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Books - B

BURNING BRITAIN - THE HISTORY OF UK PUNK 1980-1984 - Ian Glasper.
The title says it all; this massive 400-page tome is an in-depth look at the second wave of UK Punk and, on the whole, makes for pretty riveting reading.
Rather than do a simple, rudimentary band-by-band run down, this segregates specific areas and starts with that area's main bands before progressing onto the lesser known but no less noble bands.  For example, the East Midlands chapter starts with DISCHARGE and ends on the SEPTIC PYSCHOS.  The area basis is one of the masterstrokes of the book as you get a taste of the area and society that the bands grew up/lived in, the venues the bands played at, the labels and the cross-pollenation of various musicians in - quite often - a multitude of bands.
The band analyses themselves are interesting and informative with the likes of DISCHARGE, UK SUBS, ANGELIC UPSTARTS and BLITZ all getting around 10 pages a band.  I'm not sure shit like THE GONADS and ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE deserve such praise while NEWTOWN NEUROTICS get a mere 4-pages or so, but I guess these kinda things are always open to conjecture.  Each band also gets a 'select discography' and a suggested place for the novice to begin which brings accessibility to, in some cases, a muddled back catalogue.
Glasper actually brings a lot of accessibility to the whole thing; his text is not over wordy or elaborate but nor is it sub-zine standard, expletive laden eulogising of every band mentioned.  His text is honest, incorporating his own opinions along with that of the Punk community at large.  When he is passionate about a particular band -  as evident in the DEMOB chapter - the text is virtually buzzing on the page.
There are plenty of amusing stories too - some not intentional, like DISORDER getting all self-righteous about a bootleg!  Jeez, the band's official records were fucking terrible - how desperate would you have to be to subject yourself to a bootleg too?  Lost royalties and/or glue money huh guys?  Another interesting factor about the book is just how many bands, back in the day, courted record labels and management!  So much for the DIY spirit.
The book is rounded off with a look at the main record labels of the day - Clay, Riot City, No Future and today's Captain Oi!.  Then you get short chapters on Punk Lives magazine and the Holidays In The Sun shows.
All in all it's a book that succeeds in its aims - even if it can get a little clinical with ex-band members etc.  It's also a great 'coffee table read' - something that works in small, random doses or longer, concentrated reading sessions.  It's more than apparent that Glasper has put in a heap of work here and he should be applauded for his effort - it certainly taught me more than a few things.
The next volume should be about the UK Anarcho scene and - hopefully - it will be more focussed on DIY and politics than some of the apolitical opinions expressed here by bands more concerned with courting a manager than kicking against the pricks.