May 08

JJ BARRIE – “No Charge”

FT + Popular/381 comments • 12,955 views

#389, 2nd June 1976

I was aware of this song long before I heard it – as a young boy it was quoted at me by my Dad should I ever object to tidying my room. Since my room was rarely tidy, I became very familiar with the central notion of “No Charge”. Like my Dad, I can find immense amusement and pleasure in this style of song – talking country with a sentimental edge – but this is far from a great example.

You might think, at first, that the style stands or falls on the strength of its concepts: not so. “No Charge” has a fine concept – mawkishness and moralising are assets here! – but where JJ Barrie falls down is on development and details. Once our young entrepreneur has presented his list, and been slapped down by Mom, the track has nowhere to go, and explores that nowhere thoroughly for two minutes. Contrast it with something like “Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine, where tears are ruthlessly jerked right up to the final words. Barrie, on the other hand, adds no new details and just repeats himself. This is partly because “No Charge” is a cover version, and you can hear what I assume is the original melody being hollered in the background: it sounds rather as if it’s trying to escape.



  1. 1
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    Blimey – 1976 really is a pretty grim years so far (Abba notwithstanding, of course). This is not just bad, it’s the most utterly pointless bad in a very long time. I’m sorry, but give me Brotherhood of Man over this any time. I don’t know what JJ Barrie was playing at – a barely reconstituted, already mawkish, ditty rushed through as if he’s reluctantly reading it from a piece of paper in front of a school assembly.

    I note the lack of a mark on this and wonder if this is what is meant by no zero – blank instead!

  2. 2
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    Hmmm that’s odd – none of the fields posted, even though they uploaded OK. I will edit!

  3. 3
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #


  4. 4
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    According to Guinness, JJ Barrie is Canadian (real name: Barrie Authors) although I always assumed him to a Brit pretending to be an American given his subsequent involvement in a football-related record which I think had something to do with Brian Clough. Other than that he is a mysterious fellow indeed, the enigma aided by the fact that “No Charge” is another number one hard to track down on CD (it is available for those that should want it, but only via the auspices of our Dutch friends over at Disky and BR Music). Also, I believe, the only number one single for the equally baffling Power Exchange label.

    In America this is a long-standing C&W standard which has been recorded by pretty well all country singers you’ve ever heard of (and a good deal more that you haven’t) but this was the hit version here and its scrawny premise* really is stretched to the point of agony, despite the brave attempts by the late Vicki Brown (wife of Joe, mother of Sam, backing vocalist extraordinaire) to inject some life into the proceedings. I’m afraid its number one status may have been partially our (i.e. Scotland’s) fault.

    As an act of repentance, Billy Connolly was quick off the mark with his parody (“No Chance”), and another mysterious narrator, one CC Sandford, recorded a Northern version entitled “No Charge (Chuck).”

    This really is a dismal year, and the worst is yet to come…

    *the actual sentiment “the cost of real love is no charge” is very true indeed but the mom/kid set-up is static as well as soapy.

  5. 5
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    One wonders if Vicki Brown ever told her son to belt up…

  6. 6
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    Yes Rosie, and there are a couple more cringes coming up. Mawkish, corny and exploitative, this is in my top five worst Number 1s of all time. Even Billy Connolly’s parody version of it was nowhere near as much fun as “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.”

    And yet on the only time I’ve heard it since becoming a dad, there was a pesky little lump in my throat. Bloody kids!

    In fact, this record was just – WET. We should have made the most of it, because not much else was going to be wet for the next month or two…

  7. 7
    Matthew H on 2 May 2008 #

    I had never heard this before in my life, just knew it as a bare statistic in the GRRR books. I’ve now “enjoyed” a youtube clip of someone playing their 45 – watching the disc spin was the best part.

    I like the pace, but the backing vocal is a tantalising glimpse of what could have been.

  8. 8
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    Oh man, this is very bad but nowhere NEAR my five worst. I think it depends on your age though: I didn’t have to live through “No Charge” (except as a moral lesson). But also this gets 2 rather than 1 because I love the ruthless C&W sentimentality it reminds me of. (srsly listen to “Teddy Bear”!!)

  9. 9
    intothefireuk on 2 May 2008 #

    Around about this time I was buying singles like Be Bop Deluxe’s ‘Ships In The Night’ & 10cc’s ‘Mandy’. JJ Barrie was somewhat off my listening map and listening to this now it still is. I’m pretty sure there was a send up of this made but really there was no need. You just know that if your Mum had indeed said that to you, you would have answered it with something like ‘well you had me, it’s your job – now where’s my money ?’ or possibly now ‘yeah, yeah, whatever’.How about this JJ – no mark.

  10. 10
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    (N.B.: the scintillating Barrie/Clough collaboration was entitled “You Can’t Win ‘Em All”)

    Bill Amesbury, who produced this record, later became Barbra Amesbury.

  11. 11
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    I would also like to point out that my Mum had far more sense than to ever quote this, it was always Dad on her behalf. She just said “No”.

  12. 12
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    Punctum: re CC Sandford – if I’m not mistaken, that’s Christopher Sandford, former Radio Caroline DJ. A site called The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame reveals that he played a character called Walter Potts in Coronation Street, who was a milkman who became a pop singer – and his hit song in the storyline, “Not Too Little Not Too Much”, became a real-life Top 20 hit for Sandford (20-odd years before EastEnders spawned hits in similar fashion). He released a few more singles, and the drummer in his backing band The Coronets was none other than Mitch Mitchell, later of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And Sandford was also one of the culprits behind Yin and Yan’s spoof of another mid-70s number 1, “If”.

  13. 13
    Matthew H on 2 May 2008 #

    I’m not convinced by his accent either.

    I think it’s Mike Yarwood.

  14. 14
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    Erithian, I’ve had a peek ahead and although some of what’s to come doesn’t exactly stir the loins, it’s hardly as awful as this!

  15. 15
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    I’m rather sceptical of the phrase “why punk had to happen”, but consider this – it was on 4 June 1976, a few days after “No Charge” reached number 1, that the Sex Pistols played a certain gig in the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Or maybe it was in the Tardis, because thousands say they were there whereas the venue only holds 150. But among the punters were Tony Wilson, Morrissey, Pete Shelley, Mark E Smith, Paul Morley, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. Ian Curtis and Mick Hucknall missed this gig but saw the Pistols in the same venue a month later.

  16. 17
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    The one thing punk demonstrably failed to do was keep novelty or sentimental records from the top of the charts!

  17. 18
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    Tom you plonker you mixed up Alan Dale with Jim Dale! You can hear the latter’s commentary on the special limited edition DVD shortly to be released: “It was not without some little irony that Mr Curtis realised that Mr Morrissey’s gladioli were about to be put into operation as weapons of tickling destruction to resuscitate the father of the man who had killed the son of his father cont. p. 1234…”

  18. 19
    Pete Baran on 2 May 2008 #

    You can’t argue though that Pushing Daisies aside, Alan Dale is in everything these days. Not bad for a lame Robin hood sidekick.

  19. 20
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    I, too, am sceptical about “why punk had to happen”, and I don’t really see how making random loud noises with musical instruments one doesn’t know how to play (presumably music lessons are so terribly bourgeois) while screeching obscenities at toothache-inducing intensity stops people who like novelty and sentimental records from buying them. As Jean Brodie put it so succinctly, those who like that kind of thing find that the kind of thing they like.

  20. 21
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    Hmm, I could tell you a Poignant Personal Anecdote relating to Red Sovine’s “Teddy Bear” (whose lyrics I have just re-acquainted myself with), but there is such a thing as over-sharing.

    Don’t know about the Worst Number One Ever, but “No Charge” certainly has to be my Worst Number One of the 1970s thus far. (Telly Savalas being the closest contender, but I can at least muster a giggle over that one.) There was an awful lot of novelty faddism about during 1976 – Pet Rocks, CB radio, the Glenn Miller revival, even George Zamfir’s pan pipes – and this was just one more example.

    (Whatever happened to novelty faddism, anyway?)

  21. 22
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    It recurs occasionally Mike!

  22. 23
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    ISTR James Hamilton covered the Glenn Miller revival in some depth in Record Mirror – did he speak about it afterwards Mike?

  23. 24
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    I, too, am sceptical about “why punk had to happen”, and I don’t really see how making random loud noises with musical instruments one doesn’t know how to play (presumably music lessons are so terribly bourgeois) while screeching obscenities at toothache-inducing intensity stops people who like novelty and sentimental records from buying them.

    Derek Jewell lives!

  24. 25
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    Full credit to Rosie for holding the anti-punk line in what are likely to become increasingly sharky waters! I think there will be better threads to have this debate in though.

  25. 26
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    in ref “why punk had to happen” — as a punk absolutist at the time (17 in 77) i am VERY suspicious of the endless retro-fitting of this argument, which has been adapted and re-adapted and re-re-adapted to justify grown-up (non-chart) tastes in the present (1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005… ), and which actually locks pretty closely into Guilty Pleasures as an ideologically conformist pressure today

    (this is a “where were you on the barricades when it mattered?” argument and shd be taken with a punch of salt probbly)

    i don’t even slightly consider that punk — as truly an properly understood then and now (ie by ME) (if no one else heh) — is particularly anti-novelty or anti-sentimentality at all (or indeed anti-ABBA): it was anti claims to intelligence that weren’t that intelligent (or that confused being smart with being dull), and it was anti toleration of pro forma boredom (which would be a frustration with the charts as a whole — as a tapestry of all its contents — rather than any given feeble song)

    i think at school we quite enjoyed this song as it was very easy to parody and use as a vehicle for jokes and so on

  26. 27
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    also i was just listening back to the red brain ep of slugs of time and haha bad brains are totally and awesomely in command of their instruments and musicianship! (bit of a special case possibly as i think they were jazzfunkers b4 they became punkers)

    (weirdly enough slug-guest dave q and i were discussing derek jewell before the show began: a piece DJ’d written comparing three successive pink floyd shows on a pseudo-musicological level)

  27. 28
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    My idea of punk in actual 1976 as I knew and lived it: Mike Osborne and Stan Tracey Saturday afternoon duo set at Bracknell Jazz Festival where they sent all the tradheads scattering with half an hour of WAKE UP free noise clarion calls which WITHOUT PUSHING A BUTTON IN THEIR HEADS very naturally ended up with their playing “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” as quietly and tenderly as anyone could ever have played it.

  28. 29
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    ISTR James Hamilton covered the Glenn Miller revival in some depth in Record Mirror – did he speak about it afterwards Mike?

    No, we never talked about it (although JH also played a lot of veh veh posh parties for the County Set in the late 1960s/early 1970s, and was quite used to dropping a bit of big band tuneage).

    It was the Melody Maker who went really overboard with excitement over the Glenn Miller thing, though: a certain residual faction had been waiting for The Big Band Revival ever since Elvis, and this was their shining moment of opportunity. I seem to recall a centre spread’s worth of recommended listening from the jazzer rear-guard…

  29. 30
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    Tom, I only raised the subject of punk on this thread because of the coincidence of “No Charge” being number one at the time of the seminal Pistols gig, but as an illustration of the contrast between what was going on “out there” and what was going on at the top of the charts, this is as good a place as any to start! But maybe we should restrict ourselves to the first wave of the new wave just yet. (I understand you’re not going to wait until autumn ’78 to feature punk on these pages, if Spoiler Bunny will let me ask?)

  30. 31
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    Fair play Erithian, yes there may well be a thread in which the question “Was punk any good?” can be met more head-on! Of course the question “was “No Charge” anything to do with punk?” can be and is being discussed here.

  31. 32
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    i suspect the recent long and digressive comments threads, plus our generally agreed-on feeling that something WAS wrong with pop as a whole (or a centre, a public space), do actually recapitulate the sense of the time: that pop was clogged, constipated, exhausted — for example even if you loved abba (as i did, before during and after being Mr Full-On Teen Punk), their dominance shades pretty easily into a sense that the charts no longer belonged to “us” (where “us” will turn out to be a highly contestable idea, torn between generations, and between niches, but this torn-ness wasn’t yet clear)

    [apologies: re-edited to be in actual grammatical english]

  32. 33
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    If what’s coming up in the autumn of 1978 is considered ‘punk’ by some people then those people might be pleasantly surprised by my response to it. But I don’t see anything there within a million miles of the Sex Pistols and nothing that I personally would call ‘punk’ (since it isn’t wildly different to a lot of sixties stuff).

    Some have challenged my stance on punk on the grounds that I was a fairly early admirer of the Velvet Underground and have always had a lot of time for Talking Heads (but weren’t the Heads part of what was being rebelled against?)

    I don’t think this period was a particularly lean time for music, just a lean time for the singles market.

  33. 34
    Lena on 2 May 2008 #

    I had no idea a Glenn Miller revival was going on at the time, but this was the year someone loaned some new Miller albums to my dad, who then taped them (letting me choose the order of the songs, as I liked them too)…my father knew the music well but was too poor to buy the records at the time…so I heard “Elmer’s Tune” and “In The Mood” and so on…he also made some Duke Ellington tapes as well, so I heard “East St. Louis Toodle-Ooo” and “Mood Indigo” for the first time as well…

    I don’t know today’s song and I don’t think I’m missing out on much…the current US #1 was “Love Hangover” and just previous to that was “Silly Love Songs”…

  34. 35
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    As for musicological analyses, I got my first introduction to the serious study of popular music tby being walked througha musicological analysis of White Riot by The Clash. It was fun, but I don’t really have the time or the ear for musicology. I know, however, what I like!

  35. 36
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    velvet underground = indie not punk!

    (sorry i will NOT turn this into a war for MY defn on punk) (i will try) (haha i will fail)

    i agree abt music as a whole being richer than people think — what yr calling “singles market” is probbly not very different from what i’m calling “pop as a public centre”; a zone of cultural discussion and debate which — for some reason — rock as an intelligent* offshoot of chartpop had after glam dwindled totally ceded to non-rock musics (by no means all unintelligent, but rock shd have been more committed to the public examination of rock-form intelligence in all contexts inc.esp.the charts)

    *for possibly on odd reading of intelligent

  36. 37
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    derek jewell’s musicology is ultra-bogus

  37. 38
    Drucius on 2 May 2008 #

    “I, too, am sceptical about “why punk had to happen”, and I don’t really see how making random loud noises with musical instruments one doesn’t know how to play (presumably music lessons are so terribly bourgeois) while screeching obscenities at toothache-inducing intensity stops people who like novelty and sentimental records from buying them.”

    Good lord, are you a time-travelling Sun journalist from the seventies?

  38. 39
    Drucius on 2 May 2008 #

    “(but weren’t the Heads part of what was being rebelled against?)”


  39. 40
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    i don’t agree with rosie all the time but i’m way more interested in hearing her reasons for disagreeing with what’s become by-the-yard music-crit orthodoxy than pseudo-amazed outrage that everyone doesn’t think the same approved thing

  40. 41
    intothefireuk on 2 May 2008 #

    I would have thought & IIRC punk was aimed at the extravagance & up your own arse musicality of prog bands like yer Yes/ELP/Genesis types. Not at the pop charts. Amongst other things it was back to basics call to arms which sneered at prog for being elitist, over complex & not street enough.

  41. 42
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    Well, in the period immediately prior to punk, the status of the humble 45rpm single had certainly never been lower, at least in the eyes of your average rock listener. Asked to nominate his best single of 1976 in the end-of-year round-up conducted by short-lived inkie Album Tracking (QED!), Mike Flood Page snootily retorted “a contradiction in terms”, while (as I recall) the NME nearly didn’t bother doing a best singles list. So there was this massive schism between “serious” and “disposable”, based on an increasingly absurd premise – and this was certainly one of the reasons why Punk Had To Happen.

    As a late 76/most of 77 punk absolutist myself, I saw it as a rejection of pretty much everything except punk (and reggae), based on the stance that the present was all that mattered, and that punk (and reggae) was the only music that addressed and examined the present in any meaningful (or at least “relevant”) way. All of which felt great to me as a 14/15-year old, gleefully ripping up the past in best crypto-Maoist fashion…

  42. 43
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    i’m arguing it was aimed at a lack or a gap in the charts (which prog sensibility contributed to)*: part of this back-to-basics was an insistent celebration of the “three-minute single” as the primary unit of/for value — ie not just as a loss leader for the coming LP

  43. 44
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    oops that pesky free-floating asterisk again: prog sensibility (and definitions of musicality good AND bad) leading to songs (or non-song work) that are way over three minutes and impossible to put onto singles

    compression as a virtue: not in fact an unmusical idea

  44. 45
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    Unstrangely enough, if you look at this particular chart, the most clearly “punk”-sounding single in there is a then 19-year-old rockabilly novelty record – “Jungle Rock” by Hank Mizell – leased and put out I believe by Ted Carroll, from whom McLaren used to buy all his old 45s from his stall right at the back of Shep Bush market before he moved to the Rock On shop in Camden and thus alas helped invent Nick Hornby but never mind.

