Reviewed! Liz Worth - Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond 1977-1981


Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond 1977-1981
Bongo Beat/ECW Press

For those that didn’t know, Toronto once played host to a thriving and vibrant punk scene, one full of impassioned musicians. Well, if you didn’t know, now you do with the re-release of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond 1977-1981, a literal tell-all of just about everything you’d want to know about the Toronto punk scene during its heyday. The new, updated version of Treat Me Like Dirt, which was originally published in 2009, features years worth of interviews from Toronto’s major punk players, and, in addition, discographies of important Toronto punk releases, and many previously unseen photographs from bands like the Diodes, Teenage Head, the Viletones, B-Girls, Curse, Demics, Dishes, Forgotten Rebels, Johnny & The G-Rays, The Mods, The Poles, Simply Saucer and the Ugly. Ironically enough, the books’ author, Toronto based writer Liz Worth, was born a year after Treat Me Like Dirt’s timeline ends, though her ability to connect with these bands is pretty uncanny. Worth could’ve easily phoned this effort in and taken the high road, focused on a handful of bands and some of the bigger events throughout the period, yet she did the right thing in going the non-sanitized, uncensored route via raw, gritty storytelling. Unfortunately, Treat Me Like Dirt’s greatest asset, those afore mentioned near 200 interviews, also doubles as the books biggest flaw – since Treat Me Like Dirt is an oral history, these stories, interviews and memories tend to bleed into one another and ultimately become confusing to the reader, which causes for a lot of back-and-forth page flipping. But then again, Treat Me Like Dirt offers a wealth of information more than likely not available anywhere else, so it’s a ride definitely worth undertaking.  

Grade: B

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