For every artist that made an indelible, culturally-significant name for themselves via the fertile New York punk scene — everyone from The Ramones to Blondie to Klaus Nomi to the Cro-Mags and beyond — there were countless bands who, for whatever reason, failed to grab hold of the rung to the next level.
The list of arguable b- and c-list bands to have graduated from the hallowed downtown dives is as equally august — if criminally undersung — as that of Patti Smith and Richard Hell’s fabled class. They may not be as well known, but many of them proved to be as equally influential to the overall scene than they’ll ever be given credit for. Sure, we all know Talking Heads and the Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys, but what about, say, the Speedies or the Shirts or Von Lmo or False Prophets or Modern Clix or Alice Donut or ___________ (insert your favorite here)? They may not be household names, but they were there, and they played their part.
One of those bands was The Fast, and courtesy of former member — and prescient photographer — Paul Zone, the band is now getting their due. Zone’s recently published memoir, “Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground” is rife with period-specific, star-studded pictures, documenting Zone and his band’s time playing the downtown club circuit during the halcyon days of punk. Here’s the promo teaser for the book.
I’m not going to lie. I didn’t know anything about the Fast beyond their placement on the Max’s Kansas City compilation LP from 1976. Zone himself figures prominently on said collection’s sleeve, being the pointedly (and arguably unpunkily) hirsute gent posing out front, directly above the hydrant.
I should also point that in 1976, I was a 9-year-old third grader more enthralled by “Planet of the Apes” than rock’n’roll. I didn’t get ahold of the Max’s LP until my college years, and by then, most of the acts thereupon (beyond Pere Ubu, Suicide and Wayne County) seemed like also-rans. It must be a strange situation to have been present during such a seismic period, but be frequently omitted from its ensuing celebration.
Check out this link for more about Paul Zone’s book. Here, meanwhile, is a fleeting taste of the Fast…..