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Punk+ (2014) review


Punk+ "Photos by Sheila Rock, words by various" (First Third Books, 2014)

During the punk rock movement the notion of a coffee table book depicting the scene might have sounded like a laughably wrong-minded notion, one that could have brought a safety pin assault on anyone stupid enough to suggest such a thing. But the fact is the look displayed by the bands and their fans was always as much of the force behind punk as the music. And the look was arresting, especially when captured by an ace photographer such as Sheila Rock, whose photos of the London punk scene make up the bulk of this attractive book. There’s photos of Sex and some of the other taste-making shops of the time and place, photos of bands and their associates, photos of people who were just around and wearing the look, etc. There’s also running commentary from people like Rock herself, Jon Savage, Paul Simonon, Don Letts, Chrissie Hynde, Jah Wobble, et al.  But hearing that list of names should not give one the idea that Punk+ is a comprehensive oral history of the punk scene in England, and I can’t imagine that was the idea in its making. It’s more just a bunch of cool photographs of the time with a smattering of passing thoughts from some of the principals. If someone not familiar with punk asked what the people involved in it actually looked like at the time, you could simply hand them this book and say, “In England, they looked like this.” For more detailed history and analysis of the scene one will need to look elsewhere, but if you want a gander at striking photos of the day by someone who was in the thick of things, Punk+ will please. The shots of The Clash, The Buzzcocks, and the very early Cure alone make this worth having around.

Review made by Brian Greene/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014

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