For me The Day The Country Died by Ian Glasper was the book I had been waiting for years to read. Basically it was a compendium of interviews and anecdotes from all the essential Anarcho punk bands between 1980 and 1984. It had been preceded by two other books, which I admit I still have to pick up; ‘Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980-1984’ and ‘Trapped in a Scene UK hardcore 1985-1989’. These books were meant to form a trilogy but the author realised that there was more to tell from the bands who had survived and penned Armed With Anger a look at UK Punk in the 90s. Punk purists should be warned that although the title mentions ‘punk’ the book also covers UKHC as well as touching on some bands playing pop punk. Thankfully there are not too many of the latter and it has to be said the odd chapter is still worth delving into as the bands all have interesting stories to tell.
This book, as did TDTCD, takes things by region and delves into the scene within it so you do tend to have a lot of crossover with bands playing shows together and finding kindred souls as well as plenty of members swapping over and joining each others ranks. Each band gets its own chapter and gets the chance to relive the glory years (or not such glorious years) being in a band. Some are still persevering and others have moved on but each have a spirited tale to tell and I doubt many would change a thing and wish they had never got involved in being in a band in the first place.
The stature of the groups included varies considerably and we go from the biggest Therapy? (a bit of an anomaly but one whose inclusion the author rightly defends) to the likes of Disco Assassins from Wales a band who released two demos before dissolving. Each and every band featured starts off in the same fashion, getting a band together, playing the UK toilet scene and maybe being lucky to get something released and on to bigger and better things. Some stories are really interesting, take for example a band who were in the right place at the right time Consumed, who were taken under the wing of Downset and went on tour with them and other big names (I remember them on the date in the UK with Downset and Shootyz Groove). They were even courted by Disney executives and even if things did not work out they have an interesting tale to tell.
There are bands who make it over to Europe and play the squat scene in raggedy old vans. Their tales are always fun to read, there are many hardships and breakdowns along the way and they all say how much better they are treated abroad than in England. There are fights with fascists, finger probing from customs and all the things you would expect a band on the road to encounter. There are also those that make it farther abroad, to places like The USA and Canada and even Japan. Things are not always plain sailing here either. Another factor that raises its head inevitably are bands playing tribute to members who are no longer with us, there are far too many of these tales to be recounted. Sadly just after this book went to press another, Jammie Jammer Airns ex drummer of Medulla Nocte joined their ranks.
I, as many will, read this (read is perhaps the wrong word in fact I savoured every chapter) with a huge sense of nostalgia. Certain bands included here, I used to not so much follow but certainly went out of my way to see as much as possible, so chapters on the likes of Blaggers ITA, Wat Tyler, Medulla Nocte & Throw Bricks At Coppers were particularly interesting. So too were mentions of long gone venues such as The Red Eye very much trapped in a time and essential for the development of a scene.
The book is sharply edited and is well illustrated with live photos and fliers and quite honestly although exhaustive it is devoid of fat and there is not a trace of geekyness about it. Each band chapter is followed by information on what they released often with an email address for you to hit up if you are prepared to pay expenses involved to willing band members so they can burn you their stuff (true DIY style). Also at the back there are interviews with others heavily involved in contributing, the fanzine writers and the label owners. They too have interesting anecdotes and there is not a page here that I skipped and not a page that I will not pick up and read again in the future when I will no doubt get the urge to read this cover to cover all over again.
Naturally having done so there are bands I do not know who I need to check out, so in a way who knows, the book itself will no doubt bring about renewed interest in some of the groups and perhaps even spur some of them from playing again.
Is the story done? Of course not and although there may not be any plans for Glasper who spends time playing for Freebase as well as writing for Terrorizer magazine to continue on with this in the future it does not mean that it should remain unwritten.
All in all this is bible of a book and if you lived through it in any way or even have a fleeting interest it is an essential purchase; go get it now!