Friday, 28 August 2015

From deep in the web, something this way comes...

Greetings fellow book-fiends.

I have the pleasure of running Abbey’s Bookshop’s Web Services and this is my first foray onto our Blog to offer you an alternate perspective of the ranges of books available, many of which have been brought to my attention by our online customers. It offers a glimpse into the diverse interests that our customers have. Oh, so diverse…

Abbey’s has been a browsing mecca for Sydney’s bibliophiles for almost 50 years, with thousands of titles crammed into our Aladdin’s cave of a location with three specialised shops, all located at 131 York Street. The two floors of titles are just a drop in the ocean compared to the hundreds of thousands of titles available through our websites. Many of our customers know that we stock and can source a huge range of Australiana, all sorts of fiction, history or science texts and that we specialise in language books, biographies, international movies on DVD or Blu-Ray or, of course, children’s books, crime, fantasy and science-fiction. They might even know we have sections devoted to travel literature, cooking or gardening, theatre studies or philosophy.

But how many know about books that are available about, say, seminal fringe music scenes or lesser known sub-cultures? Today we'll have a look at just one...

The term has been used as far back as the 16th century for the labelling of a variety of less valuable, fringe ‘types’ of person; notably prostitutes. The use of ‘punk’ evolved through the 20th century, early on as a derogatory term for a homosexual male then reappropriated by successive generations to label the less worthy. Clint Eastwood queried one such soul’s luck in one of 70’s action cinema’s most famous lines but by the end of the decade the term came to its sub-cultural fore via Punk Rock with its wildly brash, in-your-face music and fashions spawning simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, grabbing the attention and imaginations of the era’s disenfranchised youths and much, much more.

 Lester Bangs
Lester Bangs

Punk Rock was a term used in 1971 by US music fanzine critic David Marsh and then in the UK by Lester Bangs to describe the raucous sounds evolving from 60’s garage bands like the Mysterions, The Troggs and, of course, The Stooges to the raw, middle-finger-to-the-establishment stylings of MC5, The Patti Smith Band or The Rolling Stones seminal Exile on Main Street. Into the 70’s, the stripped-down rock of the garage met with the staged stylings and freshly-fused sounds of the likes of The Velvet Underground, Richard Hell and TelevisionDavid Bowie, Talking Heads or Devo and flitted even further to the fringe with the works of The New York Dolls, or Black Flag while ‘punk rock’ was used to describe bands as diverse as Aerosmith or Bruce Springsteen, the most influential of bands playing at their own, now iconic, venues. Then in 1977, The Ramones, stripped-back like nothing before, established the blueprint of American pop-punk for generations to come.

The Stooges
The Stooges

Punk rock is rooted in simplicity with vocal stylings around the trinity of guitar, bass & drums and there are many resources available to learn to play from the basics to working with 'now classics' tunes.

Punk hit the mainstream too around 1977 as an arty sub-culture with an anti-conservative, political bent. The UK’s The Clash released their first rebellious, self-titled album that year but their righteous anger was trumped by the Sex Pistols who were suddenly everywhere, flirting with mainstream infamy through the chart-stealing success of their raucously accessible debut, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols which the UK’s New Music Express (NME) voted in 1985 as the 13th greatest Album of all time. By 1993 NME voted it the 3rd.

DEVO / Talking Heads / Sex Pistols

Late 70’s punk was fundamental to the 80’s evolutions of the New Wave offering a diverse range of artists (if not pop-stars) and through the 90’s Seattle/slacker rock resurgence, peaking with the brief but musical-epoch-defining brilliance of Nirvana. Punk didn’t die or just fade away. Punk aesthetics evolved again into the 21st century, uniquely so with clean-living punks embracing the concept of straight-edgeanti-drug, socially aware, hardcore punks with proponents beyond the music

Above all, Punk is an attitude. A DIY rebellion against prevailing power. And with 40-odd years of music now passed and rediscovered by generation after generation, punk will likely inspire works far into the future.


Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

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