Destination Punk – Svenja Block’s Barb Wire Dolls photographic document book review

DESTINATION PUNK : BARB WIRE DOLLS by SVENJA BLOCK 200 pages, paperback, Countdown Books, ISBN 099283046X

Photo books dedicated solely to just one band are usually reserved for multi million selling artists. So when I first heard that photographer Svenja Block was putting together a book on the Barb Wire Dolls, a rapidly rising but still underground unit, I was pretty impressed at her ambition. Just how do you fill 200 pages with photos of what is essentially four people playing live and keep it interesting? Well, take pretty much the most photogenic band I’ve ever seen and combine them with Svenja’s inspirational photography that absolutely captures the essence of the band in their live environment and it all starts to look easy. In concert the whole band fire on all four cylinders, they have ‘ingredient x’ in abundance and their relentless energy and fitness means that opportunities for freezing moments of pure rock’n’roll passion come thick and fast. The photos in this book are captured over several locations in the UK and Germany with the first one being a completely naked man confronting the band in Hastings, England and the last a portrait of singer Isis Queen staring directly at the photographer. Isis just suits black and white so well, there are echoes of Debbie Harry, of all those photos you’ve seen of raw punk bands playing at CBGB’s and the 100 Club, of a dirty, filthy, sexual rock’n’roll past. Sometimes punk seems a little too safe these days, just the reheating embers of fires that have long since died down. Barb Wire Dolls burn like petrol has been poured on the fire. They play with the intensity of a band that just love to tear it up live. Guitarist Pyn Doll has a long history of previous bands and a straightforward dirty but perfect punk rock guitar sound whilst Krash Doll plays a stripped down drum kit like his life was depending on how hard he hits it. There are two bassists featured here too, with the most recent addition – JayJay Doll – fitting into the groove of the whole thing effortlessly. Buy Destination Punk and you’ll wish you were at the shows, What’s more you’ll know that punk rock is still dangerous, still vital, that it very much didn’t die in ’78 and that there are great photographers out there still capturing it all.

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