Destroy All Bands

When the underappreciated Spike Lee joint Summer of Sam depicted a circa-1977 punk rocker thrashing to The Who, smartypants punk historians scoffed that Lee was revealing his ignorance of white people's culture. The stadium-shaking clamor of The Who, tittered the cognoscenti, was just the sort of flatulent sixties monster rock that the punkers hated more than anything else. But I always figured Lee was onto something: The priggish rules of punk cred had not been fully codified at the time, and it seemed believable that some untutored Bronx yahoo might interpret "My Generation" or Keith Moon's Nazi antics as proto-punk stylings.

But what Spike really gave away was the pretense that there's a definable punk aesthetic. Ask a few of the basic punk-cred koans and the system always falls apart: Why isn't any band that hews to a reliable three-chords-in-two-minutes pattern a punk band? Why, other than that the band members could play their instruments, wasn't the Bon Scott-era AC/DC a punk band? If The Edge stole his guitar style from Gang of Four, does that mean U2 really (as they claimed) had their roots in punk—and if U2 qualifies as punk, who doesn't? If the Velvet Underground is supposed to be the great ancestor of punk rock, why did so many seminal punkers hate the Velvet Underground while lauding various early-sixties bubble gum bands? If punk was a retort to bloated prog-rock pomposity, why wasn't Sha Na Na a punk band? If it was a reaction to psychadelic excess, why isn't the White Album the first punk record? For that matter, if (as others have claimed) punk isn't so much a musical style as an attitude, who is the most punk Beatle? Was there a punker in the Rat Pack? Why shouldn't the Kinks qualify as a punk band? (What's more punk than repackaging the same song a dozen times or so?) Why is Combat Rock the record that ruined the Clash's punk credibility when Sandinista! sucks a million times more than Combat Rock? Since the Ramones always wanted to sound like a sixties girl group, are the Donnas more pure punk than the Ramones?

Vexing questions, and here to really complicate things is this Onion interview with Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney. The princesses of latter-day girl punk have lately defeated expectations by releasing a record heavily styled on the ultimate punk kryptonite—Klassik Rock. Brownstein gives some reasons:

I guess I think I've always kind of liked some of those bands. I've always loved The Who or some Led Zeppelin, and, you know, like Cream and Blue Cheer and those bands. But in a way, they didn't really speak to me the way The Clash spoke to me, you know? But I would listen to the radio and listen to modern-rock stations, and I would just be so annoyed at the direction of where, like, the legacy of punk and alternative rock had gone--like just this super safe, "Oh, every song that the station plays has to be under three minutes. I have to know what the chorus is going to sound like even before it happens." It was just so safe and predictable. And then I would turn to the classic-rock station, and it would be like this eight-minute song that breaks into this insane part, and you'd have no idea what was going to happen. I was just like, "How did we come so far from this? Why does this sound punk-rock now?" I thought punk rock was about breaking rules and going to a place that's a little bit dangerous, and nothing on the contemporary rock station sounds dangerous at all.

Lame self-justifications from a darling of the mainstream media? Perhaps. But let this be a lesson to everybody who believes in hard and fast categories. As Borges says at the end of his "Unknown Pleasures.

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  • ||

    There was punk and there was new wave, and while, if one lived in London or New York, that was probably a huge difference for people. But if you lived somewhere out in the Rustbelt, where one local rock FMer devoted one hour a week on Sunday nights to those new sounds while the other one ignored them completely, and the launching of a new college station that would play anything was like finding an oasis in a musical desert, digging early Who or even Beatles tracks was part of the New Wave aesthetic. When my friends and I went out to hear the local Ramones/Pistols/Clash/Police wannabes, covering early-60s rock, especially the unpretentious pre-Sgt. Pepper stuff was one way those bands extended their repertoires and made a statement along the lines of "songs like these were cool. Rock went wrong when they started bringing in string sections and all that other artsy-fartsy crap."

    Hmm. Punk/New Wave as a recapitulation of Rockers/Mods. Discuss.

    The Pretenders' first hit was a cover of Stop Your Sobbing, and we all knew that Chrissy was having Ray Davies' baby. Your punks or New Wavers wouldn't cover My Generation, though, as radio played it to death. Much more likely would be The Kids Are Alright or Substitute. These might be played at twice the speed of the familiar versions. Other popular covers: Buddy Holly songs, obscure rockabilly sides, even Elvis tunes other than the cliched ones - Little Sister instead of Heartbreak Hotel.

    I always loved the Kinks, as much for their clever early pop as for their less accessible stuff (think Arthur). I bet XTC's Andy Partridge loved that stuff, too. But the Kinks did spawn, however accidentally, heavy metal with You Really Got Me's opening power riff. Many of us who hated hair bands have had to learn how to forgive them for that. :)

    I would hear Back In Black pumped through the speakers of the alternative venues I frequented prior to seeing my favorite bands on a pretty regular basis. One heard a lot of Motörhead, too. Joey Ramone and Lemmy respected each other, so that was cool.

