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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 4 March 2014
THE best book on punk rock I have read as told through the main protagonists of the day.

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.
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on 14 April 2014
Simply the best account of that seminal epoch, by a country mile. Unvarnished, virtually unmediated verbatim accounts by everyone who was anyone between around 1976 and 1984, most of whom were highly articulate then and remain so today. John Robb adds just enough well-considered insight and hindsight to tie it all together, but it's a book that belongs to its contributors and brings it all back like nothing else I've ever read...
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on 19 February 2011
This book is brilliant, Punk - as it happened, by the people that made it happen. I've discovered a lot of new (old!?) music because of this book. Some brilliant tales from Captain Sensible, Mick Jones, Ari Up and, of course, John Lydon. Well worth a read, especially by anyone with an interest in Punk, and those who think they know what it was/is all about.
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on 18 February 2017
good condition
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on 17 June 2016
If you've read this, you were there!
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 11 April 2006
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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VINE VOICEon 23 January 2009
I was a bit too young( i was 14 in 1977) to fully embrace punk when it reached it,s zenith. The ideology passed me by , as it would seem it did for some of the participants, but i knew i loved the music and the look, though i was far too introverted and lacking in self confidence to ever embrace it myself. But there is little doubt that the punk explosion truly ignited my love affair with music( i can clearly remember reading the Daily Mirror "The Filth and the Fury" headline while doing my morning paper round) and that hearing Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols was a defining moment in my musical education.
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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on 11 February 2016
a great read which is very informative on the subject of uk punk
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on 7 March 2016
Robb in the hood


Rob Jones

The Jon Savage book England’s Dreaming : Sex Pistols & punk Rock is noted as the definitive theory of the integers that led to a shake up of the cultural/political/social consciousness of the stagnant 70’s. Music, fashion, art, film and literature was never the same after a D.I.Y. Punk ethic gave apathy in the UK a huge kick up its rear end!
To join the Savage text, another essential read is Punk rock: An oral History by John Robb (Ebury Press). This work is a practical account of the tales of movers from the early days onwards. That includes memories from members of The Sex Pistols/The Clash/The Damned/Siouxsie & the Banshees/The Adverts/The Stranglers/Buzzcocks/X-Ray Spex/UK Subs/Crass/The Vibrators/The Undertones/The Slits/Gen X/The Ruts/Sham 69/SLF/Angelic Upstarts & many more!!!
Robb has played a part in the aural apocalypse via The Membranes & now, Goldblade. To add to his performance credits, Robb is also a noted journalist, TV rock pundit and the ultimate punk fan! His vibrant energy washes over his links between the stellar stories of the UK punk scene & its metamorphosis in to several other genres e.g. Oi, post punk, 2 Tone, goth, hardcore, indie and art rock. Mick Jones (The Clash) says ‘John Robb is supremely qualified to talk about punk rock’, and this quote is spot on across the 539 pulsating pages of a primary publication. ‘Blessed are those that rebel’ & for the gung ho guys & gals that had a role in the revolution we salute you!

For more details go to randomhouse.co.uk or goldblade.com or louderthanwar.com
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on 25 July 2006
For me this is the best book about punk. I always loved Jon Savage's 'England's Dreaming' but John Robb's book is the one now. First hand experiences are expertly meshed together to give a feel of just how fast, furious and exciting the whole period was. If you are looking for a book that really captures the diversity and excitement of the period then look no further...
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