[Shelf Life] Punk Rock: An Oral History by John Robb

Mon, Dec 31, 2012

Blog, Shelf Life

Punk is best known for its abrasive, speed-driven take on rock that forever changed the music world. The evolution of the innovation in England is chronicled by musician and journalist John Robb whose exhaustive work Punk Rock: An Oral History has finally been presented to readers here across the puddle thanks to PM Press.  The author’s approach is a unique one. He assembles key figures in punk rock’s revolution and presents them as the central storytellers. Robb prefaces each chapter by contextualizing the conversation, but from that point on readers have an organic and accessible entry into the world of a cultural movement that captivated and motivated the dormant creativity of alienated youth.

The roots of punk, what musicians were listening to and influenced by starts off the history. Each contributor sounds off in excerpted interviews that are woven together in an effective manner. When reading Punk Rock: An Oral History, it feels like the book could easily be translated into a documentary, but the act of turning through its more than 500 pages of memory is ultimately more gratifying, no easy achievement given its comprehensive scope!

Concerning British punk rock, it’s all there. From the early pub scene, to the U.K. debut of The Ramones, from the grrrl power of The Slits, to the chaotic saga of The Sex Pistols, from 1977 to the peak of the second wave and beyond. Robb chronicles it all through those who lived through it. Siouxsie Sioux, John Lydon, Pete Shelley, Henry Rollins, Rat Scabies and Keith Levene are just a few of those who lend their recollections to the narrative.

And if any passage in the book strikes as definitive it comes from Demob vocalist Andy Kanonik who said, ” Punk is punk, no matter what label you try to use. The attitude with everyone was: fuck the system, liberation brother/sister, bring it on and back to the working class.” Punk is dead, long live punk!

As part of PM Press’ holiday sale, Punk Rock: An Oral History is one title being offered at a 50% discount. The deal only lasts until the end of today, so hook yourselves up before 2012 is over!

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