This is a thoroughly researched study of the origins of the New York City punk scene, focusing on Television and their extraordinary debut record. Two kids in their early twenties walk down the Bowery on a spring afternoon, just as the proprietor of a club hangs a sign with the new name for his venue. The place will be called CBGB which, he tells them, stands for ‘Country Bluegrass and Blues’. That’s exactly the sort of stuff they play, they lie, somehow managing to get a gig out of him. After the first show their band, Television, lands a regular string of Sundays. By the end of the summer a scene has developed that includes Tom Verlaine’s new love interest, a poet-turned-rock chanteuse named Patti Smith. American punk rock is born. Bryan Waterman peels back the layers of the origin myth and, assembling a rich historical archive, situates Marquee Moon in a broader cultural history of SoHo and the East Village. As Waterman traces the downtown scene’s influences, public image, and reputation via a range of print, film, and audio recordings we come to recognize the real historical surprises that the documentary evidence still has to yield. “33 1/3” is a series of short books about a wide variety of albums, by artists ranging from James Brown to the Beastie Boys. Launched in September 2003, the series now contains over 60 titles and is acclaimed and loved by fans, musicians and scholars alike. It was only a matter of time before a clever publisher realized that there is an audience for whom “Exile on Main Street” or “Electric Ladyland” are as significant and worthy of study as “The Catcher in the Rye” or “Middlemarch…The” series, which now comprises 29 titles with more in the works, is freewheeling and eclectic, ranging from minute rock-geek analysis to idiosyncratic personal celebration – “The New York Times Book Review”, 2006. This is a brilliant series…each one a word of real love – NME (UK). For more information on the series and on individual titles in the series, check out our blog.
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