Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk

By Legs McNeil And Gillian McCain

(Grove Press, 1996)

Now widely viewed as the classic volume on the history of punk rock, Legs McNeil And Gillian McCain’s Please Kill MeĀ was released back in 1996 to immense acclaim.

And after reading the book it is easy to see why it garnered such positive critical notices. McNeil and McCain really put the work in, conducting countless interviews with the people who were at the centre of it all from the late 1960s onwards, including Iggy Pop, Dee Dee and Joey Ramone, Malcolm McClaren and many more.

Please Kill Me documents the early-progenitors of the musical revolution, with the Lou Reed-led Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop fronted Stooges covered in great detail, before the Ramones became the de facto leaders of the nascent movement.

All the blood, sweat and tears and considerable excess is here, and the cultural impact of the music and D.I.Y. style is assessed and eulogized by its main players. A must-read for punk fans.

 

Britpop! Cool Britannia And The Spectacular Demise Of English Rock

By John Harris

(Da Capo Press, 2004)

Author John Harris provides a riveting take on the short-lived Britpop phenomenon that swept the UK in the early 1990s until it petered out as the decade came to a close.

With dozens of interviews with all the major bands of the era such as Suede, Elastica and the big two Oasis and Blur, Harris charts the rise of the movement through its main protagonists, but also argues that its success was intrinsically linked to a brief period of political optimism (namely the rise of Tony Blair’s New Labour project that in May 1997 kicked the Conservative Party out of power for the first time since Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979), the rise of celebrity culture in newspapers and magazines, and an economic boom.

Harris also brings in the views of prominent music journalists and record executives in the UK, and suggests the fleeting feeling of ‘Cool Britannia’ that nostalgically harked back to the 1960’s heyday of The Kinks, The Beatles and The Who, was destined to fall once the hollowness of the political changes that Blair brought became apparent to many, and the tightness of many of the bands involved to the New Labour project (plus their widely diminishing musical returns, complacency and excesses) helped precipitate its collapse.

An thoroughly engaging read for both nostalgic fans of the movement and those wanting to know what all the fuss about this brief cultural moment was all about.