PUNK :Attitude - A Film By Don Letts
FreeMantle Home Entertainment
Running Time: 90 minutes
Premiered 9th July 2005, IFC
Released 3rd October 2005

Don Letts the Black Rasta who used to spin dub reggae tunes down the
Roxy (London's first punk club) has made a career out of documenting
the early London punk scene in celluloid and other media. Well now it
seems time to spread his dreads and video threads onto the America's,
in the vein hope of capturing the US influence on punk rock via its
attitude. I say vein hope, coz it succeeds best in the early New York era
of this 90 minute film, but as we slowly move out of the Bowery PUNK
:Attitude seems to lose its initial focus on events, and things start to
become blurry very fast. In fact anything punk after 1979 seems to be
ushered in an out with a blink of an eye and a concealed intolerance.
No mention whatsoever on the hugely influential early 80’s Anarcho era,
and even the US West Coast hardcore scene only gets a brief mention.
The closest we get to a 21st century peek is a brief glimpse of
when they were first starting out in the early 90's.

This is a film capturing primarily the original East coast attitude towards punk and music in general, which I must
say is very different from the UK, Europe and even the West Coast of America. We no longer get Don's previous
studies of the Westway insight or Johnny Rotten's snarl as the talisman for a spiky generation. Although various
clips crop up along the way. We now feel the wrath of the true elder statesmen of punk rock 'n' roll, who shed light
on our snotty development. People like David Johansen (
New York Dolls) who appears in a nice shade of pink
nail varnish looking as weathered as rhino hide. David tells us
the Ramones were tragic but apparently were
great in retrospect tut tut. Dick Manitoba of
the Dictators who now resembles an ageing gangsta admits the
Detroit sound of the
MC5 and the Stooges to be his biggest influence. Wayne Kramer of the said MC5 is the
sole representative from Detroit in this flick, and could possibly influence you to become an attorney, coz that's
what he resembles and sounds like these days. But if were looking for real attitude why not try
Iggy? Well I'm
Iggy wasn't interviewed coz he was doing a South Bank documentary instead. I was disappointed Richard
Hell didn't make it either. Coz being part of the blank generation and the guy Malcolm McLaren apparently nicked
all of his ideas off, he should've at least been a focus for this documentary. We do get plenty of attitude off John
Holstrom of Punk mag, resplendent in a brand new
Bully's t-shirt. And alongside sidekick Legs McNeil in a dapper
Ramones top they make for an acidic tag team . These two bitter 'n' twisted scribes positively reek of Big Apple
kudos with their territorial pissings like... "we know, coz we started it all" kinda posturing, which was funny in a sad
kinda way. However the person with the most attitude in this flick was Dee Pop out the
Bush Tetras. We could've
watched this cross eyed oddball squirming for hours instead of the brief clip we see. Also I hate to say it but Henry
Rollins (
Black Flag) the man we love to hate came out with some extremely valid points throughout this punk
picture, and still had an arsenal of attitude in his best square jawed combat cameo.

This film is worth investigating just to see the rapidly deteriorating look on some of the vet punk faces. Check out
Siouxsie's double chin and rusty vocal tones. Or maybe Marco Pirroni's (Models/Ants) ever expanding
waistline. You can't help but laugh at Paul Simonon's gigantic Harry Hill shirt collars. But the piece de resistance
had to be Manchester punk poet
John Coopers Clarke's decaying molars!!! Of the more bland and irritating
interviewees we have to sit through was the geeky, ruddy philosophical leanings of wankers like Thurston fuckin'
Moore (
Sonic Youth) who seems to have a major Patti Smith fixation. And that media whore Mary Haron fer
fucks sake!!! They should've been edited out in favour of more band footage that we ain't seen a million times
before. Talking of which the most exciting footage comes from Detroit's
MC5 who are caught on stage smashing
their guitars into pieces in what looks like the most wanton act of guitar vandalism caught on film ever. This clip is
fucking brilliant and the highlight of the whole movie. Also the stark black 'n' white footage of
Nico crooning away
in the
Velvet Underground, alongside a neat clip of X-Ray Spex, roaring through 'Oh Bondage Up Yours'. Just
a pity Poly now sounds like a suburban hippy these days. And more comical footage of
John Cooper Clarke
strolling through a backstreet alley miming to a microphone has to be seen tee hee. But as we watch the grainy
footage interspersed with dialogue and interviews, it's really hard to see our middle aged relics as the lethal devils
spore they obviously once were. And it leaves only sussed individuals like Jello Biafra (ex-
Dead Kennedys) to
really scare the shit out of us by declaring
Blink 182 and bands of their ilk as merely punk inspired rock bands
who now want to be part of the establishment. The extras consist of an interactive punk family tree and a 'Where
are they now?' section.