Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Screaming Life by Charles Peterson

I got this book of photographs by Charles Peterson, best known for his shots of the late 80s/early 90s Seattle music scene, when I was in eighth or ninth grade and my favorite band was Nirvana. The book, which I'm shocked appears to be out of print, came with a CD featuring tracks by Nirvana, Mudhoney, Green River, Soundgarden, Tad, Beat Happening, The Fastbacks, and possibly a couple others. (For some annoying reason it was all one track, which made it really hard to skip over the Tad song.) The inclusion of the last two bands I mention would eventually lead me to track down their albums (though it admittedly did take awhile--I'm a little slow to do stuff like that). But I'm much more of a Beat Happening fan now than I am of any of the more "grungy" bands, so one might say that this CD influenced my tastes just a bit.

Much of Peterson's work takes place in the crowd at shows--he ventured into the sweaty craziness with all of his equipment, shaping many people's views of the Seattle "scene". Most of the classic, instantly recognizable photographs of that era were shot by him. (Photo above is an early one of Green River.)

And here's the inimitable Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening.

While Peterson largely chronicled local bands, he also photographed some of the touring bands coming through town. Hence the above photo of Billy Childish.

The book includes several contact sheets. This one features shots of the Supersuckers playing in Japan.

Peterson's most memorable photos were in the crowds but he also took some portrait photos of bands--like this great one of Tad. Chainsaws and beer=a winning combination. (I also love the generic "beer" label on the can.)

The last page of the book is this great drawing by Seattle comic artist Peter Bagge, which I couldn't resist including.

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