  45. 46
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    also: Ramones as Eno-esque art rock exercise in short/sharp pop minimalism are arguably UBER-PROG

  46. 47
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    or would have been if they’d been insufficiently smart to know it

  47. 48
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    Re. 43: I disagree that punk was a reaction to the state of the singles charts – perhaps the only area of agreement between old wave and new wave was that the charts were an irrelevant distraction – but I strongly agree that it initiated a change in status for the three minute single. It must have been around about this time – pretty sure it was June 1976, actually – that Stiff Records issued its first release, Nick Lowe’s “So It Goes”: a re-statement of faith in a) the three-minute 7-inch and b) the three-chord song, and as such an absolutely key John The Baptist moment. (The run-out refrain “But where it’s going, no-one knows..” thrilled me to pieces…)

  48. 49
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    “the only area of agreement between old wave and new wave was that the charts were an irrelevant distraction” <— SO NOT TRUE

    haha defn of punk = no two real punks agree on its defn and WILL BITTERLY FIGHT IT OUT UNTIL THEY ARE USHERED INTO THEIR GRAVES

  49. 50
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    Most of the June ’76 hits can best be described as stiflingly serene. Lots of album tracks masquerading as singles, lots of reissues and new covers of old songs but few singles as things in themselves (funnily enough, one of the few which qualifies alongside “Jungle Rock” and “Love Hangover” is “Devil Woman” by dear old suddenly revitalised Cliff).

    Wasn’t Chris “Renta Santa” Hill the main man behind the Miller revival (the Lacey Lady club in Canvey Island – I think? – where the definitive schism between future punks and future soulboys would go on to occur)? Siouxsie for one has definitely talked about this in the past – the thrill of dressing up (a thrill which they could not obtain from ’76 Roxy or Bowie) mutating into something greater, etc.

  50. 51
    Waldo on 2 May 2008 #

    With love and apologies to our Canadian chapter but a ruddy Hoser again. And this was a comedy record and nothing else. Dear God, this was fucking bad. In fact it was so wretched that I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing and when it became clear to me that Barrie’s sentiments were serious, my incredulity swiftly gave way to anger. “No Charge” was completely beyond parody, although many notable wits went for it, including Billy Connolly again. They needn’t have bothered. “Deck of Cards” was never this grim. Just stomach-churning.

  51. 52
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    Punctum (#45) ddly enough a letter to Sounds during the period when the Pistols were having their slight record-label difficulties a year or so later suggested that the label best suited to their future progress would be Charly Records – the very label which released “Jungle Rock”.

    Mike (#42) – round about the same time a Sounds cartoon depicted Mick Jones promoting punk/reggae links thus: “Panks, roite, are oppressed the same as blacks, roite, so panks and blacks should get togevver, roite…”

    Oh lumme, we’re getting into all this on the JJ Barrie thread, and it’s all my fault.

  52. 53
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    Didn’t the Miller revival centre around the Hammersmith Palais, rather than the Essex soulboy scene? (Chris Hill’s Lacy Lady was in Ilford, by the way; Canvey Island was certainly a crucible for 1976 creativity, but in an altogether different area.)

    “SO NOT TRUE”: Come on then, Lord Punkrot Wotsit! Unpack your meaning! Let’s have it out!

  53. 54
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    Yes Ilford…dear goodness, mixing up Chris Hill with Dr Feelgood (who I note had a number one album in ’76)…I am but months away from the kindly white coated man asking me if I know who the Prime Minister is…

  54. 55
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    But then, there was never even a single entry-point punk paradigm in the first place. It was riven with factionalism, almost from the off…

  55. 56
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    at the time i totally absorbed the argument (and cannot merelky have invented it for myself) that singles mattered because they were a format that everyone would hear — not true of LPs, which were always niche-ier — and would hear not by virtue of you the consumer buying them and playing at home but by virtue of their being in the charts and accessible to anyone able to afford a tiny tinny radio

    seizure of the central uplands of media was really really really important (lots of early punk is obsessed with television as a medium also: its awfulness and what to do about it)

  56. 57
    Mark G on 2 May 2008 #

    and somewhere, in a wood possibly, a turntable spins… “playa …. playa … playa …” …

  57. 58
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    Stuck up in Glasgow, however, Peel was literally all we had to go by…and I note that the first Ramones beginning of time record was an ALBUM rather than a single (did anything off that first LP ever get released as a 45?).

  58. 59
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    Also, being in Glasgow, I never got to see the Pistols on Grundy at the time; we had to make do with Scotland Today presented by John Toye and featuring young roving sideburned STV reporter Gordon Brown.

  59. 60
    Mark G on 2 May 2008 #

    “Blitzkrieg Bop” was that single. Pic cover? Fortune, mate.

  60. 61
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    seizure of the central uplands of media was really really really important …to the grand-gesturing McLaren faction maybe (and to chancers like Billy Idol, obviously!), but the DIY, small-is-beautiful, back-to-basics, anti-star faction was just as strong, and there from the outset. It wasn’t “mass media is shit so let’s get on it”, it was “mass media is shit so let’s ignore it / create our own parallel media network” (fanzines, independent labels etc)

  61. 62
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    haha that’s bcz ramones = prog (less contrarian way of putting ths same point: us punk was, yes, very much less interested in the single)

    this really is jumping ahead but my ideology was lensed through the buzzcocks, and the new hormones line on the single (including innovating the single-sleeve as a space for expressive intervention) (to put it in a knobbish way)

  62. 63
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    i disagree mike: the rise to prominence of the indie faction was a response to the failure of the first wave to maintain artistic control as it entered major-label territory, but — though it was often (much too often) presented as a marvellous solution it was more a retreat and a conceding of defeat than any kind of triumph: the start of the end of punk (or post-punk to spin it more positively)

  63. 64
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    version of “why punk had to happen” that i have no problem with at all: it provides lots more material to animatedly and interestingly gather to discuss than poor old j.j.barrie :(

  64. 65
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    the rise to prominence of the indie faction was a response to the failure of the first wave to maintain artistic control as it entered major-label territory

    Whereas I would argue that the indie faction was there from the start: both in terms of fanzine culture (the home xerox-ed likes of Sniffin Glue/Ripped & Torn/48 Thrills/London’s Outrage (Jon Savage)/London’s Burning (Jonh Igham) etc) and record labels (Stiff & Chiswick showing the way, New Hormones as the first “true” indie in early January 1977, i.e. at a time when only the Pistols (oh OK and The Vibrators if we must!) had signed a deal with a major). It didn’t require a symbolic fiasco such as CBS releasing “Remote Control” as a single against the Clash’s wishes to set the wheels in motion; the wheels were already in motion.

    But then, my starting point was the Clash and Subway Sect interviews in Sniffin’ Glue #4 (October 1976): all quite earnest in terms of having no truck with established networks.

    (Even if the Clash did sign to CBS a few months later… but even then they refused to appear on TOTP… which was their way of contriving to stay outside the game, if I’m being cynical.)

  65. 66
    Waldo on 2 May 2008 #

    At this rate, you numbskulls with all your bitching about punk will elevate Barrie to the pantheon of the centurians, which would be totally undeserved. I suggest radio silence until we get to something more relevant; and this certainly does not mean the next number one.

  66. 67
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    Bollocks to that, you Boring Old Fart! The Kids Will Not Be Silenced! There’s something happening out there and you don’t know what it is, do you Mister Waldo? (Whoops, wrong paradigm shift…)

  67. 68
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    Waldo – a job on peak time Radio 2 is yours for the asking. Possibly on Pick Of The Pops, for all your Rita Coolidge and Rod Stewart needs.

  68. 69
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    so not gnna happen waldo —:D

    re fanzines: i’d be more convinced by this strand of yr argument if their authors and xeroxers hadn’t almost to a man decamped into the rock papers! someone like savage for example is i think conflicted (he is fascinated by new media and underground media but actually moves INTO television fairly swiftly ayfre gigs at sounds and then MM)

    stiff/chiswick: disdained as “pub rock” and “new wave” by punk ultra-ists because of the cosy smallness of their ambitions; new hormones wanted to get records into the charts and knew they could

    the clash: anything they did massively coloured by strummer’s sectarian hostility to the pistols camp — at the time their decision not to be on ToTP considered (by some) (bcz yes as you say this was factional from the get-go) to be a mistake if not a crime

    subway sect: ok i can’t argue with this, except maybe to say that vic godard’s self-immolating nihilism was NOT typical (any more than their look at the time) — i love subway sect

  69. 70
    vinylscot on 2 May 2008 #

    I didn’t like this record very much.

    I’m enjoying this thread even less. I had been dreading the onset of punk, because of the all the predictable, retro-fitted, pseudo-intellectual crap which certain posters will no doubt fill this board with, over the next few weeks.

    I will no doubt have many further opportunities to voice my opinions on such matters then; I look forward to it:)

  70. 71
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 2 May 2008 #

    and erithian is right, the start of all this was indeed happening NOW and needs to start being talked about now — spoiler bunny’s nightmare is only just beginning

  71. 72
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    Mark @ 40 puts his finger on it: it has become an orthodoxy, and one from which one strays at one’s peril in the company of the pop punditocracy! But don’t underestimate my toughness; I’ve been through fires of which you know little! And (to bring up a 1976 pop culture catchphrase) I didn’t get where I am today by following the herd.

    I was about to turn 22 and get married in the summer of 1976, so I was past the immediate age of youthful rebellion, and I was frankly not all that much interested in the singles chart. If it was full of bland platitudes then that was only to be expected; I and my contemporaries hadn’t bought singles for several years now, and found our kicks in the less glitzy and more challenging material to be found on albums. Singles were the preserve of commerce and as bland as baked beans.

    One of the hazards of living in Reading as I did until a couple of years ago is that it is Market Research heaven, and not many days went by without being accosted by a person with a clipboard in Broad Street. It was fun in a perverse sort of way to be guided into the George Hotel to sit in front of a computer and go through a series of questions about gin, or chocolate, or soap, or whatever was the subject of the day. (The subject was always brand recognition, however.) The questions were damned fool ones about what consuming the particular brand said about you. Did it make people think you were cool and sophisticated, perhaps? Or edgy and andventurous? Old and frumpy? Ha! If I consume a particular branded product it’s because I like the taste, or perhaps because it’s all that’s on offer in a time of need, but never because I givce a shit about what anybody thinks of me for it. It’s the same with music; I like what I like and I like it because I like it and that’s all there is to it. I’m not having some high-flown arbiter of taste tell me what I ought and ought not to like.

    Anyway, I reckon the hip young gunslingers are only jealous because they weren’t there to hear the Beatles/Beach Boys/Stones/Kinks/Who/Doors/Velvets/Captain Beefheart first time around! ;)

  72. 73
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    vinylscot – yes, I did open a Pandora’s Box back at #15, didn’t I? But then, the Big Punk Discussion had to happen sometime in ’76, and it’s maybe appropriate to have it in the context of a number one that coincided with a Year Zero moment (I suppose we could have had it in December instead). There’ll be an obvious thread in which to discuss it in ’77, and by autumn ’78 the purists will be able to have a right good moan. Maybe we can focus the discussion on those three threads (which will mean old JJ gets 200+ posts). Thereafter the influence of punk can be traced in all manner of odd acts reaching number one.

  73. 74
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    And Waldo (#66) – Bo Rhap apart, JJ will be in good company with the other centurions we’ve had – Peters and Lee, Simon Park, Davies and Estelle…

  74. 75
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    I concede defeat: now is as good a time as any to begin this conversation. Anyway the next entry won’t be up until Monday at the earliest (and possibly Tuesday depending on the weather) so this one can run and run.

  75. 76
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    Fear not, BOFs! For my part, I don’t intend to sidetrack every subsequent thread with punk-related musings – but June 1976 is, as others have said, an ideal place to have this kind of conversation. As well as the seminal Pistols Manchester show, The Damned and The Clash played their first gigs in June 76, thus initiating UK punk rock as a “movement” rather than a Pistols-centred coterie, and kicking off a sequence of events that would eventually have a profound and lasting impact on British pop music in general. And on a personal level, punk rock fundamentally changed the whole way that I viewed the world; I simply cannot overstate its importance in that regard, as it made me question all of my base assumptions.

    Without a) the advent of punk rock and b) turning out to be a big fat flaming homo, I shudder to think what sort of stereotypical ex-public school prat I might have turned out to be, and so I have a lot to be grateful for. So please indulge me a while longer.

  76. 77
    Erithian on 2 May 2008 #

    I love how some people’s tone is getting a bit snarly as we embark on punk. Any minute now someone’s going to call someone a fucking rotter.

  77. 78
    Waldo on 2 May 2008 #

    Mike/Marcello/Mark (The Holy Trinity) – You boys couldn’t be more wrong. I most certainly am aware of “what is happening out there”, as I suspect I am one of the very few on the blog to have witnessed the Grundy incident live. Waldo the fake punk will indeed be revealed anon but certainly not yet. My point was that we should simply move off “No Charge”, a risible piece of shit, and certainly not to abandon the punk debate. But you “kids” are like blind dogs on heat.

    I’d be delighted to host “Pick of the Pops” but would speak my mind like my great hero JW and would thus last about five minutes. Indeed I would much prefer “Pick of Waldo”, in which case Rita Coolidge and Rod Stewart needs would have to be satisfied elsewhere. Plenty of Kathy Kirby and Val Doonican, though.

  78. 79
    mike on 2 May 2008 #

    However, if you really want to get back to JJ Barrie: we have been awfully remiss with our periodic Clem Cattini Watch. Good old Clem drums on “No Charge”, just as he did on (in reverse order) “Save Your Kisses For Me”, “Barbados”, “Give A Little Love” and “Whispering Grass”. He can pick ’em!

  79. 80
    Waldo on 2 May 2008 #

    Erithian # 74 – Yes, I take your point.

  80. 81
    Billy Smart on 2 May 2008 #

    I’m sort of with Rosie on punk rock – I generally find it the least interesting part of the Mojo/Uncut canon (the first Clash LP must be the most feeble ‘classic album’ that I’ve ever heard), though when things get postpunk then that’s about my favourite period.

    This may be to my having to endure a lot of tedious people in their thirties reminiscing about the good old Joe Strummer at The Roxy in ’77, you don’t like that Happy Mondays acid house rubbish do you, son? when I was a teenager… Now I’m the age that these old punks were then I do try not to repeat their mistake with the young who cross my path.

    ‘No Change’ clearly made a lasting impression on one of my old primary school teachers, who was still reading out the improving lyrics to us in assemblies as late as about 1982!

  81. 82
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    One of the things I’m expecting/hoping to happen in the aftermath of punk is a bunch of new commenters (not that the commenters I’ve got aren’t terrific of course) – not only are new commenters “coming onstream” memory-wise but I think quite a lot of people have the late 70s as a listening-back cutoff: they may or may not have agreed with the year-zero rhetoric but it has an impact on what gets written about, talked about, played. Also, of course, punk is far from the only big shift as the 70s wind down.

    (Not that they’ve really started winding down yet: let’s not get too eager, there’s a lot more to come…!)

  82. 83
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    Also, something I might well put in the FAQ are a list of those threads where broader topics get chewed over – it is a fair bet that future readers looking for “the advent of punk” will not immediately think “JJ Barrie”. The Guilty Pleasures discussions might come into this too, and I’m sure there are more.

  83. 84
    DJ Punctum on 2 May 2008 #

    As with the Clash, so with the Mondays; to get them fully you had to be there and in it at the time, before either had the chance to curdle into canon fodder. I rarely/never revisit the first Clash album (because of course it should never have been released or even recorded, in the same sense that the first Buzzcocks album, i.e. the one with Devoto done for New Hormones and turned up in multiple forms on CD a safely suitable number of years later, was never “made”) but you HAD to grasp the soldered end of the dustbin lid that “White Riot” and later “Hallelujah” would throw through the complacent, gliberal glass of the charts of their times. I saw the Clash at the Glasgow Apollo in May ’77 – I stood at the cowardly back and immediately ducked out once the chairs started flying and the real shit began – but knew in my BONES that this was where to go, just like when the Jam first came on TOTP to do “In The City” – yes MOD, but frankly fuck that because I WAS a Mod, and yes Weller says vote Tory to wind Strummer up, BUT the ENERGY and JOUISSANCE that were identifiably OURS (as in generation) knocked the cloth-nosed prematurely arthritic classy likes of Supertramp into the grave and after the Clash or the Mondays you couldn’t seriously expect to take the Mr Bigs and the Wonder Stuffs that were on offer from the big river as “new.”

    In truth it was life versus death. LOVE versus “like.” Abigail against Beverley. Ken for all his faults against Boris who is nothing but a fault. Burroughs versus Amis. Proud screams against suppressed coughs.

    And in the truest possible spirit of punk I would suggest that those smug gliberals propagating their shabby comfort blankets of the New Right with canting, content-free platitudes against “pseudo-intellectual crap” (how typical, isn’t it, of the commonsensical gliberal to deploy the “pseudo” prefix, scared of the reality of having to face the real thing?) are fully free to fuck right off to the abundance of Yaroo Spacehoppers Alessi What Were We Thinking Is Not Rat Is Hamster Double Deckers Cat’s Done A Whoopsie ZZZZZEXY ZZZZZZZZEVENTEEEZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ message boards on the internet where they can talk to people who’ll agree with everything they say.

  84. 85
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    Did you mean me, Marcello?

  85. 86
    Tom on 2 May 2008 #

    I’d rather they didn’t fuck off anywhere :) One of the themes of Popular right from the beginning is that things don’t vanish or get swept away – the 50s way of doing things lingers well beyond Merseybeat and rock; the old 70s guard doesn’t suddenly disappear at the first sniff of Rat Scabies’ leathers; SAW fight street-to-street with retro jeans ads; the summer of Britpop is filled with filthy raps and singing soldiers; manufactured Cowellite pop manifestly fails to wipe out rock, and so on. Pop is plastic: it doesn’t decompose, it hangs around. So the Alessi Spacehopper Stewpot world is the world punk was born into and the story of punk is partly its attempt to negotiate that world – you can’t tell one without the other.

