Posted by:on November 11th, 1998
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.
Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
Copyright Date: 1996
Review Date: 1998
Hands down the best book on the shelves with the word “punk” in the title, or printed anywhere between a cover for that matter. A must have for anyone with the faintest intrest in the stories behind the music. Completely excellent. Legs is the man who gave birth to Punk Magazine, and Gillian is someone who I’m not familiar with even if she was the program coordinator where Patti Smith gave her first poetry readings. Please Kill Me is a collection of memories as told by those that lived them. The stars, the groupies, the addicts, everyone who was anyone as well as those who just pretending. Well not everyone. This book has a east coast U.S.A. slant with the cast of UK regulars missing but not missed in this 400 plus page anthology. “Bollocks!” you may cry, but keep your bondage pants on. Do your homework and you’ll quickly realize that the NY scene was the virus in the petri dish that cultivated the UK scene. Malcom got his sea legs with the NY Dolls and either Lou Reed or Iggy Pop is the “Godfather of Punk” depending on your sources. It just so happens that there’s enough meat here for a meal. Let someone else compile the UK edition and I’ll give that a go as well.
The stories start with Andy Warhol’s factory days and Lou Reed and jump right in with Iggy and the Stooges. Throw in some MC5, New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, Stiv Bators, Ramones, Blondie, Richard Hell, and the parade goes on. The timeline runs from 1965 to 1992, but don’t worry, the bulk of the dirt is from the seveties. And talk about dirt, it’s all here in it’s incestuous glory. I never knew that 53rd and 3rd was autobiographical and I’m also eagerly awaiting the Iggy’s memoirs, except he probably can’t remember them. The book closes with the death of Johnny Thunders and the conspiracy theories, followed by an index of the cast of characters in case you haven’t done youe homework or aren’t familliar with the lessor known scenesters.
There are some black and white photos on glossy paper that don’t really add much besides placing a name with a face. It looks like the publishers used the same plates for printing the photos on newsprint in paperback edition. The results look like the potato block prints. Call me a snob but I think “Please Kill Me” looks kick ass embossed on a hardcover book sitting on my bookshelf. If your grandmother likes reading the National Enquirer she might appreciate the gossipy nature of Please Kill Me. The more time I spend writing this drivel, the less time you spend not buying it so go plunk your cash down for punk’s oral history.
This just in: The paperback edition has a bunch of extra pages. Get it.
Rating: Five out of five born-to-losers.
ISBN# 0-8021-1588-8 $25.00 hardcover.
Snail Mail: Grove Press, 841 Broadway, New York NY, 10003.
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