One Chord Wonders – Power and Meaning in Punk Rock by Dave Laing: book review
Published by PM Press
Paperback, 216 Pages
One Chord Wonders was first published in 1985, in a new preface Dave Laing states that he has had many requests for copies from both scholars and fans who could not find the out of print edition. It is essentially unchanged from the former publication. Dave also says that he would be thrilled if hos book finds a place alongside other excellent chronicles of punk. Louder Than War’s Adrian Bloxham has been reading it, read what he thinks below.
One Chord Wonders was originally published nine years after the initial explosion of the cultural movement that we know and love as Punk. This means that it isn’t looking back to far to understand those heady days, we aren’t looking at a view from thirty years on crusted over and half forgotten, we a looking at a viewpoint from a decent amount of time to give a fair perspective on the times.
It has an introduction by TV Smith who states that ‘There are many books that describe what happened during the Punk era. A few even dare to ask questions about it. Here at last is one that provides some answers.’
It’s a dry read, very factual and informative. This puts it in a class of its own really. I’ve read lots of books about music and Punk in general but most of those are emotionally charged and visceral. This is a reasoned and well researched history of those times, it explains where the movement came from and how it fitted into the social patterns of the times.
There’s a very informative section on how the music industry worked at the time and how Punk moved away from that and the independent sector was created. It talks about where the names for the bands came from, their image and the wider influences of Punk. One section that intrigued me was when the author compared the subjects tackled in the songs on the first few punk records with the subjects sung about in the top 40 of the time.
It makes you think about where it all came from and what it meant at the time and that I feel is the reason for the book. Well worth reading if you are interested and intrigued by those days of anarchic one chord wonders.
You can buy a copy of the book from the PM Press website.
All words by Adrian Bloxham. More writing by Adrian can be found at his author’s archive.