Book Review: Punk Is Dead

January 31, 2018

A book that paints a clearer picture of this glue-stained story called punk.

Punk means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it’s the embodiment of all repulsive human behaviour like swearing, spitting and anything close to shitting your pants. GG Allin probably contributed to that idea. But, to others, it’s a cultural movement through statement fashion, music and actual statements that scream “UP YOURS”.

The roots of that movement are compiled in the pages of this neon pink book Punk Is Dead: Modernity Killed Every Night. Writer Richard Cabut and journalist/magazine editor Andrew Gallix have compiled a number of different writers, including their own, to paint a clearer picture of this shit-stained story called punk.

Each chapter contains a new account from those that lived through the birth, watched it grow or felt its impact. When reading, I was either gripped by a story or found myself thinking about whether I’ve ever bought two bottles of milk that come from the same cow. But regardless of readability, every voice in the book is relevant; fanzine creators, punk musicians and writers.

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Punk Is Dead installs a window into the world of ’70s London and lets us breathe in the environment of working-class Britain- an all too often skipped part of the story. Naturally, it dives into music and picks out key bands who were influential to the early scene, how the media handled it and what uniform this tribe sported. There’s plenty of references to what became of punk and how it’s transformed into other genres. Really, it’s hard to imagine why people describe the impact of punk as a dead, it’s immortal.

The book takes particular attention to London, and how Malcolm McClaren shaped the face of punk from his artistic influences and his trips to the New York punk scene. The descriptions and stories surrounding this iconic figure are so compelling that I feel an overwhelming sadness that he’s not around for further input.

Unlike most biographical attempts to grab real music fans’ money, this book is an enjoyable, insightful read from start to finish. Punk Is Dead is an intelligent examination of the movement from a number of voices who tell us what punk means to them. Their accounts enable us to live through that era vicariously through the pages of this book. The definition of punk may still not be defined but then again, it never was.

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