PLEASE KILL ME by Legs McNeil

PLEASE KILL ME

The Uncensored Oral History of Punk

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Punk's chaotic energy and revolutionary spirit come through vividly in this mesmerizing account of American punk. For instance, Kathy Asheton notes, ``I remember the day of his [Iggy Pop's] wedding because that was the day Iggy and I started our romantic relationship.'' Legions of groupies and other American punk scene denizens are similarly heard from here, as are central figures, including Iggy, Richard Hell, Malcolm McLaren, and members of the Velvet Underground, the Patti Smith Group, et al. During the heyday of hippiedom, the Velvets, the Stooges, and the MC5 distinguished themselves by their refusal to have any part of the peace-and-love agenda. Their unromanticized visions of boredom, violence, drug use, and weird sex had little commercial appeal. But the Velvets' Lou Reed and especially the Stooges' drug-crazed Iggy Pop became icons for a generation of disaffected kids who identified with the impulse to roll around shirtless in broken glass while howling ``I Wanna Be Your Dog.'' In the early '70s the New York Dolls continued the tradition, combining goofy glamour and short, fast songs; the overdose death of the Dolls' first drummer cemented narcotics abuse as a central feature of the punk life. Authors McNeil, one of Punk magazine's founders, and McCain, a former promoter of downtown New York poetry readings, definitively assert punk's all-American origins; British impresario Malcolm McLaren tells here how he molded the Sex Pistols after patterns set by the Dolls and Richard Hell. Despite the astonishing prevalence of drug addiction, the New York bands and scene-makers of the mid-'70s, led by the Ramones, had splendid instincts for music and style, and most subsequent pop culture is to some degree indebted to them. An essential accompaniment to the first, still-thrilling punk records, this preposterously entertaining document just reeks with all the brilliance and filth of the Blank Generation. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8021-1588-8
Page count: 456pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996




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