1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Punkrock time capsule
If you love punk rock music or if you simply wished you'd gone to CBGBs in the 70s, or that you'd been alive at that time, you must read this book. It does much to demystify the drug culture at that time--as you see slowly destroy the lives of those who participate in it, but it also glorifies it. The glimpses it provides of those artists who went on to survive that...
Published 15 months ago by onlygoodbooksplease
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Disgusting Books I've ever read!
We all know that American rock music hasn't exactly matured from punk/new wave ever since it got in the mainstream. Because of punk we've got expensive Hot Topic stores where anyone from preteen kids to suburban moms buy certain risque fashions that were all the rage in 1979 or later, and were often an inventive technique of poor urban kids to make themselves look less...
Published on March 27 2003 by Zoey, Uber Pupp
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Punkrock time capsule,
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This review is from: Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (Paperback)
If you love punk rock music or if you simply wished you'd gone to CBGBs in the 70s, or that you'd been alive at that time, you must read this book. It does much to demystify the drug culture at that time--as you see slowly destroy the lives of those who participate in it, but it also glorifies it. The glimpses it provides of those artists who went on to survive that time--Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Patti Smith--are fascinating.
5.0 out of 5 stars Better to burn out than fade away,
"Please Kill Me" is a beautifully arranged oral history of punk music in America. Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain are heroes for clipping together hundreds of interviews and making it not only coherant (it reads like everyone is in the same room together), but visceral - when Stiv Bators gets in a knife fight on the street or the Ramones pee into Johnny Rotten's soda, you're right there with them. It's a great read, and totally entertaining.
And something else, too. McNeil and McCain have the benefit of hindsight - they didn't arrange this book until long after punk was no more. The writing during the glory years have a wonderful, kinetic urgency to them - but as the music started to get co-opted, and people started to die as a result of hard living, the book becomes genuinely moving and heartfelt. And the fact that so much time is spent on "forgotten" artists is totally heartwarming - and completely in the spirit of the music, and the movement.
You can skip around "Please Kill Me," but it's a much better read from cover to cover. Read it, and emit a deep, mournful sigh at the next Blink 182 song you hear.
5.0 out of 5 stars About as close to the truth as you'll get,
Most books on subjects such as this (the history of the punk rock scene) are fluff, or some lame writer's opinion. Here we have the major players talking (Lou Reed, Nico, Wayne Kramer, Iggy Pop, David Johanssen, Johnny Thunders, Patti Smith, Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Tom Verlaine, Stiv Bators, John Lydon, Debbie Harry, etc etc.) Plus all their hangers-on and groupies and girlfriends and record suits (i.e. Danny Fields.) So this is about as close to the truth as you'll get about how it all evolved, and moved from Detroit to New York City to London. Iggy has a major role in it all, and I found him to be his usual truthful self. Iggy speaks of listening to the first Velvet Underground album in 1967 and not liking it at first (very honest there.) He also speaks of seeing Jim Morrison perform with the Doors in 1967 at some college concert, and being fascinated by the Lizard King's crazy stage performance. He formed the Stooges less than 6 months later, and Iggy ends up influencing his Detroit peers the MC5, and later hanging with the NY Dolls and then the Ramones in New York. The Ramones and to a lesser extent, Johnny Thunders from the Dolls travel to England and end up influencing the growing scene there, including John Lydon (who turns into Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.) All in all, good behind the scene stories are included. I only wish the early heavy metal players could be as honest in a book like this, instead of protecting their own egos.
5.0 out of 5 stars entertaining first person account of the new york punk scene,
You have to take the subtitle to "Please Kill Me" seriously. It's really an oral history in the sense that the book isn't so much written as assembled out of tape-recorded interviews. It isn't a Q/A format, it's a narrative stitched together from interviews with many of the principals of the New York Punk scene in the 70's. Despite this, it feels a lot like a coherent narrative. It almost feels like a television documentary, except they never had to resort to a narrator's voice-over to fill in the gaps. Having contributions from everyone from, uh, Lou Reed to Joey Ramone gives the book some immediacy (and legitimacy) that's probably essential to writing a decent history of punk.
There are things you might argue are missing -- for example, the book seems to devote more time to sex and drugs than it does to, say, music. And it basically draws the line at covering anything beyond the New York scene, a reasonable decision that isn't immediately obvious from the cover. One could imagine very different but equally valid punk histories. But it's long enough and interesting enough, and the authors readily admit to having much more interesting material than they could reasonably include.
Readers to whom all of this is old hat, or who get bored by tales of degenerate behavior, might find the book less engaging. But I found it engaging and readable, a fun way to learn more about punk's beginnings.
5.0 out of 5 stars GENUINE ARTICLE PUNK HISTORY,
Oral history is my favorite, the words a biographer usually draws upon, the source, and this book is an easy-as-pie, page-turning read, taking you from proto-punk Detroit and NYC beginnings (i.e. Iggy Pop, the MC5, the New York Dolls and the Velvet Underground/Andy Warhol's Factory) through to the many nerves that branched off to sickening endings. I love this book. It gets the stories from their source: quotes from those who were there when Punk happened. Introduced to many bands I'd never heard of, PLEASE KILL ME served as a guide through the later 70s lower Manhattan lore of CBGBs and Max's Kansas City, and -- of course -- the happenings across the Atlantic, where the Clash, the Damned and the Sex Pistols were among the first. I wanted more after I was finished. It's a good place to start and an excellent place to check if you already have a Punk background. In the back of the book there's a fitting picture of William Burroughs in front of big words, "Life's a Killer." I thought long and hard (beyond his circumstantial Bunker residency, which located him physically near the heart of the scene) about why his picture was at the back. You should too. Also, I really enjoyed meeting and learning about Lester Bangs' part in the story. Really enjoyed this one. I can think of no reason to give it any less than five stars.
