Book Review – We Got Power!

30 years ago, if you were into punk rock, heavy metal or any other form of underground music, it was really difficult to get information about what was going on. There were a few college radio specialty shows, usually on in the middle of the night, but the main way to find out what was going on was through fanzines. Flipside and Maximum Rocknroll were two of the biggest and easier to find, but there were hundreds of others scattered across America documenting what was going on locally. Most of them didn’t make it past a few issues. Doing a fanzine was a lot of work. Everything had to be typed, or in some cases, handwritten. The layout was done using scissors and glue and then brought to a printer who would be willing to replicate it. Some printers refused to handle the material because they thought it was obscene. Then there was the fun of trying to get record stores or comic shops to sell them. Even more fun was to try and get paid for the copies that actually did sell. The people who ran these zines were a particular brand of fanatic who put in a lot of hours to document something that otherwise would have been completely ignored.

We Got Power!: Hardcore Punk Scenes From 1980s Southern California is a brand new book from Bazillion Points publishing that compiles every issue of this important West Coast fanzine. High school pals David Markey and Jordan Schwartz started We Got Power! in 1981 to document the hardcore punk scene that was exploding in and around Los Angeles. Every issue is reproduced in all of its low-budget glory. Classic bands like Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Gun Club and Minutemen were all featured alongside many other forgotten or obscure punk bands of the era. The writing and interviews are pretty good for a bunch of high school kids. Chances are their school grades suffered and someone’s parents had to pay for all of the printing costs, but they managed to regularly publish for over two years. Back then no one had any idea that this era of music would be so influential and revered, so we’re lucky that this documentation exists.

The 300+ pages of this book not only include the original zines, but there are almost 400 incredible photos, many previously unseen, and brand new essays from eyewitnesses like Henry Rollins, Chuck Dukowski, Keith Morris, Mike Watt and many others. Fascinating reading and a fun time to relive a dangerous era in the safety of your own home.