What are the best punk books and documentaries on the history of punk music?
June 20, 2010 7:05 AM   Subscribe

What are some fantastic books and documentaries on the history of punk music? Basically, the type of music in this thread with an emphasis on Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Fugazi, and Bad Brains. I already have Rip It Up And Start Again, Our Band Could Be Your Life, Get In The Van, and Instrument.
posted by yaymukund to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed American Hardcore at Sundance.
posted by rabidsegue at 7:17 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Documentaries:

Decline of Western Civilization
X: The Unheard Music
There is No Authority But Yourself
Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies
American Hardcore
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains
posted by box at 7:18 AM on June 20, 2010

Specifically about D.C. (so you'll get Bad Brains and Fugazi, although the Banned in DC book ends before Fugazi):

Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital

Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes from the DC Punk Underground

And here's a website: Banned in DC
posted by craichead at 7:51 AM on June 20, 2010

You should watch You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk
posted by MXJ1983 at 9:42 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Afro-Punk is an interesting documentary about a being African-American within the punk community.
posted by loriginedumonde at 11:09 AM on June 20, 2010

Seconding Gimme Something Better.

relevant self link: here's an interview I did with the authors, Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor. They were awesome people.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:22 PM on June 20, 2010

I can vouch for the wickedness of the expanded edition of We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet Collected Interviews that cooker girl suggested.

American Hardcore: A Tribal History is also a book by Steven Blush.

There are a couple of really awesome chapters (specifically "Punk Revolution" and "Enjoy Being a Grrrl") regarding women in punk in the expanded second edition of She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll and along the same vein the documentary Don't Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl.
posted by postpostpostscript at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2010

I should mention that when I did that interview, I had just read the book and other than that I knew absolutely nothing about punk rock music, so forgive my naivete and stupid questions.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:28 PM on June 20, 2010

England's Dreaming, by Jon Savage, is pretty much the ur-text of this kind of writing. I'd also recommend, odd as it sounds to a nation that only know Chumbawamba as makers of novelty drinking songs, Footnote by Boff Whalley which has interesting background on artists such as Crass. However, this and many of the books I would normally recommend to you focus on UK rather than US punk. If you want something subcultural, I can recommend Donna Gaines' Teenage Wasteland.
posted by mippy at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2010

Radio Silence is pretty good. Touch and Go Magazine: The Complete Years comes out this week. I thought the Darby Crash bio, Lexicon Devil, was just ~okay~ but if you like the Germs, it might be worth checking out. There's Lipstick Traces and Subculture for more high-minded/philosophical analysis...

I really like the documentary We Jam Econo, which is about the Minutemen (who happen to be my favorite band, so I'm biased in that respect).
posted by cowboy_sally at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2010

1991: The Year Punk Broke
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on June 20, 2010

I second mippy with England's Dreaming, and there's a link.
posted by Holly at 2:28 PM on June 20, 2010

Fuck books! Get it from the source. Look up your local zine library and go spend an afternoon or whatever.
posted by Michael Pemulis at 3:45 PM on June 20, 2010

Best answer: Following up on the "get it from the source" comment, definitely check out this Aaron Cometbus collection: Despite Everything: A Cometbus Omnibus. It's 600 pages of perfectly observed stories of punk life and music from Aaron's amazing hand-written zine Cometbus - by far one of the most widely admired and influential zines ever. Reading him is about as close to immersing yourself in 80s/90s DIY punk culture in all its dumpster-diving, squatting, moshing, drinking, philosophizing glory as it's possible to get with a book. It totally deserves all the "classic," "legendary," "essential" accolades it always gets.

And another vote for Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, a collection of intense, hilarious and occasionally contradictory reminiscences from the folks who were involved in the NYC scene at the time. Great, great book. (There's a similar oral history collection for the LA scene, We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk, but I can't vouch for it and the reviews I've seen have been mixed.)
posted by mediareport at 7:02 PM on June 20, 2010

...and by "stories" I mean "true stories." Cometbus was as real as it gets.
posted by mediareport at 7:03 PM on June 20, 2010

Check out We Got the Neutron Bomb, an oral history of LA punk.
posted by Atom12 at 1:52 PM on June 21, 2010

Fuck books! Get it from the source. Look up your local zine library and go spend an afternoon or whatever.

What if your local zine library isn't, well, very local at all? I can access zines in London but certainly they are hard to come by in other cities.
posted by mippy at 4:26 AM on June 22, 2010

Response by poster: I saw Afro-punk and reading Rip It Up And Start Again and Get in the Van. I'm going to the library later today to find more stuff. I'll probably burn through the documentaries in a week or two at this rate!

I'm also interested in large photographs or concert footage— I'd like photo references to sketch from. I already have some from the Henry Rollins book (large format, lots of full-page images) and the documentaries have concert footage so I can start there.

Thanks so much everyone.
posted by yaymukund at 7:18 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: For photo books, you might dig the work of Glen Friedman and Charles Peterson.
posted by box at 8:38 AM on June 24, 2010

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