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From the library: Oh So Pretty – Punk in Print 1976-1980

Oh So Pretty – Punk in Print 1976-1980

Underground have been dusting the shelves of our library and extracted Toby Mott and Rick Poyner’s documentary Oh So Pretty on punk during the explosive years of 1976 to 1980. Celebrating the years of their youth, these authors have proved that hoarding bits from the past pays off as a true representation of subcultural history.

Focusing on the “real” years of punk, Oh So Petty presents over 500 artefacts from posters taken off of teenage bedroom walls to gig flyers and badges. Displaying them in their book, the writers provide the 21st century reader a time capsule of all things DIY, rebellious and straight-up punk. 

Mixing staple punk images with lesser documented artefacts, the book offers an authentic look at what being part of the subculture was really like. Taken straight out of Toby Mott’s personal collection, the book is a cohesive exploration of his generation. Best known as a founder of the Anarchist Street Army, Mott was a notable figure in the punk movement and in the anarchist occupation of the streets in London.


Maintaining an appreciation for the era, Mott kept hold of precious punk paraphernalia and began a career later in life as a punk historian, hence the book. Delving into iconic imagery, album covers and fashion trends, the book gets elbows deep in the rich history of such a short period and gives the reader the chance to get to grips with the significance of specific articles and extracts.

What’s so special or even essential about this book you ask? Well as the essay by Rick Poynor states: “One of the revelations of this collection is the unswerving focus on the bands… This is an illuminating departure from the usual picture of punk as an essentially political act of rebellion and the scene’s fixation on punk’s stars hasn’t been so obvious in previous surveys.”


By narrowing the view of visual presentation of this subsection of history, the reader gets a realistic look through the lens of a teenager of that time. Its aim is to present the most realistic representation of Mott’s experience and thus the experience of many others from the same social groups.

As a book of few words, the images become the most accurate exploration of punk as a music phenomenon and propagation of DIY come mutinous culture. This first person account surpasses the expendability of its visual items and instead presents a timeless exhibition of the prodigy that was the punk era.

Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.

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