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      Articles Home » Music Reviews » Punk Faction (BHP ‘91 to ‘95) By David Gamage Book Review By Nina McCarthy
      Punk Faction (BHP ‘91 to ‘95) By David Gamage Book Review By Nina McCarthy

      Punk Faction (BHP ‘91 to ‘95)

      By David Gamage

      Earth Island Books

      Book Review By Nina McCarthy

      Boston Rock Radio

      Punk Faction is a collection of Britsh Hardcore Press (BHP) punk music and alternative lifestyles fanzine stories, reviews, interviews, and articles that were important to the youth of the 1990’s during the UK hardcore music scene.  I enjoyed this ‘time machine ride’ back to a time when there was no internet and social media, when we were anxious for the next issue of our favorite magazine or fan club letter to arrive in the mail. Dave Gamage, who has written for the music industry for over 30 years, takes us on this trip back to the time of searching for belonging in the ‘90s with bands such as Nirvana, Jawbox, Green Day, Bad Religion, Ramones, NOFX, and Rancid. It was also a time of skateboarding, skinheads vegetarianism, AIDS, feminism, and “do what you want to do” attitude.

      I was a teenager in the 90’s but I did not grow up in the UK hardcore scene at all, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t take myself back and imagine living there during this time. I’ve been exposed to all kinds of music over my time in the music industry and was excited to check out this book. When Punk Faction arrived in my mail several weeks ago, I noticed that it wasn’t a narrative that I had to sit and read from beginning to end to get the full enjoyment. Rather it reminded me of a punk-type Mad Magazine, for those of you who remember Alfred E. Neuman from the graphic comic book back in the day. A perfect coffee table book, or bathroom reading for those who prefer that way of escape to your “office.”  (By no means is that a reference to this book being shitty!)

      The word faction means “an organized group of people within a larger group, which opposes some of the ideas of the larger group and fights for its own ideas.” Gamage created the Britsh Hardcore Press fanzine at 19 years old to share news and communicate with the hardcore punk rock community of his day. One of the topics BHP had focused on back in the day, to my surprise, as people don’t often associate this with “punks” was cruelty to animals.  There’s a whole discussion on animals in circuses, that only now in the last few years, seems to be a topic that may be starting to get some resolution. I know this may not sound like it involves music, but these social concerns were often the topics of many hardcore songs.

       

      As Gamage says in his introduction, “If you wanted something to happen you had to get up, go out and do it yourself...To belong to a scene, to really be part of an active part of it, even if to just sing along with one of your favorite bands in a small sweaty club - that was what the stuff BHP and the alternate underground was made of.” Although electronics have changed our way of being involved, the message still applies to our scene today, especially our local scene no matter where you are located! People hide behind their computers and stream music at home. You can even enjoy “live” concerts from your very own living room. Although there are many advantages in the advancement of technology, this is of no help to the local scene, where bands are out playing live to empty clubs. If this book can inspire you in anyway, learn from how active the scene was back then when people were involved, supporting each other, promoting, and getting excited about live shows...and for the love of God, get off your computers and phones and go enjoy a live show for yourselves and with your own eyes!

       

      One of my favorite features to read in this book was the letters written in to the editor and the comical replies such as “Dear Su, That can’t be your real name.” I was also highly impressed by the fact that BHP treated all artists, big and small, equally. That is one thing that we pride ourselves on at Boston Rock Radio. We play music and cover artists from the local scene along with the new and upcoming bands, right along with the nationally touring bands we all love. As Gamage says, “think globally, but act locally.”

       

      Get your own copy of this excellent book containing the “best of” excerpts from BHP fanzine that Gamage has compiled in his first book Punk Faction (BHP ‘91 to ‘95) on Amazon.

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