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Alexander Tudor reviews Stephen Duncombe's White Riot for Drowned in Sound

Josh Oldham 3 August 2011

Drowned In Sound's Alexander Tudor offers a largely positive review of Stephen Duncombe's White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race, praising the depth of the subject matter, and Duncombe's "fun" approach to the topic. He writes:

White Riot instantly raises itself above the various accounts of punk already available, by offering a panopticon of both UK and US punk in the Seventies and early Eighties, tracing its evolution into hardcore and straight-edge, while scattering snippets of numerous essays written on the subject, intelligently selected and edited.

However, Tudor does think the book would have benefitted from a slightly wider scope, and bemoans Duncombe's failure to perhaps explore all aspects of punk's social relevance:

One objection - and it's a large one - is that this neglects to contextualize punk-rock as a musical genre AND social movement, other than in relation to a limited range of black genres. Over and over again, we're told that that reggae was an ‘absent presence' for punks, or that ideas of 'blackness' were appropriated by whites as a token of their underdog status. In doing so, it becomes difficult for the reader to see how much punk may have achieved, by comparison with other movements.

Still, the overall impression is favourable, with Tudor saying that "in a sense, this is the most forward-looking book about music I've ever seen," and that it contains all the materials needed to form an argument about all that punk was, is, and should be.

Visit Drowned In Sound for the full review.

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