Punk Rock Books

July 12, 2009 at 8:10 pm (Uncategorized)

I turned 45 a few days ago, and I have to say, I thought I would feel a little more grown up by now. Anyway, like many people in their forties, I find myself returning to the music of my teens.

In my case it was punk. I was 13 in 1977. I still remember the thrill of listening to the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Adverts, the Damned or so many others. Year Zero meant you were part of this new, frightening, exhilarating club. And the fact my parents detested it, without having heard a single note, only made it better.

I watched Julian Temple’s The Filth and the Furyagain last week. It’s a tremendous film. Lots of great footage and interviews. Well worth  repeated viewings. (If you haven’t seen Temple’s movie about Joe Strummer, you’ll be stunner at just how much new stuff there is the film). After I finished watching, I made my way to the bookcase to thumb through a few tomes. Here’s some good ones.   

1. England’s Dreaming – Jon Savage

If you’re only going to read one book about punk, this should probably be it. A great story with excellent references, including an annotated discopgraphy. Apparently, there’s a volume of interviews available too, but I haven’t seen it.

2. Punk: The Whole Story– Mojo Magazine

A fairly decent overview from the British monthly. Good photos and features. Articles on the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned, the Stranglers, Siouxsie and the Banshees and many others.

3. The Boy Looked at Johnny– Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons

Hard to find, but worth a look. (I had to photocopy mine) They hate almost everyone, with the curious exceptions of Tom Robinson, Joan Jett and Poly Styrene. .

4. Lipstick Traces– Greil Marcus

Subtitled a secret  history of the twentieth century. The Sex Pistols and the Situationists.

4. Ranters and Crowd Pleasers – Greil Marcus

Similar territory, but short essays on some of the bands that came out of punk.

6. Rotten: No Irish, no Blacks, No Dogs  – John Lydon et al

John Lydon’s caustic but completely compelling (much like the man) autobiography. Assisted with interviews from other movers and shakers of the time.

7. Sniffin Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory  

The complete run of Mark P.’s visionary zine, along with new pictures and an essay.

8. The Great British Mistake: Vague 1977-92 – Tom Vague ed.

Selections from Tom Vague’s fanzine, including interviews with Crass, Adam Ant, Jon Savage and many more. .

9. The Punk– Gideon Samns

I bought this in a bookshop in Wantage, a small town about an hour from Oxford. A punk Romeo and Juliet they called it. Apparently, he died in the US a few years later.

10. Cranked up Really High – Stewart Home

Just because. Lots to disagree with, but the idea there’s a party line in punk is absurd. Home is happy to dispel that notion.

Next time new wave…


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