By Faron King
Now I have to admit that PUNK ROCK might not exactly be my CUP OF TEA, but being a FAIR MINDED fellow I can see the MERIT in MOST THINGS (especially if I’m being PAID ENOUGH) However, remembering the first time I heard THE SEX PISTOLS on the radio reminds me of my first hearing of ELVIS, let’s say (Ahem!) a few years before.
So WHAT did I THINK?? Well I’m not PAID TO THINK. However, I thought….“WHAT WAS THAT?! I wanna HEAR some MOR!” I also thought “These jokers CAN’T EVEN PLAY A SINGLE NOTE without LOUSING IT UP, but it sounds like they REALLY MEAN IT, MAAAN!” YES…they MEANT IT ALRIGHT…. Unlike the JADED HAS-BEEN Fading STARS of THE DAY, tottering from MILE-LONG LIMOUSINES in their FOOT- HIGH PLATFORM BOOTIES, only to topple like PILES of DINOSAUR BONES into sleek PRIVATE JETS bearing their SWEATY CADAVERS to MONACO, MUSTIQUE and MALIBU – where VILE RETINUES of SLIMY HANGERS ON hung ON AND AROUND their EVERY LINE with TIGHTLY ROLLED 100 DOLLAR BILLS AT THE READY!!(CONVERSELY and to their credit, the new PUNK GROUPS preferred sniffing honest, down to earth HOUSEHOLD GLUE to sipping on a WELL-MIXED DAIQUIRI…. Meanwhile the FROZEN FOSSILS of the ROCK DINOSAURS would soon be temporarily ENTOMBED in the BOWELS of their own SKY-HIGH MOUNTAINS of COCAINE)
WHAT BENEFACTION could These BLOATED MOUNTEBANKS BESTOW to help feed the NAKED, FREEZING and HUNGRY DREAMS of WILD REBEL YOUTH? WHAT RELEVANCE did these ADDLED and DEGRADED PROPHETS OF WHEEZING CULTURAL OBESITY hold for the GODFORSAKEN PROGENY of THE COLLAPSING COUNCIL ESTATES?
My answer is simple.
Please excuse my COLOURFUL LANGUAGE…but it has to be POINTED OUT that the LANGUAGE of this DISENFRANCHISED NEW BREED was EVERY BIT as COLOURFUL as their HAIRDOS….and twice as SPIKY.
BEWILDERED SOCIAL COMMENTATORS could only THROW UP THEIR HANDS and ask: WHO?! WHO were these ANGRY URBAN LEATHERED, LATEXED & SAFETY PINNED JET BOY/JET GIRL REBELS, rising like RADIOACTIVE MUTANTS from the FETID, GARBAGE-STREWN RUINS of 1970s Britain with WEIRD, UNEARTHLY names like (but not actually) DAVE VALIUM, ROT SCABIES, POLY CELL, ARI UPPITY, MICHAEL OFFENSIVE and ADOLF PUKE? WHO TORE UP the rule book and FLUNG its TATTERED REMNANTS into the FACES of the LONG-HAIRS, the SQUARES in FLARES and the DON’T DARES? WHO sneered, JEERED and LEERED from the FRONT PAGES of a frenzy of FEROCIOUS FANZINES and DROOLING TABLOIDS, denouncing all HIPPIES, FLIPPIES and anyone ANCIENT enough to USE A RAZOR BLADE for its INTENDED PURPOSE? (with the NOTABLE EXCEPTION of one IGGY POP who came to LONDON to CUT HIMSELF ONSTAGE with a RAZOR BLADE. AND YOU CAN BET YOUR BONDAGE TROUSERS he WASN’T SHAVING.)
Exactly WHAT did PUNK ROCK contribute to THE MUSIC BIZ?
THE SEX PISTOLS and THE CLASH had a refreshing “DO IT YOURSELF” ethos which CONTEMPTUOUSLY SPURNED all approaches from the DECADENT and CORRUPTED MAJOR RECORD LABELS (at least for the first two weeks) ALSO THE SEX PISTOLS may have caused OUTRAGE by SWEARING AT and VOMITING OVER any TV interviewer BRAVE or FOOLISH enough to invite them onto their show, but they showed a more MUSICAL and SENSITIVE side by covering FRANK SINATRA’S classic hit “MY WAY.” Maybe bringing a TEAR or TWO to a certain pair of OLD BLUE EYES? Even MARVIN GAYE was similarly HONOURED by the UNTAMEABLE, OUTRAGEOUS SLITS. THE STRANGLERS forced the over-long KEYBOARD SOLO down to a mere minute or two rather than the previous HOUR or THREE.
Another area where the so-called PUNKS had they edge over their PREHISTORIC RIVALS was ACCESSIBILITY. If you wanted to tell ROD STEWART ya thought he was sexy, you’d have to LABORIOUSLY SCRIBE and POST a LETTER that JUST MIGHT make its way through a MAZE of MINDERS, LAWYERS, FOOD TASTERS and OTHER LACKEYS…Only to be used to light his next cigar.
The PUNK ROCK “musicians” did things a little differently.For example you JUST MIGHT see:
- X-RAY SPEX scoping out your LOCAL OPTICIAN
- Members of THE DAMNED digging GRAVES in your LOCAL CEMETERY
- Members of THE MEMBERS shopping (or maybe even nicking!) in your LOCAL TESCO
- The singer of JOY DIVISION assessing your CLAIM in your LOCAL DOLE OFFICE.
But there was also a DARK SIDE to PUNK ROCK:
In my book “JOHN LENNON: WORKING CLASS ZERO TO WORKING CLASS HERO” I point out that in the 60’s the SCREAMING FANS threw green JELLY BABIES at THE BEATLES. But by the 70’s things had TURNED UGLY as the SCREAMING FANS spat JELLIED GREENIES at the BUZZCOCKS. But LET’S NOT permit such UNPLEASANTNESS to spoil our REMINISCENCES of an all-too BRIEF MOMENT when ROCK and ROLL (NEW) ROSE from THE ASHES to BURN BRIGHTLY in the WRAPAROUND SHADES and SAFETY-PINNED EARS of a LOST and FOUND GENERATION.
PUNK is DEAD! LONG LIVE PUNK!