Punk Songs 19771977 Punk Songs
1977: Forty years of punk between New York and London - Musical Reviews
"In the summer of 1977, punk had become a parody of itself. This year marks the anniversary of the release of a huge range of punk records, from Raymond's to Sex Pistols, from the musical avant-garde of TV and talkin' Heads to Brian Eno and the monumental Before and After Science.
The punk phenomenon in the narrower sense, however, already showed subtle but obvious signs of decline in 1977, mainly due to the media success of the Sex Pistols in Albion, who decided to celebrate the silver jubilee of the queen playing the blasphemous god Sava the Queen on a barge in the Thames.
Newspapers and the press (including Malcolm Mclaren, gun mentor) waited for nothing more to be done to build and oil a commercial machine that would stereotype the punk it promoted and artistic freedom. Bands formed and melted at crazy speed (often without a trace), bringing characters into the punk carriages that had little to do with the punk ideals of the origins.
The situation is diametrically opposed to New York, where punk was ultimately born; the perception of success was at least far removed from the English explosion. In January 1977, the Ramones released their second album Leave Home, which was repeated a few months later by Rocket to Russia, and sealed a historic punk trilogy that became a source of inspiration for most English bands.
Life activity was fundamental to the spread of this unwieldy and unprofessional music, especially as the 45 rpm culture was not as strong as in Britain, where a market was not so homogeneous to satisfy: Bornd to Loose and Blank Generation became the most relevant anthems of this feeling of defeat of a basically nihilistic and self-destructive generation.
Thunders from the ruins of New York Dolls glam-rock, founded by Jerry Nolan the Heartbreakers, who released L.A.M.F. in October 1977, while Richard Hell of Tom Verlain's Television released the legendary Blank Generation with Voidois: "Both records have nothing to do with what is commonly referred to as punk (except perhaps because of the speed and the three fateful chords), but find great inspiration in the blue beat rhythms that were created by the early 70s.
That same fall, with Young, Loud Johns and Snootty, the granite and vibrant Hey ho let's go by Ramones renovated their granite and vibrant Hey ho let's go by Ramones with an articulated and theatrical punk, confirming New York's tendency to break new musical ground, see Marquee Moon's art-punk poetry on television or David Byrne's band's psychotic debut Talks Hits 77, which already opens the lush - but little-known - post-punk season.
The period between the release of all these records is really thin, but many of these (now milestones) went unnoticed by primary music, not least because of what was happening in London, such as the Ramones, who had to rely on Phil Spector's production in 1979 to tiptoe the American chart and distort their fleeting chewing gum.
In 1976 the anarchy in Great Britain had laid the foundation stone for the uprising, which was confirmed in the spring of 1977 by White Riot in the Clash's debut of the same name, but already in the second half of 1977 the media interest was so great that the Lydonian No Future was nothing more than a motto on a shirt within a few months.
The commercialization of punk (pins, burrs, leather jackets, etc...) and its decontextualization from the proletarian social sphere caused even the middle classes to dress in the fashion of the moment and ignored all the social anger (and personal!) that the punk bands of the first hour brought into their music. The release of Nevermind the Bollocks on October 28, 1977, somehow symbolized the point of descent of the movement itself, which culminated on January 14, 1978 with the dissolution of the Sex Pistols after a concert in San Francisco.
Strummer and Strlash applied for an alternative to Lydonian nihilism, between political dictates and social rebellions with more uniform content, and it was no coincidence that the group distanced themselves over the years from punk sounds and (especially with London calling in 1979) included forms of radio, reggae and word bands.
If one of the great abilities of punk was the freedom of expression in the most varied and brilliant forms, later found a lifestyle in do-it-yourself and its endless derivations; the limit of this freedom lay in orthodoxy to everything that did not strictly coincide with punk ideology: Not to mention the instrumental use of keyboards and synthesizers (which are considered in connection with the much hated progrock), formalities or admiration of the 1960s skirt were regarded as atrocities from the rigid punk behavior.
In 1977, however, four records from one of the most important European musical periods were released: Iggy Pop's and David Bowie's stay in Berlin produced the cave-like The Idiot and the hysterical lust for life on the one hand and the mysterious Low and the dark Heroes on the other. Keyboards (Eno's mythical Minimoog), weird strategies, instrumental minimalisms were the basis for these monumental works, of which punk was addicted and unconsciously orbited and in the following two years - in the most conspicuous cases - transformed first into avant-garde post-punk and then into radio and the most diverse new movement.
The musical interest of the majors and the commercial interest of the masses had made punk a 360° fashion and gradually lowered the quality level of the proposal, even after the end of the Sex Pistols. Only Syd Vicious's Death (February 2, 1979) sanctioned the indisputable epilogue of punk and forever lost the most stereotypical symbol of a movement liberated from its chief founders.
At that time Johnny Rotten had founded PiL, the Ramones were preparing to record a popular record (End of the Century), The Crash had already developed wider sounds that would lead to the triple Sandinista! 1980, while behind them they compiled a long list of bands (from the Joy Division to the Bauhaus) who summed up Bowie's Berlin lesson, overcame punk ambitions and experimented with more artistic freedom.
If it seems at least revolutionary to claim that punk was already in decline in 1977, considering that the year of punk par excellence is in the common imagination (even if only for the above mentioned releases), there are those who provocatively say that the first symptoms of defeat were already felt in 1976, when Clash and Pistols started playing in the 100 Club Oxford Street.
And to continue in this way seems to make an exercise of defeatism towards a movement that marked the breakpoint with the pompous and clever skirt of the seventies, giving those an artistic possibility that would never have approached music if it hadn't been for some of the records mentioned here.
It is undeniable that this punk has been overly exploited by the masses, but to dismiss the whole movement as an empty commercial fashion seems unfair to me, at least, even though the boundary between the real and the "built" - even in this case - was quite subtle!