    (Here’s an idea: maybe big counter-things happen in Britain when light entertainment is particularly strong rather than weak or moribund?)

  86. 87
    LondonLee on 2 May 2008 #

    But, but, but…Supertramp’s biggest selling album came out in 1978!

    I was 14 in 1976 (I saw The Pistols/Grundy thing live too, but I think I was more interested in eating my fish fingers at the time) and hated that noisy punk stuff but it did look like a bit of a lark. It wasn’t until 2 years later that I “got” it and then unfortunately I read “The Boy Looked At Johnny” at a very impressionable age and it’s Year Zero attitude affected the way I look at 76-77 even now. It was probably responsible for me selling my ELO albums.

  87. 88
    rosie on 2 May 2008 #

    Anyway, I’m not long back from eating my Friday fish and chips on the beach for the first time this year. And as it happens guys and gals, what’s come up in the random playlist even as I write is a particularly splendid piece of quintessential seventies that didn’t make number one so can’t properly be taken into account. Candi Staton’s Young Hearts Run Free speaks to me as clearly to day as anything from the period. It was one of the tracks I selected as my ‘Walney Island Discs’ session on Abbey FM the other week. And I love it – so there!

  88. 89
    Chris Brown on 2 May 2008 #

    I too was aware of this record before I’d heard it. And still am, because I haven’t. Comments on this thread – and particularly the fact that so few of them have anything at all to do with poor old JJ – aren’t encouraging me to search for it either.
    It has crossed my mind that reading Popular can’t be a terribly pleasant experience for Canadians.

  89. 90
    Waldo on 2 May 2008 #

    # 84 – I rather thought that going to a cheesy message board to “talk to people who’ll agree with everything they say” is actually the main function of it, which is exactly why I have resisted my own blog. Spitting out dummies on Popular, however, is, in my view, pretty graceless, as we are all free thinkers here and there is no right or wrong answer to anything. Just opinion.

    Now for cider.

  90. 91
    vinylscot on 2 May 2008 #

    Rosie on post 85 – I think the pretentious one was actually referring to me – he did quote from one of my earlier posts.

    I’m not going to claim I know any better than him, but I’m from the same city and I’m about the same age as him. You really can’t comment unless you were really there; being in Glasgow and reading the NME just isn’t enough. The guy knows his stuff, I’ll agree, and generally has pretty good taste, as shown on his own blog, but his pretentious prattle is just that. Not everything either needs or deserves to be intellectualised, even when it’s done properly.

    By the way, Marcello, the Clash didn’t play Glasgow Apollo in May 1977 – they only did Aberdeen and Edinburgh up here on that tour. So if you’re going to pretend you were there, at least get your facts right!

  91. 92
    Billy Smart on 2 May 2008 #

    Spoiler alert! Remember that we might well be talking about The Clash in about five years time, if we’re all still here…

    But if I seemed a bit harsh, then they did make some records that I really cherish – all of London Calling, especially – for which I suppose that I can just about forgive them their version of ‘Police & Thieves’ – which just sounds like an insultingly clumsy act of desecration a man who wasn’t there at the time (though my big sister was).

  92. 93
    vinylscot on 3 May 2008 #

    92 Billy Smart – the part in my post #91 about not being able to comment if you weren’t there didn’t really come out like I meant it to! I must prrof-read beter;)

    Of course you can comment if you weren’t there – that’s part of what this exercise is all about, I would imagine.

    I was really referring to the self-appointed “experts”, who take it upon themselves to TELL us what it was all about. There are no absolutes in this sort of thing – opinions are what makes it all so fascinating.

    To have some individual, who was barely out of school (if at all) at the time, and many miles away from where “it” was happening, lecture us about context with an incomplete romaticised understanding of what was really going on at the time, is frankly insulting. To have that individual claim to have the intellectual high ground while being somewhat economical with the truth (and demonstrably so!) regarding his own experiences, is really just too much.

    When we are castigated for not agreeing with him, while being told to go elsewhere if we want people to agree with us is just cowardice…

    …and I won’t go into the quality of his writing, suffice to say I’m quite sure he would be absolutely heartbroken if anyone ever “got” all the obscure references in one of his rambles.

    I will continue to read these rambles, and comment where I feel it is merited. I welcome them and look forward to them, even if I don’t agree with them. I will also post my own, independently constructed comments and welcome any reponses which may further the discussion.

    “No Charge” is still a crap record!

  93. 94
    rosie on 3 May 2008 #

    Waldo @ 90: Now for cider

    [FX: large rabbit comes bounding into the forum; knocks jug from Waldo’s hand]

  94. 95
    crag on 3 May 2008 #

    I’ve found it increasingly harder to find an appropriate moment to comment on the last few Popular entries- not having “been there” at the time I feel my merely musical thoughts on the tracks under discussion would struggle to find relevance in the thread. Sure, i’ve got my own thoughts and theories on why punk “had to happen” but as one of the younger contributors here all my info on the period is by necessity “book knowledge” and can’t help thinking my comments would be like a young historian trying to tell a WW1 veteran what it was REALLY like to be in the trenches at the Somme.

    I agree w/ Tom (#82)- i do hope new contributors turn up in the punk aftermath(not at the expense of our current commentators obviously!) to offer a fresh perspective and shake things up a bit.

    One thing i will say about Punk though- the worst thing about it was the whole Year Zero thing. Fair enough, a backlash to the whole Yes/ELP/Genesis stranglehold was necessary but the dismissal of everything else too would, in time, have a negative effect on music till the end of the 80s…

  95. 96
    crag on 3 May 2008 #

    Oh and yes “No Charge” is indeed still a crap record!

  96. 97
    mike on 3 May 2008 #

    The Clash played Glasgow Apollo in October 1977. Was that the gig you attended, Marcello?

  97. 98
    intothefireuk on 3 May 2008 #

    There’s nothing like a good shit fight is there. I expect more of this in the near future with the punk & pop overlords knocking the crap out of each other. For my part I have to say that I was blissfully unaware of punk at this stage. In fact I was getting involved in listening to, and seeing bands which probably would have been the antithesis of punk e.g. Genesis, Hawkwind etc. The first time I became aware of punk would have been later this year when friends of mine (who’d been with me at these gigs) started frequenting venues like the marquee,vortex, nashville & roxy club (some of these prob.77). I never really fancied it though and missed out on the 1st flush of punk (prob. 2nd as well). The first punk-ish record I recall hearing was Eddie & The Hot Rods Marquee EP (Sept. ish ?)closely followed by ‘Teenage Depression’. I’ll have more to say of punk as we progress for now though the long hot summer was about to start…. and the silly season about to continue……

  98. 99
    rosie on 3 May 2008 #

    I don’t think you “had to be there” to comment; that, after all, is a large part of what makes Popular a great community on the whole. It would be a shame if younger commenters only came in with what they remember, instead of giving a fresh insight into older stuff they may never have encountered before. It’s an enriching experience. How many of those younger commenters have gone right back to the beginning and sought out those early tracks (there’s none, up to about 1981, that I haven’t found somewhere and they’re all in my big random mix, even the ones that make me cringe.) It would be interesting to read their assessment, provided that it’s an honest one and not “it’s old and therefore crap”

    So we’ve moved from the fifties, when none of us were there really, and we’re all exploring stuff that’s either legacy or totally new to us, through the sixties where a few of us were there and it’s been great to hear the take of Tom and others who weren’t. Now we’ve reached the seventies, lots of us were there and some of us had moved on, and there’s a corresponding increase in possessiveness and sensitivity to comment from outside.

  99. 100
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 3 May 2008 #

    yes in interweb argt over the last five-six years one of the most salutary and er humbling* things for me (as a highly opinionated pretentious pseudo-intellectual!) has been exploring how stuff that unfolded for me in real time has impacted on on someone quite like me temperamentally but 25 years younger — how things i see as meaning thus-and-so mean EXACTLY the opposite to them, arriving as compacted hand-down knowledge and by-the-yard assumption… this is both disorientating and exciting (cz the basis they have for being right — that they’re young and impatient w.geezers patronisin em — is no difft from the basis i had for being right back in 76) (truism obv but still hard to process)

    *ok not THAT humbling but they probbly would be were i in any realstic way humblable

  100. 101
    intothefireuk on 3 May 2008 #

    The thing is music is intrinsically tied to associated memories & experiences and these have far more significance to the individual than any musical analysis, as interesting and objective as that may be. I enjoy reading everybody’s comments here but they probably inevitably say far more about the commenter than they do the music.

  101. 102
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 3 May 2008 #

    actually — and yes yes i have posted far too often on this thread and will stop (for a while) after this — the curious thing abt this emerging topic (how the newer younger posters will interact with and challenge the older posters) is that j.j.barrie’s record is in fact about exactly this dynamic, in a way which is entirely counter to pop world’s usual assumptions, which are:

    i. the young know things the old don’t (swagger swagger)
    ii. the old should not push the young around so much (mope mope)

    i wonder how many other number ones (or charting singles as a whole) stake such a strong claim as “no charge” against i. AND ii? this song says “the young owe the old a bunch of stuff and shd respectfully behave so as to acknowledge this”

  102. 103
    intothefireuk on 3 May 2008 #

    I really must edit my comments before I time out – yes I am stating the bleedin’ obvious !

  103. 104
    crag on 3 May 2008 #

    Until recently I didn’t think being around at the time was an issue either- however of late i’ve felt many of the comments have been much more centered on personal recollections contextualising the tracks under discussion. This of course makes perfect sense for those were there and makes for v interesting reading for someone like me who can only view this period as ‘history'(hopefully “i woz a punk before you woz a punk” style comments will be kept to a minimum though). Basically I know the ‘theory’ regarding this period, but not the ‘practical’…

    Ironically enough although we’ll be discussing hits i can personally remember shortly, at the time i was actually feverishly devouring the sounds from the era prior to the one we’re discussing currently i.e mid 60s to mid 70s!

    Re:#98- how many contributors were actually aware of punk at this point? My dad always says he remembers with clarity the exact time he first heard Presley in ’56- was it the same w/ punk 20 years later or more a gradual growing awareness?

  104. 105
    intothefireuk on 3 May 2008 #

    #104 Again it’s down to personal opinion but I would say there was very little awareness of punk until the Bill Grundy incident when it exploded onto the front page of the Sun – the filth & the fury.

  105. 106
    rosie on 3 May 2008 #

    There are all sorts of little epiphanies in this story. I’m not old enough to have “been there” for Elvis Presley but I do remember hearing the Beatles for the first time and sensing I was hearing something special, even though I was only eight. (Round about the same time I remember being bowled over by the key change in Ketty Lester’s Love Letters, although I had no idea at the time that it was a key change, just a musical moment that set my spine tingling. No doubt there are back-to-basics purists who would condemn that as decadent, never mind a stray augmented ninth!)

    I have challenged the received assumption that punk “had to happen”, but punk did happen and I’m prepared to accept that it was inevitable given the particular state of social, economic and cultural tides at that particular moment. It was, however, just another epiphany and it wasn’t as all-embracing as some would like to think.

  106. 107
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 3 May 2008 #

    in the unending torrent of my blather upthread i thought i’d already said this but i didn’t: i first encountered the pistols in the shropshire star, a transcript of the grundy incident (and i was most agitated by their side-issue sneer at beethoven and spent ages fashioning in my head the arguments i would put to them to get them to see they were wrong)

  107. 108
    mike on 3 May 2008 #

    How many contributors were actually aware of punk at this point?

    I was certainly aware of punk at this point, crag. The Pistols and Ramones in particular were picking up a fair number of press mentions, and this was at a stage where Eddie and the Hot Rods were being placed in the same category.

    Loads more that I could say on this topic, but to be honest I’m still a bit shaken by being on the receiving end of some of the unpleasantness upthread, so I’ll shut up for now.

  108. 109
    Tom on 3 May 2008 #

    My moments of real musical epiphany have tended very much to be not aligned with when everyone else had those epiphanies! I am a regular latecomer.

  109. 110
    Tom on 3 May 2008 #

    On the one hand, the more vitriolic than usual tone of the thread suggests that punk was and *still is* problematic, interesting, something that NEEDS to be thought about/intellectualised/trolled over.

    On the other, I’m not going to spend my bank holiday weekend moderating flamewars, so please try and keep the disagreements civil and non-personal from this point on, thanks!

  110. 111
    crag on 3 May 2008 #

    I know what u mean, Tom(#109)- it was a very awkward state of affairs for me growing up, listening to my friends rave about Erasure and Deacon Blue when my personal choice of listening at the time was “Trout Mask Replica” and “Electric Ladyland”!
    I only started buying contemporary records round about ’89 and round about the same time, aged 16, had my own punk teen epiphany-about 12 years late!
    Hey, its fashionable to be late though, isnt it?

  111. 112
    Alan Connor on 3 May 2008 #

    This would be the wrong record around which to resurrect Resurrection Watch, but here’s an odd thing. I thought I didn’t know this at all (as with a lot of ’76 – wonder if this applies to others born in the early ’70s), BUT as I read Tom’s description, realised that it must have the same words as those I’d seen in one of those email circular thingies. You know, with animated GIFs around it, and in a daft typeface.

    (I liked it in that form.)

  112. 113
    rosie on 3 May 2008 #

    Blimey, crag, Trout Mask Replica is a heady brew indeed – where did you hear it first? And more to the point, since everybody hates it when they first hear it and anybody who says otherwise is a liar, where and why did you listen to it a second time?

  113. 114
    Kat but logged out innit on 3 May 2008 #

    I’m not familiar with this tune but having had a butchers at the lyrics just now, Bells Be Ringing in terms of email forwards and general parental guilt-tripping. I have no desire to seek this one out, I have to say.

    As regards the rest of the discussion: I’m 26 and obv didn’t experience punk first hand, but it already feels like a well-trodden path of discussion for me thanks to the above-mentioned Uncut/Mojo canonisation. The history is interesting and the music is alright for the most part but not particularly *exciting* or emotionally significant for me. Perhaps one *did* really have to be there? I’ve been thinking about this particular theme a fair bit whilst writing the Blog ’92 stuff but my thoughts still aren’t quite coherent yet…

  114. 115
    crag on 3 May 2008 #

    Re:#113- I bought “Trout Mask Replica” on spec when i was either 13 or 14 after reading good things about it in the music mags i was already reading constantly. I’d already heard Beefhearts voice on “Willie the Pimp” from Zappa’s ‘Hot Rats’ a year or two previously-not that that really prepared me…

    Don’t believe me all you like, Rosie but i genuinely didn’t hate it at all on first listen- I can’t say i LOVED it either and certainly can’t claim to having UNDERSTOOD it(whatever that might mean) on that first listen but I was intrigued enough by it and certainly enjoyed it sufficently to have no trepidation about listening to it a second time. After a further 4 or 5 spins it became my favorite album which it remained for many years(before i stopped worrying about things like having a “favorite album”) and I still greatly enjoy hearing tracks from it whenever they show up on my MP3 player now- “Veteran Day Poppy” turned up earlier today by coincidence and still sounded great.

    I often wish my ears were as open and receptive to new sounds now as they were in my teenage years…

  115. 116
    rosie on 3 May 2008 #

    When I’m asked to appear on Desert Island Discs I’m having Ella Guru as one of my eight!

  116. 117
    Rob M on 3 May 2008 #

    In my role as tech support for A Major ISP, I have to confirm customers usernames and passwords, usually with clues. One such customer had a password of ‘ellaguru’ and I said to him as a clue “Think Beefheart” and he was surprised that I’d heard of it. I explained that most techies are musos too.

  117. 118
    LondonLee on 3 May 2008 #

    The first time I saw and heard The Pistols was the first time they appeared on the telly – Tony Wilson’s “So It Goes” program which came on late Saturday nights in London — and my sister and I were shocked by the Godawful racket they were making. I remember that far more vividly than the Bill Grundy episode. The next day the Sunday papers were full of this new youth scandal called “Punk” — “More Like PUKE Rock!” is one headline I remember. When punk hit the media it hit very fast.

  118. 119
    mike on 3 May 2008 #

    Yes, my first exposure was also seeing the Pistols on So It Goes, in late August 1976. Earlier in the same show, there was also a brief item on the Ramones, accompanied by a snatch of “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”.

    To be honest, I was more baffled than converted. The “conversion” had more to do with Eddie and the Hot Rods than it did the Pistols – their Live At The Marquee EP totally rocked my world. Then along came The Damned’s “New Rose”, the first British punk single, and in my case I can honestly say it was life-changing. By the end of 1976, I had renounced my prog past. I stopped buying albums and started buying singles (with a new numbering system: Live At The Marquee was Single #1, as far as I was concerned).

    Simultaneously with all of that, I got massively into punk fanzine culture (particularly Sniffin’ Glue, which became my new bible). My local Cambridge record shop, which went by the unpromising name of “Remember Those Oldies”, had a separate room at the back for fanzines, and it stocked an impressive range; I’d venture to say that it was the largest outside London. The guy who ran the shop (Lee Wood) went on to start his own punk label, Raw Records, in the spring of 1977.

