontented British youth.

It was a time when punk stopped being merely a radical fashion statement, and became a force for real social change; a genuine revolutionary movement, driven by some of the most challenging noises ever committed to tape. Anarchy, as regards punk rock, no longer meant “cash from chaos.“ It meant “freedom, peace, and unity.“ Anarcho punk took the rebellion inherent in punk from the beginning to a whole new level of personal awareness.

All the scene’s biggest names, and most of the smaller ones, are comprehensively covered with new, exclusive interviews and hundreds of previously unseen photographs.

Order the book HERE

Sober Living For The Revolution by Gabriel Kuhn

Sober Living For The Revolution by Gabriel Kuhn

Straight edge has persisted as a drug-free, hardcore punk subculture for 25 years. Its political legacy, however, remains ambiguous—often associated with self-righteous macho posturing and conservative puritanism. While certain elements of straight edge culture feed into such perceptions, the movement’s political history is far more complex.

Since straight edge’s origins in Washington, DC, in the early 1980s, it has been linked to radical thought and action by countless individuals, bands, and entire scenes worldwide. Sober Living for the Revolution traces this history.

It includes contributions—in the form of in-depth interviews, essays, and manifestos—by numerous artists and activists connected to straight edge, from Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi) and Mark Andersen (Dance of Days/Positive Force DC) to Dennis Lyxzén (Refused/The (International) Noise Conspiracy) and Andy Hurley (Racetraitor/Fall Out Boy), from bands such as ManLiftingBanner and Point of No Return to feminist and queer initiatives, from radical collectives like CrimethInc. and Alpine Anarchist Productions to the Emancypunx project and many others dedicated as much to sober living as to the fight for a better world.

Order the book HERE

Straight Edge And Radical Sobriety by Gabriel Kuhn

X: Straight Edge And Radical Sobriety by Gabriel Kuhn

Straight edge—hardcore punk’s drug-free offshoot—has thrived as a subculture since the early 1980s. Its influence has reached far beyond musical genres and subcultural divides. Today it is more diverse and richly complex than ever, and in the past decade alcohol and drug use have become a much-discussed issue in radical politics, not least due to the hard work, dedication, and commitment to social and environmental justice found among straight-edge activists.

X: Straight Edge and Radical Sobriety is Gabriel Kuhn’s highly anticipated follow-up to his critically acclaimed Sober Living for the Revolution. In this impressive volume, Kuhn continues his reconnaissance of straight-edge culture and how it overlaps with radical politics. Extensively illustrated and combining original interviews and essays with manifestos and reprints from zines and pamphlets, X is a vital portrait of the wide spectrum of people who define straight-edge culture today.

In the sprawling scope of this book, the notion of straight edge as a bastion of white, middle-class, cis males is openly confronted and boldly challenged by dozens of contributors who span five continents. X takes a piercing look at religion, identity, feminism, aesthetics, harm reduction, and much more. It is both a call to action and an elaborate redefinition of straight edge and radical sobriety.

Promising to inspire discussion, reflection, and unearth hidden chapters of hardcore punk history, X: Straight Edge and Radical Sobriety is of crucial importance to anybody interested in the politics of punk and social transformation.

Order the book HERE


Combat Ready by Tim Satchwell

Combat Ready by Tim Satchwell

To celebrate the iconic album’s fortieth anniversary this year, Clash aficionado and author Tim Satchwell, has updated his debut book, ‘Combat Ready’, all about the inspiration behind and making of The Clash’s classic album ‘Combat Rock’.

This book is a treasure trove of information as well as an in-depth collector’s item, looking at The Clash’s biggest and most successful album release; it’s background stories, the studios and people involved, containing plenty of hitherto unknown insight and original colour art. Tim has written three books about The Clash; about Combat Rock (Combat Ready), Give ‘em Enough Rope (All The Peacemakers) and The Clash (First album… Move Up Starsky) and is now working on his fourth, all about Sandinista.

This limited edition all about ‘Combat Rock’ is for super-fans of The Clash and their fifth studio album, all produced as a labour of love, with plenty of extras for the readers and listeners. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about one of punk rock’s most celebrated bands, then this book is for you!

Order the book HERE

We Can Be The New Wind By Alexandros Anesiadis - Earth Island Books

We Can Be The New Wind By Alexandros Anesiadis

We can be the new wind: The interaction of punk, hardcore punk, power pop and neo‐garage with alternative rock in the 1980’s.

