Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Punk Rock: An Oral History” as Want to Read:
Punk Rock: An Oral History
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Punk Rock: An Oral History

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  327 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Vibrant and volatile, the punk scene left an extraordinary legacy of music and cultural change, and this work talks to those who cultivated the movement, weaving together their accounts to create a raw and unprecedented oral history of punk in the United Kingdom. From the Clash, Crass, Henry Rollins, and John Lydon to the Sex Pistols, the Stranglers, and the Buzzcocks, thi ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by PM Press (first published February 27th 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Punk Rock, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Punk Rock

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,061)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 15, 2011 hcelvis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Robb war selbst mit seiner Band Membranes von Anfang an dabei, als Punk entstand. In PUNK ROCK läßt er Mitglieder der Sex Pistols, von The Damned, The Clash, Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Adverts und vielen anderen Bands der ersten Stunde aus ihrer Sicht erzählen, wie Punkrock in England entstand und sich bis 1984 entwickelte. So bekommt man einen teils sehr persönlichen und auf jeden Fall informativen Abriss von der Geburt des Punk bis hin zur Absplitterung von Oi, Postpunk, New Wave, Got ...more
Tim Houlton
Jan 07, 2012 Tim Houlton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Superb: reminded me of gigs, venues, bands & individuals I'd seen, been to & met but had half forgotten over 30 odd years. Also confirms that the SPOTS gigs were not a figment of my imagination. Very sound on the distinction between middle class art school fashion victims in the first wave, and their dismissal of the more honest bands who reached the same place through convergent evolution.

Lydon & McClaren did not invent UK punk. McLaren's voice is notable for it's absense, and Lydon
Jul 03, 2012 Sheba rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a simultaneously exciting and frustrating read. So much information to take in, but the "punk rock" editing of these quotes was often maddening and chaotic. A subject would be introduced and discussed for a page, only to be unceremoniously dumped, then picked up much later under a different introduction. Maddening! But it's still an amazing book. Particularly in that the subjects draw the links between other movements and punk so precisely that these links--between reggae and punk, between ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Kurt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set up in the told-through-first-person interview style, this is a good, interesting account of the early phases of the British Punk movement. I really like the fact that it gives so much background information on where Punk came from, and that it shows that it didn't just spring from nowhere full blown. The different players all discuss their influences and how they ended up getting together. The story of the great lost pre-Punk band London SS (containing future members of The Clash, Generation ...more
More like 3.5, I think, but I rounded up. It started a bit slow (I keep trying to care about the early pub rock scene, but I just don't) and ended a bit slow, but I thought the middle chunk was great. More splintered than Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk -- really, the more oral histories I read, the more impressed I am with that one and its strangely cohesive narrative, which is very difficult to pull off -- and faaaar more about the music than the gossip. I learned hardly an ...more
Philthy Free Brown
Fantastic book. The best book on the subject along with 'England's Dreaming'
What shades this book is that it's a far less narrow look at punk that 'Englands Dreaming' and covers lots of the other bands that made up punk. Brilliantly researched there are countless stories in here you won't have heard before as well whole new ways of thinking about punk.
The author certainly knows his stuff, he's the frontman of the Membranes and Goldblade and a key part of the UK punk scene and been a music writer
Ed Wagemann
Apr 03, 2012 Ed Wagemann marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rock
Why Everything You Think You Know About Punk Is Completely Wrong:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

One thing readers should know is that this is focused on British punk rock until 1984. Little to nothing is mentioned of American bands. That's ok, but the title doesn't really explain that fact.

At its best, this book takes interview snippets from dozens of people that were actively involved in the first and second waves of punk. Most of the interviewees are candid and it can be fun watching them reflect. This book does a good job recontextualizing the music, explaining why bands were important
Danica Ramgoolam
Sep 08, 2012 Danica Ramgoolam rated it really liked it
This book is awesome!! Everything you ever wanted to know about the beginning of Punk Rock from the people who were there! I got really into Punk in high school but that was the 90's way after all of the real action of the Punk era began. I wish I had this book back then so I could impress all my "Punk" friends with my deep knowledge:)
Christine Fuentes
May 25, 2012 Christine Fuentes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprised at all the Morrissey references.
Jill Nardi
Jan 22, 2016 Jill Nardi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I had a vision for a story that I wanted to work on and went to research when I came upon this book at the library. I was glued to the book the moment I held it. It was with me at work, in the car, in bed and at four in the morning. I enjoyed it so much that I bought my own copy.

The Clash were among the top five bands that was required listening in my household growing up. They were my dad's favorite band and I will always trace the band back to him. He concentrated on me liking their music mor
Mark Russell
Jan 11, 2014 Mark Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-culture
For readers interested in the British punk movement of the late 70's and early 80's, and in particular the London scene, this oral history is definitive. The entries compiled by John Robb (himself formerly the lead singer of The Membranes) represents a masterfully assembled range of stars, forgotten sidemen, journalists and fans. The result is an exhaustive yet intimate look at what is arguably the most influential period of rock and roll history. The fact that he got to interview Ari Up and Pol ...more
Veronica Devon
Jul 17, 2014 Veronica Devon rated it liked it
If you're like me and love to read about punk, you will find this book extremely interesting! It calls itself an oral history, and the information for the book centers around first-account interviews with people from the scene. In fact, this book would have gotten at least four stars if it had not been for a few minor issues:

1. It was very choppy, and the organization threw me off a bit. I almost wish that every interview would have been a different section, which would have allowed it to flow m
Kay Smillie
Apr 03, 2016 Kay Smillie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent look back at punk rock in the UK. As someone who was a teenager back then punk meant a lot to me and still does to be honest. Great to have first hand accounts from those that were there. Also love the honesty of some of those interviewed. I am with those who thought that Sid Vicious ruined the Pistols but punk is all about opinions and we all had many differing opinions which is what made the sound and the scene so diverse.

