HATE RATES.... ***** BIBLE **** TABLOID *** COMIC ** CHIP PAPER * PULP
THE ART OF PUNK
POSTERS + FLYERS + FANZINES + RECORD SLEEVES
Russ Bestley + Alex Ogg
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Omnibus Press (10 Sep 2012)
I'm a sucker for punk art from any era, particularly its visual aspect. So was quite
intrigued when this arrived for review. Like any Art, some you love, some you
loathe, some has impact, some leaves you tepid with emotion. Its a personal thing,
just like the sounds of this phenomenon. The Art Of Punk doesn't really make
assumptions or pass judgement on any of the art herein. It merely offers Punk Art in
all its states, in all its glory, for better or for worse. Although you can almost tell by
what’s been left out or what’s included, which is deemed most important by its
authors. Wot no Damned, 'Music For Pleasure' LP fer instance? Now that was art
lol. But seriously, there is so much more included. You'll soon lose yourself in its
expansive vista of punk sleeves and imagery.
Our two authors/compilers in question, have done their homework. They come from artistic punk
academia (Russ Bestley) who is a new name to me? But his qualifications in punk visuals and
graphics are as long as yer arm. And he's joined at the hip by literary punk historian (Alex
Ogg) who you should all be familiar with. Especially from his punk books like 'No More
Heroes'. So thank gawd it ain't been left to some money grabbing journo with a load of
images and little else to plunder. Or Johnny Snotter from the streets with his low budget
grubby personal collection to compile this. The end result is a good reliable, representation
of the Punk look that dressed our favourite sleeves, promoted our classic gigs and
adorned our favourite mags. They have extensively researched their work with integrity
and there's literally very little they ain't uncovered thats important. Especially if you take the
page count of 224 into consideration. A massive piece of work but a mere drop in the
ocean to cover such a vast arena of creativity in one book.
Punks artistic aesthetic is just as important to us, as the sounds the bands made, or the
moods the fanzines engineered. And yes we do get a helping of fanzines ephemera in case
you were wondering. With a colourful selection of some of the ground breaking publications.
Although if you want the real beef on UK fanzinedom, check out the latest issue of Defiant
Pose out on the streets now!
The only thing I found a little wanting in the Art Of Punk (reading wise), was the authors
style of writing. Which for me was a little too academic on occasion, and lacked passion.
We don't get much "crisp, gossipy and occasionally vicious" dialogue, unlike their
description of the fanzines. But what we do get is totally informative. Even though
it can sometimes make the knowledge they're bestowing upon us a little too
sterile, in this vibrant dangerfield of art and expression. And you might find it hard
to keep yourself riveted to the prose, especially when you got Jordan's arse
staring out at you from the 'Sex' Shop drapes. But to their credit, we actually do
get some emotion littered throughout the text. Which is significantly bolstered by
the guest contributors. People like Mick Farren’s brilliant 'Let’s Loot The
Supermarket' piece, Andrew Matheson of the Hollywood Brats recollections
were also spot on entertainment. We also got John Holstrom's American
perspective. As well as some interesting insights from artists like Arturo Vega.
Who explains his Ramones work, including how the famous logo was thought up.
And along side the stars of the show with works by Jamie Reid, Malcolm Garrett,
Linder Sterling, and US artists including, Raymond Pettibon, Winston Smith, and
many more, in this neat collection.
The book on the whole collates beautifully a host of posters, flyers, fanzines and
the lions share of record sleeves from punks archives in one gigantic
tome. This is a book worth getting if art is your bag and you wanna
discover the meaning or inspiration behind a lot of it all. Its also good to
hear how some of it was physically created. However it so reminds me
of the more anarchic US orientated 'Fucked Up And Photocopied' book,
which came out in 1999. A book which is the most striking in the way its
art is displayed. Presentation wise, the Art Of Punk could've been way
more attractive if they experimented a bit more, like their subject matter.
Its ultra symmetrical visuals and formal layout, makes you wish they'd
messed up the pages a bit more. I'd have hoped they would have gone
for a more in your face visual. Similar to what you can find in books
like Brian Colgan’s 'Encyclopaedia Of Punk'. On the other hand, its a lot
more organised and makes it a load more
easier to digest and upload the information
printed and presented, than say its American
Don't get me wrong The Art Of Punk is very
vibrant and has that classic punk visual to
take up most of the school book styled page
space. Maybe if only they'd took a risk and
added more imagery as a backdrop for each
page fer instance, it would've looked so much
more sexier. The Art of Punk is not the first
ever book of its kind, but it is easily the most
informative, despite its less chaotic nature.
And those gigantic 900 images enclosed
are reprinted to a very high standard, which
you soon get accustomed to. See what I mean
about Art, it conjures up so many emotions.
The pros of this book certainly outweigh the
cons. Its sectioned into categories which are
roughly chronological. They cover proto punk,
the punk explosion (77), new wave and post
punk to a very in depth degree. There's even room for DIY punk, Anarcho, Oi! and Hardcore amongst others.
Most of which are explored thoroughly. Then the Art Of Punk goes global after nailing the UK
scene. It was so nice to see a book that has enough suss to include a good bite of the European
punk creativity, which is usually neglected. As well as an generous helping from the USA and
other more exotic locations like South East Asia and China for example. There's a worldwide Top
Ten listing from some international DIY punk luminaries. Although It has to be said the more
obscure the art is, the less memorable or iconic it seems to become. Especially punks later
periods, but maybe I'm just biased?
It was however neat to see how far punks tentacles have now outstretched. There aren't a lot of
surprises if you've been a fan of punk for a long time, you will have seen a lot of the sleeves
(particularly), but it was interesting for example to hear how X-Ray Spex debut 45 sleeve was
devised technically. But if your just discovering punk then this is a great ringside seat to the
visuals of punk and its transformation from zerox to museum pieces. For die hards there's
still some great treats to behold or some behind the scenes stories and accounts from the
creators and photographers themselves. You do get a whole sliver of punk art from the remotest
regions of the globe and most come with background information and some rare on the scene
eye witness accounts. The book size (10x11) does in fact gives the art way more space to jump
out the page at you. And books like this needs to be large, loud and leery for the ultimate
experience. Its all wrapped up with a hefty hardback cover which should protect the art inside
adequately over a lifetimes worth of beer swilling, take aways dinner or scanner sessions ha! The
cover price of £19.95 might seem expensive. But if you shop around you can get copy’s of this
for as little as £12.76 from Amazon and its all put together beautifully in a very luxurious binding
and on quality paper for that high end finish. Any way forget what I think, Cheetah Chrome from
the Dead Boys likes it and that's gotta be OK with you!
PETER DON'T CARE
You can also check out Russ Bestleys superb punk archive for even more sleeves at....