It’s almost too big! I have been reading this book for more than
two months, which seems bizarre, but you can just dip in and out, even if you find
yourself pulled further in, until satiated. Then you need to recover for a while. At a
little over 700 pages, and densely packed pages at that (complete with
frighteningly detailed discographies), this is a book to savour; less of a fine wine,
more pure vintage. There are bands from the allotted timeframe that you will simply
never have heard of, but that doesn’t matter, because they share the same
experiences as others you know, and it adds up to an overwhelming picture of
those exciting times, and with the greater variety involved it makes this not just
better than John Robb’s wonderful ‘Punk: An Oral History’, it makes this the best
book on Punk, bar none.
It’s not complete, for the simple reason that some bands proved impossible to track
down, or to get involved, and some choices clearly ended up on the cutting room
floor. So for me it’s sad to see no Gloria Mundi, Ultravox or Adrian Borland’s The
Outsiders, but it’s far more distressing to find out that rubbishy Jet Bronx single I
once bought (as we all would when there was only one or two ‘punk’ singles
available each week), actually featured Loyd Grossman on vocals. Learning
something like that after all these years simply isn’t fair. The short sections of
bands who never recorded, or had one single to their name and burnt out as quick
as a cheap match are still insightful, but when Alex gets his claws into a known
target he can compress so much detail, plus anecdotes, into a regular space that
you’ll feel you’ve just read a whole book on that band alone. This is a weighty
tome, in every sense. It is also quite touching how many bands still look back on
those times as inspiring, without resorting to rose-tinted glasses. It’s not just their
wild youth, it was a doorway to better things.
One of the unusual and helpful aspects of the book is its geographical reach, as
the comparatively darker dangers associated with being punks in Northern Ireland
is brought home here in a way I have never read of before. It’s also, on the flipside,
breathtakingly funny at times, when you recoil at the crass decisions made by
bands, or the escapes from trouble, or their descent into chaos. You’ll gasp as
Paul Morley turns out to have managed The Drones, you’ll nod approvingly that
someone’s pre-punk band was called Greta Garbage and you’ll just be happily
bewildered by the reminiscences of Chaos’s 11 year old bassist Lee (even weirder,
his dad was in Gentle Giant!) who made his debut at a local golf club gig, attended
by local dignitaries. While mainly playing their own songs the crowd was okay. The
moment they switched to an original young Lee got so into the punk spirit he
gobbed straight in the face of a woman in the audience, and the crowd turned on
them. Character building, mate.
Every aspect of Punk life is here, from the troubadours to the trouble makers, the
visionaries and the just plain useless, while you’ll often find yourself reassessing
your perspective on some bands purely as a result of the way Alex had gone into
their own mini-history. You also get to see some bands who had a justifiable
reputation locally, and very early on, who maybe have the sadder tales to tell, as
they might have been there, but missed out.
A blinding piece of work on every level, if you have any interest in Punk
whatsoever, you need this book because it’s going to intensify your drive to find
out even more. Literally astonishing.
Mick Mercer, The Mick Issue 42
Alex Ogg's NO MORE HEROES is a bible of a book. The bible of Punk. Of Punk
Rock between the years 1976 and 1980. Punk as it was and how it should be. And
maybe shall be again. It is... in the crude and nasty layman's terms 'The Absolute
Punk was my first crushing love. I was fifteen when i picked up on it. It was the first
thing in my life that truly felt like it was mine. I was afflicted by punk no doubt. The
stance, the manner, the dress, the sound. And violently so too. Violent in the most
ecstatic possible sense. I understood punk, punk understood me. No one else did
but all of a sudden nothing else mattered. Love hate lust despair call it what you
will. I loved punk, it's smoke its spit its germ its noise. Like most raw infatuations
mind i soon wore the passion right out of the thing and was sick bored disdainful
and contemptuos by the end of it all. Other attractions were there to be had, and
punk, well, you know... i was seventeen all of a sudden with newer addictions on
my mind, the shine had gone, the kick had faded, predictability was all...
