Thursday, December 20, 2007

Punk Rock 101: Blitzkreig Bop for the Blank Generation

Or why Green Day, Simple Plan and Sum 41 are not punk !!

OK, lets start this one with a clear idea of what punk is not.

1. The Suburu Impreza (they claimed in a 1993 ad that their car was ‘like punk rock’)
2. Any music that is exactly the opposite of punk (see above)
3. Anyone who rides a skateboard
4. Songs with that horrible whiny American accent
5. People who think Nirvana are punk
6. Anyone who hasn’t gone through puberty

Punk rock started in the early 1970’s in the United States with bands like the Stooges, the New York Dolls, Richard Hell and the Ramones all producing uncompromising, do-it-yourself music. This music was a massive break from the psychedelic movement of long jams and love-ins. It was aggressive, fast and short. ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ (as the Ramones would say) for the ‘Blank Generation (Richard Hell).

Despite the early influence of these US bands, punk really took off in the UK, prompted in part by Malcolm McClaren’s formation of the Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols start an avalanche of punk in the mid-70’s, from bands like The Vibrators, The Slits, X-Ray Spex, The Subversives, and The Adverts. Punk music in the UK was a political act, a cure for working class boredom, for those who couldn’t and didn’t want to participate in the commercialized culture and who certainly didn’t want to listen to Pink Floyd.

A few years later these politics would lead to a second wave in the UK, the skin-head culture and nazi-punks who spat on Oi! bands like Sham 69, Cocksparrer, the 4- Skins. This would develop into hardcore punk in the US, particularly Californiaa. There you get Black Flag, the Dead Kennedies, the Circle Jerks and the Vandals.

What about now? Which bands hold true to the origins of punk? My vote is for the great straight-edge band, Anti-Flag, but definitely not Avril Lavigne.

If you want to hear real punk music try:

1. Roadrunner Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
2. The Ruts Babylon’s Burning
3. No More Heroes The Stranglers
4. Sunday Morning Nightmare Sham 69
5. You Broke My Heart The Vibrators
6. Gary Gillmore’s Eyes The Adverts
7. Johnny B Goode The Sex Pistols
8. Promises The Buzzcocks
9. American Psycho The Misfits
10. Anti-Flag Die for Your Government
Image: Courtesy Virgin

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