With very few books written about Canadian bands, let alone punk bands, comes this new book all about the rise and peak of Hamilton, Ontario’s biggest band, and for a moment, the biggest in Canada. Giving the reader a great look back at a band that should have been on the top for a lot longer than they did, and a lot of personal memories from fans and friends, this is the place to get an idea of the gritty, raw fun that made our “Teenage Beer Drinking Parties” so good.
The band that got rock music banned from Ontario Place with the “Punk Rock Riot” that people still talk about today with fond memories has etched out a place in history that will never be repeated again. The band started out just having a good time, playing original music, and got caught up in the punk / new wave scene at the time, wrote fantastic music that still holds up and sadly, faded from most people’s radar in just a few years time. The writing gives you an insight to each of the band member’s lives, showing you how they met and became household names, and then the downfall that occurred too soon. The prose is snappy, well-paced and shows the gritty place that was / is Hamilton and the music business at the time. It gives us a detailed look at Gordie Lewis, Frankie Venom, Steve Mahon, and Nick Stipanitz, from their humble beginnings in Stipanitz’s family’s basement in Hamilton, to the Toronto punk scene and onwards to chart success and relative obscurity. Questionable management decisions, record companies that had no idea how to market or record the band, and a terrible highway crash that kept guitarist Lewis off stage for a year, all added up to a band that had more bad luck than good. They released seven studio albums, a live album and an EP over 29 years, but the glory years were 1979 – 1983 when their first three albums came out.
The book is a must-have for anyone who was around at the time and for newbies that want to know about a band that never got their due. The pictures are fantastic, showing the band having fun and giving their all on stage, the writing makes you feel that you are right there with the band, living out the good and bad times. The only criticism’s that I have are that more pictures would have been great, a discography of their music and more details about the latter part of the band, such as their other projects, re-formation, and the passing of Venom and the ongoing band. It isn’t a lot to complain about, so go out and grab a copy and stop being a “Disgusteen.”