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Talk - Action = 0: An Illustrated History Of D.O.A. by Joe Keithley

    Ian Jane

  • Talk - Action = 0: An Illustrated History Of D.O.A. by Joe Keithley

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    Released by: Arsenal Pulp Press
    Released on: 6/1/2011
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    Joe Keithley's been around the block a few times. As the front man for long running Vancouver based punk band D.O.A. the guy has quite literally travelled the world and seen it all - and along the way, he's gathered up a pretty bad ass collection of pictures, flyers, promo shots, album art and, well, pretty much everything else you can think of. So with that said, you've got to figure the man has got some interesting stories to tell, right? After all, when you throw a few beer swilling Canadians in the back of a van and send them across Europe to play a compound in the Eastern bloc it just stands to reason that something will go wrong as likely as it'll go right.

    Keithley's latest book (following his biography - I, Shithead: A Life In Punk) is, as the title implies, an illustrated history of D.O.A., but it encompasses more than that, starting pre-D.O.A. with Joe's first band, The Skulls, who would later morph into D.O.A., and also covering some of his solo work with various side projects and political interests (he has run for various offices as a Green Party candidate in his native Vancouver). So along with the typical 'punk memoir' photos of a greasy kid in the back of a beat up truck you also get shots of Keithley hanging out with Arlo Guthrie and newsletter clippings from his attempts at political office.

    The focus, however, is most certainly D.O.A., and why wouldn't it be? They are one of the longest lasting and most enduring punk bands. They've recorded with Jello Biafra, members of Nomeansno (John Wright pops up in this book a LOT) and played with everyone from Rancid to The Dayglo Abortions (Keithley notes that Jesus Bonehead ripped them off at one point) to Black Flag to THOR to Bad Religion to Randy Bachman from B.T.O. (they covered Takin' Care Of Business and Bachman appeared in the video) to pretty much any punk band you could mention. This is all documented with some awesome photos, some color but most black and white, tour journal entries, poster art and scans of original lyrics all of which serve to really make the case for just how long these guys have been doing what they've been doing and how good they've gotten at it.

    This is more than just a book of cool pictures taken over the last thirty years, however. Joe Keithley's prose is very casual and easy to read. At one point he states in the book that he wanted it to be like he was sitting back having a beer with the reader and shooting the shit with them (I'm paraphrasing but it was something to that effect).That's basically the vibe you get as you read through the 224 pages he's compiled from over fifteen boxes of archival material. Joe's got a sense of humor about all of this and that makes it a fun read, but we also get a good feeling for his DIY aesthetic, his sense of justice and purpose and how he and fellow band mates have tried to make a positive change in the world over the years. While it might seem odd that we've reached the point in our pop culture evolution that punk rock godfather's are putting out coffee table books, you can't help but be impressed once you start leafing through this beautifully laid out glossy trip through the band's history.

    There's just SO MUCH stuff crammed in here that even if Keithley had never written a single word, it's still be a must own for the band's fan base. The fact that the 'narration' is as amusing, entertaining and frequently very interesting as it is, well, that's the icing on the cake. Again, this is not a biography, he's already done that and the emphasis here is on the fact that its' an 'illustrated history' really helps seal the deal and what we get isn't just a look at the band's evolution but at punk's evolution in general. So yeah, this is some genuinely interesting stuff for the punk rock geek in your house to chew on, but it's also just plain awesome to look at too. Consider that a win-win.

    You can read our interview with Joe Keithley here!
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