    Anything that was raw, vital and close to the bone could seem "punk". Anything that was too processed and machined wasn't. The Velvets may not have appealed because they partook of some of the same excesses of cool that the arena rockers did, especially the drug culture and sexual ambiguity. I might have been clued into the New York Dolls when they were actually releasing records if they hadn't dressed transgressively. I probably wasn't the only nerdy kid who felt let down when our new heroes revealed themselves to be as enamored of heroin abuse as my older brother's rock gods.

    Just one fanboy's opinion.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Was there a punker in the Rat Pack?

    Was there ever a cooler punk than the young Sinatra?

  • ||

    I don't remember which Who song was in that movie, but it was well accepted at the time that songs like "My Generation" and "The Kids are Alright" were punk in spirit. ("Pinball Wizard" maybe not so much ...)

    What bothered me when I saw it was that all the punkers were decked out like complete whips and chains freaks, complete with mohawks. The Mohawk was not a "punk" style before at least 1979, and didn't really bloom until 1980 or 81. In reality, most of the people who went to CBGBs looked like typical dorky goofballs with long hair, bell bottoms and leather jackets. And they didn't slam, they pogoed. Or rather, some people pogoed; most people just stood around and tried unsuccessfully to look cool.

  • ||

    Sometimes Musical genera are hard to define except by the similarity of bands to each other. But to take a stab at it; the essence of old school puck is an aggressive hard rocking beat merged with simplicity and a rebellious attitude. And about that rebellious attitude...The Ramones, for example, were far too rebellious to be "anti-establishment". I mean, check out Joey Ramone's "Maria Bartiromo". It's a unabashed tribute to Bartiromo, the stock market and CNBC:

    http://www.american-buddha.com/ramoneslyrics.mariabartiromo.htm

    They were rebellious enough to be for themselves.

    Tim, why do you say that the Ramones always wanted to sound like a sixties girl group? And, more importantly, why are rhe Ramones so incredibly _______ (fill in rebellious expletive) good? I've been on this Ramones kick for a few months now. Often, nothing else sounds good. Has this happened to anyone else? I listen to oodles of Ramones and a couple of Clash songs and that one by Plastic Bertrand. The Ramones have, in part, diverted me away from New Wave, my fave. Although, there is some overlap and common linage there. I do everything to the Ramones, from cruising with the top down to analyzing chess problems. I bought a Ramones shirt but I would never wear a Clash shirt because of their association with lefty politics.

  • ||

    Kevin:

    Punk/New Wave as a recapitulation of Rockers/Mods. Discuss.

    No, I don't think so. The former is about linage while the latter about opposition. Also, the former is music, the latter, societal groups. But big Kudos to you Kevin for recalling the Mods and Rockers.

  • ||

    I've gotta point out that there's a certain musical act that lists the Ramones as a major influence that I've seen and they put on a edgy "avant-pop" fun show that has got to be experienced to be believed.

    I'm talking about our fellow commenter here at H&R and my fellow Denverite, Fyodor! His act is known as Little Fyodor and features his lovely partner in madness, Babushka.

    http://www.grantrproductions.com/pages/fyodor.html

    He'll be playing Laramie Wyoming and here in Denver in short order and I think that you can buy his fun CDs at his site.

    Where else but H&R could you expect to find an intellectual rocker?

  • ||

    If punk was to do your own thing and go against standards, then give me Black Sabbath. No band rocked like Black Sabbath before Black Sabbath, with not many being able to touch them still. Sure they did the 8 minute tracks, but it was good fist shaking music, like not many poppy "punk" tracks could do. Want short and simple, try the song paranoid, 3 minutes of verse chorus verse 4/4 rock.

    Also, during the same period of time, check out King Crimson. They invented prog rock, punks nemesis sure, but, that doesn't mean they weren't going against societys ideas about music or at the least, not caring much about accpeted music forms.

    Then there's the stooges. Iggy and Co doing the hard as nails three chord rock with a wild front man, like a Bon Scott era ACDC (who someone mentioned) only from Detroit, and, actually an influence ON AC/DC. Even The Stooges went beyond 3 minute songs, and used Saxaphone on Funhouse.

    Course if you wanna talk plain ole late 70's CBGB punk, Ramones are pretty fun, early Devo wasn't shabby, Clash is overrated. Bands like Bad Brains would influence bands like Slayer to play it fast and loud, while (my war era) Black Flag and Flipper wanted it played slower, and just as loud.

    And todays underground/indie/punk/noise/whatever. Go see The Oxes live. Its like the Marx Brothers meets Don Caballero. Their guitarists play with wireless hookups, allowing them to roam around the audience.

    Lightning bolt is just a guitarist and a drummer, play loud as hell, and crazy as hell. See them live.

    High On Fire, Hella, Fantomas all are damn fine themselves.

    Download music from a few of those bands off www.Epitonic.com. Its legal, and the tracks are worth checking out.

  • David Woycechowsky||

    Nice to hear a Fyodor shout out. I have Salt LP (the classic), Revolution (yuk) and Live at XX (okay).

    2 weeks ago I got a Fantomas LP for the first time. Didn't notice the LP title, but it was from 1999 and all the song titles are book and page nos. Do they always sound like a circa '87 powwow with Slayer and Coil?

