Thursday, April 05, 2018


Lotsa lotsa books comin' out about the punk rock revival of the mid/late-seventies, some of 'em seemingly worth the effort to peek through at the local chi-chi book shop and other not even earning the added effort to lift the thing outta the bin to open (which is why """""I""""" do it for you!). But I haven't come across many that I'd say were devoted to or dedicated to for that matter a single rock scene where these local acts sprouted up from their garages and suddenly got an ample audience and press space in BACK DOOR MAN thanks to a few self-produced records and a thriving fandom devoted to the wilder side of the rock music equation.

And believe-you-me, there were plenty of local scenes and locally-produced records to go crazy about back in the late-seventies, not only here in the United States (and Canada, which is nothing but an appendage of the U.S. no matter how much its denizens may loathe the thought of it) but in England, mainland Europe and even behind the Iron Curtain where acts like the Umela Hmotas and DG-307 were doing their best to add a little oomph to their existence with a load of late-sixties-style punk spirit added to their own home-bred rockist attitudes.

But, was that the word on the lips of more'n a few Rock Lobstering kiddos back during the seventies-eighties cusp. That was a time when there were records and groups GALORE pouring outta all sections of the globe and for the most part alla them records actually sounded GOOD (and attuned to yours and maybe my own set of anti-aesthetics for once)! Or at least they did until a few years later when the general direction of "new wave" sorta crept into "gnu wave" (copyright 1982 Bill Shute) and many of us sorta wondered where the energy had gone almost overnight.

But Akron was the place where many looked to if only because of a few good local releases (mostly on the Bizarros' Clone label) as well as the promise it held that maybe those mid/late-sixties musical ideals that got wooshed away were still meaningful, and that maybe rock 'n roll could still have that bared-wire intensity and international youth language approach to it that seemed to wallow about once the Woodstock mentality began to replace the teenage fun and thrills that preceded it.

Nothing that was actually copasetic with the general AM/FM mindset of the times but hey, at least we could all pretend rock still had meaning.

And sure the Akron scene also pretty much piddled out about as fast as it became known to the rick kid subscribers to THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS and the gnarly seventies flowed into the calm cool and collected eighties, but while it was happening the Akron/Kent rock scene was almost as much on "10" as far as presenting hard-edged, high energy rock 'n roll as Cleveland or any other midwest burgh for that matter.

Calvin C. Rydbom did a really good job capturing the spirit of the age with this tome. OK, a few nit-pickers might wonder why that one group (I forget their name though a live radio broadcast exists somewhere---something like Lifeline???) consisting of various Tin Huey and Numbers Band members wanting to do some straight jazz on the side ain't mentioned or why their favorite under-the-counterculture local group didn't get more space, but otherwise I can't find a thing that would make me wanna chuck this book out the window. Rydbom pretty much covers all the bases and does it well enough to the the point where you don't mind him inserting his one "one-two" into the fray with comments regarding said group's recorded output. The man does it with verve, suaveness and a better than most knowledge regarding what was happening in the Kento/Ako area and just how it related not only to the local fans, but those same worldwide kids like you and me who (as I always seem to point out) used to pose in front of the full length bedroom mirrors pretending they were hanging out at Max's Kansas City 'stead of being stuck in the suburban slob havens they sure loved, but which sure coulda used a whole lot more ACTION.

Anyhoo...all yer faves get a good mention from the Numbers Band on (and has anyone out there discovered who the short-lived "Letters" Band were?) to the Bizarros and Tin Huey as well as Devo and that whole AKRON COMPILATION brouhaha that really helped up the rubber stock as far as English listeners were concerned. Even some of those early-eighties acts like Unit 5 get a hearty mention, and for the life of me I don't remember 'em one bit which must mean they were in existence long after I gave up giving a hoot. But forgotten Akron rocksters aside, overall THE AKRON SOUND's a great encapsulation of a time and place when the ideas and the energy were aligned right, and for once more than just a few local fans in a few local enclaves were taking note of a music that, really, deserved the adulation that was laid down upon it for once.

And if you think that's the last word on Akron, just wait until next Thursday!


Anonymous said...

This sounds great!

Underneath its Amazon listing this was displayed:,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Have you had the "pleasure" of reading that?

Anonymous said...

Was there really a Letters Band??

Christopher Stigliano said...

Well, I saw a listing placed in either THE SCENE or some other local paper (late July 1979) that read something along the lines of "...and would you believe...THE LETTERS BAND for an appearance the group were making at some low-class bar located near the Case Western Reserve University campus. One of those cheapo hangouts which always seemed to have a shooting in the parking lot at least once a week. Naturally I still harbor a great curiosity about them even after all these years, and I am hoping (thanks to the miracle of internet) that one day someone from the group will speak up about them. Though I have great doubts that will ever happen given the lack on information regarding a whole load of infamous yet under-documented acts.