Waksman demonstrates the formal give and take between metal and punk. He successfully illustrates that within the music itself there was always a dialogue between the two as opposed to the malignant verbal snowball fight took place within the media starting in the late 1970s. Not that said dialogue was always as hot and heavy as a teenage makeout session. In early chapters Waksman contrasts ideological strains by comparing artists: the Runaways vs. the Dictators; Iggy Pop vs. Alice Cooper. The word “grunge” appears nowhere on the book’s cover, yet Seattle’s finest is Waksman’s great synthesis.
Waksman’s own unsaid ideology is that even in rock, that most populist of mediums, there is an underground, critically fecund history that differs from the mainstream narrative. The underground hidden channel is where new forms are born and therefore the specimens that get canonized are made. Waksman knows that the critics that know best wrote in zines not magazines. Another emerging thesis: any label that released Black Flag’s My War, Minutemen’s Double Nickels On the Dime, and Husker Du’s Zen Arcade all in the same year has a claim to best rock label of the 1980s (or maybe any other decade for that matter). The label: SST Records. The year: 1984.