Interesting, but pretentious, essays and memoirs about punk rock’s beginnings in England.
The essays here vary tremendously in readability and point of view. Quite a few emphasize the punk “scene” and how awesome it was for the writer to be a part of it. Others interpret punk as a reaction to glam (think New York Dolls and David Bowie in the late 70s). Some suggest the private school uniforms frequently worn by punk rockers at the time represent a rejection of the old fogies (30-year-olds) of 60s rock like the Rolling Stones.
Some of the ideas are good but a reader must wade through a lot of pretension to get to them. As a former punk rocker in 80s Los Angeles, I do recall that enthusiasm for making the music was more important than real talent for playing an instrument or singing. However, punk rockers were not pretentious at all. In fact, they were rebelling against the arrogant rich and those striving to be rich (like on the hit television shows of the time Dallas and Dynasty). The biggest negative for this collection is the absence of the music. Even the Sex Pistols, arguably the first punk rock band, were mentioned more for their appearance and lifestyle than their music.
I would recommend Punk is Dead more as a research source for a college class than for former punk rockers like myself. Sometimes it is best to leave the past in the past. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Zero Books, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy. Punk is Dead: Modernity Killed Every Night will be released October 27, 2017.