Going Underground: A Review

Going Underground: American Punk 1979–1989, Second Edition

Midnight To Six
April 2016

Going Underground’s subtitle may be “American Punk”, but the book is almost exclusively about the American hardcore movement. Of course author George Hurchalla couldn’t really use that phrase because of Steven Blush’s similar book American Hardcore. Even though Hurchalla’s survey of the regional scenes that dotted the map of American hardcore in 1980’s has some redundancies with Blush’s better known book, it has enough of its own merits to make it a valuable part of your punk library. Most importantly, it focuses heavily on bands whose stories haven’t already been told in great detail. So, while there are obligatory passages on the big guys – Minor Threat, Black Flag, Bad Brains…etc. – there’s an equal amount of ink spent on smaller acts like The Fix, Government Issue, and Toxic Reasons. Even when Hurchalla is talking about the scene’s better known acts he finds new stories to explore, like Minor Threat’s cold war with TSOL, or the night Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys led a one-off group called Lucifer’s Imperial Heretical Knights of Schism for a musical roast of sorts at the expense of the Bad Brains and their new Rastafarian beliefs. Hurchalla’s own viewpoints play a large role in the book too, drawing on his firsthand experiences as a fan living in Florida and Philadelphia, regularly going to shows by local and national touring acts. He also takes a few excursions into some of the music that was important to him during this era that doesn’t neatly fit into the hardcore genre tag, like The Gun Club or the art-punk comp Keats Rides a Harley. Lastly, Going Underground features a ton of photos which capture the raw excitement of the era, most of which I haven’t seen published before. Like the music itself, Going Underground moves quickly, providing a raw and unflinching look into one of the most important youth movements of the 20th century.

Back to George Hurchalla’s Author Page