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Punk Rock 101

Blitzkreig Bop for the Blank Generation


Punk Rock 101

Ramones pioneered Punk in the US.

Photo by George DuBose, courtesy Sire/Warner Bros

... or, Why Blink 182, Green Day and Simple Plan Are Definitely NOT Punk

OK, lets start this one with a clear idea of what punk is not.

• The Suburu Impreza (they claimed in a 1993 ad that their car was "like punk rock")

• Any music that is exactly the opposite of punk (see above)

• Anyone who rides a skateboard

• People who think Nirvana are punk

• Anyone who hasn't gone through puberty

Punk rock in the US started in the early 1970's with The Stooges, New York Dolls, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, and Ramones all producing uncompromising, do-it-yourself music.

This music was a massive break from the psychedelic movement of long jams and love-ins. It was aggressive, fast and short. Blitzkreig Bop (as the Ramones would say) for the Blank Generation (Richard Hell).

Despite the early influence of these US bands, punk really took off in the UK, prompted in part by Malcolm McClaren's formation of the Sex Pistols. They started an avalanche of punk in the mid-70s that included bands like The Clash, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Vibrators, The Slits, X-Ray Spex, The Subversives, and The Adverts.

Punk music in the UK was a political act, a cure for working class boredom for those who couldn't and didn't want to participate in the commercialized culture, and who certainly didn't want to listen to Pink Floyd.

A few years later, these politics would lead to a second wave in the UK, the skin-head culture and nazi-punks who spat on Oi! bands like Sham 69, Cocksparrer, the 4-Skins. This would develop into hardcore punk in the US, particularly in California, home of Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, the Circle Jerks, and the Vandals.

What about now? Which bands hold true to the origins of punk? My vote is for the great straight-edge band, Anti-Flag, but definitely not Avril Lavigne.

If you want to hear some real punk music try:

1. "Roadrunner" - Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers

2. "Babylon’s Burning" - The Ruts

3. "No More Heroes" - The Stranglers

4. "Sunday Morning Nightmare" - Sham 69

5. "You Broke My Heart" - The Vibrators

6. "Gary Gillmore's Eyes" - The Adverts

7. "Johnny B Goode" - Sex Pistols

8. "Promises" - Buzzcocks

9. "American Psycho" - The Misfits

10. "Die for Your Government" - Anti-Flag

by Paul Rhodes

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