Monday, September 29, 2008

TVD's Daily Wax

It's like a choice between cake or candy for me--either way you win. But when pressed to favor one continent's take on a burgeoning punk movement, I've got to go with the UK's tendency to absorb influences and regurgitate them in wholly interesting and different guises.

Now, I think it was said by good pal Shamus and blogger extraordinaire Mick over at Raiding the Vinyl Archive (as we were trolling through the US punk records last week) that both preferred the US take on the genre which evolved into artier prospects rather than dull "pub rock" as Shamus referred to it. And both do have a point. But if I'm to be a stickler for the defining aspects of the genre, the dirtier and grittier attack of the UK bands is where I find the appeal.

Television...Blondie...The Ramones...all fantastic, yet with an aspiration to reach higher highs--be they artistic or chart success--that the UK acts just didn't strive for. It was the sound of the streets--and the city--that brought a legitimacy to the movement. It was real, in a way that the Talking Heads never were and where contrivance wasn't to be confused with flamboyance ala The Dolls. 'Twas all grit and spit and safety pins.

Some 101'ers:

Nick Lowe - Heart Of The City (Mp3)
The Jam - In The City (Mp3)
The Damned - Neat Neat Neat (Mp3)
The Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen (Mp3)
The Clash - White Riot (Mp3)


Mick said...

I'm sticking to my guns here. The five you posted last Monday are all better than these five (with the possible exception of 'Heart Of The City'. I seriously don't rate pre-'All Mod Cons' Jam. You can probably imagine how many late night half drunk 'discussions' I've had about my views.

adam said...

It's a half formed thought and it might need a lot more work but I kind of think that New York punk had more in common with the fringes of the UK post punk scene that it did with the spirit of 1977. It's not always true but there was something at the heart of punk bands which was simply about energy and simplicity and if there was an agenda beyond that then it was perhaps about money. As we span off into electro, funk and industrial influenced projects and the decades turned, that was when there was a wider artistic agenda on the UK scene that had more of an affinity with NYP. And Mick, I'm not saying there aren't fillers on those first two Jam albums, and the sides that came with them, but there's gold too.

Mick said...

I think you’ve probably hit the nail on the head there, Adam. New York punk was more akin to post punk and that’s more my ‘thing’. Back in the day my sister had the first two Jam albums and with a few notable exceptions (as you rightly point out) I couldn’t stand them. I bought her All Mod Cons for Christmas but by then she was hanging around with a different crowd and didn’t like ‘punk’ any more, so suddenly I was the Jam fan in the house. Which all goes to prove…something I suppose

JON said...

What does it say then, that both polarities existed at one time?

To be fair, I'm far more of a post punk fan, myself. Yet, these are very muddied waters...

Mick said...

Here’s another half formed (but probably obvious) thought: punk as a genre was much more suited to the 45 format than albums. A good punk song was a three minute thrash with a good hook and not many bands could repeat that trick twelve times in a row. If you look through my vinyl archive you’ll find a fair few punk singles but hardly an LPs.

adam said...

You're right and perhaps in part that's because Punk didn't exactly have many ideas other than the basic ones, and the basic ones were very good for what they were - let's make some noise, anyone can play, we'll get one over on Them, do what you want... I don't want to get too prog here but albums, really successful albums, often do have some kind of 'concept' behind them and such concepts as the original London punks had didn't really go for that. You're left with the gap between, on the one hand, rock and roll speeded up and played louder and, on the other hand, the postpunk credo of ideas from other art, cultural and even industrial movements manipulated to their own ends and developing some ideas about music on the way. Maybe an interesting point of comparison is to look at The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, which is McLaren lording it up over what he'd done and how he'd changed the world, and he Filth and the Fury, which is the considered response of the Pistols twenty years later - they use lots of the same footage, the same music, even the same director, but it's the later one, which is infused with the post-punk years in a way that the first one isn't, which is a much more interesting, entertaining and, for want of a better word, 'better' film.

Mick said...

I'm in full agreement with that comment, Adam.