No Flash, Please! is filled with rare and unexpected moments

No Flash, Please! Underground Music in Toronto 1987-92

Derek von Essen and Phil Saunders, 255 pgs, Anvil Press,, $28

No Flash, Please! can either read like drawings by cavemen left on a rock or a fun walk down memory lane, depending on which side of 1995 you were born on. As someone who was born in the late 1980s, I can say it is a wonderful snapshot of a time my (kind of) older friends talk about with a twinkle in their eye.

The entire book focuses on the Toronto underground music scene from 1987-92. It is filled from cover to cover with black-and-white film photos, taken by one of the authors, Derek von Essen. These photos are filled with attitude, life and a whole lot of history. Thankfully, local music writer Phil Saunders, who was documenting the music scene at that time, has wonderful insight into most of the bands that are featured. His text, which accompanies the photos, helps bring an awareness and splash of colour that is truly engaging for anyone who, like me, loves to dig deep into the roots of the underground scene.

Some rare and unexpected moments grace the pages too many to name, but I will let you know Nirvana, the Ramones, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Iggy Pop and many, many more all have stories in this book. If you are a rock lover, a punk lover or just a photography lover, I am sure you will find some appreciation with this piece of Toronto’s long musical history.