That's how it felt to this bored teenager anyway. It was all about the moment and all
too soon I moved away from that moment. I really thought i would never listen to, or
enjoy, another punk record again. Like all first infatuations it had been consigned
to the scrapbook and the cupboard. A tattoo on my arm and no thanks for the
memory. I'd see the repackaged records every now and then sure, but take them
to be just that. Repackaged product. The ownership of punk belonged to other
people. Why should i even bother with a second glance. Punk to re-paraphrase
Watty was deid, well deid.
Alex gave me a copy of No More Heroes and i found i couldn't put it down. I loved
it. Loved reading about obscure unsigned bands from Macclesfield, Truro, Harlow,
Dalkieth and all tawdry suburbs and sattelite towns beyond. I found there were
plenty of bones to be picked out of the big city tales too. The political machinations
and petty paranoias of London, Liverpool, Manchester. And the venues too, places
i'd been to like THE ROCK GARDEN in MIDDLESBROUGH were brought back to
life. But there were others that had burned in my imagination. Clubs that I had
never managed to get to. Toilets in Penzance and Cromer, in Aylesbury, Belfast
and Doncaster. It's a comphrensive read this book, like i say, some kind of bible. I
found myself salivating over new details that were there to be picked out of the old
stories, namely the bands i thought i knew so much about. The Damned,
Stranglers, The Clash etc, all were given new perspective by Alex.
The Boys, for instance, a band of glam poppers from West Kensington who were
much derided in the press, turn out to be quite pivotal in the whole pre-pistols pre-
clash scene. Certainly more than being credited for. I remembered their song 'Sick
of You' and had a yearning to hear it once again.
More than that No More Heroes lead me back to great obscurities like Forest of
Dean longhairs The Table with their single that came out on Virgin records 'Do the
Standing Still'. A recording which wouldn't be considered punk at all now, but was
much cherished as a good blast of noise back then. Alex had a recording of it and
kindly burnt me a CD. It sounded great. I had to know if others sounded just as
brash and noisy and rude.
Slaughter and the Dogs 'Cranked up Really High' sounds better than it did then.
Motorhead meets Bowie on a big fuck off bag of sulph and some cheek grinding
'la, la, la, la la, la la, la... cranked up really high'
I now wanted to hear Eater's 'Outside View' The Models, the Cortina's, The
Vibrators, the Adverts, woah how I loved the Adverts, Penetration, oh man,
Penetration, Pauline Murray....
'Don't dictate, don't dictate, don't dictate, dictaaaaaaate...to meeeeeee'
I had a sudden yearning to hear these gems again. The book was bringing a whole
lot of memories back. I felt myself getting the good charge every time i picked it up
and opened the pages. It was reading like a novel fired as i was by all these
stories. Probably an indictment of the senility of my mind these days but then again
maybe a truer indictment of what cultural offerings i recieve and respond to these
I couldn't help thinking about the spirit, or lack of it, that I percieve to be around at
this moment in time. It bugs the fuck out of me I can't help it.
More than any of that I was just enjoying the read. For me the best aspect of No
More Heroes, the books true worth even, is the acknowledgement of the multitude
of bands who never got to make a record, who existed for a brief few months, fired
by the spirit of the times, and then dissapeared again. The book is packed with
great names of bands who otherwise would have been lost to the punk ether. The
MP's, Raw, Blitzkrieg Bop, Parole, The Negatives...
In true punk anthropolgist spirit Alex has sought out members of these bands and
allowed them to talk. No media agenda. No self serving angle. No pontificating. No
patronising attitude. Just the facts. Through the memories of the protagonists he
really has captured something unique, something you won't find in any Sunday
supplement or style magazine or documentary even. He manages to convey a rare
sense of how it was then, both in the city and the province, of a beautiful savage
moment, when a door was kicked open and the light of the knowingly unwanted
poured through. The three primitive chords rang out. And took their moment to
reverberate around the globe. Before the packagers and the processors moved in
and smoothed the whole racket out, called time on the dreamers, worked on the
margins of the profits, cut out all the prophets. Fucked up the good and righteous
Know what I mean.
