PUNK: ATTITUDE (Fremantle Media)
“Punk: Attitude” is a self-explanatory documentary by DJ, musician and director Don Letts, fast becoming punk’s official visual curator alongside Julian Temple. A mix of chronologically arranged performance footage and contemporary interviews, it charts the genre’s growth from its roots in the wok of the MC5, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges, through its New York subculture years (New York Dolls, Ramones) to its subversion of the UK mainstream (Sex Pistols, The Clash) and to where it is now (the “hippie wigs in Woolworths” phase, I suppose, exemplified by bands such as Green Day).
The performances scattered through the film are tantalisingly, teasingly brief, making it a shame that there wasn’t room amongst the copious extras (which stretch to a second disc) to include more of them. The interview footage pretty much amounts to Punk 101, and it’s especially poignant to consider those who’ve fallen since the filming, including Arthur Kane (who gives his final interview here) and Malcolm McLaren (who doesn’t appear but is mentioned frequently). Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and Henry Rollins are especially good value interviewees, the latter’s opinions making a welcome appearance in unexpurgated form amidst the extras. It’s also surprising to see how well-preserved surviving members of The Clash, Sex Pistols and even the MC5 seem to be.
The extras disc sorts a deal of otherwise unused footage into specific topics such as fanzines, fashion, record companies and women in punk, but the best bonus is a reprint of two issues of seminal fanzine Sniffin’ Glue, whose typewritten A5 format harkens back to early editions of this very publication. Crude but enthusiastic, and surprisingly catholic in its tastes (Mark P. stops banging on about the Ramones for long enough to devote two pages to a Blue Oyster Cult retrospective, of all things) it does even more to illuminate the energising spirit of punk than the main feature itself.