We Got Power #4

This early 80s Los Angeles hardcore fanzine’s been rightly exalted for its place in the times, but revisiting this issue struck me just how flat-out DUMB it all was. I mean, don’t get me wrong – We Got Power #4 was about as down-the-center, pitch-perfect, bandanna-wearing, fists-flying, slam-your-ass-off 1982 LA HC as it got or ever got – yet it’s also incredibly, surprisingly teenage and comes across as super, super stupid. Even dumber than Touch & Go, and Touch & Go was pretty goddamn juvenile. And hey – that makes sense – editor Jordan Schwartz and his We Got Power-contributing pals were high school kids, and god love ‘em for it. 

This magazine proudly stands out from its peers for a couple of reasons. First of all, where We Got Power is concerned, hardcore punk rock is a total nonstop party, as opposed to serious business. The very first page of this issue is a collage of various young LA punks drinking, goofing, laughing and is simply captioned “Fun”. Jordan Schwartz, Dave Markey, Jennifer Schwartz and other WGP contributors strike me as fabled “latch key kids”, growing up in Santa Monica with little-to-no parental supervision, drinking, skating and going apeshit at every Black Flag, Bad Religion, Circle One, Descendents, Youth Brigade et al show they can turn up at – which is pretty much all of them, by the evidence presented herein. Their energy and extreme dedication to the ‘core is infectious and almost cute in its innocence. To contrast the vitality and excitement of 1982 LA punk with, say, what was going on in deadened LA “punk” four years later, when Markey would tour as a member of Painted Willie with a running-on-fumes Black Flag, is to wish time stopped in its tracks and you too could be stagediving to Circle One’s “Destroy Exxon” with Schwartz and his pals. 

We Got Power #4 also xeroxes in color pages along with black & white ones, and while it’s incredibly crudely typeset, it just reads better overall that your standard ‘82 hardcore slop-job. And it’s pretty much hardcore- and hardcore-adjacent bands only, so yeah, they’ll praise Red Cross and The Minutemen (who both played mostly hardcore shows at this point), while keeping away from the heavy, ultra-serious English UK82 punk and “oi” that was polluting so many young ears around this time. A typical record review isn’t going to get you particularly far, and might be about as developed as this review of the compilation Life Is Ugly So Why Not Kill Yourself: “Holy Moly, what a record, if you don’t like something on this record youre fucked up in your head.”

There are dopey interviews with Black Flag, Husker Du, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Bad Religion and Suicidal Tendencies in this issue alone; quite possibly six of the ten most eventually beloved bands of this ilk of all time. Oh – and this is the exact magazine that started the rumor, still unconfirmed, that the Meat Puppets actually played a Phoenix gig in ‘82 in which they covered an entire side of The Decline of Western Civilization soundtrack, including the talking. (“That’s stupid, punk rock – I just think of it as rock and roll” and so on). I so, so want this to be true, and even better, for a tape to turn up. 

Perfect soundtrack for this issue would be Bad Religion’s How Could Hell Be Any Worse and/or the American Youth Report compilation that’d come out later that year. The following year, the We Got Power team would put this 40-song compilation out, one of the first HC records I ever bought and one that I helped form a “tribute band” for (full story here; photograph from our only gig here). And you can of course get this issue and all of their other issues in the deluxe We Got Power book for only twenty bucks here!

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