    PS: RIP Mr. Balance :(

  • Phil||

    Tim, why do you say that the Ramones always wanted to sound like a sixties girl group?

    Because they did. That was their whole ethos, at least at the beginning: The sounds of the music they grew up listening to in Queens, played fast and loud. Read Legs McNeill's book for some straight-from-the-horses mouth stuff on it.

    BTW, the so-called "classic rock" direction of The Woods is being a little oversold by the media and the record label -- guitar solos alone do not a classic rock record make -- but the album, at first listen, is a good one. There's a song on there about Golden Gate Bridge jumpers called "Jumpers" that ranks with the best things S-K has ever done.

  • Jeff||

    As a frequest attendee of Spit, the first (and longest lasting) Boston punk club, I recall U2's I Will Follow being played quite often.

  • ||

    Why isn't any band that hews to a reliable three-chords-in-two-minutes pattern a punk band? Because hewing to a reliable three-chords-in-two-minutes isn't the only qualification.

    Why, other than that the band members could play their instruments, wasn't the Bon Scott-era AC/DC a punk band? Because they didn't want to be.

    If The Edge stole his guitar style from Gang of Four, does that mean U2 really (as they claimed) had their roots in punk? Yes.

    If U2 qualifies as punk, who doesn't? Lots of bands don't qualify. Too many to list, in fact.

    Why did so many seminal punkers hate the Velvet Underground while lauding various early-sixties bubble gum bands? Because many seminal punkers were dumb.

    If punk was a retort to bloated prog-rock pomposity, why wasn't Sha Na Na a punk band? Because a retort to bloated prog-rock pomposity wasn't the only qualification.

    If it was a reaction to psychadelic excess, why isn't the White Album the first punk record? Because reaction to psychedelic excess isn't the only qualification.

    Who is the most punk Beatle? John.

    Was there a punker in the Rat Pack? No.

    Why shouldn't the Kinks qualify as a punk band? They should.

    Why is Combat Rock the record that ruined the Clash's punk credibility when Sandinista! sucks a million times more than Combat Rock? Their credibility is still intact.

    Since the Ramones always wanted to sound like a sixties girl group, are the Donnas more pure punk than the Ramones? No.

    Thanks for asking!

  • ||

    Why is Combat Rock the record that ruined the Clash's punk credibility when Sandinista! sucks a million times more than Combat Rock?

    Because Combat Rock sold about a million units more than Sandinista!.

  • ||

    Cavanaugh, have you been trapped in a bathroom with a stack of old Creem magazines or something?

  • ||

    I used to love Creem. You'd never catch Lester Bangs failing to praise a good hard rockin' band just because they were (or weren't) punk.

    Boy Howdy!

    Kevin

  • ||

    I also grew up reading Creem magazine. Where else would I have gotten the idea of spending my 11th birthday geld on the Damned's Machine Gun Etiquette
    I lived in Germany during much of the punk/new wave thing and I now recall with amusement just how much the white-boy reggae/ska thing of that era became omnipresent and extremely lame.

  • B.D.||

    [quote]Punk/New Wave as a recapitulation of Rockers/Mods. Discuss.[/quote]

    Kevin makes a good point. Actually at the time, there was discussion of the ties between Punk/New Wave and the Rockers/Mods. Recall, if you can, Paul Weller's The Jam being definitely in the Mod column. FWIW, Weller did go on to cover The Who's "My Generation" and has noted many a time that he was a big fan of The Kinks and Cream.

  • ranger||

    2 weeks ago I got a Fantomas LP for the first time.

    Excellent choice! They're pretty much all over the map. That's pretty much Mike Patton's modus operandi. Be all over the map at once. You might also be interested in Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk, two of his other projects. Mike, of course, is best known for his time with Faith No More. During which time they were the greatest band EVER (atleast, to me)!

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled debate...

  • gaius marius||

    you know, i'm not prescient, but this isn't that surprising. s/k played a cover of boston's "more than a feeling" at a couple shows i saw years ago -- which is as far from an "eight-minute song that breaks into this insane part" as you can get, i know.

    but isn't the truth that everyone who goes diy listened to something before. and i think that stuff stays with you in ways you don't fully appreciate when you're trying to eradicate it from your mind.

  • gaius marius||

    why are rhe Ramones so incredibly _______ (fill in rebellious expletive) good?

    because, mr barton, in all of objective life the ideal is never realized -- and the attempts to reach the ideal all end in violence and tragedy and horror and futility.

    except "rocket to russia".

  • gaius marius||

    Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk

    excellent. i can't believe this board is discussing mike patton. :)

  • Phil||

    you know, i'm not prescient, but this isn't that surprising. s/k played a cover of boston's "more than a feeling" at a couple shows i saw years ago . . .

    I'd love to hear a bootleg of that.

    This works in the other direction, too. Matthew Sweet, who has pretty much always been a straight-ahead power-pop guy in the tradition of Cheap Trick, used Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine on his records, and throws in all kinds of wonky covers whenever he tours.

  • ||

    Some good answers from mcleary. But one thing seems glossed over; Summer of Sam was THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE.

