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In the 17 years since I wrote "Cranked Up Really High", the world has really changed. We've seen the switch from the CD to the MP3, and the coming of the instant availability of much of what I covered in this book at the click of a mouse. A dwindling minority of people still pay for music, but most opt for file sharing and free streaming. And while the music covered has become much easier to find, the punk subculture hasn't changed much at all, even if as a genre the sounds associated with it have mutated to a small degree. None of which has deterred the collector scum, who are still out there chasing obscurities.

To go back to where I came in, punk in London in the 1970s was a fashion parade, and I'm not knocking those in other parts of the world who took its political rhetoric seriously – how were they to know this was considered a joke in the UK? At a punk gig thirty or more years ago I went up to a kid in a black leather jacket with 'Question Everything' painted on it, and asked him why he had a stupid rhetorical slogan on his back? He virtually broke down in tears – and there I was thinking he'd be pleased coz I'd almost taken his pseudo-scepticism seriously. That said, I was always really happy to be a plastic punk at the weekend, a fake mod on a Thursday night, and an ersatz skinhead at all other times. Back when I was teenage I thought it was funny that sociologists from the University of Birmingham and elsewhere took youth culture seriously. But then these sad skunks were at least making a living from their silly obsessions – unlike the saps with slogans such as 'Question Everything' sprayed across their backs.

To this day it still gives me a thrill to do a punk on punk, since this is a great way to wind up the true believers in this particular youth subculture. Personally I don't think "Back In The New York Groove" by Hello represents the zenith of glam rock, but that didn't stop me posting it to my Facebook page earlier this evening with the comment: "Like I've said before, rock and roll was coming along very nicely over here until the Sex Pistols ruined it......" Now, if I'd posted the Hello song with a bit of text saying something like 'this is one of my glam rock favourites' I'd have probably been lucky to get two replies. Whereas by slating The Pistols I'd got 43 comments within a couple of hours and the outraged posts are still coming thick and fast.

Those who get offended by my dismissals of The Sex Pistols (one of the most boring rock dinosaurs ever to walk the planet – they make The Beatles look interesting by way of comparison), often have a very narrow view of punk. They might dig The Stooges, The MC5, and The Clash, but they never really understood that at its core punk was mostly something other than well-funded major record label acts. I didn't write this book for those who erroneously believe punk begins and ends with the Sex Pistols. It's for those who either know - or at the very least suspect - that interesting things were happening in popular music throughout the nineteen-seventies; and in every decade after that too. In many ways the punk hype saturated and ruined the music scene in the UK, with loads of bands passing themselves off as punks and playing to a formula, while the record industry laughed all the way to the bank as it continued to call the shots but with a new set of marketing values.

I would stress in all this that there is a difference between a punk attitude (which I'd say I have), punk music (much of which still grooves me), and punk subculture (which doesn't engage me at all now and didn't when I was writing this book). "Cranked Up Really High" is about punk music and punk attitude - if you're into the subculture then I hope this book offends you. That said, I've discovered that there are people in the punk subculture who collect punk books in the same way as they collect punk records – which is something that has pushed up the price of used copies of this tome in both English and Italian! But to me, if it ain't junk then it ain't punk! I hate fuckers who get too serious about music. Subculture is dead but that don't mean we have to turn into postmodern zombies!

Stewart Home, London, June 2011

Previous: Introduction to the 2nd English edition

Next: Chapter I: Journalist Jive

Cranked Up Really High contents

More Home takes on punk rock: No Future conference lecture / chapter on Punk in "The Assault On Culture"

Cranked Up Really High by Stewart Home Spanish cover
In Spanish

Cranked Up Really High second cover
UK 2nd edition

Cranked Up Really High cover first
UK first edition

Cranked Up Really High Italian cover
In Italian

Cranked Up Really High by Stewart Home, 2nd Italian edition
2nd edition in Italian