The hardcore punk scene had two major crossovers, one with heavy metal and one with pop influenced independent rock. A significant number of early hardcore punk bands incorporated more melodic, challenging and experimental elements in their music while retaining their punk backbone and by doing so, they went on to create something new.

Alex’s first book, ‘Crossover’ focused on the the metal hardcore crosover, this massive new book focuses on the crossover of Punk, Hardcore Punk, Garage Revival and Power Pop with the Alternative Rock scene and reports on many of the main bands in the genre.

With more than 160 bands interviewed and even more reviewed, the result is a total of more than 1000 essential ‘pop-punk’ bands covered in this book. 826 pages packed with information, photos and gig flyers from all your favourite bands, and all wrappd up in original cover art by Brian Walsby – this is an essential, if not comprehensive guide, to 80’s hardcore punk.

Order the book HERE

Punk Faction BHP '91 To '95 By David Gamage (Earth Island Books)

Punk Faction BHP ’91 To ’95 by David Gamage

Punk Faction BHP ’91 to ’95 is a collection of BHP fanzines that cover a range of subjects that were important to the youth of the 1990s and are still relevant to the alternative scene of today.

Containing short stories and reviews, as well as interviews with Green Day, Rancid, Jawbreaker, Quicksand, Sugar, Samiam, All Down By Law, and many more, as well as articles about issues such as equality, the environment, animal cruelty and politics, this is a look back to 90s youth culture and the UK hardcore music scene.

Order the book HERE


Goudvishal : DIY or Die! Punk in Arnhem 1977-1990 by Marcel Stol & Henk Wentink

Goudvishal : DIY Or Die! Punk In Arnhem 1977-1990 by Marcel Stol & Henk Wentink

A beautiful DIY or die book all about punk in Arnhem (Netherlands) between ’77 and ’90 and the punk squat venues Stokvishal and Goudvishal that became the focus of the scene there. All the gigs, protests and battles, re-written in English with the news-clippings and photos from the time to tell the story of these important venues and the punk scene around them.

With over 500 pages of beautiful photos and stories that show the power of punk as a counter culture, this is a true document of an era featuring everyone from the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones, Blondie, Johnny Thunders, Iggy Pop, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Talking Heads, The Selecter, Speedtwins, Plasmatics, UK Subs, Die Kripos, Stiff Little Fingers, Angelic Upstarts, The Skacks, Negazione, Amebix, Raw Power, The Varukers, Chumbawamba, Scream, Government Issue, Kafka Process, Heresy, Chaos UK, Conflict, Social Unrest, Broken Bones, Napalm Death, Newtown Neurotics, Neuroot, The Instigators, Toxic Reasons, Yeasty Girls, HDQ, Culture Shock, Joyce McKinney Experience, Visions of Change, RKL, Jingo de Lunch, Christ on Parade, MDC, SNFU, The Accused, Life… But How to Live It?, Youth of Today, Decadence Within, So Much Hate, Soulside, False Prophets, The Vandals, Disabuse, Fireparty, Verbal Assault, Gorilla Biscuits, Dr and the Crippens, Intense Degree, Bomb Disneyland, DI, DOA, NoFX and many more.

Order the book HERE

Nimrod by Ryan Roberts

Nimrod by Ryan Roberts

A coming-of-age story about the power of music, the excitement of young love and the need to leave the hive. Rod is a daydreamer, Cat is the new girl, together they will discover the beauty of spontaneous adventures with the windows rolled down and the music turned up and blazing one’s trail. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Adventures happen when you leave the hive.

In a town where every day is the same…Rod is a daydreamer with a singular wish: to meet Sting, the rockstar-the only person capable of fixing Rod’s broken family and liberating him from his sheltered existence. It’s the summer before senior year, and Rod has nothing to look forward to but sitting at home day after day, serving as emotional caretaker to his mother. She’s still reeling from the passing of her firstborn son twenty years ago, a death she blames on the band Green Day. Music has been forbidden in Rod’s home ever since. 

Enter Cat, the new girl in town who’s everything Rod’s not: confident, adventurous… and Green Day’s biggest fan. When Cat presents him with the opportunity to meet his hero, will Rod risk sneaking out from under his mother’s watchful eye to New York with the girl of his dreams? Rod must decide if it’s worth jeopardising his future to save his mom’s.

