The Pequod Review:
I love the format of this book, a collection of interviews with hundreds of individuals associated with the 1970s New York punk rock scene. Despite its apparent uncut format, there is a good amount of judgment that goes into a work like this, and Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain mostly exercise it well. The interviews are organized in a way that intelligently traces the roots of punk back to the 1950s and 1960s, and musicians like Chuck Berry, The Velvet Underground, MC5, and the Stooges. They also interview a wide-range of individuals across the industry hierarchy — not just the musicians themselves but the critics, producers, club managers, and hangers-on. The book isn't without flaws; it leans a bit too heavily on the gossipy stories involving drugs and sex (rather than the music itself) and it almost exclusively focuses on New York City (at the expense of equally interesting and influential scenes in Britain and elsewhere in the United States). And perhaps worst of all, the authors seem to have an allergy to artists who became too popular; as a result, a band as innovative as Talking Heads is sidelined in favor of far less talented acts. Nonetheless, this is an enormously entertaining and informative history, one that is essential reading if you have even a moderate interest in the genre.