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Disgusting Books I've ever read!,
We all know that American rock music hasn't exactly matured from punk/new wave ever since it got in the mainstream. Because of punk we've got expensive Hot Topic stores where anyone from preteen kids to suburban moms buy certain risque fashions that were all the rage in 1979 or later, and were often an inventive technique of poor urban kids to make themselves look less decrepit. 25 years after the fact we've still got kids with hair like Sid Vicious, girls with makeup like Siouxsie, dresses like Nancy Spungen's, and slovenly bourgeoisis numb-nuts who feel that being "punk" means being piggish and violent and ugly.
Reading this book makes one come to the conclusion that the punk rockers were nasty, thuggish, naive people who took sex and drugs to a murderous extreme. This book certainly doesn't talk about the creativity of these people. It's like a collection of Enquirer articles unedited, and though amusing it is very saddening to read of the depths of human suffering, and it's almost a celebration of that. Why do we need this? People can barely deal with their own issues as it is.
5.0 out of 5 stars A music history unlike any other,
Few books have captured my attention like "Please Kill Me." This book goes from Punk's early influences (The Velvet Underground, MC5) smoothly transitions into the hey-day of American Punk (The Stooges, The Dolls, Ramones) and then finally takes you down as the Punk movement lost its steam. (The death of Johnny Thunders/Sid Vicious)
The first hand accounts presented within will have you laughing so hard tears will be streaming down your face, while also giving gut-wrenching tales of the demise of so many of the stars of this era. The ups and downs of the Punk movement are shown throughout "Please Kill Me" so well that a reader couldn't ask for much more.
"Please Kill Me" is filled with just about all the information an American punk fan could be looking for. A great book for those that are just getting into that old-school Punk, or the vet who lived through it all. "Please Kill Me" has something for everyone, and it's impossible to leave this book without a plethora of historical facts regarding Punk rock.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recounting of the NY underground music scene,
I am not sure who invented the oral biography, though I suspect the honors should go to Studs Terkel. This is one of the best representatives of the genre that I have ever read. Some have called the book revisionist, in that it asserts the primacy of the New York and American punk movement over that of the English Punk movement. Properly speaking, it isn't at all revisionist: it is a corrective. In fact, the point of the book is that the British Punk Movement, which made more of an impact in the public eye and the mass media, actually hit the scene as punk was more or less dying. Johnny Rotten and the Clash and all the others didn't come at the beginning of punk, but only after it had been around for years and was actually fading in NY. In other words, Punk wasn't an English invention, but an American one.
The book begins with the Velvet Underground and then proceeds to the founders of Punk, people like Iggy Pop and the MC5 and the New York Dolls. All the major figures on the New York scene are dealt with in detail, from Patti Smith and the Heartbreakers to the Ramones and, my favorite NYC band, Television (who I discovered after they broke up for the first time, but who I have since seen live twice in Chicago, first in 1993 and then in 2001). Not merely the great bands and performers are featured, but a lot of the people on the scene that music fans might not have been familiar with. In fact, so many people are quoted that you begin to get confused, but not to despair: there is a very helpful Cast of Characters near the end of the book.
A great book, and one that will have any fan of the New York underground music scene in the sixties and seventies rushing to pull out their old records, and perhaps to rush out and buy a few new ones.
5.0 out of 5 stars Swallow all you can/ when the music mattered,
When I got this book, i just knew i'd be thrilled with it. of corse, i was right. it is such a great book. it's truthful, demanding, and leaves everthing at your feet. take it or leave it, because it holds nothing back. its written by the dreamers & artists; the raw ones who lived it. There is no writters, it was all interviews with people and then Legs and Gillian edited it. it skims over nothing important, because everything, in this book, is both important and unimportant. it is sure to change your outlook on life. pick it up if you want to read about punks, like punks, love the music, are a punk, are intersted in that lifestyle, crazy events, or just want a cool read. WARNING: Should not take everything so seriously, it may sometimes be intense and you may want to read it over and over again. COOL: It, at the very least, mentions every punk god from years past. Like iggy pop, nancy spungen / sid vicious, richard lloyd, patty smith and so many, many more!! Just buy it for the cool pictures, ok, it's in your face and cool. Besides you'll know so much more about the past.
5.0 out of 5 stars Blunt, crude and utterly original, the best punk history yet,
Over the years there have been so many people and bands who have claimed to carry the "punk" banner that it's essence and spirit has been diluted into marketing babble. This book sets the record straight on the origins, practitioners and locations that defined what punk was all about. The narrative here is unadulterated and incredibly engrossing.
While you may think about some of these icons differently after reading this book, you cannot deny the incendiary creativity and raw lust for life in these New York and Detroit punk pioneers. At times simultaneously hilarious, repulsive and depressing, this book is a fascinating historical trip through the '60's and '70's. Say what you will, but these folks walked the talk like no one else in rock and roll before or since.
Finally, the bare bones, tell-it-in-their-own-words style here is refreshing and free of over-interpretation. Like punk itself, it avoids hyperbole and reflection and just tells it like it was, warts and all. Thanks to McNeil & McCain for such a terrific read. Some recent artists who claim to be punk should read this and just be ashamed of themselves...
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Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Gillian McCain (Paperback - April 13 2006)
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