In the 1970’s across America, Australia and the UK, Punk music flooded the mainstream for one of the briefest periods in music’s history. Bands from either side of the pond like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Dammed all took their respective countries by storm with an aggression and clash unity the likes of which still haven’t been seen.
Seminal records like ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ and ‘London’s Calling’ took their well-earned place in music’s history books, and are still listened to today with the same passion and love from music lovers everywhere. Attitude, style and often downright dismal behaviour flooded TV and Radio for brief periods sparking outrage and public anger as young people took music back for themselves after the older generation had ruined rock’n’roll for their own boring tools of commercialism. Rock itself had become stagnant and formulaic (see ‘Pink Floyd’). It was a fight from the working class against, well, every establishment; capitalism, the monarchy, racism, classism and often against music itself. Punk was an incredible movement.
I sit writing this in a nice little café, wearing nice shoes, a shirt, and still listening to ‘God Save The Queen’ like it was on Radio 1 being cut off halfway through yesterday and yet it was one of the briefest musical movements the modern world has ever seen, particularly in the UK. Despite that it is incredibly important, the dynamic and rage sparked massive influence in post-punk, grunge and Britpop, through to noughties indie, and even forms of dance music and hip-hop.
But I have one outstanding issue with punk, and that is this; people don’t realise that it’s over. I respect, and implore people to remember it as one of their most loved genres, because it’s a seminal part of my music taste, and rightfully so for many others.
But punk lasted at a stretch between 1974 and 1978; it doesn’t have the same meaning in 2017.
It comes with an argument of ‘authenticity’. One of music’s most abstract and frustrating terms, but an incredibly important one. The idea that music may not have to be completely original, but has to carry a meaning that is true to the artist and itself. Not just shamelessly sounding exactly like Jonny Rotten used to, screeching over three trashy chords about how shit a label EMI is. But I see it everywhere; ‘punk night’ being advertised. Not with cover bands (a huge part of music’s nostalgia scene, always brilliant to reminisce like this) but with ‘new’ artists, however good their impression is: they are not punk.
Punk was a time and a place. Everyone would be quick to criticise a band coming out sounding like Oasis or Blur, straight outta 90’s Britpop, because much like punk, that was a time and a place, about certain people creating a certain scene. The reason it frustrates me to see this the most is that these people forming ‘punk’ bands are actually proper good musicians, in proper good outfits, with enough energy and talent to create something new. I implore these bands to do exactly that; to take your love of punk music, take your inspiration, and make something brilliant, new, authentic, exciting. Let the energy and ideas of punk live on in 2017 through something new.
There are so many exciting bands doing this already, in new ways, but with music, there is always exponential room to grow. And I can’t wait to see what else it has to give. But my message is simple in this little article (Bouzida style rant); Punk is dead. It’s time to get over it.