Thursday, 11 May 2017

Book review: Fucked Up Reader, 2017, Bryan Ray Turcotte

Forty years after the punk phenomenon, people still ask exactly what punk was and whether it died. They should stop, cos it really isn't all that complicated, the Fucked Up Reader shows.

The book contains some 300-or-so reminiscences from people who were right there at the heart of the scene - mostly in the US; a few in the UK.

So what was punk? It was a reaction to the bland, overblown, inaccessible music of the 70s, driven by kids with independence of thought and jumped on by kids who liked the aggression, adrenaline and escape. At its best it was DIY, exploratory, and challenging. At its worst it was derivative and dumb.

Is it dead? In itself, yes. But as an ideology, no. Punk was merely the latest new thing to challenge rigid old forms - it's just that it wore that challenge more explicitly than any new trend before or since. Pretty quickly punk itself became formulaic and got co-opted by the mainstream, but the punk ideology - which predated punk music - got taken up in diluted form by post-punk, hip-hop, grunge, garage, dubstep, grime, and whatever comes next.

For as long as there's something new and different left to be created, and someone out there fed up enough and bored enough and brave enough to explore it, punk survives.

Punk is dead. Long live punk.

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