Joe Strummer: The future is unwritten will be showing at the Telecom 31st International Film Festival. Julien Temple, who made the very entertaining The filth and the fury, about The Sex Pistols, was a close friend of Strummer’s and his film has had enthusiastic reviews.
If the film whets the appetite for more information about one of the great figures of rock in the last thirty years Redemption song, the definitive biography of Joe Strummer, isn’t a bad place to start. As a diplomat’s son who went to boarding school Strummer was at pains to hide his impeccably middle-class background, although he did earn some credentials as a squatter and pub band singer. The Clash produced some great music and Strummer proved himself to be a talented musician in the twenty or so years he lived after punk. This is a well-written look at one of the seminal figures of his time in music.
In 1976 when the longer the hair and the wider the flare the better, a motley crew of young men and women slouched towards the King’s Road where the rough beast of punk would be born. Pretty Vacant captures the essence of those times, claiming to be the definitive account of punk’s golden age. Phil Strongman was at the 100 Club punk festival in the autumn of 1976 and he traces the underground roots of punk from The New York Dolls and The Stooges to the tabloid fuelled hysteria around the short career of The Sex Pistols in the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
There’s lots of books about punk (England’s dreaming is my favourite) some short, some long. If you’re looking for a good overview this one should do the trick, the author was actually on the scene at the time and he’s talked to most of the protagonists. Several other interesting books about punk have come out recently, presumably because it’s been thirty years since Malcolm and Viv and the Bromley contingent togged themselves out in bin liners and changed music and fashion forever.
Babylon’s burning is a more academic look at where punk came from and where it went, Punk: the whole story is published by the ever-reliable Dorling Kindersley and is a look at the history of punk as a movement, with great photos, and Culture clash is a personal memoir by a young black musican and disc jockey who was a friend and later musical collaborator of Johnny Rotten. They’re all worth a look.