Wednesday, January 30, 2008

American Hardcore: Culturecide

If the documentary American Hardcore, about punk’s mutation into a harder, faster, more HM-minded genre in the US from 1979-86, had been cut by forty minutes to an hour and covered some of the bigger names (Husker Du, for example) and considered more closely its inspiration and subsequent influence, it would’ve been a much stronger film.

Seeing American Hardcore a couple of weeks ago in a London cinema was to see a worthy contribution to the study of the punk subculture, but by no means anything close to a definitive analysis of that scene. Had this film been made with – to quote Lenny Kaye’s opinion of Clinton Heylin’s From The Velvets To The Voidoids book – “a critic’s eye and a fan’s heart” then a tighter, more rigorous insight into hardcore’s genesis and legacy might have been offered.

While respect is due to the exhaustive research that unearthed around 60 interviewees, my feeling is that a better interviewer would’ve asked Mark Arm about hardcore’s massive influence on grunge; death metal’s immense debt to hardcore would’ve been explored; and the slating of The Ramones, without whom hardcore might not have existed, wouldn’t have gone unchallenged.

Of those interviewees, I was thrilled to see that one was a member of Culturecide. Their 1987 album, Tacky Souvenirs Of Pre-Revolutionary America, sounds like The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu playing with Ciccone Youth and remains a repository of gifted, witty re-interpretations of pop songs.

Taking contemporary hits and playing white-noise guitar over the top with new lyrics lampooning the artist being covered, Reagan’s America and the music industry all at once, Culturecide are a band you’ll love. Or hate. They really do split opinion down the middle.

Listen to their inspired version of Dancing In The Dark,Bruce, to make up your own mind. I’m quite certain the band won’t mind, seeing as the album’s inner states:
Home-taping is killing the record industry…so keep doing it. Let this record be the master for your cassette edition.

Whoever the band is, I mean. These Texans kept a low-profile, probably because of worries over copyright violation. However, contemporary reports offer us one side of the story:
It doesn’t take any talent to do that!
Fan at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, 15/3/86

They completely ruined that song!
Fan at New Music America, 13/4/86

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