    There are a couple of points that I’d like to reinforce, as they sometimes seem to get lost in the accepted versions of rock history.

    Firstly: pre-Bill Grundy, only a tiny, tiny minority of people had any sort of interest in this stuff. Post-Bill Grundy, the overwhelming reaction to punk continued to be a strongly hostile one. Cloistered away at boarding school, I came in for a lot of stick for listening to punk (while being fully aware of the inherent absurdity of being a public school punk rocker). My classmates hated it – I mean, really HATED it – and I lost most of what little popularity I had.

    (Of course, they all loved it two years later, when the threat had been neutralised.)

    Secondly: there was no orthodoxy, and no single definition of What Punk Was All About (as the more tolerant amongst you might have gathered from that conversation with Lord Punkrat upthread, and I’m sorry if that got too detailed too quickly). There was an intellectual wing (you should have seen some of the fanzines!), and an equal and opposite anti-intellectual wing. An idealistic wing and a nihilist wing. A feminist wing and a misogynist wing. A fashion wing and an anti-fashion wing. An art school wing and a council estate wing. A “long live rock and roll” wing and a “we oppose all rock and roll” wing. A “let’s take over the charts” wing, and a “let’s operate on the margins” wing. It was about plurality, not orthodoxy – although the latter didn’t take long to establish itself, either.

    Or at least, that was my impression of it all: 14 years old, too young to join in, reading and listening from the sidelines, in no danger of having my surging idealism tainted by messy reality. Which was actually a pretty bloody great way of experiencing it all, if you ask me…

  119. 120
    Billy Smart on 3 May 2008 #

    Not as early as 1976, but probably by 1977 – and certainly by 1978, I was aware of punk rockers as folk devils, like football hooligans and skinheads; they had green hair, they spat everywhere, they couldn’t play their instruments and made a terrifying noise, and they wanted to kill people – especially the Queen.

    I was only five!

  120. 121
    mike on 3 May 2008 #

    Aged five in 1967, I had a similar view of the Rolling Stones, with Mick Jagger little short of the Devil incarnate…

  121. 122
    LondonLee on 3 May 2008 #

    The atmosphere in 76-77 could be very hostile. My sister’s mate Sue went headfirst into punk and had spiky orange hair, bondage trousers, the whole works. Walking down the street with her people would just stop and stare with this look of utter distaste as if they’d smelt something bad, at one point someone even spat at her. The King’s Road was a particularly tense and intimidating place, I was literally too scared to step foot inside Boy.

  122. 123
    Chris Brown on 3 May 2008 #

    By the time I was five, the green-haired punk was still around as a comedy figure, although it’s probably safer not get too detailed about that time yet.

    As the above implies, I don’t have any nostalgic horse in this race, but suspicious as I am of consensus I tend to the view that punk – or *something* – had to happen at this juncture.

  123. 124
    Mark M on 4 May 2008 #

    I missed punk completely on the reasonable grounds that I was only five at this point and I we had just moved to Poland! But re: Mike at 119 – two things ring true here – the first being the huge range of people who were punks and for whom it represented a brief swerve away from their standard listening habits (Robert Elms, say). The second is it ties in with the conventional political theory that most major movements triumph as impossibly wide coalitions that starts crumbling the moment power is achieved because the disparate elements only ever agreed on the fact they were against the status quo (cf the French Revolution, the Iranian Revolution, New Labour; top Communist poster boy Che Guevara failed to get this completely and he and thousands of other people paid with their lives in futile uprisings that never had any chance of succeeding because there was no broad base of popular support.)

  124. 125
    Mark M on 4 May 2008 #

    I’m also distrustful of the retrospective historical determinism in the idea “that’s why punk had to happen”. “That’s why punk could happen…” seems closer to it.

  125. 126
    koganbot on 4 May 2008 #

    Not only didn’t it have to happen at this juncture, from my American perspective it didn’t happen at this particular juncture, or any juncture. Which isn’t to say that it didn’t exist, but rather that it wasn’t an event. Just something ongoing that came to specific attention in different ways at different times. Which also isn’t to say that the various specific events (e.g., Britain 1975-77) don’t have their specific impact and don’t matter in their specificity.

    But I’m being vague here, so let’s just say I woz a punk before you woz a punk. But that’s only an accident of birth, in that I was 16 before you were 16. (I think I beat Rosie by several months. Not sure about Dr. Mod.)

    The “punk moment” began in September 1970 and hasn’t totally gone away since then, but it was in full flush through about March or May 1971. Not sure what happened to April. I remember a day of sunshine in late March bringing an end to something, and I picked up my pen in May and got it down (“it” not being the sunshine but the previous darkness, though obviously if I’m writing it down in May it’s not previously been altogether bleached away in late March). But “it” wasn’t as virulent in May as it had been in February.

    But I would not have called it “punk” at the time, and not just because the term wasn’t in general usage yet as a positive music-related term (in fact, the positive usage was already under way; see next paragraph) but because when I did start paying attention to the term “punk rock” my intuitive understanding of it was that it meant weak kids – actual punks, old meaning of the term – acting tough by mocking and taunting and hurting people, and the music it meant was the music that went with it, i.e., punk rock circa 1966, also known as garage rock (but not known as either in its time). The epitome of this music would have been “96 Tears” and “Get Me To The World On Time” and “Pushin’ Too Hard.” Was basically Stones and Yardbirds and Dylan misheard by the creeps and made dumber and nastier and less self-reflective. It was only reluctantly around 1976 or so that I acceded to the general usage that applied the term to the Stooges and Dolls and and Ramones and Sex Pistols – and by extension to me in my punk moment 1970-71. And also, if it was to apply to the Stooges and Dolls and Sex Pistols it had to apply backwards to the Stones and to Dylan. But it can’t apply to any of them, or to garage rock, as a musical “moment” in the way that British punk in 1976 is a musical moment.

    But as for my personal punk, the term was around in 1970, a copy of the July 1970 issue of Fusion magazine with Nick Tosches’ article “The Punk Muse” actually being in my bedroom. But if I read it, I don’t remember it, and I think I would. My guess is that I might have looked at the first few paragraphs, decided that they were snide comedic-parodic fake monographic fooling around, been a combination of bored and scared, and not read further. Which is too bad, because it wasn’t snide at all, it was very romantic and visionary in an interesting way that I’m not sure I understand (the vision being teen greaser boys trying to get into teen girls pants, but Tosches is trying to write his way into the romanticism of this: “The Cleftones knew. They knew the secret of the universe was up in Betty’s drawers and no one else’s.”). I may livejournal about this sometime today, seeing as I finally bothered to read the piece for (maybe) the first time TODAY, and feel very foolish for not having read it earlier. It’s way more interesting than Dave Marsh’s Question Mark and the Mysterians piece in the May 1971 Creem where Marsh coins the term “punk rock.” Anyway, if I had read the Tosches piece, I think I’d have remembered these lines: “A Honky Blues/Music (Honk1) scene, on the other hand, is a visionary expiation, a cry into the abyss of one’s own mordant bullshit.” Which was me in a few months, but maybe I did read and didn’t remember because it wasn’t me yet.

    There are various types of punk, obviously, but we don’t get to embrace them all in ecumenical enthusiasm since they don’t necessarily get along with one another. The two types that were in a tension-filled blood match in my psyche were the high romantics and the junior-high-school creeps, with some figures having a shot at embodying both (Richard Meltzer, for instance; the Sex Pistols, maybe).

  126. 127
    koganbot on 4 May 2008 #

    But anyway, what’s at stake in, e.g, the various versions of “punk” and the who and the what and where did it come from and all that… Well, just an example, but if someone says “PUNK, that means ANGER, and it was the music of BRITISH WORKING-CLASS YOUTH” (you really do still hear this line), then they don’t have to actually think about anything, since those words seem to explain themselves easily, the anger of the working stiffs and the dole queues etc. blah blah blah. But if for instance it’s the music of an eastern Michigan college town in 1967 through 1973 or various middle-class Cleveland suburbs in 1968 through 1975 and bohemian gathering spots in New York’s Lower East Side, then the why and the what and the meaning aren’t self-explanatory, and if the later Brit supposed working-class punk lifts its initial musical vocabulary from this American quasi-intellectual sideways mobile lumpen middle-class, this isn’t so obvious why either, and you have to think about which working-class kids, since punk was hardly the music of an entire economic class. (And some more stuff that I’ll think about later when I wake up.)

  127. 128
    koganbot on 4 May 2008 #

    Mark, you’re being anachronistic calling the Velvet Underground “indie.” Even if their “influence” is indie, songs like “Heroin” and “Sister Ray” make no sense if they’re not aimed at the larger public space. The fact that they didn’t reach this space is no matter. Ellen Willis was dead wrong in saying “The Velvets were the first important rock-and-roll artists who had no real chance of attracting a large audience.” How does she know? The band didn’t know this. The record company didn’t know this. Had at least as much shot as the Grateful Dead (who took years to hit) and the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Really, 1967, you didn’t know what could or could not happen.

  128. 129
    Waldo on 4 May 2008 #

    Rosie # 94 – Very well played! As Captain Mainwaring always said: “I wondered which one of you would br the first to spot that!” And yes, Bunny exacted due correction on Waldo (who is too clever by half sometimes) by snatching my supply of Katy Cider (a heavenly and nourishing brew) and replaced it with Woodpecker.

    That’ll learn me!

  129. 130
    DJ Punctum on 4 May 2008 #

    Mike (#97):

    That was it! Embarrassingly (or not) I think it was the Stranglers I went to see at the Apollo back in that halycon springtime (it WAS thirty-plus years ago).

    Meanwhile the gliberal responses to my last post from the expected quarters are pathetically predictable but I certainly had the likes of vinylscot in mind rather than Rosie. How can I attack one and not the other? Simple. Rosie and I have had our well documented disagreements in the past (oh, and to add to the list, my dad played me Trout Mask Replica when I was about five or six and I loved it, which gets me thinking that Beefheart is best appreciated when heard very young, before one’s views of the world become more solidified [and thus it is entirely logical that someone like Evan Lurie should work so well in the context of the Backyardigans]) but she always argues her case seriously and cogently from a committed anti-commonsensical point of view. Whereas the trouble with vinylscot is not his hostility – since hostility and disagreement are essential components of any messageboard worth bothering with – but the fact that he posts exclusively with a view to antagonising and provoking; the same angle deployed by the deliberately dumbing newspapers in this country who systematically use the word “intellectual” as an insult (to further their own financially-dictated demographic interests); a pride in ignorance and a kneejerk detestation of and contempt for anyone he deems “different” (and how ironic a mirrored reflection of ’77 punk is that?).

    My problem with the Popular comments boxes is precisely that there are too many people here who want to treat it like an online Central Perk – they bound in, squat on the sofa, sip their decaf, say their stock piece, seek to have their tunnel-visioned viewpoint of the world confirmed, don’t even bother to listen to what anyone else has to say on the matter and won’t entertain their thoughts being challenged or questioned at any costs, and then gleefully trot out again.

    Any online forum worthy of that name has to have its intimidating or threatening element. Just like the Debating Society at my school, where I cut my arguing teeth, was threatening. Just like the Oxford Union was intimidating. Just like watching Citizen Kane or The Prisoner was threatening. Just like reading IMac or Morley or Penman when they were at the top of their NME game was intimidating. Because they made me want to be something or somebody more, inspired me to seek to exceed myself. This will no doubt provoke anguished and enraged bewilderment to the likes of vinylscot who essentially want a quiet/quietened life of who-could-argue-with-that-and-hey-wasn’t-it-great consensus drivel, as opposed to the committed regulars here who offer serious (and on the side also very funny), intense and GENUINELY provocative viewpoints and models which actually make me, as a listener, want to go back to the music they’re talking about and listen to them completely anew. I’m thinking of Mark and Mike but also (even though I disagree with about 95% of what he says) Frank (and others, including Rosie and Waldo); challenging and, yes, if you want to think of them that way, intimidating minds who even if they make you want to go AARGH! at least do infinitely more to provoke serious thought than the dull mediocrity on offer elsewhere.

    So I am not going to shoot myself by saying I won’t post here again but I am also speaking up for the actively provocative over the passively accepting.

  130. 131
    mike on 4 May 2008 #

    The term “punk rock”, as it related to 1960s Nuggets-era US garage rock, was in usage in the UK before being re-appropriated for the Pistols et al; there was even a extended definition for it in an NME “dictionary of rock”, that was published at around the start of 1976. My take: the term crossed over because the Pistols and the Hot Rods were playing 1960s punk rock covers in their live sets. (“Stepping Stone” and “No Lip” / “96 Tears” and “Woolly Bully”.) Then as the scene around the Pistols grew (yer Damned, yer Clash), the term grew with it.

    But it was also recognised very early on as an inadequate term – how could a “Year Zero” music re-cycle a ten-year old genre? – hence the propagation of the alternative term “new wave”, which I think was being bandied about from at least the late summer. “New wave” was seen as a respectable synonym for a while, but due to its comparative prissiness it became increasingly naff (McLaren and the Pistols heaping scorn on it in a Spring 1977 NME feature), and so the distinction between “punk” and “new wave” started to grow.

    The distinction between UK and US punk was also clear from the outset. I bought an imported copy of Punk magazine and was baffled by its comparative maturity and sense of history, and by its lack of Year Zero-ist polemic.

    I like what koganbot says about the idea of “punks” as misfits and weeds. Johnny Rotten made for a thoroughly unlikely alpha male thug hero, and there was a notable lack of lumpen machismo around 1976-era punk, which embraced homosexuality and asexuality, and provided a watershed for (ahem) Women In Rock. (So from my perspective, the Cult Of Sid is where it all started to go wrong…)

    (Apols if this comment is a bit of a rambling mess; I’ve also not been up for long!)

  131. 132
    crag on 4 May 2008 #

    Rosie, the thing i dont quite get is that your description of punk -“making random loud noises with musical instruments one doesn’t know how to play while screeching obscenities at toothache-inducing intensity” is how the vast majority of people would describe Trout Mask Replica(apart from the obscenities bit).Certainly Beefheart is more a much more extreme listening experience than, say, “Anarchy in the UK”.

  132. 133
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 4 May 2008 #

    “apart from the obscenities bit” <— d00d listen more carefully! “hair pie: bake 1” etc etc

    (ok they are very VERY elliptical obscenities)

  133. 134
    crag on 4 May 2008 #

    Re:#133-“Hair Pie:Bake 1” is an instrumental, though! Granted, there is “Old Fart at Play”, but its hardly “Fuck Off” by the Electric Chairs, is it?

  134. 135
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 4 May 2008 #

    still i think beefheart wd be saddened if his work (TMR esp) were not filed as full rich obscenity

    (incidentally heartened to discover via google that jayne county is alive and well and still performing yay sex-change)

  135. 136
    rosie on 4 May 2008 #

    Ooerr – I was getting worried in the threads immediately before this one that Marcello and I were finding an awful lot to agree about. And then, just when I thought things were getting back to normal, he starts paying me compliments! At least, I assume “anticommonsensical” is a compliment. I’m not, after all, a great believer in “common sense” because it is the cop out of those who which to cling to their standpoint without making the effort of justifying it. It’s the “It stands to reason” of Alf Garnett and the editorial line of the Daily Mail. My academic provenance, after all, is quantum physics in the first instance, and literary and philosophical studies of a distinctly Derridian bent in the second instance (nobody who has been exposed to the mind-bending concepts of quantum physics need be afraid of Derrida or have any use for mind-altering pharmaceuticals.)

    Anyway, Marcello, I’d just like to ask you in a friendly kind of way to step back and consider that while your personal insights are of immense value, you do have a tendency to be very protective of your own experience, and to deny, sometimes in a way that comes across as just plain terrified, that there is any alternative to that point of view. But you contradict yourself, because you have yourself said that within the culture of Uddingston Grammar School you were apart from the crowd in your tastes, and made to suffer for it.

    At risk of getting ahead of ourselves, in three months from No Charge I’ll be starting my (mercifully short) teaching career in a very large bog-standard comp (albeit one with a much wider range of social intake than many) in Hull. For three years I’ll have a first-hand view of what the sort of young people who were buying singles were listening to, and it bore a strong correlation with the sort of thing that hit number one during the period. Some of them probably read the NME, but not many. In a school with almost 2,000 pupils, there might perhaps have been half a dozen hard-line punks. Some, but not many, more will have bought an outfit from Zanzibar in Spring Bank at some point. Many, many more were devoted Northern Soulers. Not many will have visited a punk club, but a good many (not as many who claimed to though, I suspect) will have attended Wigan Casino all-nighters. Punk was a Yellowbelly (Lincolnshire, and by extension London and the rest of the effeminate South) thing.

    As a measure of what what the slightly older working-classes were listening to, I’d rather judge by the jukebox in the “Little Queens” than the pages of the NME, and I don’t thing the Pistols were getting much play there. You were more likely to hear JJ Barrie.

  136. 137
    crag on 4 May 2008 #
  137. 138
    rosie on 4 May 2008 #

    crag @132: It’s exactly how I heard TMR in the beginning. There was a cabal of lads at school who would insist on playing TMR at parties to scare the bejaysus out of everybody else. It was years before I could make myself sit down and listen to it, and a little longer before it finally clicked. Even now I’m inclined to say that it’s either the most innovative, original and mould-shattering piece of rock music ever, or it’s the biggest load of rubbish ever to be flung in the face of a gullible public. There is no possibility of any shade in between, but it is possible to hold both views at once (quantum physics again.) But running right through TMR is a wit that is lacking from the excesses of the Pistols.

