I've been a fan of the Momus blog, Imomus pretty much since he started blogging. It's always entertaining, especially when he's in Japan, where he happens to be at the moment. In this particular post he talks about the artist & photographer, Shinro Ohtake, who spent a lot of time documenting the British punk scene circa 1977 for his book UK 77. I need this book. Below are some quips from Momus, some photos from the book and some additional artwork.
"In a series of massive picture books filled with photographs, drawings and scrap memorabilia (but particularly UK 77) Ohtake has documented seventies London better, to my mind, than any British artist or photographer.
It's not that Ohtake -- aged 22 in 1977, he'd just graduated from Musashino Art University -- avoids the punk rock cliches that now pass for cultural history of the late 70s in the UK. His photos show us that Bozz Scaggs. Elkie Brooks, Elton John and The Enid featured on UK posters in 1977 rather more than The Damned and The Sex Pistols did, but he has plenty of shots of punk rockers, and clippings from the snarky music press and listings magazines. It's rather that Ohtake shows the entire context; views out of the window, tickets from gigs, confectionery wrappers, books of matches with adverts on them.
What comes as a shock is how much of the UK in 1977 was stuck in the 1960s; there are silly little Hillman Imp cars, and ridiculous child-molester hairstyles in the barber windows, trickledown domestications from the wilder shores of 1960s subculture. It's all pretty grim and muddy, but it does show you where punk's disgust came from. And it's telling that it takes a Japanese photographer -- a sort of impartial Martian in this weird and depressing landscape -- to document the UK properly. Sitting in gm ten gallery flipping through Ohtake's back pages, I was completely transported back to the era, with exactly the right combination of repulsion and nostalgia, shudder and swoon."