Alternative music reviews

June 11, 2006

Musical Snobbery?

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 10:30 pm Comments (0)

I have recently been on Yahoo Answers (hours of pointless fun) and stuck my oar in a few times. One of the questions where I ventured an answer was to the question “Punk Rock Songs: can you name some?”. Obviously I ventured Anarchy In The UK by The Sex Pistols since that was the first Punk Rock song I ever saw on British TV. But what surprised me was some of the other suggestions: My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, Violent Femmes (???). Now I can accept The Ramones or even Richard Hell as Punk Rock if you are American – but I don’t seem to be able to accept any recent music as Punk. I would accept Punk Revivalist/Hardcore/Wanky kids Looking For A Marketing Opportunity as a category for music that sounds like Punk.

Punk was such a revolution in The UK but it was a short lived thing. It was an angry shout that self-destructed quickly but completely changed the musical outlook. Alternative TV turned into a bunch of hippies, Adam Ant turned theatrical, Patrik Fitzgerald brought out an album Grubby Stories where he noted that “bondage trousers are sold in Woolworths”. It was over then. End of story.

What it spawned was something very special. Sniffing Glue fanzine published a guide on how to produce your own record, Desperate Bicycles and Scritti Politti included complete cost breakdowns of their singles (“It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it”). Suddenly, you didn’t even need to know how to play an instrument – pick up a guitar, learn three chords, and that was it. The explosion of creativity still reverberates now. It also allowed Rough Trade Records to start and their first 50 singles, for me, include the best 20 singles ever.

So, I don’t accept My Green Chemical Charlotte as punk. They just play a style of guitar rock music.

What I do want to highlight is a band Swell Maps that took the Punk ideal and throttled it until it begged for mercy. But this is 1979, not 1976/7, so this is not punk but the start of Alternative Music.

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