Punk Rock: An Oral History Paperback – 27 Feb 2006
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"John Robb is a great writer... and he is supremely qualified in my opinion to talk about punk rock" (Mick Jones, The Clash)
"John Robb is as punk rock as The Clash" (Alan McGee)
The story of punk, in all its vibrant glory, told for the first time in the words of those who were thereSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
How refreshing to finally discover a book on punk rock that acknowledges the importance and relevance of the "second wave of punk", the contribution of the Irish/Scottish bands, the importance of Manchester and other towns and cities outside London, the importance of the lesser bands and doesn't snobbishly ignore the massive contribution made by the Stranglers (yes you Mr Savage) which simply cannot be overlooked in any credible book about the period.
Similarly it seems to only be Messrs Savage and Lydon who don't think that the contribution of bands like the Ruts, the Cockney Rejects and post pounk bands like Killing Joke, Joy Division etc are not important in the overall bigger picture. Noticeable that Lydon disses nearly every band which tells you everything. Superb unbiased account of the whole punk movement and all its variations - highly recommended.
'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!!!!!!
That album still gives me an adrenalin rush and funnily enough reading John Robbs excellent Oral History of punk does pretty much the same thing. Taking the views of many of the main participants- John Lydon, Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, Jake Burns,Howard Devoto, Mick Jones, Brian James,Charlie Harper, Polystyrene, Gaye Advert , Don Letts amongst many others- in a talking heads style the book blasts chronologically from the genesis of the punk movement right through to it,s decline and the legacy it left behind -which in many way is musically at least more impressive than the real thing.
Robb who clearly knows his stuff adds helpful footnotes to guide the less knowledgeable reader through( i include myself here) but only occasionally when recommending albums or very rarely to correct what he feels is a contentious statement ( John Lydons sniffy comments about the U.K. Subs a case in point) does he feel the need to comment on what has been said.
Perhaps more surprisingly the book is also useful in giving pointers to other musical genres. As is pointed out by several contributors there is a link between punk and reggae( a genre i hated for most of my adult life until i actually tried listening properly ) both musically and ideologically with The Clash covering "Police And Thieves" and Lydon,s love of the genre leading to the dub bass soundscapes of PiL .The book also points out how punk lead to the Two Tone Ska revival , a genre once gain linked by a shared ideology.
The book is also great if you just want an entertaining read . There is plenty of amusing anecdotal stuff and some of the opinions ventured are thought provoking and can vary wildly -especially when concerning a controversial figure like Sid Vicious ( Don Letts opinion on the murder of Nancy Spungen is very revealing ) Lydon is as forthright and scathing as ever but i would have liked to hear more from Billy Bragg and Keith Levene who are for me the most witty contributors.
Thats just me indulging in a bit of subjective carping though. This is a great book by any standards and while it slightly overplays on the legacy of punk if it,s intention was to get people checking out the genre again, or indeed for the first time, it worked in my case. As i type i,m listening to the Angelic Upstarts Teenage Warning album and the warming fire of classic punk is coursing through my veins.Makes me want to live through it all again
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