Mind that's only my outside view. Alex also extricates just what a laugh and a joy it
was for a lot of the perpetrators. And empowering too for so many participants.
How crucial it was to working class artists, how it went so far to bridge the religious
divide in Northern Ireland. The effect it had on gender and race issues and of
course most crucially kicked off the whole DIY movement.
What No More Heroes does so well too is track down the members of the bands to
find out what they are doing now. Some are predictably lost to office jobs and other
straight pursuits, a good few are dead. But many, a great deal many are still doing
inspired crucial stuff, JOHN EVANS of THE TAX EXILES for instance is doing great
art in the valleys of Wales, our own TAM DEAN BURN once of the scabrous and
filthy DIRTY REDS is now an established actor, with none of his punk energy or
attitude diminished. I could go on and on but really you have to purchase this book
yourself. It's published by Cherry Red and has a pink fluoro cover pinned with a
deal of lapel badges. Buy it, take it home, slap it down on the table, the weight... I
tell you, it's a bible.
Johny Brown, Mining For Gold
Nice interview with author here (well, I think it's nice anyway)
From Peter Don't Care's Nihilism On The Prowl site.
NO MORE HEROES
By Alex Ogg (Cherry Red)
Of course being Ostralian carries with it some baggage when it comes to summing
up the original UK punk scene. The vanguard were undeniably great but a lot of
the bands that followed were style over substance. You can't help but wonder
about a movement that gave the Saints short shrift and spat in Radio Birdman's
face when both hit the Old Dart. But when I read a book like Alex Ogg's 730-page
labour of love and become sufficiently moved to go back to those old Clash,
Damned and Pistols records.
"No More Heroes" is an alphabetical book of biographies, using many primary
sources (first-hand interviews) to piece together the history of the bands were that
there. There have been others, but what distinguishes this book is that it goes
beyond the accepted wisdom and unashamedly offers up opinion. Where a band
clearly fell outside the prevailing sharp parameters of punk, Ogg makes it clear,
but he doesn't dismiss them because of that. Ogg's summation of the paper facade
that was the working philosophy of The Clash is critical, but he doesn't go in with
an ideological blowtorch. Similarly, his treatises on the Pistols and the Damned are
delivered with off-beat aides and good humour.
Maybe the most off-beat entry is that of Johnny Moped, whose focal point, Mr
Moped, has his story told through the prism of personal bemused experience. "No
More Heroes" also lays out the most intricate history of the London SS I've ever
seen. Of course we know their output was non-existent, but their status as a
jumping-off point for many other bands is enough to win them inclusion.
There are a few hundred listings - "from the Anal Fleas to Zyklon B" - and the
author's original vision of a book exhaustively covering every facet of the scene
from 1976-80 had to be whittled down to a manuscript half its original size. There's
no shortage of obscure bands along with the main names. If there are any glaring
inaccuracies, I've not picked them up.
The strength of "No More Heroes" is in the detail and the quality of the writing. Ogg
doesn't stop at 1980 and briefly goes on to outline where various band members
went. Each entry has a (CD Age) discography. Incisive forewords by David Marx
(The Aggravators) and Captain Sensible are cream. About the only deficiency is a
detailed index or cross referencing but after assembling such a bulky, readable
and detailed book, who can blame the author? I'll be dipping in and out of this for a
(From the excellent Australian website 1-94 Bar)
How many more books on punk can the planet’s eco-system stand? It’s amazing
that the doings of young folk at the tail end of the 70s has produced more
doorstop-sized tomes than has the history of the Hundred Years War.
At least this one is a welcome addition to the mound. Compiled from hundreds of
interviews, Ogg covers the usual suspects – Gen X, Pistols, Clash – and also
unearths some funny, sad and amazing tales of punk’s bargain-bin bands like the
Molesters, Johnny & The Self Abusers, and a few hundred others that you may
vaguely remember being played once, late at night, on the John Peel show.
An invaluable reference book as well as a bloody entertaining read.
