A solid entry in the multi-volume History of Rock 'n' Roll documentary series, Punk deftly combines historical footage of both the American and British scenes of the mid to late 1970s with contemporary interviews (many of them with the artists who generated the music collectively referred to in the title). At ground zero is Detroit's Iggy Pop, who makes a terrific interview as a survivor of some of the hardest living the notorious, excessive movement witnessed. Sixty minutes is hardly an adequate length of time to cover any aspect of rock music, so many of the influential, fascinating, and colorful personalities (including Patti Smith, The New York Dolls, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, The Clash, and many others) come and go far too quickly. From CBGB to Malcolm McLaren's boutique Sex, the episode attempts to place an even-handed geographical spin on punk's simultaneous emergence on both sides of the pond. Seeing the pulse-quickening footage of an early Talking Heads performance of "Psycho Killer" or Elvis Costello's first ever TV appearance (the image a degraded, blurry mess; the song a heartbreaking, desperate "Alison") leads me to believe that punk deserves a multi-volume documentary series all its own.
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