  • ||

    well, at least gaius and i agree on something (mr. patton, that is).

    ramones, though...no.

  • ||

    jack:

    I WANT YOU TO KILL! KILLLL! KIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLL!

  • ||

    Mike Patton question:

    On Ballot result, a "Mike Patton" gets credit as a producer of one or 2 trax from an aborted M'Men album (leftist band, further blurring the boundaries of punque).

    I've always assumed this was the FNM et al. singer, even though this is like about 1982. Is this correct?

  • ||

    As local STL punk rock band from the early 80's said, "punk rock is really wimpy, punk rock is really gimpy, punk rock is all the same, punk rock is really tame, punk rock girls are really seedy, punk rock girls will give you VD, punk rock sucks".

  • ||

    Keeeeerist! What is it with libertarians and punk rock? These threads pop up with annoying regularity and always attract 50+ posts.

  • ||

    What is it with libertarians and punk rock?

    opposition to a dominant paradigm. Maybe this also answers all the questions posited at the head of this thread, too.

  • ||

    In Spike Lee's defense, The Jam were one of the most popular English punk bands and they always pointed to the Who, Kinks, and Beatles as the prototypes.

    The labels on bands were always a marketing device. That's why the New York Dolls never sold any records, no one could tell if they were glam, punk, junkies, or girlish Stones. So maybe Brody's character wasn't all that different from Johnny Thunders.

    I could go on and on, but I will end with the observation that AC/DC's never had a bassist that could play.

  • ||

    Thrak -- is that you Mr. Fripp? -- is too tame, Sabbath is merely the most influential band of the age. Iommi's massive dyads warp space and time. commanding the rest of the instruments to follow.

    And all-time mismatch of audience, band, and venue: Mike Patton fronting John Zorn's Naked City at the Barns of Wolftrap for an evening of noise. The annual donor-types did not even have to time to gulp down their white wine before running for the exits.

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    Why shouldn't the Kinks qualify as a punk band? (What's more punk than repackaging the same song a dozen times or so?)

    They do. They were the first. The Kinks were a huge influence on the Ramones.

  • ||

    I was the punk Beatle, ye yobs.

  • ||

    Ringo was the punk Beatle if you go by inability to play his instrument.

    If you go by hotness of wife, then no.

  • ||

    I guess Brian Epstein was the libertarian Beatle.

  • ||

    "I thought punk rock was about breaking rules and going to a place that's a little bit dangerous, and nothing on the contemporary rock station sounds dangerous at all."

    No, punk rock is about glorifying infantile stupidity and forever enshrining the ignorance of adolescence, you stupid wanker.

  • ||

    The punk Beatle was Pete Best.

  • ||

    Ah, Creem, the magazine that turned me on to the Shaggs.

  • ||

    Bowie. Discuss.

  • Chris in Boston||

    I rather agree with mccleary's replies. The problem with the series of questions you pose is that you seem to want a popular musical style to have intellectual coherence. But no one sits down ahead of time and comes up with a list of characteristics that they will apply when they lable popular music. Rather, artists begin working in a similar vein, in the case of punk quite self-consciously, and observers begin ascribing a culture and a category to it. People will then quibble about dividing lines and semantics. I tend to take a narrow view of punk, and a slightly less narrow view of postpunk, but can identify the sound when I hear it: stripped down (though punk often has more than three chords), a distorted amplified guitar sound, a certain emphasis on the downbeat (and a fondness for double-time rhythm), and maybe a bunch of characteristics I'm forgetting about. The thing about Carrie Brownstein's interview is that she's championing the social attitudes we ascribe to punks (nonconformity, experimentation, rule-bending, unpredictability) and arguing that non-punk musical styles are the best expression of those attitudes these days. I don't see what's so complicated about that.

    By the way, I thought that the Edge was ripping off the Teardrop Explodes and the Chameleons. In anycase, it's no stretch to call their early work postpunk.

  • ||

    Kinda like with any kind of art: if you can convince the buyers it's punk, then it's punk. If you can't, then it aint'.

    There is no essence or form to punk; there is no punk-"ness"; only product positioning, and the amount of willingness you have to insist what you're doing is "punk" when others say that it's not.

  • ||

    Those bands are pretty good, but if you want a great show set to thrash music that forces to you mosh while covered in spew, you gotta go GWAR!!!

  • ||

    Is there anything more funny than 'hipsters' arguing about music? I propose there isn't (well, not much anyway).

    Anyhow, you're all pikers compared this this guy.

  • ||

    I've been on this Ramones kick for a few months now. Often, nothing else sounds good. Has this happened to anyone else?

    Rick Barton,

    Yes, I've been coming down with a bad case of Rammonia lately. I love rediscovering bands! It agitates me at the same time to have shelved my interest in them for so many years. They rule! And I totally see the 60's girl-group sound in them, which is probably one of the reasons I love them so much...they wrote amazing songs. And Johnny Ramone is a personal musical inspiration to me.


