Sunday, September 12, 2010

Anyone who says Punk is dead, will be

In the late seventies, music was actually important to us, or certainly to some of us. Let's face it, who you liked or disliked was actually a very fundamental statement about yourself.

To illustrate this, I need only point to Steve Byrne, whose open and honest admission that he liked James Last blew his street cred early on, and condemned him to a life of ridicule and bullying.

Similarly, Gerry's brief flirtation with Sacre Bleu was no more than an aggressive attempt to detract from the hideous mistake he made a few years earlier when choosing the Bay City Rollers. Sacre Bleu were safe ground because no-one knew who these guys were or what kind of music they played. A trawl through the annals of Irish rock reveal that they were formed in 1978, released two singles in 1979 and, maybe not surprisingly, disbanded in January 1980. Probably something to do with that year's big freeze. They also incidentally had a drummer called Al (Harpo) Cowan........

It was little wonder that the odd time Gerry would enquire of them in his "breaking the ice routine", the astonished interviewee, generally dancing around her handbag at the time, would respond with a bewildered "Who?" Inevitably, the next Gerry would see the same mott would be when Brian was pulling the knickers off her in the cloakroom.

Mike's choice of music was more subtle, and more likely to appeal to the fairer sex. The connection between Mike and The Stylistics is explored elsewhere on this blog, but let's not forget that his beautiful rendition of Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot would bring many a long night to a close in the summer of 1976. Guaranteed to send Karsie into a spin.

But back to the advent of Punk which is where I wanted to start.

In 1979 the question was not whether you were into punk or not - it was assumed you were - it was were you "The Clash or The Jam?" Both were part of the revolution in music which we experienced and while only the Clash can be described as a pure punk rock band, both expressed anti-establishment sentiments and spoke of political and social dissatisfaction and in instances, anarchy. Both obviously aware of the imminent arrival of Margaret Thatcher.

I clearly sided with the The Jam, and while their lyrics were softer and less confrontational than other punk bands, they nevertheless delivered a vivid description of life in dull, mundane, seventies England. The Clash were angrier and more immediate, but Weller's language, matched to vibrant sound, was close to perfection.

Cop a load of That's Entertainment:

A police car and a screaming siren
pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete
a baby wailing and a stray dog howling
the screech of brakes and lamplights blinking

Thats entertainment

A smash of glass and the rumble of boots
an electric train and a ripped up phone booth
paint splattered walls and the cry of a tom cat
lights going out and a kick in the balls

Thats entertainment

Days of speed and slow time Mondays
pissing down with rain on a boring Wednesday
watching the news and not eating your tea
a freezing cold flat with damp on the walls

Thats entertainment

Waking up at 6 a.m on a cool warm morning
opening the window and breathing in petrol
an amateur band rehearsing in a nearby yard
watching the telly and thinking 'bout your holidays

Thats entertainment

Waking up from bad dreams and smoking cigarettes
cuddling a warm girl and smelling stale perfume
a hot summers day and sticky black tarmac
feeding ducks in the park and wishing you were far away

Thats entertainment

Two lovers kissing at the scream of midnight
two lovers missing the tranquility of solitude
getting a cab and travelling on buses
reading the graffiti about slash seats and fares

Thats entertainment

The Clash for their part had London's Calling, Rock the Casbah and Should I Stay or Should I go? Gut-wrenching stuff - inspirational - and were it not for the fact hat I was close to qualifying as an accountant, and still wearing clothes bought by my mother for me, I would certainly have thrown caution to the wind and put the safety pins through my eyebrow.

But sadly, I hadn't got the balls. Another big regret in life.