Last week http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/viscious/ , I went over the important cross genre dynamic of glam rock and proto punk. While the seventies saw the bloat and excess of rock music, some acts decided to take the riffs, attitude, and youth culture of the decade, pile of 1950s and 1960s garage band influences and then do their own thing.
Time for part two of 1970s, Twisted Mixtape Tuesday.
The later part of the decade saw three seminal moments that essentially “changed everything”. In 1973, CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City opened in New York City. Both clubs demanded that all acts play their own music. On February 23rd, 1976, The Ramones first record, Ramones, was released and influenced dozens of musicians who would later form bands. Then, on June 4, 1976, British bad boys, The Sex Pistols, played London’s Free Trade Hall, and in the audience were several artists who would later form bands that would matter in American and British music for decades.
Punk music isn’t pretty, it’s only sexy in it’s uncompromising belief system, and sometimes it’s frightening, sonically. But once it gets inside of you, it’s unforgettable and the effects then and now are undeniable.
These are five of the greatest songs, punk and otherwise, ever recorded. I chose 2 American, and 3 British. Make sure to play them all very loud, then tell a friend or fifty about his post. It may change lives like it did mine, 25 years ago, when I first heard this music.
The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop. The greatest thing I’ve ever read about The Ramones back to basics rock music, featuring count offs, two minute songs, and pure energy is that “listening to The Ramones first record must have been what watching the atom spilt for the first time was like, because nothing was the same after”. Hailing from Queens, NY and destined for nothing special, Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Thomas Erdelyi put on leather jackets, stood against walls a lot, played faster than fast and adopted the stage names Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, and Tommy Ramone, using an old Paul McCartney pseudonym. They changed music, forever.
The opening cut from their debut album, Blitzkrieg Bop, sets a tone that alsy created a fire in many musicians that came after them.
Punk was about as much as what you looked like and how you conveyed that as it was about he music. It was about an alternative lifestyle among people who came from little and cared about the same. Richard Hell and the Voidoids weren’t the most famous CBGBs bands or American punk acts, but for one album, in 1977, they put it all together and so many acts that came after, especially in England. Richard Hell was years ahead of the game and Blank Generation is a microcosm of what worked. I love this song.
The Sex Pistols may have only made one album, been more about chaos than music as guitarist Steve Jones famously told journalist Nick Kent, but their record Never Mind The Bollocks in a perfect moment in time. Every song is a classic of the genre and 1970s defining tunes but the most memorable because it’s opening line “I am an Anti-Christ, I am an Anarchist” froma sneering devil child, John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten to Steve Jones brilliant cross-bred guitar work, Anarchy is simply amazing. It never gets old. And screaming “get pissed, destroy” while you’re picking your kids up from school in the carpool line is a life moment that’s indescribable.
It was difficult to choose between the two punk “love songs”, but both The Damned’s New Rose and The Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Should’nt’ve” are punk’s high water marks in irony and musicianship. I went with the Buzzcocks because the message is universal and the song has been cited by so many other artists as influential. Just listen to the lyrics while you pogo. This is the song for you for so many situations. It’s one of the best heartbreak songs, ever.
The Clash is my favorite band. They’ve been called The Only Band That Mattered. Hell and yes on that. While their masterpiece is the double live album London Calling and the title track are the best things they ever did, artistically, that song and album were released is very late 1979 and more like 1980 in America so it falls outside the boundaries of the post/prompt. Their lead single from their first album, Complete Control from The Clash, 1977, says everything that needs to about how they changed the game. You should love The Clash as much as I do. Go listen and get in it.
Go see my sister from another musical mother, Jen at http://www.jenkehl.com and listen and read the great posts about the 1970s. Jen does a terrific job hosting.
Also head to amazon/kindle, smashwords.com or Good Reads and get a copy of my book, heavily influenced by punk music, The Ballad of Helene Troy. It’s also available on Lulu.com or Pound Publishing headquarters (signed) in paperback.