    I saw both Hella and Fantomas recently. Hella = awesome. You want the definition of overrated? See Fantomas. I've seen them twice, and they bored me both times. Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, and Tomahawk are all better than Fantomas. Although I love Mike Patton, I just view Fantomas as his ultimate art-rock conceit.

    I will be seeing Sleater-Kinney live in a week's time, at their all-time favorite US venue (and mine): The Beachland Ballroom .

    I also agree with McCleary's and Chris in Boston's replies.

    One thing that always personally turned me off about the Punk movement (and still does) is rebellion for rebellion's sake, i.e. hating an album just because it's popular. Hey, if it's good, I don't care if every other person on the planet has it. Especially with the indie and punk scenes, we are currently in a sort of perverse, reverse musical Rennaissance, where the more obscure the band, the higher critical acclaim it receives. Once a band is deemed "too popular", scenesters' interests wane and they are dismissed as "sellouts"....this trend is a far cry from that of the heyday of traditional "classical music", where ubiquity and popularity of a tune was encouraged and lauded.

    I also agree with Sexecutioner: Gwar is an awesome punk-metal band, no matter what.

  • ||

    "I rather agree with mccleary's replies."

    Anybody who says "I rather" anything is no punk.

  • ||

    Hmm...looks like there is a problem with linking websites here... anyway, the link I tried to post should be www.beachlandballroom.com

  • ||

    There was one thing about punk that survived all the hype: the DIY aesthetic that said "You, too, can get up on stage, risk making a total ass of yourself as you barely avoid electrocuting yourself with your instrument, or croak nearly-incoherently in some twisted approximation of song, and yet, still manage to express yourself." That's why Ian Dury and The Blockheads, for all their British Music Hall toodling, are more punk than pre-packaged pop like The Knack, no matter how skinny the My Sharona guys' ties were.

    Time I Thought I Was Gonna Die Dept.: No, it wasn't the time I had the bouncers sneak me and a buddy out the back door of a mainstream rock club where we had gone to see Peter Noone, who was trying a comeback as a New Waver, and some long-haired, metal-band-T-shirt-wearing meatheads objected to my wearing a vintage Air Force dress jacket I'd bought at a garage sale for a buck on my short-haired, non-veteran ass. And it wasn't the time I saw the Dead Kennedys at an eighth-floor wedding hall with negligible air conditioning, too many bodies on the dance floor and a ten-foot ceiling. No, it was the time I was working as an usher at a local theatre for a Knack concert, and 1,800 13-year-old girls almost rushed the stage. I felt safer working the balcony for DEVO, with clueless fratboys diving onto the steps in the aisle, to do the worm to Uncontrollable Urge. Normally a professional security crew of beefy ex-football players handled access to the band's space and any unruly customers. Ushers showed people to their seats and asked patrons to put out their smokes. But the sweet young things were so intent on recreating Sinatra at the Paramount/Elvis at State Fair/The Beatles Tour America that every warm body in the house was called up to the orchestra pit, backs to the stage and arms linked, awaiting the pubescent deluge. We were none too happy when those poseurs ran through their one album setlist and had to resort to the lamest Buddy Holly covers you ever heard for their encores.

    In contrast, I went to clubs where people wore the most outlandish getups I could have then conceived of, half of them looking like extras from The Road Warrior, and nearly everyone behaved themselves fairly peacefully, even to people who looked like they wandered in from the set of Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

    Kevin
    (that big poser!)

  • ||

    C'mon Cavanaugh. You're going to tell the world with a straight face that Combat Rock is better than Sandinista!? Dream on. Sandinista1 is bloated but the best 12 songs off Sandinista! are much better than Combat Rock. Combat Rock sucks mostly because of the production - the guitars are overamped and sound like shit. Know Your Rights is unlistenable. I saw Strummer do Straight to Hell live with the Mescaleros and it was 10 times better than version on Combat Rock.

  • Joe Strummer's Arrhythmia||

    "Because hewing to a reliable three-chords-in-two-minutes isn't the only qualification."

    Says who? You?

    "wasn't the Bon Scott-era AC/DC a punk band? Because they didn't want to be."

    If that's a disqualifier, you can leave out every band that ever played CBGBs. Every punker rejected the punk label. Try again.

    "If The Edge stole his guitar style from Gang of Four, does that mean U2 really (as they claimed) had their roots in punk? Yes."

    U2 is about as punk as Starship.

    "If U2 qualifies as punk, who doesn't? Lots of bands don't qualify. Too many to list, in fact."

    But you know who they all are?

    "Why did so many seminal punkers hate the Velvet Underground while lauding various early-sixties bubble gum bands? Because many seminal punkers were dumb."

    As opposed to that punk genius mcleary!

    "If punk was a retort to bloated prog-rock pomposity, why wasn't Sha Na Na a punk band? Because a retort to bloated prog-rock pomposity wasn't the only qualification."

    You already gave that answer, and it was wrong the first time.

    "If it was a reaction to psychadelic excess, why isn't the White Album the first punk record? Because reaction to psychedelic excess isn't the only qualification."

    You already gave that answer, and it was wrong the second time.

    "Who is the most punk Beatle? John."

    John Lennon was about as punk as Phil Collins.

    "Was there a punker in the Rat Pack? No."

