Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pop on the Rocks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pop on the Rocks

Article excerpt

If punk is old enough for a revival, it's also old enough for the history books. One of the more free-wheeling accounts to come along is the recent "Please Kill Me -- The Uncensored Oral History of Punk" by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. Both will appear for a book signing at Library Limited at 5 p.m. on Sat urday.

The book traces through scads of interviews the seedy and seething development of the American punk scene, primarily focusing on New York. From the Velvet Underground through the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, the Ramones and a host of other musicians and scenesters, the book unfurls through a landscape filled with drugs (primarily heroin), sex and oddball revelations that make it a fun, and at times harrowing, read indeed.

"We wanted to walk {readers} through the scene emotionally, that you're having an experience. Insanity was the key," says McCain during a phone interview with McNeil during a recent L.A. stop on their book tour.

A music writer who's worked at both Spin and Nerve, McNeil helped found and name the magazine Punk in 1975. For his part, Legs attests personally to the gargantuan drug use that riddles the book and was a hallmark of the punk scene.

"It was obvious to me," says Legs. "They were shooting up in front of me. I was taking my own drugs and drinking. That was a big part of it on a day-to-day basis."

To help capture the original feeling of the scene as it was unfolding, part of the oral history was culled from interviews from various publications conducted back in the day. For instance, a young, unfettered Patti Smith pours off the pages, her mighty ambition fully revealed in an early interview.

"That Patti interview was the best one I ever read with her," Legs says. "Her yearning comes out, especially when she's talking about Mick Jagger. It was great we could get an interview before she was a rock star. If you read Patti's interviews now, they're totally revisionist, just lame."

Although the book has met with mostly positive reviews, with a few r elatively minor criticisms (i.e. too much Dead Boys, not much Talking Heads), one criticism in particular seems to fester under McNeil's saddle like a burr. …

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