    I once knew a man who thought John Coltrane was god. Me, I think ‘god’ is a tad excessive, but anyway, this man bought a second-hand saxophone and proceeded to blow into it, flexing his fingers manically on the keys as he tortured the reed, and made a noise that sounded superficially like free improvisation. That didn’t make it free improvisation, though, and it didn’t make my friend John Coltrane.

    To take a literary parallel: Finnegans Wake is the piece of genius (punk writing?) it is only because of Dubliners

  138. 139
    mike on 4 May 2008 #

    Re. Rosie’s #136: I’m also keenly aware that by posting here about my highly atypical experience of 1976 UK punk, I might be helping to perpetuate the retro-fitted myth that Punk Came Along And Suddenly Changed Everything. Presumably it’s residual annoyance at the propagation of that myth which has helped to fuel the Guilty Pleasures boom… but we don’t have to get into all that again!

  139. 140
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 4 May 2008 #

    one thing i very much want to do her re my own experience — is to tease away my attitudes and responses at the time from (personal) retro-fitting, to distinguish how i actually felt from how i wish i’d felt: how i may have adapted my memories to suit subsequent ideological shifts (for example: but i think i’ll postpone the discussion) as i have become more anti-indie i suppress that side of my passions back in the day (by 1979 i was a total full-on diy indie-ideologue; as i now consider this a giant post-punk misstep — mine and lots of other peoples — i fight back over-hard against acknowledging its earlier manifestations; i WAS pro-top-ten-as-battlefield from the post-grundy start, but not at all in a coherently argued way)

    it’s going to require heroic spoiler-bunny discipline to keep me in line on this i think — but this is a value of the gradual re-unfolding process of popular, that stuff which has over time compacted into a personal orthodoxy of handwaving shortcuts can be re-unpacked and shaken around until the truth drops out of it

  140. 141
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 4 May 2008 #

    haha and the full extent of my pre-punk punkism at this date, viz june 76, was — just like mike — a all-by-my-lonesome semi-secret love of GONG!!

  141. 142
    vinylscot on 4 May 2008 #

    Well I certainly seem to have opened a can of worms.

    My post no 93 clarified what I meant by posting “if you were not there”. It’s perfectly valid to post; such posts are equally as valuable as others – they offer a different perspective.

    What I object to is being lectured to by someone who a) pretends they were there; and b) decrees that his version of events is the only legitimate version, and that anyone who challenges that is automatically tagged a “gliberal”. (I still can’t understand why I MUST agree with his version, but if I agree with anyone else I am failing in my duty to the messageboard).

    It appears from recent posts that at least one has been through this with him before, so I apologise if this is covering old ground. It also seems that quite a few of the regular, intelligent, posters have also identified with what I wrote.

    I sincerely hope this can be an end to this type of ad-hominem attack. I will endeavour to confine any future criticisms to the content of the posts, rather than the poster himself. I would expect the same courtesy in return.

  142. 143
    LondonLee on 4 May 2008 #

    I could never take American “punk” seriously, especially the LA variety – they had big cars and swimming pools!

  143. 144
    mike on 4 May 2008 #

    Re. 141: There is one tiny link between Gong and UK punk – silly names! (From Bloomdido Bad de Grass and Dingo Alien to Rat Scabies and Siouxsie Sioux – it’s not such a giant leap.)

  144. 145
    crag on 4 May 2008 #

    Re #138- Rosie, your amusing story of the lads shoving TMR on at parties to scare and piss off everyone else reminded me of similar experiences during my own late 80’s schooldays when “Fuck The Police” by NWA would be used by me and a few of my chums at parties for pretty much the same reason..(All good, if slightly twattish fun.)
    Kids, eh?
    (i wonder what the younglings play at parties to have the same effect these days?)

  145. 146
    Doctor Mod on 5 May 2008 #

    This is the most fascinating, compelling, and, at times, viscerally exciting thread I can recall reading. Thank you, Rosie; thank you, Mike; thank you, p^nk; thank you, Waldo; thank you, vinylscot–you’ve expressed my own feelings so well, even if you don’t necessarily agree with one another. But what this illustrates is that one can disagree without name calling or treating others as if they have IQs hovering around room temperature. We can also disagree and yet share some of the same sentiments.

    For reasons that are now either infamous or deservedly forgotten, I’ve tried to stay out of this thread, as I’ve stayed out of so much on FT for the past year or so. But herd mentality being what it is, I can’t resist jumping in with a few observations:

    1) It might have something to do with the side of the Atlantic I’m sitting on, but “gliberal” strikes me as the sort of buzzword any far-right neo-con US radio pundit would be proud to own and deploy ad naseum. Indeed, the internet being what it is, I fully expect they’ll be using it within the week to describe Mr. Obama.

    2) It certainly has something to do with the side of the Atlantic I was sitting on in the late 70s–as well as my boredom over the usual US pop fare on the radio leading me to an ill-conceived attempt at operatic voice training–that I can’t say that I know anything about the origins of punk. Where I come from, Blondie was considered punk, and I suppose there might be something to that, but that’s beside the point. I recall seeing reports about the Sex Pistols on television, and while I really had (and still have) little patience with those who vomit on others or are rude for rudeness’s sake, I understood that something exciting was happening and took great pleasure at the thought of something shaking up the polyester pop that was pouring out of the radio back then. (Elvis Costello’s “Radio, Radio” nicely summed up my feelings.) Even though I was twenty-six or so at the time, I admit to the furtive purchases of ‘zines from “Zed of London” in Long Beach, California. (Zed always seemed a bit bemused whenever I paid a visit wearing my civil servant work clothes.)

    3) For Rosie #138/crag #145: Trout Mask Replica wasn’t in the repertoire of my friends and me, c.1970, but Yoko Ono was. There was a downscale restaurant with a jukebox–the sort that would pull out a old-fashioned 45 rpm disc and drop it on the turntable–and “Instant Karma” and “Power to the People” were among the selections. We would wait until there were a sufficient number of patrons who were distracted enough not to notice and a sufficient number of songs already cued, then one of us would drop in some coins and program the JL B-side, which was inevitably Yoko’s. Five or ten minutes later, we had the delicious spectacle of watching the agitation. I shall probably have a rock thrown at my skull for this, but I actually like Yoko (in measured doses).

    4) Regarding the presumed topic of this thread, I kept thinking I should know this song because the name JJ Barrie just sounded so familiar. Then I realized that I must be thinking of JM Barrie. Guess it all had something to do with little boys. . . .

  146. 147
    Rob M on 5 May 2008 #

    Doc Mod: #146, point 3. Nothing wrong with liking Yoko. Her “Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band” LP from 1970 sounds remarkably like “Metal Box” 9 years early – Ringo’s singular drumming, Klaus Vormaan’s throbbing bass lines, Lennon’s squealing guitar attack and Ono shrieking over the top like her life depended on it. Well worth checking out if you haven’t already.

  147. 148
    Waldo on 5 May 2008 #

    “And when you add it all up…”

  148. 149
    rosie on 5 May 2008 #

    “… and the text for today is Ecclesiastes 1:9…”

  149. 150
    Kat but logged out innit on 5 May 2008 #

    Crag @145: I imagine it’s probably Soulja Boy!

    I believe it’s only a matter of time before the youth of today start writing their own ‘punk’ records in mosquito-tones that adults are unable to hear.

  150. 151
    Doctor Mod on 5 May 2008 #

    Rob #147:

    While I’m not going to claim the idea as my own or necessarily defend it, I’ve heard it said more than once that Yoko is the godmother of punk.

  151. 152
    koganbot on 5 May 2008 #

    But speaking of “No Charge,” my mother once got the idea to fine me (probably no more than a penny or two) for particular infractions, but this practice didn’t last long since in a day or two I complained, “But you don’t pay me when I’m good.” This stopped her in her tracks. “You’re right,” she said. “Fines are a bad idea.”

    Btw, if there’s anything to the idea that “punk” – i.e., the British punk rock movement in ’76 – “had” to happen, it wouldn’t be “No Charge” but the Grundy thing. Which is to say it was extremely puzzling for me to read about, since, though I could imagine a similar incident in the U.S. causing some outrage, I couldn’t imagine it causing nearly as much, or there being any comparable sense of achievement in having caused the outrage. Of course, maybe I’m wrong here. And also my reading Duncan Watts and ilk on information cascades I’m now willing to consider that the Grundy uproar was a fluke – i.e., maybe it was just a slow news day, and a day earlier or a day later and the incident would have been lost.

  152. 153
    Brian on 5 May 2008 #

    A quick look at Canadian Charts shows that we were still in the dying embrace of disco. But there was still great music being made but not really for the singles market. Seems that the #1’s were being pulled from successful long-players.

    If I was half serious about music and I was force-fed JJ Barrie and The Wurzels ( and most of the other # 1 crap about this time ) , I think I would have started a revolution, too.

  153. 154

    grundy itself — the actual TV part — looks just impossibly insipid and disregardable today, so yes, there’s probably something in that, frank: not so much that it was a slow news day as that grundy itself was a pretty small story perfectly shaped of the fun of manufactured outrage: all the tabloids picked it up instantly and monstered it massively (famous next day mirror headline: “the filth and the fury” –> story of angry man kicking his TV in in rage, story almost certainly made up)

    i think you also have to take into account the charged dynamic of uk tabloid papers (no real — national — equivalent in the US maybe; the new york post has far more responsible gravitas than the sun); they had (not so much now) something of the reach and gleeful irresponsibility of fox news in its heyday (tho the mirror was ostensibly a left-ish paper then), and hunt in a pack, egging each other on (who has the most “shocking” story; combine this with mclaren’s very rigorous willingness to feed the flames (for MONTHS) rather than back off or douse them or apologise

    also of note, the uk rock weeklies’ fairly solid backing for pistols from the other side — setting themselves up as a counterculturalcultural forum to ALL grown-up papers (broadsheet and tabloid), and a general sense among “youth” that SOMETHING needed to be coming along and change the pace (and/or reflect the clogged *conflictedness* of the wider culture more truthfully) (and punk would do to be going along with)

    worth noting if it hasn’t already been said that a bunch of the older writers on the rock papers had graduated from the underground papers of the late 60s (oz, frendz, IT etc, and really DID see this fight in 68-ever-onwards terms… i don’t have the numbers on any of these comparisons, of course — but i suspect that the combined heft (for UK youth) of the rock weeklies in the late 70s was AT THE VERY LEAST a match for the heft (for US youth) of rolling stone in the late 60s: your one-stop shop for sidestepping everything you wanted to escape, about “official” or “grown-up” culture

    so i think i would prohably argue that some kind of catalytic breach in pop culture was in the offing — and that whatever it had been would have allowed SOME of the same forces to array against each in a similar way, but that the pretext might easily have been quite different, and all manner of different elements charged with different meanings as a result

    (but the sense of oppressive brooding storm gathering, and impending breakdown, was widespread, and found in plenty other areas of social life)

  154. 155
    Brian on 5 May 2008 #

    Oh, and another thing….these debates are bound to get heated as the median age of the contributors comes into play. Now that most of your “remember” these songs and they have emtional connections to them – the less you’ll be able to stay objective.

    When this thing started only me, Doc Mod ( nice to hear from you ) Frank and Rosie were ” present ” – methinks !

  155. 156
    Tom on 5 May 2008 #

    re. Grundy – the corrupting influence of TV was a hottish topic in ’76, wasn’t it? This would be about the time that Mary Whitehouse’s Viewers And Listeners Association was in fullest cry (certainly it was around this time it claimed the scalp of Dr Who’s production team, who were attracting 14 million viewers a week sending the Doc up against a series of scified-up Hammer Horror villains with appropriate levels of violence and grue) (i.e. hardly any by modern standards).

  156. 157
    Snif on 6 May 2008 #

    “the corrupting influence of TV was a hottish topic in ‘76, wasn’t it?”

    And wasn’t it about this time that a weekly comic called “Action” (I think, happy to be corrected) started, which caused some outrage at the carnage depicted therein? It was ultimately scuttled and made way for the legendary 2000AD.

    On these sunny shores, ABBA were in the middle of their 11 week stint at No 1 with “Fernando”.

  157. 158
    Rob M on 6 May 2008 #

    Here’s one of those ‘What if’ questions. Apologies if I seem to be playing devil’s advocate here.

    The Pistols only appeared on the Bill Grundy show because Queen dropped out at the last minute and EMI wanted to put another band on the show. How would punk have broken in the tabloid and mainstream press if Queen had appeared on the Grundy show instead and simply promoted whatever their contemporary single was?

  158. 159
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    Producer of the Today show at the time was Tommy Boyd, who on his much-missed TalkSport show mentioned once or twice that he manoeuvred the whole thing into being since he knew the people in Queen and also McLaren and “persuaded” Queen to stand down and let the Pistols come on. But there may have been an element of wind-up here which with Mr Boyd is not unknown.

    And at roughly the same time (possibly in the same week? Robin C to thread), elsewhere in the same studio complex, Hughie Green was recording his “Stand Up And Be Counted” routine on Opportunity Knocks which is still the most genuinely frightening thing I have ever seen on British television.

  159. 160
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    Good morning. Boy did I miss a punchup here. Anyroad, here is my truth, tell me yours (oh you just did…)

    Mid 1975, someone asked me (I be 14), what the next big “musical thing” would be, I said “Heavy rock, but played by kids” as that was what most of the ‘musical’ kids were into. Deep Purple, etc. But the kids bands back then would all sing of “woman from Tokyo” or “can’t get enough of your love” and so on, which struckk me as a blatant lie.

    In early 1976, I wrote a song called “Pogo Sticking” which was a novelty song based around Chris Spedding’s “Motor Biking” again, for kids, but without having any direct cops from it. And, in retrospect, was definitely punk. 2 note guitar solo and all. (one electric guitar, barely amplified, and everyone else on one bongo each)

    This came from a ‘satire’ album (ok, cassette) called “The A.D Rip-off” which was only one step away from the rock and roll swindle…

    Anyroad, come whenever it was that Eddie and the Hot Rods’ “Live at the Marquee” e.p. came out, and “Get out of Denver” was on TOTP, I went “Yes! Finally!” and the rest is geography.

    So, OK I wasn’t there for the first gigs, but I WAS THERE! You dont need to be a weather man (etc)

  160. 161
    Waldo on 6 May 2008 #

    Brian # 155 – Depends on what you consider “present”, of course, but I was in my stroppy middle teens when this was all kicking off and if that is not “present”, I really don’t know what was.

  161. 162
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    I think Brian may be talking about the beginning of Popular. I was there but Haloscan has erased all the comments I made.

    Also I see no disproving of my initial suggestion that to UNDERSTAND it you had to be there at the time. This does not preclude LIKING something but you won’t de facto get the same feeling as you would have done had you actively (been able to) respond(ed) to it at the time, e.g. I was a toddler in ’66/7 so I will never fully know the wonder of “Strawberry Fields” etc. being newly out and about in the world. This is distinct from understanding something in retrospect from a historical/historian’s perspective using available evidence.

  162. 163
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    re. sinker #154:

    One very noticeable thing about the UK music press well into ’77 was the delayed reluctance of much of the ’68 post-Oz/IT crowd of writers to get into or just get punk (were Caroline Coon and Jonh Ingham the only weekly broadsheet writers to be applauding it in actual Burchill/Parsons-excepted 1976? I think they might have been) and still hoping secretly that Racing Cars or Lone Star (or even the parallel and stupidly neglected development of the Deaf School/Doctors of Madness line) were the true way forward.

  163. 164
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    It’s like Patti Smith’s Horses album.

    I borrowed it off the local library, but was kind of underwhelmed. This was in 1999 or so.

    I got a cheap copy of the ‘deluxe’ edition, with the second disc being a live performance taped recently. That one I enjoyed greatly.

    I don’t know what that means, exactly. Carry on.

  164. 165
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    re. Yoko: see John & Yoko in club sometime in ’79 and then-new release “Rock Lobster” comes on and John exclaims “hey Yoko! Your music’s finally come into fashion!”

    (also of course here Slits and X-Ray Spex/parallel with women finally being allowed to be themselves in pop)

  165. 166
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    Our Alice was requesting “my mind is like a plastic bag” on the school run this morning.

  166. 167

    agreed marcello; i think my argument would be that that extant 68-ers didn’t really line up behind it until the countercultural battlelines were officially drawn — pre-grundy, when uk punk was really fairly tiny and local, the older hands were indeed somewhat more stand-offish and seen-it-all-before (and america-centric)

  167. 168
    Erithian on 6 May 2008 #

    Ye gods, this thread has sprouted since Friday hasn’t it?! I can’t have much more than a scan through the weekend’s contributions for the moment, but since we were discussing Becks’ 100th cap last time a thread broke through the 100 comments barrier, it’s good to note that this thread comfortably >>> Bobby Moore!

    Re the Grundy show and how it came about – credit for getting the Pistols on once Queen pulled out has been taken by Eric Hall, then a press officer at EMI, later a particularly snidey football agent with the likes of Vinnie Jones and Dennis Wise among his clients. He did a “Who The Hell…?” interview with Q, ooh, a dozen years ago now, and among his other achievements claimed to have taken Derek Longmuir to see Frank Sinatra at the Albert Hall and appeared on TOTP with Marc Bolan while “wearing a frog’s head on me bonce”.

