Washington may be the capital, but New York is the heart of America. There's something about the city that has kept it at the top of the cultural pile. Effortlessly cool and possessing a self-sustaining mythology, it has always attracted artists, musicians, filmmakers, actors and freaks.

Where Los Angeles is all glitz and tits, NY is dark and dressed in black leather.

Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Ramones, Madonna, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, Sonic Youth, Philip Glass. All have lived and worked in the Big Apple.

If you're looking for a defining New York decade, the years 1978-88 could well fit the bill.

Britain had been through punk and come out the other side bitter and neutered. In New York, the party was just beginning.

This excellent book, New York Noise (publ Soul Jazz Records), a companion to two CDs of punky disco, provides dazzling evidence that the city was having the time of its life.

This was the era of loft-living, communal squats in run-down areas; a pre-gentrification moment when the city was on the cusp of change.

For New York's artistic underground it was a time of endless possibilities.

The scene was self-sufficient with plenty of creative space, cheap lodging, a shared vision and some significant figure heads able to command the limelight. There were plenty of venues for bands to play and, for the growing new aristocracy, there was Studio 54, less a disco, more a hedonist's romper room.

The spirit of punk - that notion that anybody can be a star - was seized upon by New York and hundreds of pairs of hands began to piece the dream together.

It's all here in this book, a black and white photographic tribute to a movement that is still very much alive. Unlike the punk scene in London and the Home Counties, it's business as usual in New York where the likes of James Murphy's LCD Soundsystem is still making scorchers that would fill the legendary dance floor at Studio 54.

Many of the faces here are familiar, others not-so to the casual page-flipper. But each and every one of them has earned their place in this rollcall-cum-tribute.

A young Madonna looks every inch the superstar when posing for the cameras. Talking Heads' David Byrne is dapper and cool before the band's classic second album was released.

Many of the city's legendary jobbing avante garde musicians are pictured in various incarnations, captured at places like Tier 3, jamming and screaming.

Challenging off-Broadway shows are remembered through some frankly bizarre snap-shots. Artists like Warhol and Basquiat are seen relaxed in their own company.

What is palpable is the sense that here was a coming together of two eras. Never caught up in the flower power 60s, New York was much more able to embrace the new wave aesthetic.

Like the city itself, the underground was a mass of contradictions that teetered on the divide between beauty and ugliness. This book is a priceless glimpse into an explosive moment of time.

* New York Noise (published by Soul Jazz Records) is out now, RRP £19.99