Order the book HERE

Mass Movement: The Digital Years, Volume 1 by Tim Cundle

Mass Movement: The Digital Years, Volume 1 by Tim Cundle

A compilation of the best interviews and features from the first half of Mass Movement’s digital period. “Some of you have probably seen a lot of it before, but I’m willing to bet that for the majority of you, this is the first time that you’ve seen most, if not all, of this content. And you know what? It’s good. It’s really, really good and while I’m happy, well as happy as a miserable old bugger like me can be, that this content is finally available again, what I’m genuinely thrilled about is that it shows how varied Mass Movement Magazine was and captures the spirit and essence of everything Mass Movement is and, probably, always will be”.  Tim Cundle.

This hefty book ships with additional goodies and will give you plenty to read, either from cover to cover or dipping in and out.

Order the book HERE


Ian Glasper: Terrorized Vol. 1.

Terrorized: The Collected Interviews. Volume One by Ian Glasper

Terrorizer was the world’s leading extreme music publication from its launch in 1993 to its untimely demise in 2018. Ian Glasper was one of the few constants during the magazine’s twenty-five year reign of terror, and their main correspondent for punk, hardcore and thrash metal (not to mention the occasional death metal band and other surprises along the way), and here – for the very first time – he has collected every single interview of his that ever ran, and even a few that didn’t.

Alongside dozens of rarely seen photos from the relevant periods, and forewords from All Out War’s Mike Score and OG Terrorizer editor Nick Terry, ‘Terrorized: Volume One’ includes hundreds of old school interviews that appeared in the mag, including 100 Demons, 25 Ta Life, AFI, Agnostic Front, Amebix, Annihilator, Anthrax, Arkangel, Bad Religion, Born From Pain, Breakdown, Broken Bones, Candlemass, Cannibal Corpse, Cause For Alarm, Chaos UK, Congress, Converge, Cro-Mags, Crowbar, The Damned, Danzig, Death Angel, Decapitated, Destruction, Discharge, Disfear, DOA, Down By Law, Dub War, earthtone9, Earth Crisis, Excel, Exodus, Extinction of Mankind, Extreme Noise Terror, Face Down, Freebase, The Fiend, Floodgate, Gama Bomb, Gorefest, The Great Deceiver, Grip Inc., Guttermouth, H2O, Hades, Hatebreed, The Haunted, Hirax, Hypocrisy, Icons of Filth, Ignite, Immolation, Integrity, and many, many more.

Order the book HERE

Terrorized Vol. 2.

Terrorized: The Collected Interviews. Volume Two by Ian Glasper

Terrorizer was the world’s leading extreme music publication from its launch in 1993 to its untimely demise in 2018. Ian Glasper was one of the few constants during the magazine’s twenty-five year reign of terror, and their main correspondent for punk, hardcore and thrash metal (not to mention the occasional death metal band and other surprises along the way), and here – for the very first time – he has collected every single interview of his that ever ran, and even a few that didn’t.

Alongside dozens of rarely seen photos from the relevant periods, and forewords from Therapy?’s Michael McKeegan and OG Terrorizer editor Jonathan Selzer, ‘Terrorized: Volume Two’ includes hundreds of old school interviews that appeared in the mag, including Killing Joke, Killswitch Engage, Knuckledust, Kreator, Liar, Life of Agony, Madball, Malevolent Creation, Medulla Nocte, Megadeth, Merauder, Meshuggah, Millencolin, Misfits, Municipal Waste, Murphy’s Law, Napalm Death, Nasty Savage, NoMeansNo, No Redeeming Social Value, NOFX, Nuclear Assault, Obituary, Offspring, Onslaught, Overkill, Pennywise, Peter And The Test Tube Babies, Power Trip, Prong, Raging Speedhorn, RKL, S.O.D., Sacred Reich, Sacrilege, Sepultura, Sheer Terror, Shelter, Sick Of It All, Six Feet Under, Slapshot, Slayer, Slipknot, Snapcase, SNFU, Sodom, Strife, Suffocation, System Of A Down, Terror, Testament, Therapy?, Throwdown, Total Chaos, Toxic Holocaust, Trivium, TSOL, Unleashed, Vader, Vektor, Vital Remains, Warzone, Witchery, Withdrawn, Your Demise and many, many more.