    But punk was breaking through to public consciousness in other ways before Grundygate. The previous month the Sunday People had even had a punk on the front page with an article along the lines of: “You’re looking at a Punk Rocker – Britain’s latest disturbing teenage cult … the bizarre cult has sprung up in Wales [sic], where teens follow bands like Sex Pistol [sic]…” And I remember in the week before Grundy, the presenter of “What The Papers Say” picked up on a chart printed in a paper featuring “Anarchy in the UK” at something like number 36, and took umbrage at the explicit name of the group – he signed off with a quizzical look to camera saying “The “Sex Pistols”, ladies and gentlemen?”

    Oh, and finally – the Hughie Green “Stand Up and Be Counted” was early in 1977. Sadly it was only obliquely referred to in the highly enjoyable BBC4 dramatisation of his life recently.

  168. 169
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    Blam: erroneous comment blitzed off.

  169. 170

    spoiler bunny should put an official punk timeline in the FAQ!

    i stick by my theory that it’s the highly unusual counter-pop anti-oedipal drag of this particular song that has caused the thread to metastasize

  170. 171
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    Pity – I was looking forward to Trevor Eve recreating the full horror.

    N.B.: for those who weren’t there, Hughie Green ended one edition of Opportunity Knocks by going into this would-be patriotic monologue which railed against the Common Market, trade unions and so forth, over full Pomp and Circumstance orchestral backing and standing athwart a mass battalion of Army, Navy and RAF types in full uniform. I haven’t been able to find it on YouTube but it is VERY, VERY scary.

  171. 172
    Erithian on 6 May 2008 #

    Can’t find the full “lyrics” on the web, but here’s part of it to give the flavour:

    “Stand up and be counted
    Take a fighting stance
    This year of one-nine-seven-seven
    May be our final chance …

    … This is still the nation
    Who in 1940 dark
    Lit a torch with one last spark
    Fanned it into life to mark
    Freedom! Freedom! Freedom
    In victory!”

  172. 173
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    Why punk HAD to happen apropos “fascist regime.”

  173. 174
    mike on 6 May 2008 #

    were Caroline Coon and Jonh Ingham the only weekly broadsheet writers to be applauding it in actual Burchill/Parsons-excepted 1976? I think they might have been?

    There was also Giovanni Dadomo at Sounds and Barry Cain at Record Mirror. The NME’s Nick Kent had been part of an early Pistols line-up, and Charles Shaar Murray was also broadly on-side (although he famously slagging off an early Clash gig, hence inspiring “Garageland” on their debut album).

  174. 175

    again the sense of storm approaching — from a perspective fairly unattuned to the rock-club underground

    cf also Culture’s “When the Two Sevens Clash”:
    What a leave an bymebye
    When the two sevens clash – it dread
    What a leave an bymebye
    When the two sevens clash – it bitter, bitter, bitter
    What a leave an bymebye
    When the two sevens clash – a man a go feel it
    What a leave an bymebye
    When the two sevens clash – you better do right

    [“What a leave an bymebye” –ie what will be left by-and-by]

  175. 176

    mike i would say kent (ex-frendz, stones and dolls fan) and csm (ex-kids-oz, ramones-fan, bluesman) are who i’d cite as as examples of circumspect support — i think precisely bcz they were extremely invested in related not-quite-core-punk factions (so this claim depends how widely you draw the circle, and the distinction vanishes once it became a largescale thing)

  176. 177
    Rob M on 6 May 2008 #

    DJ P #171 I remember seeing that on a recent show actually about TV’s maddest moments, as soon as you described it with the armed forces behind him it all came to me. It was very scary indeed.

  177. 178
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    Certainly from those of us reading at the time who didn’t know about Kent’s involvement with the Sex shop and so forth they seemed slow to come forward and say an unqualified YES to punk – with CSM that doesn’t really happen (from the Brit side) until his “God Save The Queen” Single of the Week review (May?) and even then it was co-Single of the Week with “Roadrunner.”

    Meanwhile “Anarchy” was DISASTROUSLY given by NME to Cliff White to review and he said bah humbug Who ’66 revisited give me James Brown as any wise editor would already have known.

  178. 179

    haha i love cliff white HE WAS RIGHT

  179. 180
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    Re. “Stand Up And Be Counted” – the payoff line (“For God’s sake Britain – WAKE UP!”) was used as an intro to Genesis P Orridge and Richard Norris’ Jack The Tab echt-Acieed album in ’88.

  180. 181
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    Actually I agreed with Richard Williams in the MM in Nov ’76 who said that “Anarchy” was way too slow and ploddy and that “New Rose” was the real future and that Rat Scabies’ drumming sounded like Sunny Murray.

  181. 182
    Kat but logged out innit on 6 May 2008 #

    Punctum @165: The feminist issue wrt women in punk (and women in rock in general) is an enormous kettle of worms that I need to think through in greater depth but here is my gist anyway – unfortunately the prevalent idea that ‘punk = poor musicianship’ can often lead to “punk is the only way those inferior lady musicians can get involved with rock”, which eventually ends up with “ladies can only be successful if they flash their bits at Terry Christian” etc etc. Obviously an enormous amount of GOOD came out of punk in feminist terms (esp in the media and resulting punk canon) but there’s still this overhanging shadow of “women will only ever be independently* successful in alternative/specialist music” that is often ignored when the Women In Punk Hurrah discussion arises. Also, progress for women in music has ground to a halt since then, save for the brief spell of tampon-throwing in the 90s.

    *And there’s the rub…

  182. 183
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    I really don’t see the link between A and B; does that mean that they shouldn’t get involved in the first place and doesn’t the tits/Terry Christian thing go all the way back to Jane Russell/Howard Hughes and beyond in any instance? Seems to me rather self-defeatist and would you rather that no door had been opened up at all?

    Above all, where does this leave Madonna?

  183. 184
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    ‘punk = poor musicianship’ BUT ‘something to say’

    leading to

    punk = ‘message more important than the music’

    and so on…

  184. 185
    Billy Smart on 6 May 2008 #

    So what did Cliff White make Single of the Week in the week of ‘Anarchy’?

  185. 186
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    …and then we go on to the issue/definition of “poor musicianship” in general where e.g. the Eagles’ immaculate fingerings are abominable musicianship because they say nothing whereas Pete Shelley’s two starway notes on “Boredom” >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> all of Hotel California.

    (and of course with the Eagles, since they copped their entire schtick from watered down Burritos you can go back and say Gram’s fumbled notes on “Hot Burrito #1” >>>>>>>>>>>>> technically faultless Glenn Frey etc…)

  186. 187
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    I can’t actually remember what Cliff picked as his SOTW which may be significant in itself. It could have been “Sideshow” by Barry Biggs but don’t quote me on that and I can’t find it online either.

  187. 188
    Billy Smart on 6 May 2008 #

    If that’s true, then Sideshow >>> Anarchy In The UK, anyway. Good for Cliff!

  188. 189
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    No that’s getting too Paul Burnett for my liking.

  189. 190
    Drucius on 6 May 2008 #

    #104 (I think)”Re:#98- how many contributors were actually aware of punk at this point? My dad always says he remembers with clarity the exact time he first heard Presley in ‘56- was it the same w/ punk 20 years later or more a gradual growing awareness?”

    I rmember exactly when I first heard punk rock for the first time. I was at the Maryfield Youth Club disco, and the DJ announced that it was “time for some punk!”, having been indoctrinated by my older brother that punk = a very bad thing, I was fully expecting to hate it. The DJ played New Rose by The Damned and I was just blown away. Still am.

    I’d seen Eddie & The Hot Rods on Lift Off with Ayesha (or something) and been properly impressed, but this was something else.

  190. 191
    Kat but logged out innit on 6 May 2008 #

    I wasn’t being very clear, apologies – the fire alarm went off at work halfway through! Er, yes where was I: the door definitely needed opening, but both good and bad things came out of it (achieving message over method, the DIY ethic etc) vs the stereotyping I mentioned above. Both are interesting topics!

    I’m not solely pointing the finger at Big Evil Patriarchy here: this could be the fault of a) women failing to capitalise on the acheivements of punk (incl ‘having something to say’) b) male record execs deciding/realising that there was no market for female bands* that concentrated on music rather than sex appeal (assuming there was for male bands?) c) Julie Burchill spoiling it for everyone etc.
    I admit b) is a massively rockist beef to have and of course music is about much more than how well you play the guitar, but the other ingredients of pop (personality etc) fall into place much more easily if you’re not having to worry about whether you’re playing the right note. Which is good for musician and listener both.

    So I agree it’s a depressing outlook but from a musician’s perspective I still think the women-in-punk thing is worthy of discussion minus rose-tinted specs. Probably not on Popular though, seeing as we tend to focus on consumption rather than production here. As you might have guessed this is a pet topic of mine :)

    *Female solo singer/songwriters have historically taken better control of their destiny, cf Madge/Bjork/PJ Harvey. This is most likely down to a combination of a) and b) I think! Though I often wonder how good a drummer Madge was back in the Breakfast Club…

  191. 192
    Drucius on 6 May 2008 #

    Rob M: “Here’s one of those ‘What if’ questions. Apologies if I seem to be playing devil’s advocate here.

    The Pistols only appeared on the Bill Grundy show because Queen dropped out at the last minute and EMI wanted to put another band on the show. How would punk have broken in the tabloid and mainstream press if Queen had appeared on the Grundy show instead and simply promoted whatever their contemporary single was?”

    Anarchy In The UK was at #38 when it was pulled. They would have been able to complete their tour, be played on the radio, appear on TOTP and do all the normal things that groups do to promote themselves when they’re not banned by hysterical councillors and villified by the national press. It might have taken a bit longer, but there’s no reason to think punk wouldn’t have broken without the Grundy incident.

  192. 193
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    I rather doubt that the Pistols would have been invited onto TOTP or indeed the R1 daytime airwaves to perform “Anarchy,” Grundy or no Grundy.

  193. 194
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    They had already appeared on “Nationwide” which would have had more of an effect, um, nation wide.

    EMI would have been able to make unlimited editions of “Anarchy” and the record would have made top twenty.

    Punk would have been a slower grow, the rest would have happened anyway.

  194. 195
    Tom on 6 May 2008 #

    Did Grundy help crystallise the perceived public idea of punk though – new vs old, young vs old, punk vs establishment, rather than (say) DIY or just having a rock’n’roll piss-up?

  195. 196
    Drucius on 6 May 2008 #

    Why not? It wasn’t banned until after the Grundy incident, and before that they were just another band with an unsavoury (not nationally outrageous) reputation. Peel would have had a session, too. Probly Kid Jensen/ Mike Reid as well). They were just another band (if a bit smelly/yucky) before the Grundy thing.

    After all, we’d just been through glam, they weren’t *that* bizarre.

  196. 197
    Drucius on 6 May 2008 #

    The above aimed at #193 DJ Punctum, btw.

  197. 198
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    “Perceived” is the word since the programme was only broadcast in London and thus everyone else in the country relied on the perspective of the press.

    Even with the post-Christmas sales lull the single only managed to climb from 43 to 38 and it’s unlikely it would have gone much further even if it had remained available.

    Can you really see Edmonds or Travis playing a record which cites the IRA and ends with the words “get pissed, destroy” to the housewives? Non-daytime airplay at that time counted in terms of album sales only.

  198. 199
    Drucius on 6 May 2008 #

    #198 ToTP usually requested that iffy words were changed (see Gang Of 4’s At Home He’s a Tourist). Remembering that a lot of the versions on ToTP were re-recorded due to union regs. Either way, lack of airplay wouldn’t have hindered them (although I’m pretty sure Peelie was able to play it uncensored at least once), given the way they seem to have galvanised any audience that saw them at the time. They would have been huge eventually, either way.

  199. 200

    slower growth = yes there would have been a rock subculture called punk, not at all so obvious it would have been the catalyst and symbol for the year-zero-ey split appearing in pop culture: some ever tabloid scandal might have been that catalyst and symbol, and things fallen out in quite different ways

    i think the general post-60s sea-change was acheing to happen, and would have in some form, but this unplannable perfect-storm moment is what annointed the pistols as its vessel, and specific elements in the pistols set-up — including a will to amplify the effects rather than tamp them down — meant that everything happened fast, pulling all the rest of the brooding cultural stuff into the same vortex

    slower evolution — a different catalyst than the pistols on grundy — might have ended in a much less polarised, more pluralist cultural ecology (in fact this is what came eventually anyway)

  200. 201
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    Lack of airplay didn’t hinder them six months later but they had time to build a fuller public profile in the meantime, as did punk in general.

    At the end of ’76 the mainstream charts weren’t quite ready for punk yet in terms of major hits.

  201. 202
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    This of course doesn’t stop contemporary Radio 2 from playing “Anarchy” in their continuing attempt to rewrite history by pretending that things like “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Teenage Kicks” were huge hits instead of minor or non-hits kept out of the charts and off the airwaves by Ken Dodd or the Barron Knights.

  202. 203
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    Well, maybe so but isn’t it all about what sounds good now? As opposed to relaying hits of yesteryear?

    Nostalgia is overrated. Or rather, it is nowadays.

  203. 204
    Erithian on 6 May 2008 #

    I think we ought at this point to salute JJ Barrie for smashing through the 200-posts barrier. Phenomenal stuff, not that it’s got much to do with JJ. I’d like to have heard his take on “Anarchy” though. (Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias did a doo-wop version which went down very well when I saw them.)

  204. 205
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    I don’t want what sounds good now to fiftysomething Tory voters.

    I don’t want a publicly-funded radio station telling lies and pretending things happened when they didn’t or that they played music which they went out of their way to ignore or bury when it mattered.

    I don’t want cynical recycling of yesterday’s news denuded of all the context and radicalism which made that music worth bothering with in the first place.

    I want the truth.

  205. 206
    rosie on 6 May 2008 #

    I don’t recall any big hits by Ken Dodd in the 1970s. The Barron Knights may have had a couple of their usual Christmas hits, pricking the the bubble of the pompous as they usually did. But a Barron Knights record worked at the time and doesn’t keep.

    Me, I never listen to Radio Two so I wouldn’t know if there was a stalinist conspiracy to rewrite the history of popular music. I suspect that what they play now is what they think their target audience wants to hear.

  206. 207
    DJ Punctum on 6 May 2008 #

    Ken Dodd viz. “Brown Eyed Girl.”

    Radio 2 should be playing what their target audience didn’t know they wanted to hear. Either that or be honest and go back to wall-to-wall Ray Conniff.

  207. 208
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    #206: I remember “Think of me, wherever you are” which is scary stuff. On a bus to work? Think of Ken Dodd. Having a cup of tea? Think of Ken Dodd. Making love with your wumman? Think of Ken Dodd.

  208. 209
    Erithian on 6 May 2008 #

    Mind you, Mark, that last one could help sort out a common male problem.

    Punctum, I’m struggling to see your point. How is what they played 30 years ago relevant to what they should play today? Radio 2 wasn’t cutting edge then but that’s no reason why they shouldn’t now play stuff that they wouldn’t have played then. I wouldn’t fancy re-runs of Waggoners’ Walk or JY’s Raymond going “This is what you do!!”

    What Dale plays for Sunday afternoon audiences might not match what Radcliffe and Maconie would pick out of an old chart – a pity but that’s life I guess. (And what the hell has the audience’s supposed voting tendency got to do with it?)

  209. 210
    rosie on 6 May 2008 #

    Marcello @205: I would rather permit myself to be strapped down[1] and forced to sit through an evening at a James Last tribute event than vote Tory, but I am fifty-something, and I think you are getting way over the top here.

    I don’t suppose Radio 2 were playing Anarchy in the Uk – would you have wanted them to? The Radio 2 audience was the enemy after all – people like my mum. Somebody was playing it though, because it was familiar to me and I wasn’t exactly frequenting the wackier kind of club.

    [1] Or even constrained in one of Mr McLaren’s designer bondage outfits ;)

  210. 211
    Tom on 6 May 2008 #

    MC’s broad point, I think, is that acceptance erases the struggle for acceptance, and that this suits the accepters very well indeed.

  211. 212
    Mark G on 6 May 2008 #

    so you get The Stooges’ “No Fun” advertising CBeebies, and um, that sort of thing.

  212. 213
    Tom on 6 May 2008 #

    Which is actually pretty similar to Rosie’s view that the incorporation of punk as central to an accepted historical version of the 70s does the decade a disservice. Rosie seems to be saying that it overstates punk-as-rupture, Marcello than it understates or betrays it.

    (My own view, as someone who grew up wholly in the post-punk evironment, is that the mythology of punk-as-rupture is a self-fulfilling prophecy: it’s that mythology that creates a changed environment as much as the thing itself.)

  213. 214
    rosie on 6 May 2008 #

    Tom, isn’t the central paradox of a struggle for acceptance that acceptance is the last thing the strugglers want?

    I wonder what life would be like in Pistols World if they had succeeded in overturning the old order?

  214. 215
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    # 205 – “I don’t want what sounds good now to fiftysomething Tory voters.

    I don’t want a publicly-funded radio station telling lies and pretending things happened when they didn’t or that they played music which they went out of their way to ignore or bury when it mattered.

    I don’t want cynical recycling of yesterday’s news denuded of all the context and radicalism which made that music worth bothering with in the first place.

    I want the truth.”

