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DVD Review: The House of the Rising Punk

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The Deal: How punk got its name.

The Good: "Don't fuck with us, sweetheart," growls New York Dolls' vocalist David Johansen in a backstage clip from the 1970s. That sets the tone for the 1998 documentary House of the Rising Punk, capturing the musical lifestyle of punk before it had a name – from the yowling of Patti Smith to the 3-minute odes to teenage angst of the Ramones. It's a well--done piece that features seldom-seen clips from the Dolls, the Ramones and Suicide. Centering around the bands who played the legendary CBGB'S club in NYC's Bowery district, the film makes the point that the music wasn't called punk until the Sex Pistols repackaged it in the mid-'70s and sold it back to us. The name came from the title of a magazine music writer Legs McNeil was hawking on the NYC streets at the time. Punk magazine covered bands like Blondie, the Ramones and the Dolls, who didn't think they were punk at the time and bristled at the label. Whatever you call it, the film reflects the energy and the anger of a generation looking for a musical alternative, making it up as they went.

The Bad: "I think I helped wipe out the 60's," Iggy quips. Nah. Blame the Sex Pistols, who ruined the image, the sound and the scene for decades.

The Verdict: Entertaining but not too slick – the perfect vehicle for the passengers onboard for this rowdy ride.


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