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How To Ru(i)n A Record Label: The Story of Lookout Records

How To Ru(i)n A Record Label: The Story of Lookout Records

Larry Livermore

Don Giovanni Records


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Larry Livermore has lived an almost unbelievable life. In these pages he recalls attending the original Woodstock, seeing the Supremes homecoming in early 1960s Detroit, witnessing MC5 at a battle of the bands on a tennis court, and joining the White Panther Party. Of course all of this could not prepare him for an even more regimented and controlled life in his depictions of a cultish Maximum Rocknroll house.

While Larry deserves much credit for displaying the East Bay punk rock scene and reviving punk rock in a global way from 1987-1997, what's interesting is what's not in this book. Despite a long-passed statute of limitations, Larry does not address the rumors of whether Lookout was founded with money from pot sales as co-founder David Hayes alleges. Similarly to Bob Mould's See a Little Light, we get to see Larry as an insecure, less-than confident individual who seems to be successful both because of and in spite of himself. While there is plenty of self-effacing commentary in these pages, Larry's depictions of other people seem less aware of the implicit power dynamic in their drastic age differences or how others might be reacting to his unique personality.

A stirring commentary on building a scene in a material way, it's compellingly well written and a perfection companion to Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records, with a parallel narrative. It's the story of how one off-the-grid hippie-turned-punk agitator, despite all odds, managed to introduce the world to the likes of Green Day, Operation Ivy, Screeching Weasel, and a hundred other artists. And how an awkward relationship with being the boss and personality disputes that could ultimately disrupt all that had been built. This story is magical because it shows us that someone with enough stubborn passion can leave their mark on the world and write history and that the best things don't last forever.

282 page paperback
Don Giovanni Records, 2015

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Tags: berkeley, How To Ruin A Record Label, Larry Livermore, Lookout!, punk, records View full details