    Sorry, Marcello, but that’s just as scary as Hughie.

  215. 216
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    I disagree – rather righteous with a small r than Righteous with a bold, italicised, capital R for Right as per Hughie any day.

    Radio 2 are essentially (supposed to be) catering for those who would have grown up listening to Radio 1 in the seventies or eighties or blimey even the nineties now but the point here is that Radio 1 wasn’t playing all this worthy stuff 30 years ago in the first place whereas Radio 2 are more than happy to play it now because it no longer threatens or challenges anyone or anything. And I think that’s wrong on such a fundamental level but I’m going to chew over this at greater length in my blog later today.

    I dislike POTP’s tactics because they represent a very deliberate and selective rewriting of history.

    If you are going to rekindle the mood of a particular year in music then you should play the whole Top 20 rather than pretend that Donald Peers or Altern-8 never happened. Why even bother doing the nineties if all you’re going to play are bland AoR ballads? Furthermore, isn’t that the FUN of it; hearing all those odd records you’d half-forgotten about for 20/30 years rather than the same, dreary parade of Phil and Rod and Whitney ad nauseam?

    And if R2 think this is not suitable for a Sunday audience then how come Capital Gold do so well with their equivalent programme which is also broadcast on a Sunday and features a COMPLETE Top 20 (and usually most of the 21-30 section as well) as well as a guest in the studio who was actually in the chart under scrutiny?

    I don’t like Dale slagging off things like SL2 and therefore by extension slagging off me and all other licence-payers for whom rave was the thing in the early nineties. I’d rather he didn’t do the eighties or nineties at all if he’s going to be like that.

    My solution is as follows:

    Leave Dale on Sunday to do strictly sixties and seventies and maybe even occasional fifties POTP – ONE year only with full Top 20 played.

    NEW POTP on Saturday afternoon in the dead zone currently and uselessly occupied by the Radio 2 “Comedy” Hour focusing on eighties and nineties – directly inheriting Jonathan Ross’ audience, therefore wider scope for more adventurous choice of music. And again, ONE year only.

    Result – greater audience satisfaction.

  216. 217
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    That’s better, MC. Far more reasonably argued. And I’m happy to say that I think you’re on to something, aspecialy with regards Saturday afternoon being dead on Radio 2. All we need now is a presenter for NEW POTP. And who better, say I, than Jonathan King??!!!

  217. 218
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    As Lew Grade said when McGoohan pitched the idea for The Prisoner to him: “It’s so crazy it might just work.”

  218. 219
    rosie on 7 May 2008 #

    There is an even better solution of course; don’t listen to Radio 2 if you don’t like its content!

    The best music radio – and I wish to heaven there was more than six hours of it a week – is Late Junction on Radio 3. Anything can happen – from Gregorian plainchant to contemporary electronica via all kinds of points in between including Beefheart, Youssou N’Dour and The Buzzcocks – and usually does.

  219. 220
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Is Late Junction still going? Always too worthy wellies for my liking, I’m afraid. Maybe they should get Desmond Carrington to present it.

    As a licence payer I’m entitled to demand that R2 play content that I like, as well as everyone else.

  220. 221
    mike on 7 May 2008 #

    Re. 219: As someone who shares his life with a Late Junction devotee, I strongly agree with Rosie. It is a glorious show.

  221. 222
    Mark G on 7 May 2008 #

    I broadly disagree with DJ Punc (god someone should send out notifications as “now I am named this” as I am a slow get who cannot keep up.. anyroad..), but agree with parts…

    POTP – Well, it is called “pick” so hey. But, it is clearly not the programme it was when Fluff ran it (from ‘pick of the chart hits’ to ‘pick of the album tracks by Yes/KCrimson/etc’) so it really should be playing Everything of a particular week. OK, lives may not be enriched by me hearing Donald Peers, but having never heard it, the chances of me actually hearing it one day is limited to it being on sale at oxfam for 20p, me having the money, and actually giving a. Dale by all means can diss stuff if he feels fit, he is of course a media person/ality, as long as he actually plays it. It wouldn’t really bother me, much like DLT not liking The Clash.

    No, I don’t want ‘just the AOR ballads’ only. Just as much as I woudn;t want “only the pop/new wave” ont the other foot. That sort of reminds me of how they’d do The Indie Chart on the Radio 1 “charts show” with The Man Ezeke oh we hired him but stopped his prog, now what do we do with him show. And then they’d go to number 11 to play Tracy Ullman “They don’t know” to represent.

    His broad point I disagree with? I don’t want Radio 2 to be ‘what I used to listen to on Radio 1 through the seventies/eighties” etc. I want to hear stuff I would like to hear. Stuff I’ve not heard, not disqualified because it used to be ‘scary’ to Radio 1 back then…

    Radio 6 is wayy too ‘targeted’ for me. Want to hear “Going Underground” or “Town Called Malice”? You got it. Want ‘News of the World’ or “Strange Town”? Sorry, it’s not on the bringdown..

  222. 223
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Christ, The Man Ezeke.

    This is another reason why JK would make a better fist of it than Dale since he’s much better at the slagging off game. You already know that it would be “at number eight here’s a record which I personally made a hit after I featured it on my show Entertainment USA” alternating with “what a pile of crap this is at number seven” but that would be infinitely better than all this sneery, smuggy “but YOU bought it” stuff Dale does with nineties hits – it’s the equivalent of doing 1965 and only playing Jim Reeves and the Bachelors.

  223. 224
    Mark G on 7 May 2008 #

    I remember Liz Kershaw on Radio 6 doing a Tony Wilson spot (this before he died). Fetched up a Crispy Ambulance 10″ single to play. Found that the ‘airplay’ sheet had one date stamped on it – Received date.

    That’s the sort of thing that should happen! Not just for ‘documentary’ bits, but more of a random nature.

    I have this “Silicone Chip” test: Where/ who would play Basement 5’s single “Silicone Chip”? I’m not saying it’s the best single ever made, but surely it deserves a hearing once in a while?

  224. 225
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Certainly would make a change from “Rock The Casbah” or “Jean Genie” on the hour EVERY hour.

  225. 226
    Mark G on 7 May 2008 #

    Jonathan King? I don’t even believe when he slags something! It’s purely if it serves JK!

    Say no, kids! For many reasons!

  226. 227
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    But who would do it then? Gary “GO WEST TURN THIS UP NOW” Davies? Bruno “playing Oh Happy Day on the morning after the 1992 election” Brookes? Peter “Jack Your Body is NOT music and I RESIGN” Powell?

    I am of course available at competitive rates…

  227. 228
    Mark G on 7 May 2008 #

    Mike Read?

    (I know, I know)

  228. 229
    Mark G on 7 May 2008 #

    Mike Read used to do an excellent oldies prog on Radio 210, it went way beyond the usual strictures (let alone the ones in place now). Conrad Veight, the occasional Beatles bootleg single (How do you do it), Sim&Garf’s Tom and Jerry stuff, oh etc.

    Not one to baulk at Donald Peers OR “Death Disco” I tell ye.

  229. 230
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Mike Read who had his Eric Clapton moment last year when railing against immigration apropos his failed Mayor of London campaign. No thanks.

  230. 231
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Also we’re talking eighties/nineties here and Clifftastic Read strikes me as someone who wouldn’t quite have been in sympathy with post-Madchester developments.

    Let alone major developments in the singles charts of late 1983/early 1984.

  231. 232
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    Actually, how about Ken Livingstone? He’s not got anything on just now!

  232. 233
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #


  233. 234
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    # 223 – I’m afraid that mentioning JK, Dale and ” a better fist” in the same sentence is courting disaster…

  234. 235
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    Yeah, I know, ooer!

  235. 236
    Billy Smart on 7 May 2008 #

    Rob Brydon used to be a DJ, and chose interesting things like ‘Flowers of Romance’ when he curated Top of The Pops 2. That might work.

  236. 237
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Unfortunately the best man for the job – David “Still A Kid?” Jensen – is already doing it (and very well) on the Capital Gold show.

  237. 238
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    Sarah Kennedy would be entertaining. Trouble is, she’s completely fucking crackers and will surely die alone at home and have her undiscovered corpse eaten by her cats. The Twilight Zone’s got nothing on Sarah. Bonkers.

  238. 239
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Sarah K is DEFINITELY someone who would have spent all of the eighties and nineties grooving to the Mike Sammes Singers and Bert Kaempfert.

    I suppose the return of Jimmy Savile’s Old Record Club is out of question (“owowowowoo, Manic Street Preachers, The”)…

  239. 240
    pink champale on 7 May 2008 #

    pete waterman would be my candidate for presenting saturday potp. i love hearing him getting teary-eyed in his enthusiasms (as he was recently doing about the feeling on ready steady cook to a very uninterested dr fox) , he’d be quite happy to play SL2 or whoever (i imagine his reaction at the time would have been ‘why didn’t i think of that/what can i nick from it for my next record’ rather than outrage) and he could be relied upon to be rude about dreary indie (i remember him being very offended at the existence of embrace). plus he was pretty much always there, from northern soul nights to the early days of the specials to glossy 80’s pop to 90’s teen pop to 00’sreality pop. and he might go off on one about steam engines at any time.

  240. 241
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Yes but he’d spend most of the time playing his own records and would quickly become insufferable I think.

    Tommy Vance is sadly missed.

  241. 242
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Please to God don’t give the gig to Maconie (“Doctor and the Medics? What was that all about? Eh? Eh?”) or Lamarr (“not northern soul not rockabilly not ska therefore is shit”).

  242. 243
    pink champale on 7 May 2008 #

    or jupitus!

  243. 244
    Kat but logged out innit on 7 May 2008 #

    Perhaps a cheerful, non-racist/paedophile DJ that was happily consuming 100% of chart fodder at the time? *cough* *sticks up hand* Or is there some sort of minium age limit on being a Radio 2 presenter?

  244. 245
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    Not strictly speaking but it helps if you’re a celebrity since the Controller of Radio 2 likes her celebrity presenters. And George Lamb but let’s not go there.

  245. 246
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    I met Tommy Vance at a Sad Among Strangers gig once (c.1985) and he was very aproachable and pleasant. A top bloke.

    Agree totally about Waterman. He would lose the audience very quickly indeed.

    Mark “Class Warrior” Lamarr is nothing but a Peely wannabe, who tries his best to bamboozle his audience just for the fun of it. I can take him in spurts but I entirely agree that he would be totally unsuitable for a mainstream show and almost certainly would not want to do it anyway for the reasons MC has outlined.

  246. 247
    rosie on 7 May 2008 #

    I nominate Fiona Talkington, for reasons outlined above.

  247. 248
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    She’d never cope with having to play the sixth of eight top 40 hits by the Nolans.

  248. 249
    mike on 7 May 2008 #

    Ah, the great Late Junction Schism: are you a Fiona person or a Verity person? Have to say that we’re more of a Verity household. She has a touch more… edge.

  249. 250
    rosie on 7 May 2008 #

    Fiona is more likely to pull Captain van Vliet out of the bag. But I’d be happy with Verity. There’s a bloke wot does it sometimes and then I’m inclined to turn off.

  250. 251
    Drucius on 7 May 2008 #

    Hard to believe that such a godawful tune has spawned 249 comments, innit?

  251. 252
    Drucius on 7 May 2008 #

    My take on the punk thing. While pop (and dance/disco) was largely unaffected, the rock world most certainly was completely changed. Look at the Reading lineup for ’76 to ’80 to see the effect. We’ve now got to the point where there is no outstanding musical genre that dominates the scene completely, and people are generally tolerant of everybody elses (extremely widespread, these days) taste.

    I’d say we’re living in Pistols World right now.

  252. 253
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    It’s punk wot won it for JJ.

    I think in tribute, we should compose a punk version of NC, which finishes with the child, who having just been fobbed off by Mom, goes in to one with: “IT’S NOT FAAAIIRRRR!!! BUT I DON’T CAAAARRRRREEE!!!” etc.

    “For taking off my safety pin this week, $3.95…”

  253. 254
    DJ Punctum on 7 May 2008 #

    I thought Verity Sharp was alright until I saw her patronising Scott Walker on The Culture Show on BBC2 and now she needs to be hanged for the greater good.

  254. 255
    Waldo on 7 May 2008 #

    How DARE she! I’ll have to take your word, MC, as I didn’t see the broadcast, but anyone who fails to worship at the temple of Scott (never mind patronise him) deserves to be scraped to death with a blunt razor blade.

  255. 256
    LondonLee on 7 May 2008 #

    Sorry, but it’s always been Frank Sinatra’s world we’re living in.

  256. 257
    rosie on 7 May 2008 #

    Not Joe Brown’s then?

  257. 258
    DJ Punctum on 8 May 2008 #

    In any case, Sinatra was only renting the world from *insert safely deceased mobster of your choice*

  258. 259
    Erithian on 8 May 2008 #

    “For not gobbing on the postman, a dollar twenty…”

  259. 260
    DJ Punctum on 8 May 2008 #

    I see James Whale’s now available for work, if anyone at Radio 2 is interested.

  260. 261
    rosie on 8 May 2008 #

    Don’t know if anybody else is currently listening to the proggy on Radio 4 about John Cooper-Clarke and his links to the Manchester punk scene, but I’m sure it will be on Listen Again, or whatever the BBC are calling it this week. Fits nicely with this thread, I think.

  261. 262
    Rob M on 8 May 2008 #

    James Whale has been signed up for a shopping channel on TV apparantly.

  262. 263
    Erithian on 8 May 2008 #

    Yes, wouldn’t it be fun if we had to deal with John Cooper Clarke on Popular? “Beasley Street” at number one, I’d have liked that. Or “I Married A Monster From Outer Space” –
    “We could even have taken a different race / But, f— me, a monster from outer space!”

  263. 264
    DJ Punctum on 8 May 2008 #

    Judge Dale: “it was a bit unusual but we all loved it.”

  264. 265
    Waldo on 8 May 2008 #

    Didn’t Dale say that about Napolean XIV?

  265. 266
    DJ Punctum on 8 May 2008 #

    It’s his code for records he hates.

  266. 267
    AndyPandy on 19 Dec 2008 #

    Possibly a bit late but I wasn’t around when you were doing 1976 or not posting anyway.To me punk etc was just an intra-tribal fight – a lot of punks were just the younger siblings of the same rock press reading, gig going types of people who they slagged off. This seems to be confirmed to me the way that it was so quickle claimed by the rock canon. And the way 12 or so years a large proportion of them reacted to Acid House in the way their elders had to punk.

    This is completely different from what happened in 1988 and afterwards with Acid House/Rave and which now over 20 years after it kicked off remains so alien to the keepers of the rock flame that you know you’ll never be hearing it on any Radio 2 playlist any time soon.
    Surely that was the major rupture in pop music to me and a lot of those involved in 1988-92 and afterwards all punk did was to keep the tired old conventional rock warhorse alive…

    re 50, 53 and 54 the Glenn Miller revival WAS kicked off in Canvey Island (at the Goldmine) the south-east’s most legendary pre-1988 dance club (I finally got there myself in about 1983). The Lacy Lady in Ilford was one of Chris Hill’s other big nights.

  267. 268
    Tom on 19 Dec 2008 #

    Always happy for Popular’s Longest Ever Comments Thread to be revived, Andy!

    Didn’t Radio 2 do a history of dance music special just recently? I think that era’s music is starting to creep onto their playlists – the ‘acknowledged classics’ like Pacific State and Voodoo Ray at any rate.

  268. 269
    AndyPandy on 19 Dec 2008 #

    Yes(and this is not meant to disparage those 2 tracks because obviously they were genuine parts of the scene and in ‘Voodoo Ray’s case a very early part)but then they’ll try to link it into ‘Madchester’ or something and try to pretend what happened from 1988 onwards had something to do with the Stone Roses and the Inspiral Carpets etc (because you know “they were proper musicians and played guitars”) when in reality you’d have had as much chance of hearing them at a genuine dance event as Val Doonican. I must admit I didn’t hear the Radio 2 series but Im going on when I’ve read/heard similar type things from the “rock” perspective and it’s like they’re desparately trying to fabricate a notion of the scene that fits their own ideas of how things were/are/should have been.
    The Mojo/”real music”/pathetic “get-the-“decent”-‘Hallelujah’-Campaign-to-Number-One” mindset of the punk-loving generation who run Radio 2 would no more start slipping Landlord ‘I Like It’, Cry Sisco ‘Afrodiziact’, House Crew ‘We Are Hardcore’, Sy-Kick ‘Nasty’ or a million other similar tracks into their playlist than start a Simon Cowell for prime minister party.

  269. 270
    Billy Smart on 20 Dec 2008 #

    That said, the most enjoyable moments on Radio 2 this year for me have been when Dale Winton has been compelled to play SL2/ Altern8/ Orbital on Pick Of The Pops on a Sunday afternoon.

  270. 271
    Mark M on 20 Dec 2008 #

    Re 269: the odd thing is that while on an intellectual level I agree with you entirely and Radio 2 clearly does have a public service obligation to the age group it is meant to serve, my ears tell me that house music (and it’s offspring) blighted my twenties, and with – admittedly a fair number of exceptions, including the aforementioned Voodoo Ray – I’d be a happy man if I never heard a banging four-four beat again.

  271. 272
    Doctor Casino on 10 Apr 2009 #

    Two hundred and seventy-one?!

    Can somebody sum it up for me? Lordy.

