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Canada's contribution to the famed first wave of late-70s punk rock might have gone mostly unnoticed were it not for the revolting (in both popular senses of the word) comportment of career agitators and now-legendary politi-punk rock band D.O.A. Helming the anti-war ship through a tumultuous 25 years and, in their words, some "3,000 shows, 500,000 records sold, [and]...212,000 beers consumed," has been frontman and founder Joey "Shithead" Keithley. You'd be right in thinking he has a few stories to tell.
Applying the longstanding D.O.A. credo TALK-ACTION=0 to his literary aspirations, Keithley finally documents his band's hand in developing the more aggressive variant of North American punk called hardcore. Feeling breezily brief at 229 pages--a tribute to the author's no-frills, conversational writing style--Keithley limits his remembrances to hardcore's hey-day, from D.O.A.'s 1978 inception onward, concluding with the bands break-up in 1990 (though they reformed shortly thereafter and have continued on since). Keithley's powers of recall are almost forensic in their detail as he leads the reader, blow by blow, through a chronological catalogue of D.O.A.'s battles musical, personal, and political in more than 15 countries around the world. That said, one is left with the powerful suspicion that the grislier tidbits have been omitted out of an elder punk rock statesmens sense of loyalty and decorum. The "code of the road" (i.e., what happens on the road, stays on the road) is definitely in effect. However, harrowing and hilarious by turns is Keithley's recounting of a backstage confrontation with The Clash that spilled onstage, a riot outside a gig in L.A. that was to forever change the complexion of punk in that city, and a nearly year-long tour with friends and contemporaries like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and Hüsker Dü that saw the band consolidate their place in the history of revolution rock...and that's only the tip of the mohawk. --Jamie O'Meara
Punker Keithley, aka Joey Shithead, recounts life in the seminal punk band D.O.A. Having outlived such more famous punkers as the Ramones, the Clash, and Black Flag, D.O.A. has seen other acts issue tribute albums--very unpunkishly reverential but underscoring not only appreciation for D.O.A.'s stuff but also how punk music, like everything the punkers originally hated, has wormed its way into the pop canon. Not that Mr. Shithead would appreciate that sort of thing; he would prefer hewing to D.O.A.'s slogan talk-action=0 (i.e., talk minus action equals zero), a strange credo for an autobiographer, perhaps, but then nobody said punk history would be easier to digest than the punk lifestyle. Although less iconic than, say, Henry Rollins or Joey Ramone, Keithley-Shithead was an important influence on such big-hit bands as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana. Think of the Velvet Underground phenomenon of influence well beyond album sales to fully appreciate the D.O.A. saga. Good stuff about an underappreciated, anarchistic act. Mike Tribby
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