Friday, November 18, 2005

Top 10 Punk/New Wave (and why the Sex Pistols aren't in it!)

This is my personal top 10 Punk/New Wave bands. I know that the Sex Pistols are cited as the epitome of punk rock and all it stood for, but more musically influential by far ( and musically and intellectually superior) were the Clash. The Clash were at the forefront of 70s and 80s politicism, as well as being musically brave and experimental. They unashamedly mixed up reggae riffs and bass lines with frantic punk rock and their lyrics were hugely pertinent to the Thatcher years and the youth living through them (Jail Guitar Doors, White Man in Hammersmith Palais, Stay Free, London Calling etc).

I first saw the Clash on an early evening teen orientated programme on BBC2. I forget the name of the programme, but there was a spate of them on the BBC and channel 4 in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They usually ran along the lines of a couple of bands playing in the studio, a couple of journalistic features on some topic relevant to youth and a studio debate about a similar topic (abortion, drugs, etc).

Anyway the Clash performed Clash City Rockers and I was mesmirised - I went straight down to Woolies at the weekend and was lucky enough to find one copy - not much call for that sort of thing in Thetford apparently - and so began my punk phase.

I wore a hideous gold lurex dress that I purchased in a juble sale and which was falling apart, an oversized mans jacket covered in badges (Rock Against racism, Anti Nazi League, etc - all purchased from the small ads of melody maker) and lace up brown ankle boots that had pockets on the side. I must have looked apalling and I wish that I had a photo!

I am ashamed to say that until recently the only Clash album that I bought was London Calling, although I did buy most of their early singles, shunning the later covers like Police and Theives as too commercial. But I have always had a fondness for the Clash and was delighted last year when I discovered that the film Rude Boy had been released on DVD. I had been desperate to see it when it came out but I was too you - it was an 18 and I was about 13 at the time.

Rude Boy is an excellent historic record of what Britain was like in the Thatcher years, in fact bits of it should be shown in history lessons at high school. The only downer for me was that it really made me regret the fact that I had never managed to see the Clash play live. The live footage of the band is truly outstanding - I could watch it over and over again. The band has such a unique energy and stage prescence - something that is sadly lacking in a lot of modern bands (Green day and Kaiser Chiefs excepted). And whatever criticisms have been lavelled at Joe Strummer over his background there is no denying that he had incredible drive, a quick witted intelligence, a finger on the pulse of the times and a fantastically energetic and charasmatic stage prescence - in short "He Rocked!"

Top Ten Punk/New Wave Bands
  1. Stiff Little Fingers another excellent band and one that is still going strong. I used to love the single At the Edge.

Those that didn't quite make it but are worthy of a mention: Sex Pistols, Blondie, The Rezillos, X Ray spex, The Buzzcocks, The Jam, The Angelic Upstarts, Sham 69, The Tourists (later to become Eurythmics!), and Siouxie and the Banshees.

1 comment:

pupski said...

ok I stand corrected Police and theives was not a later cover - it is actually 1978!