The Punk Experience at MCLS: Books, DVDs, and CDs in the Mercer County Library System about Punk Rock and Style

For those of you planning to go to the Metropolitan Museum’s new exhibit “Punk: Chaos to Couture” or are just curious about the roots of punk music and style, here are a few books, DVDs and classic CDs available in the Mercer County Library System that highlight this “do-it-yourself” countercultural movement that continues to influence mainstream culture to this day.

Growing from garage-band roots in the late 1960s and exploding in popularity in the mid-1970s, the stripped-down sound of punk appealed to rock fans eager for music that expressed their frustration and anger with their dead-end everyday life. Punk continued to develop in the 1980s and finally achieved  widespread popularity with Green Day and other “pop-punk” bands. As punk music continued to grow and change, so also the punk aesthetic continued to influence mainstream culture in the form of do-it-yourself fashion and in-your-face graphic art.

Below are listed some books, DVDs, and CDs in the Mercer County Library System that will allow you to experience the sensibility, sound, and history of punk for yourself.


Classic Punk Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation.  If you’ve ever had a desire to play punk classics like “God Save the Queen” on your guitar, this book gives you eight songs in tab and standard musical notation, plus a play-along CD.

Encyclopedia of Punk by Brian Cogan. An A to Z of punk figures, styles, and personalities, copiously illustrated with pictures, posters, and art.

England's Dreaming : Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond by Jon Savage. Tells the story of the emergence of the seminal British punk band, the Sex Pistols, and how they changed British music and society.

Green Day: The Unauthorized Illustrated History by Alan di Perna. Traces the history of Green Day from their beginning in clubs in Oakland and Berkeley to mainstream success. Lavishly illustrated with posters, photos, record covers, and promotional material.

Kids of the Black Hole: Punk Rock in Postsuburban California by Dewar MacLeod. Documents the emergence of the hardcore punk scene in Los Angeles in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Punk: An Aesthetic ed. By Johan Kugelberg and Jon Savage. Another collection of art, T-shirts, magazine covers, album covers, and band photos (even a Mad magazine parody) showcasing the punk attitude and style.

Punk Rock: An Oral History by John Robb. Includes dozens of personal accounts from the originators, movers and shakers of the punk movement from the 1960s to the mid-1980s.

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine – Reproduces original material from the groundbreaking New York magazine Punk , with notes by the magazine’s editor John Holmstrom.

DVD Documentaries:

The Filth and the Fury Director Julien Temple takes an irreverent look at the career of the Sex Pistols in Britain and the society they emerged from in the 1970s.

Punk: Attitude Don Letts’ definitive documentary chronicles the roots and development of punk music starting in the late 1960s with the Stooges and the MC5, and moving through the 70s into the 1980s into the hardcore scene. Features copious interviews and performance clips.

Ramones: End of the Century Documents the beginnings of the legendary punk group the Ramones at the CBGB club in 1970s New York and their ups and down as a band over the next two decades.

Some essential punk CDs :

There are 102 CD titles listed in the subject category “Punk rock music – compact discs” in the Mercer County Library System catalog. Here are a few prominent titles, and you can explore the catalog on your own for more:

Damned Damned Damned -The Damned. The first full-length punk album released by a British punk group.

Dookie –Green Day. The early 1990s breakthrough album for the “pop punk” band Green Day.

Damaged –Black Flag. A classic slice of early 1980s hardcore punk.

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables - The Dead  Kennedys.  Debut studio album by the “Dead Kennedys,” this is their best-selling record and includes the song “California über alles.”

London Calling -The Clash. This is one of the all-time great punk albums, with two CDs of classic punk anthems. Includes such classics as “London Calling” and “The Guns of Brixton.”

New York Dolls – This group straddled the line between glam rock and punk rock in the early 1970s, and influenced the Sex Pistols and many other bands with their distinctive style.

No thanks! : The '70s punk rebellion – A four-CD anthology of some of the most important late-70s punk bands including the Ramones, the Clash, and the Damned.

Never mind the Bollocks : Here's the Sex Pistols The Sex Pistols’ only full-length album includes two of the songs that launched the punk revolution, “God Save the Queen” and “Anarchy in the UK.”

Ramones This debut album of the Ramones includes “Blitzkrieg Bop.”  Exemplifies the stripped-down musical style of early punk rock.

Raw Power - Iggy Pop and the Stooges deliver a collection of raw and energetic songs in an album now recognized as a classic of early punk.

- Michael K.


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