Great read. Heavily weighted toward the 75-80 time period, but an impressive history (and analysis) of a period too often glossed over as a bunch of people in mohawks and ripped clothing spitting on each other. A very nice history of record labels, too. Good stuff.
Destined to become a classic on the subject alongside Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me, Babylon’s Burning is a groundbreaking, definitive account of punk rock, one of the most influential and lasting music movements in history—a movement that ironically was built on self-annihilation. Acclaimed critic Clinton Heylin seamlessly weaves together the lives of disparate artists who had in common not the music (there was no distribution) but the pictures, words, and fashions depicted in magazines like Creem and NME. It was a sound that eschewed conventional lyrics, promoted a gutteral musicality but yet contained a keen pop sensibility. Whether exploring the work of early progenitors like Suicide, The New York Dolls, and Patti Smith or charting the progress of the bands who legitimately took up the mantle in the eighties and nineties, Clinton Heylin brings to life the strands of a global artform. From the Sex Pistols’s clarion call of a record, “Never Mind the Bollocks,” to Kurt Cobain’s songs of an alienated youth, Babylon’s Burning is the brilliant, exhaustively researched story that once and for all defines what Punk is and is not.