Synopses & Reviews
To wander the streets of a bankrupt, often lawless, New York City in the early 1970s wearing a T-shirt with PLEASE KILL ME written on it was an act of determined nihilism, and one often recounted in the first reports of Richard Hell filtering into the pre-punk UK. Pete Astor, an archly nihilistic teenager himself at the time, was most impressed. The fact that it emerged (after many years) that Hell himself had not worn the T-shirt but had convinced junior band member Richard Lloyd to do so, actually fitted very well with Astors older, wiser self looking back at Blank Generation. Richard Hell was an artist who could not only embody but also frame the punk urge; having seeded and developed the essential look and character of punk since his arrival in New York in the late 1960s, he had just what was needed to make one of the defining records of the era.
This study combines objective, academic perspectives along with culturally centred subjectivities to understand the meanings and resonances of Richard Hell and the Voidoids Blank Generation.
The 33 1/3 book series started in 2003, analyzing 'seminal' rock albums in the manner of great literature novels—but also adding the personal insights that only the true rock n' roll fan can deliver. #92 looks at Richard Hell and the Voidoids' Blank Generation (1977). On the heels of #91, on Gang of Four's Entertainment (1979) the releases really are two of a pair—the arch “art punk” statements of the ‘70s—though Gang of Four is more political and Richard Hell thoroughly nihilistic. The analytical approach can have its pitfalls: Astor is so intent on the importance of listening on vinyl that he traces the history of recording technology back to Edison, to make the point that the album has to be heard on that medium. But Astor brilliantly places Blank Generation in the 70's lower East Side New York art world, with all the squalor evoked by Richard Hell's songs, as well as depicting Hell as a poet with a comprehensive artistic vision. In his own way, Hell was the voice of a generation. -SLUG Magazine
About the Author
Pete Astor is Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, UK. He also writes songs, sings and plays the guitar.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: ‘I was saying let me out of here': Love at First Sight
Chapter 2: ‘Life's only good when it's well-written': Hell and second wave of the New York Poets
Chapter 3: ‘With uncertainty's permission': Post mark, ‘The Bronx'
Chapter 4: ‘Your mind's a wreck but that's fine': paratexts, myths and reception
Chapter 5: ‘Your motives and your methods': The Romantic Image and the Postmodern Artist
Conclusion: ‘Oh, the sun is breaking through the clouds': Managing the myth