Also By This Author
“Babylon’s Burning is an essential document for pop archaeologists. . . . A learned and thorough chronicle.” Andrew Collins, The Times (UK)
From Punk to Grunge
978-1-84195-879-8 • $25.00 • Cloth • Mar. 2007
From the Sex Pistols’ clarion call of a record, Never Mind the Bollocks, to Kurt Cobain’s songs of an alienated youth, Babylon’s Burning is the brilliant, comprehensive, exhaustively researched story of punk rock, by an acclaimed British critic who once and for all defines what punk is and is not.
Destined to become a classic on the subject alongside Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me, Babylon’s Burning is a comprehensive, groundbreaking, and definitive account of one of the most influential and lasting music movements in history, one that ironically was built on
In August 1977, just a few months before the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks was released to worldwide controlled chaos, Johnny Rotten commented on Elvis’s death, saying, “In a way I don’t really feel that [his death] has anything to do with me.... He became everything we’re trying to react against.... I don’t want to become a fat, rich, sick, reclusive
rock star.... Elvis was dead before he died, and his gut was so big it cast a shadow over rock and roll.” Thus was launched the first potent salvo in punk rock’s vainglorious history.
In his provocative and definitive history, Clinton Heylin asserts, among other things, that real
punk rock bands don’t make second records. He finds the origins of punk in a small circle of critics and social misfits who defined the aesthetic before the music even existed. Writers like Nick Kent, Ben Edmonds, and, most significantly, Lester Bangs reacted against rock as it had evolved by the mid-'70s, and argued for something altogether freer, younger, louder, and more anarchic. As the words, pictures, and fashions depicted in magazines spread,
bands sprouted in places like Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Brisbane, and San Francisco in addition to the commonly known movements in New York, London, and Manchester.
From early progenitors like Suicide, the New York Dolls, and Patti Smith in New York to Rocket from the Tombs in Cleveland and the Saints in Australia, Heylin brings to life the strands of a global art form that birthed simultaneously. Punk eschewed conventionallyrics and promoted a gutteral musicality, yet contained a keen pop sensibility. Heylin tells thestory of the Sex Pistols’ meteoric rise and fall, and the bands who legitimately took up the mantle (with evolved underlying principles) in the eighties, nineties, and up to Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, which heralded the end of an era.