Ray Smillie
Lewis Kaye
Feb 08, 2014 Lewis Kaye is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Just starting this book, but it seems as if wants to scream "punk is British!" to anyone who will listen. We shall see how well it connects what happened in NYC in the early 1970s to what happened in the UK. No mention at all of "Please Kill Me", McNeil and McCain's earlier, and seemingly more comprehensive, oral history of punk's early years.
Doug Birkitt
The parts on the adverts and crass were cool. same with the stranglers. anything in the book where the center of activity was a clothing shop, is just not my thing I guess.
Roger Huddleston
Those who are already familiar with the punk movement, bands, and particularly key people involved might enjoy this book. While most people likely know the Sex Pistols and The Clash, I for one was less familiar with all the individual musicians in the numerous other punk bands that came into being in the mid-late '70's, and as a result, I found the book format choppy and hard to follow. Consisting of snippets of comments from a large number of musicians, writers, managers, and producers, tied to ...more
May 17, 2014 mcgob rated it really liked it
A bit messy but lots of great stuff on bands that aren't necessarily written about enough in other books of the kind (e.g., the Damned, the Stranglers).
Oct 12, 2014 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Oral histories are a great way to delve deeper into a subject you are passionate about, the personal narratives in this title are so rich with social implications. It's amazing to read how the early influencers of this movement were thinking and feeling and how they interacted with each other.

Personal accounts and life stories are well edited and the sequencing of the stories make this an interesting read.

If you are a novice, read Mojo's "Punk: The Whole Story" first.

Thanks to Chris for giving me this book read idea. It interesting to hear all the old punks saying how the Sex Pistols really were something new and fresh at the time. I was certain people were going to say how they were fashion victim sell outs from the start - but apparently they were something to pay attention to in the early days. I've always been a John Lydon fan - with his quick wit and perfect one-liners. I'm quite confused by The Jam being placed in the punk category, but I've just reach ...more
An amazing book full of so many reminiscences and memories. I can imagine it was a labour of love to write, with it being so detailed and the amount of interviews that had to take place from all the contributors. I really enjoyed it.
May 02, 2014 Tanya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this book was ok. I got a little bored in some parts of the book, such as where people bought their clothes. The book focuses mainly on British punk bands, with The Ramones being the only exception.

I liked learning more about the Sex Pistols and Billy Idol and once the book got to the parts about the bands making the albums I was more interested. It's not something that I'd read again.
Laura Serecin
Oct 04, 2013 Laura Serecin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandonded
Meh...This book is divided into chapter categories and has several people weighing in about this category in a short sound-byte. I thought this made the affect of the book disjointed and boring. These sound-bytes were usually the same opinion rattled off over and over. I would have enjoyed much more longer reflections by a person that were developed enough to offer a narrative.
Rebecca Lau
Feb 03, 2013 Rebecca Lau rated it it was amazing
I've read many punk books and this is definitely one of the best. It is one of the few that give the Sex Pistols justice, instead of making them out to be a manufactured pop band. It also goes into detail of the "second wave" of punk. Most music critics completely ignore this era. Obviously this is a UK-cetric book. Why Henry Rollins was interviewed, I'll never know.
Miss Makaveli
It was okay, but "please kill me" about America's punk scene was compiled and executed so much more smoothly and interesting. I like the interviews, but in "please kill me" & other music books the researchers compiled the books do much better. This book is a good read but not as gripping as other books on any music, including punk; both us and uk.
Bfmc Spook
It's more of a pub-rock book, it's very good but not really my scene. It wasn't a very quick read for me and I found my self not caring about the stories, this is mostly likely because I'm the product of the 80's NYC scene. I did learn a lot and was reminded about a few artists I had long forgotten about.
Simon Tesler
Jan 09, 2011 Simon Tesler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining trawl through the most influential period in modern British music, from the mouths of the participants. An essential addition to any self-respecting music fan's bookshelf and a worthy companion to Please Kill Me, Legs McNeil's earlier and equally strong history of the American scene
Dec 12, 2009 Takipsilim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Punk from the other side of the pond. Sort of like a British Please Kill Me The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.
Arthur Kyriazis
Oct 11, 2014 Arthur Kyriazis rated it it was amazing
"we're not into music we're into chaos" NME at p. 180 Sex Pistols 1976.

this is an oral history and what a history it is.

If you were there, relive it.

If you missed it, essential reading.
Jul 01, 2013 Adam rated it it was amazing
A brilliant, kinetic read that blazes through the origins, zenith and nadir of the first and second waves of punk in the UK.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 35 36 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Ranters and Crowd Pleasers: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-1992
  • Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day
  • From the Velvets to the Voidoids: A Pre-Punk History for a Post-Punk World
  • A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with the Clash
  • Touch and Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine '79-'83
  • A Cultural Dictionary of Punk: 1974-1982
  • Punk
  • Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash
  • Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution
  • Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer
  • The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho-Punk, 1980-1984
  • The Story Of "Crass"
  • Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy's Tale: From the Front Lines of Punk Rock
  • Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital
  • 24 Hour Party People
  • Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story
  • Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag
  • Banned in D C: Photos and Anecdotes from the DC Punk Underground
John Robb is vocalist in the punk rock band Goldblade. Based in Manchester, he has also written several books on music and frequently appears as a journalist/commentator on documentary/light entertainment music shows. While working for Sounds, Robb was the first journalist to interview Nirvana (in 1989), and also later coined the word 'Britpop'.

Robb's books include a biography of The Stone Roses,
More about John Robb...

Share This Book