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Punk Rock: An Oral History

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  425 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Punk rock musician John Robb spent over a year interviewing more than 100 contributors to bring the inside view on the seminal events of the radical Punk Rock movement that exploded in Seventies Britain. The result is the definitive oral history.
Paperback, 576 pages
Published March 5th 2009 by Ebury Press (first published February 27th 2006)
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Mar 01, 2011 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
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An oral history of the "punk rock" scene in the UK presented much like it's USA counterpart "Please Kill Me."
Tim Houlton
Jan 06, 2012 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
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
Ed Wagemann
Apr 03, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rock
Why Everything You Think You Know About Punk Is Completely Wrong:

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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.
Christine Fuentes
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprised at all the Morrissey references.
Steve Erickson
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robb's epic-length (almost 600-page) history of punk, published in 2006, is different from competing books in a number of ways. It begins with 1950s rock'n'roll and ends in 1984, not 1978 or 1979. Robb is refreshingly unconcerned with hipness: he interviews members of bands like the U.K. Subs, Vibrators and Stranglers, who are generally left out of the punk canon. John Lydon gets plenty of room to complain entertainingly (he doesn't even like the Fall wholeheartedly!), but he's far from the most ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kind of a sloppy book, and not totally cohesive. But Robb talks to the right people, emphasizes the importance of women throughout, and does a good job of exploring origins, setting the stage and then letting the speakers have their say.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
LOVED reading about the bands' early musical influences, and what the music scene was really like in the late 60's, early 70's.
Jill Nardi
Nov 09, 2014 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 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
Nov 20, 2010 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
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
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
Apr 07, 2012 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
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
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
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
Kay Smillie
Apr 03, 2016 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
Aug 30, 2014 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.

Jun 27, 2013 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
Aug 23, 2013 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lewis Kaye
Feb 08, 2014 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.
Danica Ramgoolam
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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:)
Simon Tesler
Jan 09, 2011 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 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.
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.
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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,
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