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Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Paperback – April 13, 2006
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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 the Hardcover edition.
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 the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Please Kill Me is not meant to be uplifting. It's a book about a bunch of mostly messed-up, at best semi-stable people of limited talent, who nonetheless came together to create something great. It's the story of those people, not the specific chords they played or the amplifiers they used. It's unusual in that it goes into great depth explaining the genesis of punk; this book makes it clear that the foundation was laid long before the Ramones ever played a note.
It's also a fantastic read. I started reading it on a cross-country flight and stayed up all night finishing it. It's especially compelling when you contrast it with the sanitized, glorified shopping mall that now calls itself New York City.
I wrote this review after seeing too many denigrate the book because it presented a different picture of the people and the music than they expected. This guy was right in the middle of it all, and earned his knowledge through personal experience. There are only a few other people who can match his depth of understanding on this topic, or his passion for it.
In New York, and some in Detroit and London. Bit of California. Mostly Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and the Ramones and the Dead Boys and Blondie.
And the club kids and the hangers-on, the club owners and the drug dealers.
Everyone who doesn’t die gets old.
It is sad.
It is beautiful.
It ends, like everything, too soon.
The book is entirely made up of interviews from everyone who could possibly have anything to say about the seedy history of Punk music. There is no descriptive content other than these interviews which are carefully and cleverly woven together to provide a dynamic timeline of this ugly step child sub-genre of rock and roll. Everyone is interviewed, from musicians to producers to journalists to drug dealers to drag queens to groupies. This complete cast of characters from both sides of the Atlantic creates a narrative so seedy that sometimes you feel you have to bathe after reading it.
And that is as it should be because the story in its decadence is completely mesmerizing.
Everybody is here, The New York Dolls, MC5, The Dictators, The Dead Boys, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and that only gets you half way through the book. I am also happy to report that as a huge fan I was gratified to learn that the number one degenerate from which all Punk sprang (or, more appropriately, seeped) is the king himself, Mr. Iggy Pop; a man pretty much at the center of this descent into musical madness.
For me this is the definitive story, and by far the best overview, of the insane world of Punk music I've ever read.
This book is nothing but that stuff.
Tales of living hard and wild and irresponsibly. Sad and squalid at times, laugh-out-loud funny at others, The dirt is dished by people who were maling the scene. The Velvets, The Stooges, Warhol, Jim Morrison, Nico, MC5, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Television, David Bowie, The Ramones, Blondie, Jim Carroll, Sid and Nancy, and more.... a lot of rock mythology has been built up around these people, but this book is not afraid of bursting the bubble over and over again. If punk meant anything it meant not giving a sh-- what other people think, an attitude which is displayed on every single page in "Please Kill Me". No analysis, no legend-building, just the crazy tales of a crazy time.
The story isn't for the squeamish. Most disturbing was the extent of the drug use and all the death associated with it. But the scene was what it was and McCain and McNeil allow the players to tell it like it was. Yes, some of the stories contradict each other, but isn't that always the case with history.
My only complaint is that I had a tough time following who was speaking. Not knowing all the players, it was hard to remember the roles of the entire cast. There is an index in the back, but, reading the kindle edition I didn't realize that until I finished.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Over 400? pages of one on one narrirated stories makes you feel like you are hanging with the idols of punk music .