"Punk: a defence!
Seems like it's come in for a bit of a kicking recently so here's my (extended.... sorry!!) thoughts:
The seventies had started with new levels of cinematic violence thanks to Clint Eastwood asking (and I'm paraphrasing here) 'Do (you) feel lucky?' Well, do you, punk?" and, by 1976, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro of course) was manically practising in the mirror for his upcoming slaughter with 'you talkin' to me... then who the hell else are you talkin' to?' In between, on the musical front, we were offered up, amongst many delights, ELP's 'Brain Salad Surgery', Yes' 'Relayer, Kansas' 'Leftoverture', Fleetwood Mac's self titled AOR platter, Chicago Vlll, Led Zeppelin 'Physical Graffiti', Jefferson Starship's 'Red Octopus' and John Denvers 'Greatest Hits'!!! I'm certain that all will have their acolytes within RPM members but, surely, it was time for a change? In the US, both the MC5 and The Stooges had released a trio of high energy 'punk' albums between 1969 and 1973 and The New York Dolls weighed in with a couple too, including the prophetically entitled swansong 'Too much, too soon'. Here in the UK, thanks to such bands as The (Social) Deviants and the Edgar Broughton Bands early forays, followed by the 'pub rock' scene, Doctor Feelgood would point the way in 1973 towards a simpler musical formula harking back to the Merseybeat and R&B bands of the mid sixties and their US equivalents, the 'garage/punk' bands. As many young, would be musicians on both sides of the Atlantic were unable (and unwilling) to 'master' the techniques and complexity of the bands mentioned initially above, it was no surprise that they returned to their 'roots' and began to produce, in many cases, a simpler, more naive form of music? Indeed, in 1965, Bob Dylan may have initiated this process, moving from his increasingly dense acoustic material to a return to (his) rock and roll roots with the 'Bringing it all back home' album which bitterly divided the public (especially the more entrenched 'traditionalist' folkies... but not the younger 'hip' kids) in exactly the same way 'punk' would divide, say, 'proggies' and 'folkies' of the early/mid seventies from their younger aspiring musician brothers. A case could be made that Dylan's 'Like a rolling stone' was the first garage/punk single with it's reedy organ sound, forceful delivery and nihilistic lyrics (discuss!!!).Meanwhile, 'This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band' was the cryptic message from Sniffin' Glue Issue 1 (January 1977) and many kids did just that, although by 1977 many of the first flush of punk bands were already signed and/or playing live. It's a crude misconception that 'punk' was just shouty, snotty oiks, with no musical talent, playing at 100mph. Hopefully, a couple of my more recent selections would have opened some ears to the delights of, say, Wire (who would intersperse their sometimes complex (!) songs with extended 'one chord' wonders) and not judge all bands against the Clash/Police template. Let's not forget that Strummer was the son of an MBE and committed the 'sins' of a) recording a double album, b) recording a triple album and c) touring with old f*rts The Who.
Prolonged rant over........ here's three tracks which, hopefully, will convince some RPM members that 'punk' had its place, if only as an 'effervescent' on the musicians of the period who suddenly found that, at least in the short term, they would have to inject a little more energy into their musical output and that yet another Barnie Torpor styled ballad or ELO type extravaganza would no longer suffice."