Order the book HERE

Tim Cundle - Compression

Compression by Tim Cundle

Compression is a high octane, true crime novel. A mixture of autobiography, wish fulfilment and twisted fantasy. The story unfolds over the space of 24 hours and sums up the spirit of the punk movement in a fictional novel.Compression tells the story of Flanagan, a man who, having cracked the music biz with the punk band he started while at school, returns to a reunion in the small town in which he grew up. However, going back to his old stamping ground brings back a lot of memories, many of them disturbing, and some pertaining to his part in the death of a homeless man. Things get really complicated when it transpires that the police investigation has just re-opened…

Order the book HERE


The Scene That Would Not Die by Ian Glasper

After recently covering the UK thrash metal scene of the last forty years with ‘Contract In Blood: A History of UK Thrash’ (2018), Glasper has finally now deemed it time to bring his coverage of the ever-evolving UK punk scene to a triumphant conclusion, rounding up the last two decades with ‘The Scene That Would Not Die: Twenty Years of Post-Millennial Punk In The UK’.

An awful lot has happened since 2000 – not least of all the advent of the internet and social media, which has changed the way we create and listen to music, and how we interact with our favourite artists. For many, punk has become a nostalgic pastime, annual festivals like Rebellion giving them chance to reminisce about their youth, but for a new generation it is still a vital voice for protest, a way to rally against the inequality and injustice that remains a tragic constant in society. In more recent years, Brexit and coronavirus have blighted both the political landscape and the live music scene, but punk continues to adapt and survive, and ‘The Scene That Would Not Die’ captures the fierce determination to create vital music in the face of adversity that has epitomised the punk scene since its inception.

Teaming up with new collaborators, Earth Island Books, themselves veterans of the underground music scene, Glasper brings his series of books documenting UK punk to a close in fine style, undertaking in-depth interviews with 111 essential bands from the last twenty years, discussing the challenges they’ve faced, the obstacles they’ve had to overcome, and how they think they still need to evolve to stay relevant in these troubled times – by the end of it, you will understand exactly why UK punk is the scene that will not die.

Order the book HERE

Directions To The Outskirts Of Town: Punk Rock Tour Diaries From Nineties North America By Welly Artcore - Earth Island Books

Directions To The Outskirts Of Town by Welly Artcore

Directions to the Outskirts of Town: Punk Rock Tour Diaries from Nineties North America by Welly Artcore.

In 1994 punk rock fanzine writer Welly Artcore jumped in the van with legendary British punk band CHAOS U.K. for a two month tour around the U.S. Four years later he did it all again with his own band, FOUR LETTER WORD, this time also travelling across Canada.

From the impossible drives, to scrapes with the authorities, and the bands they shared stages and floors with along the way, often with nothing more than the name of a club on a scrap of paper that turned out to be a disused unit in an industrial estate, they somehow made most of the gigs. 

All the while, he did something so many others don’t, he wrote it all down.

‘Directions to the outskirts of town’ is a candid and humorous account of life on the road packed into a 6” x 9” paperback with over 300 pages, over 250 unpublished colour photos, flyers and illustrations, and a foreword by Kaos of CHAOS U.K.

This great new punk rock tour diary, packed with anecdotes and photos, comes with a poster and bookmark. 

Order the book HERE

Worst Eurovision Ever By Roy D. Hacksaw - Earth Island Books

Worst. Eurovision. Ever. by Roy D. Hacksaw

When some plucky underdogs from Moldova unexpectedly won the Eurovision Song Contest, the show’s organisers were instantly worried about how they were going to hold the following year’s competition in such a small and little-visited country. But the location was the least of their worries as a procession of unlikely artists began to be chosen for the show, and everything from Norwegian black metallers, a Saudi Arabian prince performing for San Marino, and an Icelandic bloke dressed as a dog caused a cascade of complications before a single note had even been sung. Can they keep all the egos in check, or is the whole thing going to come tumbling down around them?

That’s the premise of the latest novel from Roy D Hacksaw, but it’s only the tip of a chaotic iceberg that takes a deep dive into the backstage shenanigans at the continent’s favourite singing show. But why would an old punker like Hacksaw want to write a book about such pop fluff? Well it turns out the boy’s got form. As a journalist he’s been covering the contest in person since the nineties, and over those years he’s seen all sorts of unexpected misbehaviour and excess, as well as the incredible efforts of the organisers to keep the whole thing on track in spite of it all. And with so much Eurovision experience under his belt he figured that it was ripe material to base a novel on.

So forget that cheesy old Will Ferrell film – if you want a look into the kind of nonsense that goes on behind the scenes at the contest, Worst. Eurovision. Ever. will take you on a wild ride around the rehearsals, dressing rooms and showbiz parties with such an informed eye that you’ll never look at the dear old contest the same way again.

Order the book HERE


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