8/10 (Tommy Udo, Classic Rock magazine)
A 727 page labour of love that does it’s level best to document the history of punk
from when it first reared its head in 1976 when it arguably snuffed it in its initial
form in 1980. The well known bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash are as
you expect covered in great detail but the real joy of this book are the pages and
paragraphs on the great unknowns of the era, hands up all of you who’ve heard of
Dole Q, Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds and The Scabs? Not many I’ll wager but
once you’ve dipped into this book a few times you’ll know all their gory details and
(non) achievements. You get a real insight into the do it yourself ethic that was the
undercarriage that carried the few bands that made it out of the toilet venues
where they were best at home to the albeit brief limelight. This is a warts and all
account of what Punk was really like in those halcyon days. As well as the history
of too many bands to mention each has it’s own discography and where it warrants
it a guide to the best of current re-issues so you can investigate the bands you just
discovered. Highly recommended.
5/5 (Simon Nott, Big Cheese)
“Ogg says he had double the material published, so he “abandoned any claims to
equivalence or balance, negating the subtitle’s claim: “A complete history of UK
punk from 1976-1980. Hence pub rockers Plummet Airlines are included; Eddie
And The Hot Rods aren’t. Peterborough’s Dole appear, Bristol’s Pigs do not.
Entries on the oft-covered (Clash, Jam etc) are incisive, but offer little new. Those
on the also-rans and unfashionable are informative and entertaining. The
comprehensive guides through the reissue minefield are indispensable . . . No
More Heroes is a valuable addition to your punk bookshelf”
3/5 (Kieron Tyler Mojo)
As he states in his introduction, Ogg’s intention of providing ‘a reference work that
documented everything that moved in the punk era’ was plainly insane. The
amount of material amassed would, he admits, have comprised ‘comfortably more
than double what you will read here’.
Eventually, we may get to see some of the edited stuff. More important, however, is
what Ogg’s 727 pages brings to our already groaning punk bookshelves.
Naturally, he covers all the main London and Manchester acts in detail, but wisely
carves himself out a niche among some of the more stylishly presented books of
this kind on offer (the cover is, it must be said, rather gaudy, even by punk
standards) by giving heavy coverage to the more provincial and obscure acts that
have grown in importance among collectors and fans over the years.
These bands’ trials and tribulations are more entertaining than those of the big
boys. They make for an interesting and informative read, helped by Ogg’s usually
reliable opinions and always sardonic wit
4/5 (Shane Baldwin, Record Collector)
I wasn’t looking forward to this book as I suspected it would have all the same old
bands that tell the same old tiresome stories. While it’s true that the usual suspects
are featured in here there are also many other bands who get excellent coverage
too! In all Alex Ogg interviews over 200 bands over 727 pages from the Sex Pistols
right down to bands who only may have just played a few gigs like Muvver's Pride.
Fair play to Alex for seeking out some of these bands as the research must have
been painstakingly hard! Just by reading the book you can tell the amount of effort
that has been put into it and I have to say this book is real good value for money. It
certainly was a great read for me just finding about all these bands that were
unknown to me before I picked this book up. No doubt my bank account will get a
hammering when buying up some of the rarer releases. When my partner moans I’
ll point her in Alex’s direction as it’s his fault for opening my eyes to these bands! I
expect many others will do the same after reading this book as some of the rarer
bands have just a good story to share as bands like the Pistols and the Clash. Also
included in this book are forewords from Captain Sensible and Dave Mark of the
Aggravators. Both pieces are worthy inclusions in this book. My only grumble is
maybe Alex should have split the bands in to areas rather than alphabetical order?
If early UK Punk is your poison then you’d be a fool to miss out on this book as this
really is the best guide to the early years of UK Punk Rock. I don’t think anyone
else will better this book no matter how much they try.
Steve DIY (Full Frontal Recordings)
(there's also a full interview with FFRUK here
“The best summary of our short career that I have read”.
Iain Shedden (Jolt)
The book is quite simply indispensable if not entirely 'complete', though as you
explained you have plenty more where this came from.
For me, (and I've said as much on my site) the piece on the Skids is worth the
cover price alone!
