Rock Reads: The Bag I'm In: Underground Music and Fashion in Britain 1960-1990 by Sam Knee
Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki
Whenever the scene changes in music, fashion inevitably changes with it, and here author Knee has gathered a wonderful archive of previously unpublished photographs that represent 36 distinct "tribes," depicting the preferred style of dress of the innovators and followers of music scenes in Britain beginning with the Leatherboys and Rockers of the early 1960s and running through the late '80s Baggy scene popularized by groups like the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Some of the most recognizable of tribes for the casual follower of music and fashion will be the punk, goth and rockabilly scenes, but there's a lot more here than photos of the likes of Johnny Rotten, boofy-haired denizens of clubs like London's Batcave, and James Dean-imitating rockabilly cats. Some of the tribes or scenes may be unknown to most American readers, like 1979's the Postcard Look, named after Scottish label Postcard Records and typified by bands like Orange Juice, and Crust, typified by bands like Napalm Death and alternately called stenchcore, trampcore and even Stonehenge hippy punx. A sheer joy to thumb through, the generous selection of photos here is presented primarily in black & white and with a focus that is on the average fan as much as it is on bands and individual performers. Knee pens a brief but very informative essay to accompany each chapter, adding a good dose of rock 'n' roll education to the fun of viewing the photos. An illustrated appendix from Florence Bamberger captures each tribe's sartorial quirks in cartoon form.
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