    Peter Lawford was more punk than you are, bitch.

    "Why shouldn't the Kinks qualify as a punk band? They should."

    Which is why all punks ran out and bought "Lola" and "Come Dancing," right?

    "Why is Combat Rock the record that ruined the Clash's punk credibility when Sandinista! sucks a million times more than Combat Rock? Their credibility is still intact."

    Dude, were you even born in 1982? Every gray-haired punk who blubbered when Joe Strummer croaked in 2002 was screaming that the Clash was a sellout in 1982.

    "Since the Ramones always wanted to sound like a sixties girl group, are the Donnas more pure punk than the Ramones? No."

    Because no girl group can make it past mcleary the guardian of punk. It's punk snobs like you who made the scene intolerable. I stomp on your rules of authentic punk with my Chuck Taylors!

  • ||

    Do punks wear Doc Martin boots because Pete Townsend did, or were they just adapting Mod styles to a new era?

  • ||

    The Ramones often wore tennis shoes.

  • ||

    "There was one thing about punk that survived all the hype: the DIY aesthetic that said "You, too, can get up on stage, risk making a total ass of yourself as you barely avoid electrocuting yourself with your instrument, or croak nearly-incoherently in some twisted approximation of song, and yet, still manage to express yourself."

    Are any of you familiar with Punk Rock Karaoke?

    http://www.punkrockkaraoke.com/

    In regards to the classic rock/punk rock connection, look no farther than the Damned at their best doin' Beatles songs. Generation X payin' homage to Ready Steady Go. I knew plenty of punks that listened to the old stuff. But it wasn't Yes or Pink Floyd, it had to make you wanna jump up and down or somethin'.

    ...and Punk was an attitude as much as anything else--what style were the Adicts and the Toy Dolls? Part of that attitude was heavy on the authenticity, and authenticity meant it was a live scene. You can only get a little taste of it from a recording, and then it usually has to be somethin' you know--something you can sing along to, something that makes you feel like part of the band and part of the crowd.

    When I hear people gloss past the early eighties punk--X excluded--it's typically people who are judging by the recordings. I don't blame them--what else do they have to judge by? ...but it's the wrong criteria--it wasn't the recordings that made the scene great.

    ...But You can feel some of it in the recordings, although, once again, I usually only feel it when punk bands do cover songs. I can feel it in Decry's cover of Sonic Reducer, it makes you wanna grab your friends and go rob a bank. Listen to the Battalion of Saints cover of the Ace of Spades, it'll make you wanna head straight for Vegas and beat up somebody or somethin'.

    ...AC/DC was punk when they were live mayhem in small clubs. (My big brother saw them in a tiny club in DC back in '76 or so((DC 101 used to promote shows with unknown bands. The entrance fee was $1.01)), and he said people were terrified of them.) The Clash was more than just their recordings. I heard Mojo Nixon once say that when he saw them do I Fought the Law in a small club live, it changed his life. When the Clash became little more than a recording, a video on MTV and an arena tour, it died. When Black Flag played Pollywog Park, it all but started a riot! ...Can you feel all that in Nervous Breakdown? ...I don't think so.

    Punk is an attitude and the attitude has something to do with authenticity and that authenticity doesn't translate well over any medium.

  • Handsome Dan||

    RE: David's Mike Patton Question:

    ____Yes

    ____No

    __X_Maybe

    Mike Patton's very first group was The Middle Class, an early hardcore band from Los Angeles. The Minutemen, as you know, hit the LA scene when trad HC-type stuff was beginning to sound stale. So it's not outside the realm of possibility that they'd run into each other, although I can't say for sure.

  • Handsome Dan||

    And Tim: the White Album = "a reaction to bloated psychedelic excess?" I always took the White Album as the no. 1 example of psychedelic excess!

  • ||

    I knew somebody would exercise the nuclear option and bring up G.G. Allin.

  • Dan H.||

    Ringo was the punk Beatle if you go by inability to play his instrument.

    Sounds like someone doesn't know anything about drumming, and it's not Ringo. Ringo Starr was an excellent drummer. He was a musical star in his own right before the Beatles picked him up (which they considered quite a coup). His drumming is always inventive, and had he not been in a group with three of the best musicians ever, he would have found his way somewhere else and been remembered as one of the great drummers. If you don't believe me, go back and listen to a Beatles album (any one), and try to tune out everything but the drumming and just listen to what he's doing. Lots of drummers might be doing similar things today, but back then Ringo was breaking new ground.

    As for who's punk and who isn't... WHO CARES? 90% of punk is crap. Just like 90% of everything else. Good music is hard enough to find that you're really limiting yourself if you stick to one genre as if it's the be-all and end-all of music.

    I don't quite get the Libertarian fascination with punk, because I was turned away from punk by the obnoxious lefty politics of most punkers. It took me two decades before I could start listening to the music and enjoying it.

  • ||

    B.P.

    The link wasn't for GG Allin, but for the Amazon review by Peter "Peter". Just seemed very appropriate in context of the original post.

