Phil Marcade’s Punk Avenue Puts in You in the 1970s Punk Rock Scene
Punk Avenue: Inside the New York City Underground, 1972-1982, is an absolute thrill ride. From the get-go, Philippe Marcade reveals moments and stories of his life from leaving France for America to inside the early punk rock revolution in New York City. He was there the night the Ramones played their first show, the reason Nancy Spungen leaves for the UK and meets Sid (maybe), partied with the best of them, and played hundreds of shows at legendary bars like The Rat in Boston, and CBGB’s in New York. After reading the book, you can’t help but feel like you lived the scene vicariously through the eyes of one of its most underrated players.
So you know, Philippe Marcade becomes the singer of the band The Senders, one of my favorite unknown bands that rock the early scene. A fusion of blues and hard punk, The Senders is considered one of the best bar bands in the world. You should check out Back to Sender Revisited, which is on most streaming services. The song, “Devil Shooting Dice,” is a regular tune during my morning commute.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the book is how much time Phillipe Marcade devotes to players in the scene like Johnny Thunders, a friend. This includes participating in a recording session with Wayne Kramer and Thunders when they formed Gang War and spending time with the Thunders family for Thanksgiving. While I’ve often read about Thunders in countless autobiographies and biographies from the time, this book reveals gratifying stories that paint a picture of the guitarist in a way I’ve never read, both good and bad.
Another example of a famed character that gets plenty of time in the book is Nancy Spungen. A hilarious moment is when Phillipe Marcade has to take care of her strung-out cat. Yes, a cat addicted to heroin. He also explains he might be responsible for Nancy heading to London and meeting Sid. Crazy, I know. But this is just one of the many situations Phil landed in, a well-known punk rock moment he just happened to be there and written about in his book.
Speaking of heroin. The drug of choice back in the day is another main character throughout the book Punk Avenue: Inside the New York City Underground, 1972-1982. An entire section in the book is dedicated to how a person scored back in the day. There is even a thrilling situation where his friend Bruce overdoses, and while they are trying to revive him in the bathroom of a party, guests outside the door knock endlessly to get in so they might relieve themselves. Scary, funny, rock ‘n’ roll.
Beyond the players and vivid detail of the punk rock scene, my favorite part of the book is Phillipe Marcarde’s passion. This man loved to play music, he loved being part of the early rock scene, and you can tell! It’s more than a life well lived. It’s a punk rock anthem with its highs and lows, all with a smile on the face and the energy to rock on. Check it out Punk Avenue: Inside the New York City Underground, 1972-1982.