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Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk Paperback – May 2 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Paperback, May 2 2006
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1 edition (May 2 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802142648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802142641
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #57,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Though Britain's notorious Sex Pistols shoved punk rock into the face of mainstream America, the movement was already brewing in the U.S. in the 1960s with bands like the Velvet Underground and Iggy and the Stooges. Through hundreds of interviews with forgotten bands as well as the ones that made names for themselves--including Blondie and the Ramones--Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain chronicle punk rock history through the people who really lived it. Please Kill Me is a thrash down memory lane for those hip to punk's early years and an enlightening history lesson for youngsters interested in the origins of modern "alternative" music. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

As its sensationalist title suggests, this stresses the sex, drugs, morbidity and celebrity culture of punk at the expense of the music. Starting out with the electroshock therapy Lou Reed received as a teenager, working through such watersheds as the untimely deaths by overdose or mishap of Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders and Nico, as well as the complicated sexual escapades of the likes of Dee Dee Ramone, the portrayal here of the birth of an alternative culture is intermittently entertaining and often depressing. McNeil, one of the founding writers of the original 'zine, Punk, in 1975 , is certainly qualified to tell this tale. But the book's take on punk rock as "doing anything that's gonna offend a grown-up" overemphasizes the self-destructive side of the movement. Details of Iggy Pop's drug abuse and seedy sex with groupies receive more attention than important bands such as Television and Blondie, which had comparatively puritan lifestyles. Constructed as an oral history, the book weaves together personal accounts by the crucial players in the scene, many of whom seem to have been so drugged out most of the time that their reliability is questionable. McNeil and McCain (Tilt) provide a vivid look at the volatile and needy personalities who created punk, if they do not offer perceptive musical or cultural analysis. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback
"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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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