    Quoth Peter "Peter"
    What's pathetic here is that reviewer High Duke of Croatia is so full of himself he doesn't realize the punk movement was a reaction to people like HIM! The punk movement was a reaction to conformity and a need-to-belong, what Nietzsche called Slave Morality. The punk movement, just like the postmodernism, was a reaction to the modernism. The modernism is an imperialist and puritan movement rooted in fascism and race hygiene. It's closely linked to Hitler's vision of a Christian super race. It's anti-life. The punk movement was a postmodernist movement. And just like the pro-life postmodernism died, replaced by the neo-modernism/fascism of today, so did the punk movement, crushed by the overwhelming numbers of slaves, like High Duke of Croatia, pitted against it.

    As for GG Allin and punk. As a punk two decades ago, I never saw GG as part of the punk movement. He was a freak show, a pathetic victim of the American slave society. There's NOTHING nihilist about GG Allin. He was always trapped in the post-Socratic/Christian morality. Nihilism isn't about doubt. It's an absolute. I know for a fact. I'm a nihilist. And life couldn't be grander.

  • fyodor||

    First, thanks to Rick & Dave (yuks notwithstanding)!

    As for what is punk? Gawd. It's a million things and it's nothing. It's a word. It's whatever people think it means. And there's a lot of people who all think it means something different. I think it's essentially a style. Mainly of music, though also of other things that I don't much care about. What defines punk music? A friend once called the Ramones "inspired minimalism." And that's what I always riffed off. The idea that you can say a little with a lot. And that it's best to do just that. Get to the core of things. Both lyrically and musically. And of course you gotta WANNA get to the core of things, things that matter, that hit you in the solar plexus. And other, um, sensitive places. Tim Cavanaugh is both totally right on and totally full of shit. Girl groups were a major influence on The Ramones, very true, but if they were trying to sound like exactly that (gender restrictions notwithstanding), they obviously fucked up pretty bad. They may have been stupid but not that stupid. What is punk? You know it when you see it. And when you wanna argue about it, ha-ha!

  • ||

    Phil at 06:22 AM,

    Listening to "Sheena is a punk rocker", "Rockaway Beach" and and 1976 video of "Loud mouth" it's just hard for me to imagine that the Ramones were trying hard for a sixties girl group sound. But I'll look into the Legs McNeill book.

    gaius marius at 09:34 AM,

    Good one!

  • ||

    A relationship between libertarian's affinities for punk rock and sci fi. Discuss.

  • ||

    The problem with the series of questions you pose is that you seem to want a popular musical style to have intellectual coherence.

    The whole point of my questions was to show that this popular musical style doesn't have intellectual coherence. People who expect coherence out of a popular musical style, like mccleary above, are way wrong.

    Rick, in addition to the quotes Phil refers to, I'll note that the Ramones hired Phil Spector to produce-a pretty clear indication that they thought there was something worth reproducing in the sound of the Ronettes. Many, many quotes from the Ramones, the Clash, the NY Dolls, etc., indicate that they were at least open to the super sounds of the sixties, which suggests that the boundaries of punk were never very clear, which was the whole point of my original, totally-right-on and totally-full-of-shit post.

  • fyodor||

    Tim,

    I take tepid consolation in the fact that I'm not the only one who didn't get it! But now, of course....

  • ||

    Hey Tim,

    I just thought it would be fun to give straight (and fairly reasonable) answers your rhetorical questions as though you actually wanted answers. Of course there are no boundaries to punk. I've even made myself a series of punk CDs for different (non-punk) eras. I have a pretty great one for late-50s female r&b singers (starting with the Lavern Baker song "Saved"). It's a whole lot punker than, say, the Vibrators. Ken Shultz is right -- all about the 'tude

    The only opinion I truly disagree with was your assessment of Sandinista v. Combat Rock. I love Atom Tan and Straight to Hell (though I really love the extended version from the vaults), but nothing else on CR works for me like Somebody Got Murdered, Up In Heaven, Police on My Back, Hitsville UK, Lightning Strikes, Sound of Sinners, etc.

    Smacky -- enjoy Sleater-Kinney. Carrie is guitar hero. Not that I want to start any battles, but Call the Doctor is the best punk album of the last 15 years...

  • ||

    Tim,

    Yeah, I agree with your point that the boundaries of punk were never very clear. Actually, come to think of it, that seems like it could one of the descriptive characteristics of punk. And I wasn't aware that the Ramones hired Spector but I think that maybe that indicates they wanted to incorporate the "wall of sound" sound :) into their stuff, like the Ronettes, rather than actually sounding like them or any other girl group.

    I think that when you asked if the Donnas are more pure punk than the Ramones, it kind of stretched and confused your main point.
    But I guess that this kind of thing is necessary in order to write a good totally-right-on and totally-full-of-shit post.

  • ||

    It would be so cool if the government wasn't always wrecking things by getting in the way of capitalism and waging unnecessary wars and all the other hideous stuff it does, so we wouldn't have to spend so much time fighting the government and we could spend more time talking about fun stuff like this and science and other interesting things.

