The New York/CBGB scene of the 70s has now taken on almost-mythical proportions, with various arguments over who was there first and who invented what. And what it all meant. If anything. Bands as musically diverse as Blondie, The Ramones, Talking Heads and, of course, Television are all crammed together under the general heading of "NY Punk". There are a number of books which try to make some sense of this, with varying degrees of success.

New readers start here:




I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography

Richard Hell
ISBN: 978-0-06-219083-3

Hell spares no feelings, including his own, and the result is a very readable, frank and fascinating account of his life and his ill-fated early friendship with Verlaine.




Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3)

Bryan Waterman
ISBN: 1902588169

Excellent, thorough examination of the events leading up to, and the recording of, Marquee Moon.




Sonic Transmission:
Television, Tom Verlaine, Richard Hell

Tim Mitchell
ISBN: 1902588169

The first book on Television-related history.




Please Kill Me

Edited by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain.
ISBN: 0349108803

Edited by two of the three people behind the original "Punk" magazine and written entirely in quotes from interviews with major (and minor) players. Concludes very definitely that Punk began in NY and that we English came in at the end of it. Yeah, it focuses on the seedy and the glamorous, but isn't that what you want?
(Title note: Richard Lloyd wore the infamous "Please Kill Me" t-shirt - designed by Richard Hell - for only one Television show, at Max's Kansas City)



From The Velvets To The Voidoids

Clinton Heylin
ISBN: 0140179704

Chronicles the American punk music scene from its roots in the 60s. This is the one everyone talks/argues about but it's an essential read. Heylin is also the author of a number of books on Bob Dylan and "Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry".

Dream Baby Dream: Images from the Blank Generation

Stephanie Chernikowski
ISBN: 1880985276

A visual record of the punk years in New York City - "a documentary film in stills" - by one of the great rock photographers. One review said, "Chernikowski's images... appear almost to burn straight through the gallery wall from someplace dimly lit and raw and very, very hip." And they do. Her website is here.

Blank Generation Revisited: The early Years of Punk Rock

Introduction by Lenny Kaye
ISBN: 0028646525

A book of black and white images by six photographers: Roberta Bayley, Stephanie Chernikowski, George du Bose, Bob Gruen, Ebet Roberts and David Godlis. Each picture is accompanied by a short description written by the photographer which helps to place it in context. "What the early days of New York punk looked and felt like. "



Punk

Edited by Stephen Colegrave and Chris Sullivan
ISBN: 0304359874

Opinions are divided on this hefty (and not cheap) one. Too obsessed with Malcolm McLaren and the Pistols for some tastes.

England's Dreaming

Jon Savage
ISBN: 0571167918

A terrific book. Although it's about the British scene, Savage does show how what was happening in New York had a direct influence on what happened in London. From a meeting with Richard Hell: "Hell's bitterness, caused - as he admits later - by the fact that the Sex Pistols achieved what he desired".
Glen Matlock: "Malcolm had not long come back from the States with these posters; one was for Television with Richard Hell in the band. It had all these great songs in it, 'Blank Generation', 'Venus De Milo', and that's where we got the idea for 'Pretty Vacant'.''



Wanna Go Out?

Theresa Stern
ISBN: 2951127618

A collection of 17 poems originally published in 1973; Theresa Stern (as a close look at the cover photo will tell you) was actually Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell, although this isn't mentioned anywhere in the book. The original edition is long out of print but you can get a recent edition through Richard Hell's website.



The Night

Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine
ISBN: 0 85652 024 1

Contains 22 numbered poems, the odd-numbered ones written by Patti and the even-numbered ones written by Tom. Published in 1976 in Britain (Aloes Books, London, limited edition of 500) and Paris (Edition Fear Press).

This Ain't No Disco - The Story of Cbgb

Roman Kozak
ISBN: 0571129560

CBGB-OMFUG: "Country, Bluegrass, Blues and other music for uplifting gourmandizers"
"Tom and I were walking down from his house to the loft in Chinatown, and we passed this place which the owner was fixing up. We asked if maybe we could play there and he told us he was going to call the place Country Bluegrass and Blues. So we said, 'Yes, we play stuff like that; we do all kinds of stuff including our own original material.' He have us a gig so we got a bunch of friends down and convinced him to give us every Sunday for a month." - Richard Lloyd.



Writings by Richard Hell


There are a number of Richard Hell's works available, poetry and prose.
The best place to find out about them and order them is on his website here.



New York Rocker: My Life in the Blank Generation, with Blondie, Iggy Pop and Others, 1975-1981

Gary Valentine
ISBN: 028306367X

Gary Valentine played bass for Blondie in the early pre-recording years and on Blondie's debut album.

Head On/Repossessed

Julian Cope
ISBN: 0722538820

Lucid, Articulate and honest autobiography from Cope. Not about New York at all but check out all the soon-to-be-musicians in Liverpool sitting around listening to the original 7" Little Johnny Jewel single then going out and starting The Teardrop Explodes, Echo and The Bunnymen et al. An essential and wonderful read.

You should be able to get most of these from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

"This Ain't No Disco" is currently out of print but you may find a copy at www.powells.com or through www.punk77.co.uk