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Classic stuff, but forget the Punk 'revolution' myth,
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This review is from: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (Audio CD)
Practically since the day Punk broke into the general public's collective (un)conscience in this country, idiot music journos have been wittering on about how Punk was "a return to 1950's Rock n' Roll sensibilities (man)", describing it as some kind of a rock "year zero". Total pish! As much as the Clash protested it in `1977', the intervening two decades could NOT be denied!
For starters, if anything was a return to 1950's rock stylings it was PUB rock, not Punk! While the likes of Dr Feelgood and Ducks Deluxe were churning out their (admittedly high energy) take on early rock n' roll and R & B, the Sex Pistols were gestating a far more potent brew altogether and it wasn't being fuelled by Chuck Berry records!
A lot has been written about `proto' Punk and the influence it had on the Pistols and the music of the 1976 generation as a whole. Too true. The Velvets, The Stooges, MC5, Bowie, New York Dolls, Deviants and even Hawkwind all played their part in fuelling the aggression and attitude inherent in this explosive new style. Less is written about the role the likes of the Faces and Mott the Hoople played, but that too cannot be ignored. Then there's Mr Rotten's apparent Peter Hammill fixation. Oh yes indeedy.
All well and good. However, for me, if Punk was truly a return to anything, it was to a mid-60's Beat and Garage vibe. That's where the real fuel for the fire came from. The stripped-down aggression of the Pretty Things, Kinks, Who, Yardbirds, Small Faces, Creation and early Stones (or even the early Beatles to some degree) is far more comparable to Punk than anything from the 50's ever will be. Throw in a handy copy of Lenny Kaye's seminal `Nuggets' compilation of mid-60's American garage classics and the picture is pretty much complete.
I'm not knocking the 50's rockers. I just think that the very `showbiz' inclinations of key Rock n' rollers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry were surely anathema during the nihilistic days of Punk, whereas there was no denying the potency of Pete Townshend ramming his guitar through his speakers! Sure, The Clash later took Bo Diddley on the road with them and got Ray Lowry to do the cover of 'London Calling' up like the first Presley album, but Punk 'proper' was over by then.
Fact is, most of the Punk generation weren't even born in 1956, let alone listening to Elvis! But they *did* grow up listening to 1960's beat on the radio, that's for sure. Witness the rehearsal tapes of the Pistols attempting `Through My Eyes' by the Creation, `Watcha Gonna Do About It' by the Small Faces and `Don't Give Me No Lip Child' by none other than Dave Berry!
I actually find it's very easy to draw parallels between the `main' Punk bands and their mid-60's forebears. Buzzcocks for instance, were clearly Kinks-like. The Clash echo the Stones. The Damned channel the Who's sheer anarchy. The Undertones echo the Small Faces tight sound. The Stranglers have more than a hint of the Zombies. The Jam are clearly Beatles-inspired. The Pistols meanwhile, remind me of the Pretty Things filtered through the Stooges!
Which brings me - finally - to `Never Mind the Wotsits'. Guess what? It's a great album. You don't need me to tell you that. Only two criticisms spring to mind. One - it would've been better with Matlock on bass throughout. Two - the layering of guitars is perhaps a little overdone, pushing the album away from the garage towards chunkier hard rock territory. Of course, Johnny's vocals save the day - as usual.
Buy it, play it to death, then listen to something REALLY worthwhile like `Metal Box' or `The Scream'.
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Initial post: 14 Oct 2013 18:01:23 BDT
r. f. says:
Very true. I think that The WHO'S / MY GENERATION was one of the first real punk songs. As for the so called punk image just watch The WHO'S movie , The Kids Are Alright.
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