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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant slice of cultural history..., 11 April 2006
This review is from: Punk Rock: An Oral History (Paperback)
John Robb is one of the most passionate music journalists - a passion that overwhelmed any flaws in his book on '90s culture (though Oliver Craske's role as editor means less mis-spellings than Robb's 90s tome - we still get Eddie Cochrane rather than Cochran for some reason!)and one that is apparent in this book. Robb, through extensive researching, has collected the memories of many key figures of the punk scene - Howard Devoto, Budgie, John Lydon, Captain Sensible, Don Letts, Siouxsie Sioux etc/their fans (Billy Bragg, Ian Brown) and simply let them tell their story. The stories sometimes contradict each other and seem inaccurate or in the case of Marco Pirroni's criticism of Cabaret Voltaire, get a responding footnote from Robb. There are sections in italics that are similar to Robb's 1990s book - those who dislike or disagree with his opinions will probably think these short sections are about right, personally I'd like to have had more Robb, as he's always got something interesting to say whether I agree or not (there's a bit on The Stranglers' here that makes me want to check out 'The Meninblack'!).
'Punk Rock: An Oral History' is punctuated with lots of great photographs, from Don Letts' looking like the coolest dude in front of his Beatles memorabilia, to the gorgeus Gaye Advert, to The Jam (who get a warranted criticism over some of their apsects) to those art-rock gods Wire. It's all great stuff and a brilliant slice of cultural history - one to file alongside Jon Savage's 'England's Dreaming' as you sit down to watch Don Letts' recent film 'Punk:Attitude.' I won't go on much longer as you really should enjoy it for yourself - I had a browse in a bookshop and found myself reading several pages this Saturday. I had to buy it. & then I sat down, sometimes with the music of the artists featured here, playing on my mp3 player and was just lost. Lost in great anecdotes and attitude and feeling that this and Simon Reynolds' 'Rip It Up & Start Again' have set a benchmark for music history literature. Interesting to note how often Can were mentioned - while Billy Bragg's line about Roxy Music fans is worth the price of entry alone. I hope Robb follows this up with a related work - his outro here suggests that the focus of punk is quite wide, so I'd like to see him get to grips with the work that followed in its wake post-1984. This book simply has to be read...NOW!!!!!!
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