Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter’s Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982: By George Gimarc, 744 pages By Josh

Mar 05, 2007

I don’t want to slight this book, because there was obviously a ton of research and effort put into it. It definitely encompasses virtually every aspect of underground music between 1970 and 1982, but that inherently poses a problem: by trying to cover so much ground, there’s not really any room to go into any great depth, even in a book that’s over seven hundred pages. Even though the book is crammed with facts, there’s no real stories to go along with them, and let’s face it: most of these bands either already had a book written about them or deserve one. To take one example from this book, Skrewdriver started out as a fairly typical working class band like Sham 69, attracting a lunkhead following through no fault of their own, and even going so far as to write a letter to NME denouncing their skinhead audience. As their popularity waned, they broke up and then reformed as a nationalist skinhead band and we all know what a slippery slope they went down after that. That, to me, is pretty interesting. Perhaps not interesting enough to write an entire book about, sure, but it’s definitely something that shouldn’t be boiled down into a couple of paragraphs. This is a cool book to have around if you have fifteen or twenty minutes to kill here and there, but I’d really like to read some of the stories behind all of this stuff as opposed to which bands played on this certain day. I guess the bottom line is that if you’re looking an encyclopedia of underground music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, you might want to go with The Trouser Press Record Guide, but if you’re a huge trivia buff and you’d like to know what day of the week Nick Lowe quit Brinsley Schwartz or when the Newtown Neurotics released their first single, then you should look into this. –Josh (Backbeat Books, 600 Harrison St., SF, CA 94107)

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