Take It! #5

(This piece is taken from a written overview I did on Take It! fanzine (1981-82) in the most recent Dynamite Hemorrhage fanzine #10. You’re more than welcome to check out the full piece in the magazine if you’re so inclined).

From where I’m sitting today , trying to recall the environment I was marinating in at 14 years old in 1982, it’s sort of unsettling to see Take It! #5 cover stars The Dead Kennedys, and reckon with just how unimportant they ended up being. I mean, at San Jose’s John Muir Junior High School in 1982, the two bands on every burgeoning punk’s lips were the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. Even people who didn’t know who they were knew who they were. They were the big-deal punk bands, the scary punk bands that last year’s jocks and this year’s mohicans wrote in sharpie on their denim jackets and all over their pants & Pee-Chees. And everyone knew about “Holiday in Cambodia”, “California Uber Alles” and “Too Drunk To Fuck”. These were, as they say, the soundtrack to our lives. 

My first real “punk” show, in fact, was The Dead Kennedys, 7 Seconds and Whipping Boy at a sold-out Keystone Palo Alto. So yeah, pretty weird to see them pretty much persona non grata forty years later, a band barely remembered nor revered, yet mocked mercilessly by virtually everyone I know when they’re talked about at all. I blame Biafra – a self-aggrandizing turd who did everything possible to alienate 85% of the people who came in contact with him, then lawsuited his way into musical and historical oblivion. (I do suppose there’s a more charitable interpretation of the man and his career, and I’m open to hearing it). 

Anyway, Take It! #5 puts the Dead Kennedys on the cover – albeit a cartoon drawing of them – and on a flexi with the Angry Samoans and Flipper. Editor Michael Koenig talks about the six-month delay in getting this issue out, so now we’re definitely into 1982, finally. Highlight of the issue is – that’s right – Byron Coley with a big piece on Black Flag. This is right after “Henry Garfield” has joined the band, so there must have been a short period in LA in which he wasn’t called Rollins just yet. It’s a pretty exciting on-the-ground snapshot of a particularly important time in the band’s story – Garfield in; Damaged deemed an “anti-parent” record; LAPD taking over etc. 

Gerard Cosloy, who must’ve been all of 16 years old, contributes a list of his favorite tapes for the year, including NME C-81, Theater of Hate Live and The Future Looks Bright. He then goes on to write a paean to east coast hardcore, specifically fuckin’ SOA and Minor Threat. In fact, this is the first issue of Take It! that deals well with the onslaught of ‘core that was pouring out of all corners of the USA at this time. 

The Boston show reviews are broken out into single show reviews, rather than a column, and this time are by Koenig and Bill Tupper – but Tristam Lozaw thankfully still gets another full page to vent about Boston radio and everything wrong with it. Ira Kaplan does a nice takedown on Robert Christgau – a perennial article, written by many, that was all the rage for many years – and includes this nice quote comparing his obsessive grading compulsiveness with the scattershot gonzoid approach of Lester Bangs: “Not that they’re opposites – I plot Christgau and Bangs on a circle, one at 0° and the other at 360° – people who reach the same point by uniquely different routes.”

Other strong material: David Hild (The Girls) and Steve Stain, writing articles about each other. A short review of an Amos Poe film I’m not familiar with that stars Susan Tyrell from Fat City called Subway Riders – hey, sign me up! I dig Gregg Turner’s column this time, about fanzines and specifically Negative Army, put out by Mike Snider. (For what it’s worth, I could use any of your extra copies of this fanzine if you have them). I personally ran into Snider a few times at Lazy Cowgirls shows in LA later in this decade and we yukked it up together with Shane Williams, the now-deceased rocknroll bank robber of some repute. A story for another time (or, if you prefer, you can read my story about my encounters with Willams right here). 

There’s a sneering and pretty funny article about Nancy Spungen and a 1974 poem that she left behind, reprinted and showcasing her genius (I’ll spare you a second reprint). Peter Holsapple opines on the glory of the Go-Go’s, unaware, most likely, that they’d be the biggest band in the world a month or two from now. Tim Barry tongue-in-cheeks his way through a report on his trip to “Reggae Sunsplash” in Jamaica; Byron Coley writes on Bomp Records’ Battle of the Garages compilation with a prescient eye toward the 60s punk revival; Amy Linden takes on Flipper. And there’s just an incredible singles roundup from Coley, with reviews (among others) of The Cheifs, Panther Burns, Scritti Politti, Cordell Jackson, Glenn Danzig, Social Distortion, Kimberly Rew, The Meat Puppets and Fang. No, really!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s