  • Phil||

    Listening to "Sheena is a punk rocker", "Rockaway Beach" and and 1976 video of "Loud mouth" it's just hard for me to imagine that the Ramones were trying hard for a sixties girl group sound. But I'll look into the Legs McNeill book.

    Yeah, it's worth a read -- Dee Dee Ramone comes off as the coolest guy ever, and Iggy Pop turns into kind of a complete asshole, all based on their own interviews.

    Actually, even beyond the girl-group stuff, if the early Ramones wanted to be anybody, it was the Beach Boys. Take a listen to, for example, "Rock and Roll High School" back-to-back with "At the Drive-In." Then imagine each band singing the other's song. It isn't hard at all.

    (Even if the Ramones wanted to sound like a sixties girl group, their punkness can't measured in comparison to the Donnas, who only want to be Motley Crue. Or AC/DC. Although "Who Invited You?" alone is better than everything Crue ever did.)

    What defines punk music? A friend once called the Ramones "inspired minimalism." And that's what I always riffed off. The idea that you can say a little with a lot. And that it's best to do just that. Get to the core of things. Both lyrically and musically.

    Yeah, but that leaves out, for example, Talking Heads, Television, and Blondie, which even given the blurry boundaries between punk and New Wave, I'm not entirely sure about. It also includes the B-52s and Violent Femmes, which I'm also not entirely sure about.

  • ||

    In 'Rock and Roll High School' exploding mice scene wasn't 'The Who' the second to last notch on the dial right before 'The Ramones'?

  • ||

    I just thought it would be fun to give straight (and fairly reasonable) answers your rhetorical questions as though you actually wanted answers.

    Fair enough. But come on, Ringo was the punk Beatle. He always kept it simple, he had the voice, there was nothing he could do that he couldn't do better in two or three chords, he liked the White Album the best because they were "playing like a band again" after all the studio hoo-ha of the previous records, he didn't want to stop touring, and maybe most important of all, he didn't believe in solos. I'll take Ringo's post-Beatle work over any of the others' (mostly because there's less of it).

  • ||

    And I wasn't aware that the Ramones hired Spector but I think that maybe that indicates they wanted to incorporate the "wall of sound" sound :) into their stuff, like the Ronettes, rather than actually sounding like them or any other girl group.

    You realize they recorded "Baby I Love You" on that disc? The Ramones were definitely fans of 60s pop groups. Joey even produced Ronnie Spector's last EP a few years ago.

  • ||

    But come on, Ringo was the punk Beatle. He always kept it simple, he had the voice, there was nothing he could do that he couldn't do better in two or three chords, he liked the White Album the best because they were "playing like a band again" after all the studio hoo-ha of the previous records, he didn't want to stop touring, and maybe most important of all, he didn't believe in solos

    That actually sounds like Ringo was the bar band Beatle, not the punk Beatle. Listen to the Georgia Satellites kick ass cover of "Don't Pass Me By" for an idea of what old Mr. Starkey could have been.

  • ||

    Listen to the Georgia Satellites

    Not a good idea under any circumstances.

  • ||

    Phil,

    Yeah, the Beach boys type sound really comes thru in some Ramones tunes. Check out "Do you wanna dance", which the Beach Boys did.

    You've really intrigued me about the Legs McNeill volume. I'm getting it for sure. You should send Legs a bill.

    A lot of punk morphed into New Wave. I think that Blondie and the Heads are wonderful examples, and wonderful to listen to.

  • ||

    Oops. The last post was from me. Rickey Ramone is my Friday Fun Screen Name which I use on Friday Fun Link threads.

  • ||

    Nathan:

    The Ramones were definitely fans of 60s pop groups.

    I'm hep.

  • ||

    The Ramones disk, Acid Eaters was comprised of songs from 67-68 and included "Surf City". They also did "Surfin Safari".

  • Sister Ray||

    Another plug for Creem

  • fyodor||

    Phil,

    Yeah, but that leaves out, for example, Talking Heads, Television, and Blondie

    Not when you compare them to the rock opera mentality that dominated much of what was on the radio at the time. Besides, I was obviously talking about my own take on punk, what *I* took from it. I made it clear in the same breath that I thought a comprehensive definition was impossible and seeking one silly, in inadvertent alliance with Tim. :-)

  • ||

    "I think it's essentially a style" fyodor.
    No being a punk couldn't be farther from that.

    People today are clueless but it's not your fault. Popular media has made looking like a punk sylish so the message has been lost. Being a punk is a philosophy and a state of mind. Political involvement, equality, being a moral to eachother, and doing things for yourself are what motivate a true punk. The way punks used to dress was a statement of no complacency, the way punks feel about politics. I wear no spikes, my clothes that are ripped are old it's not for fashion, I cut off my mohawk when it became popular, I don't wear any band t-shirts. I don't look like a punk but I'm more punk than anyone you've seen walking down the street that had spikes and a flamboyant hairstyle. You all have considered these people to be punks but they care more about what they're wearing and what people think of them than what direction our country is headed. "Who's the most punk..." Who cares? I usually stick to the real news articles and skip over things about punks because they are always wrong, but it's seems to be becoming a popular and pointless subject. Why not pay a little more attention to the articles that actually affect you?.

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