And then there's the piece on The Rezillos.
And The Scars.
Oh and The Valves.
Not forgetting The Fakes
Spizz was fascinating
Enjoyed The Zones too.
I too loved The Freeze who supported Trax in Dunfermline & Kirkcaldy.
I guess Killing Joke were just too late?
That's all I've managed to read so far and writing this has taken some time
because I keep dipping in and reading another one!
Congratulations on a great reference work I will enjoy until it disintegrates and I
need another copy!
Thanks again for immortalising Trax, you've made an old anorak very happy.
Ghoulz (Kinema Ballroom website)
Your book is a whole tree of stitches in Rock's rich tapestry. It might not seem like
that now. But the postwar period up to 9/11 will be known as the Second
Enlightenment. Sculpture and painting were the motor of the first, music and film
are the motor for the second. Your book will be like Varesi (don't
laugh. Ten years ago Johnny Cash was a washed up redneck who'd sold his ass.
Now he offers an alternative to Elvis, who let's face it has some un rock-god like
Shane Roe (Sods)
“If the standard of the rest of his book is as good as his section on The Boys this
could be the best most definitive book ever released on the punk period (and for
once the Boys haven't been airbrushed out of punk’s history!)”
Steve Metcalfe, Boys website.
I have now got a copy of the book. A very good read. I am a sucker for such
reference books. I hope it sells well as I think it captures some of the essence of
what punk was about way back then. Good to see bands like the Ruts in there,
much underrated then as now. I feel , however, we should have had more pages
dedicated to us than the Clash - only joking.
Pervez (Alien Kulture)
"I'm sure the book will be great, because I've done loads of interviews over the past
30 odd years, and not only did you get 99% of my rantings down verbatim, but
then you summed it all up succinctly - and more impressively - accurately!! "
Brett Ascott (The Meat, Chords etc)
"Thanks for the section in your book "No More Heroes" about the Tunnelrunners. I
am reading the book now and enjoying the behind the scenes stories. Most of all I
think it is the attitude that comes through. Every now and then I meet someone of
my age who has that bit of edge to them and they invariably turn out to have been
in a late seventies punk band. I don't think we will ever take over the world but then
that wasn't the point "
Got the book today - pretty thick and full! Aww, the memories! It’s now an eggsmas
present for ma daughter – she’ll love it!
Am eggmortilised in print - well there ye go!
(Mr, erm, Egg, of the Fakes)
"Just a quick couple of lines to congratulate you on your excellent book which, I
haven't been able to put down since I got it earlier this week. Really chuffed with
the Addiction piece you have put in it. It is probably the best reference book i have
seen of it's type for that era of punk."
Andy Bevan (Addiction)
"Got my book today, it's a belter! So many names in there that make me remember
back then. It must have been a hell of a task to get all that info and to track some
of 'em down, but you should be proud of that as a body of work - a very
comprehensive tome of stuff that most people will have forgotten or in most cases
never known......but they do now!!! Brilliant, Kid, well done."
Tino Palmer (Negatives)
“NO MORE HEROES" is the book that I was waiting for, for years!
Greetings from Germany!
Ralf (Real Shock)
Hey Alex! Really enjoying your excellent book. It’s a winner.
Dave Philp (Automatics)
EVERYBODY go out and buy this book . . . not just cos we're in it (thanks Alex!).
But because it's got more info in it than Mr Info working at the Info Office of Info Inc.
There's bands in here that time forgot, but are worth reading about. Damn, there's
bands in here that their PARENTS forgot . . . go get it now for someone for
Christmas, it'll keep 'em quiet for ages, except for when they read the funny bits.
Try a recording session held up while the engineer's mum wanted to watch the
news . . . they were recording in the front room - this IS punk history at its best!!!
My copy of 'No more Heroes' arrived a few days ago and I’ve gotta say it’s a
thoroughly enjoyable read. Your research must have been monumental. Thanks
for including such a concise potted history of us Stiffee Boyz too. Hope it sells a
Phil Hendriks (Stiffs)