Punk: Attitude

January 01, 1970

(Shout! Factory)






Fuck You. That pretty much sums up the punk
ethos according to everyone from Henry Rollins to Siouxsie Sioux in Don Letts’ stellar
2005 documentary Punk: Attitude. 


The film had a decent following when it first
hit the indie festival circuit, and spent some time hanging around IFC, but has
since been a little hard to find. Shout! Factory thankfully dusted off the doc
and threw in a slew of extras for this re-release.


Though not exactly exhaustive (no mention of
Bad Religion or Redd Kross nor any of the British Oi! Bands, and no interviews
with Johnny Rotten, Iggy Pop, Malcolm McLaren or any of the Ramones),Letts did
manage to snag a decent collection of interviewees – folks like The Clash’s
Mick Jones, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra and New
York Dolls front man David Johansen and covers the basics of the genre pretty
well. Once you get past the great war stories and man on the scene accounts
from those who were there at the beginning though, it’s Henry Rollins and Sonic
Youth’s Thurston Moore that really provide the most thoughtful explanations of
all things punk rock (if VH1 ever takes a stab at “Remember the 70’s/80’s: the
Punk Years!” These two are your break out stars).      


Surprisingly (and thankfully) just about every
one interviewed for this punk rock 101 film manages to ignore the now exhausted
geographical debate of who started punk rock (New York vs. London), and more
importantly spends time covering the  genesis of late 70’s punk to early 80’s
hardcore ending right to Nirvana and the early 90’s pop/punk resurgence.


While Punk:
is a great primer for the oft-misunderstood and constantly
exploited genre (remember emo?), it’s the second DVD Shout Factory! adds to
this collection that really deserves the bulk of your time. Using cutting room
footage scraps, the extras DVD covers punk’s role in fashion, important shows,
the role of record companies, women in punk rock and the introduction of fanzines.
There is also a solid, if too short, film from Dick Rude on the step-child of
the genre: the L.A. punk scene.

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