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Writing about Punk Rock, Junk Rock, and Fag Rock

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by Joe Ambrose, Literary Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: March, 2005
Kent ended up moving to Paris where, I think, he worked for MTV. Shame, shame, shame.

Joe Ambrose offers some essential titles from the world of rock n roll books

Making Tracks; The Rise of Blondie by Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and Victor Bockris (1982).
Sexy clever Debbie Harry (pictured, legs akimbo) and smart honorable Chris Stein got together with their pal, cool hipster Victor Bockris, to concoct this sexy treatise concerning the rise of NY punk. Sad photos of Debbie with Joey Ramone. Blondie at Checkpoint Charlie. Debbie sitting on Chuck Berry's knee. Cameo appearances by Iggy, Warhol, Devo, Johnny Thunders, Sabel Starr, the timeless Joan Jett, Richard Hell, and Ray Davies. Debbie's kitchen. A world that got wiped out. Bockris also wrote (with Gerard Malanga) the fine Velvet Underground history, Uptight, but I love Blondie. You can dance at their revolution.
Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie

The True Adventures Of The Rolling Stones (aka Dance With the Devil) by Stanley Booth. (1984)
This masterpiece by my friend and comrade, Stanley Booth, captures the sorcery, charm, and tarnish at the core of the, for sure and forever, greatest rock'n'roll band in the world (They got the best songs, the best women, the best scandals). Booth's prose is timeless, urgent, the work of a rambling preacher and a disgraced teacher. His account of his meeting with William Burroughs and Brion Gysin is worth the price of admission.
The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Rhythm Oil by Stanley Booth (1991)
Essays on Furry Lewis, Gram Parsons, and Al Green with walk on parts for Sam The Sham, Jim Dickinson, and William Eggleston. As elegant as Jane Austen, as wise as the Koran, as funny as death, Stanley was the only intellectual to parlay with Elvis and was in the studio when Otis cut Dock of The Bay. His profile on Elvis, rich and young in 1967, riding his motorcycle around the edge of his Gracelands swimming pool, is merely part of his multilayered analysis of Memphis music. Fascist smartalecs will sometimes suggest that this whole rock'n'roll thing is grossly overestimated - they should be made to read Stanley Booth.
Rythm Oil: A Journey Through the Music of the American South

Beat Punks (aka New York Babylon) by Victor Bockris (1998)
Bockris - in a series of collected essays - argues the case for the connection between high art and NYC punk rock. Bockris, poet laureate of the Manhattan underground, was there when it happened; this is his embedded reportage from the front line. Susan Sontag talking to Richard Hell, Allen Ginsberg's death, Blondie meeting William Burroughs, the correspondence of Joey Ramone.
Beat Punks

The Dark Stuff; Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972 - 1995 by Nick Kent (1995)
This used to be the bible of junk and fag rock. Kent made the ultimate rock hack error of imagining that he was entre nous with a variety of limousine-traveling scumbag musical vagabonds. The writing is not as scintillating as I once imagined it to be but it successfully promotes an attractive, beguiling, self-destructive lifestyle. Kent ended up moving to Paris where, I think, he worked for MTV. Shame, shame, shame. The last thing I saw by him was a review of the reformed Iggy and The Stooges which suggested that he's not exactly up to speed with what's going in the ever-changing world of tight trousers, brown sugar, and electric guitars.
The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-1995

Pick up these titles at Amazon.com
Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie
The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones
Rythm Oil: A Journey Through the Music of the American South
Beat Punks
The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-1995

see more stories from outsideleft's Music archive »»

Joe Ambrose
Literary Editor

Joe Ambrose has written 14 books, including Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. Joe is currently working on his next book, Look at Us Now - The Life and Death of Muammar Ghadaffi, which is an expanded version of a story first published in the anthology CUT UP! Visit Joe's website for all the latest info: JoeAmbrose.co.uk.

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