  272. 273
    thefatgit on 23 Apr 2010 #

    I’ll try: you can be a punk rocker and own a space hopper, scenes never really disappear because they were always there in the first place and it’s probably best if you leave Radio 2’s programming to the programmers.

  273. 274
    punctum on 9 Jul 2010 #

    Clearing the dust away from this thread, and sweeping up the glass, it strikes me that I actually don’t mind this record now. L heard the Melba Montgomery original on the radio recently and was rather touched by it, and therefore so am I! It’s a sweet thing really.

  274. 275
    thefatgit on 19 Apr 2011 #

    My take on this thread after spending most of today reading it and re-reading some bits is that if all Punk ever was, was another means for the younger generation to upset their parents, then maybe Punk already happened, long before Al Martino opened his lungs to belt out Here In My Heart. Like if Wagner was prog, Debussy was punk kind of way. Obviously each new generation gets to stick their fingers up at their parents as rite of passage, recreate anew, but in order to create, first you must destroy. In 76, the process of destrution appeared to be far more intersting than what was created in it’s place. All those 3 minute, 3 chord tantrums never really amounted to much, but the kids who were inspired by them turned out to become everything their younger selves despised, so ultimately the cycle continues afresh. How many punks would look at their offspring downloading Gaga or Beyonce, shaking their heads, wishing that they had something like Subway Sect or The Clash or The Sex Pistols rattling cages today. Maybe they’ll come tomorrow or next year or next decade. And when they come, it’s only right that I don’t comprehend or don’t care. My moment came and went. For not being part of it, no charge.

  275. 276
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    I certainly still care about the process of change and the need for it. Passed through Phonica Records on Saturday last – Record Store Day – and there was this duo called Woodcraft Folk doing an in-store set. They appeared to comprise a greying, bespectacled, 1974/Deke Leonard-permed chap on keyboards and another chap dressed as a woodpecker or something similar. Musically it could have been 1973 Rick Wakeman and there were solemn chaps (the stench of bloke on Record Store Day was quite overwhelming) standing around in solemn appreciation and I thought this has to go. But who/what’s going to replace it, now that every loose stitch is sewn up?

  276. 277
    weej on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Hm, I quite like Woodcraft Folk, and I don’t see how a fairly obscure underground group without any great connection to the zeitgeist represent much anything at all that’s going on in music as a whole.
    Admittedly I’ve only heard their records (i.e. this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDeVHQ0-fFQ – and an excellent cover of The Fall’s ‘English Scheme’ which I can’t find on the internet) but I’d place them much more in the lineage of Neu rather than Rick Wakeman. Hey ho.

  277. 278
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    It was one of these straw/camel/back/broke moments.

  278. 279
    enitharmon on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Oh dear, Marcello. Knew how to play their instruments did they? How terrible!

  279. 280
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    He knew how to play Vangelis tunes. I wouldn’t have put money on him to run through three choruses on “Bemsha Swing” though.

  280. 281
    enitharmon on 19 Apr 2011 #

    I wouldn’t know, I haven’t heard him.

    Of course, the big problem with Thelonious Monk (and even more of a problem with Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, and I know this is one area where you and I are on the same wavelength so behave yourself, ok?) is that they have had many imitators, but the imitators rarely had anything like the same mastery of their instruments that Monk, Coleman and Coltrane had and the result is a god-awful mess. The same kind of god-awful mess as 1977 punk was. Give me Little Richard or Beefheart instead. But I’m not ditching my Genesis/ELP/Soft Machine/Steely Dan albums on your account either.

    I’ve never been a particular fan of Rick Wakeman but I would imagine that, as an accomplished pianist, he probably could have a good crack at Bemsha.

  281. 282
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Why would you want to ditch any of these?

    Also, as per ‘Trane, Monk, Ornette etc., examples please.

  282. 283
    enitharmon on 19 Apr 2011 #

    You want names? Dozens of wannabes in jazz pubs and clubs up and down the country. Blowed if I could ever remember names.

  283. 284
    thefatgit on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Thinking about record stores, I wonder how successful Record Store Day was as a whole? My nearest independent record store (Rockbox in Camberley) entered into the swing of things with gusto, featuring an instore acoustic set from Jettblack, as well as offers on some rare, albeit rock-centric vinyl. Plus they have a new-for-old policy on vinyl and CD’s. This kind of service you don’t get from the high street or online, and I’ll be only too glad to support them in the future.

  284. 285
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    About the only interesting thing about RSD was that most of the young ‘uns in the stores on Saturday were going for the vinyl, pretty well all of whom would not even have been around the last time vinyl was the main thing. I wonder why – is it what they’ve heard about superior sound quality etc., is it just a fashion, is it buried memories of parental nostalgia?

  285. 286
    wichita lineman on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Upshot of Record Store Day: it seems fact rather than wishful thinking that young ‘uns are buying vinyl these days.

    Reasons why? They’re tactile, there’s the artwork, the smell of vinyl, and the notion that listening to music should be more ceremony rather than wallpaper (I make tea with tea leaves, too, in a pot. It feels right). CDs will always have a place for a certain generation or two, but they now seem more like means of storing data (which they always were) rather than an indestructible format (industry lies!) with no clicks (people like clicks!).

  286. 287
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    I’d be interested to see the statistics but suspect that downloads far outsell either vinyl or CD – no tactility, no artwork (unless you download it), music as utilitarian tool at mercy of listener/re-creator (now there’s a revolution) and that can be wallpaper or not (but then, isn’t any form of stored music more or less the equivalent of wallpaper?).

  287. 288
    Conrad on 19 Apr 2011 #

    I would expect the increased prevalence of downloads, streams etc to lead to an increase in demand for vinyl and a commensurate decrease in demand for CD, which begings to look increasingly like a poor third choice.

    downloads – simple, easy
    vinyl – if you want a physical artefact with cover art, label

    Noticeable how CD packaging is trying to ape vinyl as best it can – all remasters/reissues tend to eschew the ugly jewel case in favour of cardboard gatefold sleeves.

    I don’t think it’s a nostalgia thing, vinyl is just a great product and a lot of young record buyers love it, perhaps it has the statement aspect too. Even cassettes are making a bit of a comeback with the kids apparently…

  288. 289
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    I think it’s purposely (and fetishingly) looking backwards, which is always unhealthy unless it adds to the future.

    CDs are fine by me; they’re easy to store/stack and don’t make the house smell like digestive biscuits. In my Oxford days I was compelled (by my then other half) to store all the vinyl in the garage for that precise reason.

  289. 290
    thefatgit on 19 Apr 2011 #

    I love the smell of digestive biscuits!

  290. 291
    wichita lineman on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Sorry Punctum, I didn’t think I needed to say that downloads outsell vinyl. The point I was making, if not that clearly, was that record shops have been saying for years that kids are getting back into vinyl. Now it’s clearly true. Of course it’s niche, but it’s not invalid. I think of sitting down and listening to (certain types of) music as more than just an aural sensoryexperience – I’m guessing you do too, but please tell me if I’m wrong. It even has a smell. My home smells like digestive biscuits.

  291. 292
    wichita lineman on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Help!! Can anyone suggest singles from 1976 that are multi-part (or post Bo Rhap) beyond Silver Star, Music, and I’m Mandy Fly Me? I’m blanking. There must be some flops as well as hits. A pint and a thank you in my forthcoming Bumper Book Of Pop will be yours.

  292. 293
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    “The Summer Of My Life” by Simon May and “City Lights” by David Essex spring immediately to mind.

    Hopefully your Bumper Book Of Pop will not overlap with our forthcoming Beginner’s Guide To New Pop book (which will not be called that; most probable title at present being Floodlit New Pop League).

  293. 294
    Tom on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Everyone’s got bumper books of pop on the go!

    I’m all for romanticising the music experience but I honestly know in 10 years time I’m going to be just as nostalgic for late-night hit-and-hope P2P browsing, or the communal post-release/leak babble of discussion, or the minor but genuine delight of backlit cover art on your iphone lock screen*, as I am now for CDs, tapes or vinyl. So I’d rather enjoy all that stuff in the moment than look back too much.

    *Nite Slugs releases in particular look gorgeous like this!

  294. 295
    Rory on 19 Apr 2011 #

    I’ve been living in a top-floor flat with its own attic for three years now, and last week I finally took the plunge and moved all my vinyl and CDs into it, to join the cassettes mouldering away there. Buying one of these and hooking it up to one of these swept away any lingering fondness for staring at shelves full of CDs more or less overnight (fortunately, I did all the necessary ripping a few years ago, although the vinyl still awaits). A pack or two of these made the storage of 1600 CDs as neat as it could be. Essentially, we regained a whole wall of our living room for a few hundred quid. The boxes of plastic are still there for whenever I want to commune with the objects rather than the music they contained…. my nostalgic side wants to think this will be a regular urge, but my realistic side knows it won’t.

  295. 296
    wichita lineman on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Re 294: I agree. I constantly fear for Spotify and Youtube and think this will be seen as a golden age in the future. But what do they make me want to do? Hunt out original vinyl copies, or make cd compilations…

  296. 297
    wichita lineman on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Re 293: Thanks Marcello. I KNEW there had to be an obvious one eluding me, and it was the much maligned Mr May.

    There’ll be a New Pop chapter in my book (which frankly I’m crapping myself about you lot reading….) but also Skiffle, Soft Rock, Doo Wop…

    Is your one all about New Pop? Or are you keeping your powder dry for now?

  297. 298
    punctum on 19 Apr 2011 #

    It’s going to be a joint collaboration between Lena and myself and the idea is to do an easy-to-understand (at least on the face of it) lighthearted everyman’s guide to New Pop – its origins, its forebears, its principles, its (continuing) history – with lots of pictures, colour, sidebars etc. and regular insertions of photos of Big Tony Hadley, Robert Elms &c. looking confused about why they’re not New Pop. In other words, we probably need bigger resources than Zero Books can offer but we want to make it approachable.

  298. 299
    Erithian on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Wichita – does “The Killing of Georgie parts 1 and 2” count? Distinct parts, even if the “oh Georgie stay” is a lengthy coda rather than a separate part. I remarked elsewhere that post Bo Rhap the duration of a song could be promoted as a selling point in itself, viz the Record Mirror ad promoting a new Gilbert O’Sullivan single as “Five minutes and sixteen seconds of sheer magic from Gilbert”! I’m sure we can come up with others.

    Agog with anticipation of a Popular thread crashing the 300 barrier!

  299. 300
    wichita lineman on 19 Apr 2011 #

    I bought that Gilbert O 45 from gemm after someone (maybe you? maybe Marcello?) flagged it up elsewhere. Nah. It just doesn’t know when to fade.

    But… yes! The Killing Of Georgie is another. Many thanks. Now I’ll have to find out your real name!

    There must be other ambitious ’76 singles that didn’t chart – all of these (bar City Lights) are Top 10 hits. Hmmm. Why punk didn’t have to happen (pt.34).

  300. 301
    lonepilgrim on 19 Apr 2011 #

    re 292:
    It doesn’t count but David Gates’ “Suite Clouds and Rain” from 1975 is another fantastic multipart song, that was released as an edited single.

  301. 302
    Erithian on 19 Apr 2011 #

    JJ Barrie raises his bat to the pavilion for a triple century he owes almost entirely to other people. And the crowd gobs on him.

  302. 303
    Erithian on 19 Apr 2011 #

    If we’re allowed to talk 1975, then a lad at school assured me that Queen had just nicked the idea of a three-part structure from “Une Nuit à Paris” from 10cc’s “The Original Soundtrack” album.

  303. 304
    Conrad on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Witchita, you could make a case for Elton’s reworking of Pinball Wizard, which becomes a full blown 5 minute epic, although to describe it as multi-part may be stretching it

  304. 305
    Waldo on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Would “Question” by the Moodies qualify for this? Stonking track in any case.

    Apropos digestives. Great cheese biscuits but for dunking in a cup of splosh nothing was better than a butter osborne. I don’t think you can get them now.

  305. 306
    wichita lineman on 19 Apr 2011 #

    Re 305: Question would definitely count (a late flower of the 1968 soft rock bloom) but it was from 1970 and I’m specifically thinking of ’76.

    Re 304: Hmmm… yesss. His Lucy In The Sky was similarly “full blown” but not quite to a Macarthur Park/Bo Rhap degree.

    Re 303: Queen were definitely paying attention to 10CC (they were pretty hard to miss). Une Nuit A Paris is less tight than Bo Rhap, but certainly the piano/vocal sections have a similarity – terrible puns and accents (gearing up for their ’78 no.1?) make it a hard listen for me.

    Re 301: Ahh! Never played it… but it’s on my biscuit-scented shelves… gorgeous start… blimey, I wasn’t expecting that Moog wig-out. Great call, it totally fits the bill.

    Thanks all. I love you guys.

  306. 307
    lonepilgrim on 19 Apr 2011 #

    the title track from ‘Station to Station’ from 1976 should also be counted, it gets a thorough consideration here: http://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/station-to-station/

  307. 308
    swanstep on 20 Apr 2011 #

    @Wichita. In 1976 and early 1977 Split Enz were cramming whole album’s worth of ideas into 3 minute singles. I’m not quite sure that these singles count as true multi-parters (they’re not Street Hassle from 1978 that’s for sure) but they were sure as hell feeling the pop-prog influence of 10cc/Queen. Anyhow, from v. early 1977, Another great divide (one of my fave records ever!), and from late 1976 (another fan favorite) Matinee Idyll. (For Split Enz at non-single length and in full prog/studio-headmode, check out Stranger than fiction which was from 1975 but was also Another Great Divide’s B-side).

  308. 309
    vinylscot on 20 Apr 2011 #

    Murray Head’s “Say It Ain’t So Joe” was a flop multi-part single from around this time (recorded in 75 but I’m not sure when the single was released).

    Definitely from ’76 – does Slik’s “Requiem” count? – pretty ambitious for Martin and Coulter.

    And what about “Blinded By The Light”, or “Free Bird”, even “Somebody To Love”? – maybe not as EPIC as some you mentioned earlier, but possibly might fit the bill.

  309. 310
    punctum on 20 Apr 2011 #

    “Say It Ain’t So” definitely came out in ’75, as did its parent album (which wasn’t as good).

    “Requiem” was pretty out there, though brought back to a bumping earth with its jaunty chorus.

    With those last few we get into the thorny subject of album version vs. single edit since we’d also have to allow the full 17 minutes of “Love To Love You Baby.”

  310. 311
    Erithian on 20 Apr 2011 #

    I’m sure you’re differentiating between the multi-part and the merely long, Wichita. I don’t remember which category it fell into, but “Black Or White (And Step On It)” by Cockney Rebel was out just after Bo Rhap, on the same label, and the latter’s success might have influenced the former’s single release – I may well be wrong on that. Notable too that “Good Vibrations” returned to the top 20 on the back of the Beach Boys’ 20 Golden Greats collection that was top of the album chart for much of the summer.

    Looking at Waldo’s #305, the juxtaposition of the words “dunking” and “osborne” is strangely satisfying.

  311. 312
    wichita lineman on 20 Apr 2011 #

    Good Vibrations in ’76, yes, of course… that was my introduction to the Beach Boys which, with all the other 45s mentioned above, explains a lot about my song structure preferences.

    Requiem needs a re-edit – it’s just a more extreme morose verse/chirpy chorus variation on Forever And Ever. But it’s a very good Gregorian Rodrigo verse. The bridge reminds me of Hurts, esp. their preposterous opratic backing singer.

    Never heard Black Or White before – was it a single?? It must have flopped completely (more an unnecessarily drawn-out song than multi-part epic, though, rather liked a couple of bunnied Oasis singles). If we’re talking pre-Bo Rhap, I’ll bet Freddie was a fan of Cockney Rebel’s outrageously OTT Sebastian.

    I should like Bat Out Of Hell in theory, but…

  312. 313
    Erithian on 20 Apr 2011 #

    Yes it was a single – there was an exchange on the Record Mirror letters page where someone had championed “Black or White” as being more coherent than Bo Rhap, and a Queen fan retorted “Bohemian Rhapsody may be less coherent, but at least it’s got some pace and life to it, while the Rebel record is nothing but a lengthy dirge”. Sounds accurate from what you’ve said!

  313. 314
    AndyPandy on 22 Apr 2011 #

    re Punctum at 298.
    I coulnd’t agree more. Why has rock music as opposed to say pop/dance/hiphop etc become the repository of so much small ‘c’ conservatism and basically Luddism?

    This fetishising of vinyl and refusal to move with the times (and I refuse to buy the old excuse that “it sounds better” – cobblers).
    Did the dawn of CDs coincide with rock music starting to fear the future?
    Even in the pre-rock era music – the record buyers (those same consumers who the rock fans ever since have ridiculed) were willing to move to albums and then 45s.

    And one other thing and I haven’t got the time to find the exact reference now but in all this “revival of vinyl” talk it should be noted that the amount of vinyl sold is less than miniscule – I think the percentage of vinyl sales as a proportion of the whole amount of music sold was 0.0something not even a full percentage point!And that’s on the freefalling music sale figures of today.

    Finally I had a look at the charts a few weeks ago (for the first time since probably the early 90s) my curiosity being piqued by the rash of articles on the ‘death of rock’ and I was totally shocked by the unbelievable transformation that had occurred (and especially in the singles landscape – but to be honest the albums isn’t exactly rammed with guitars).
    There literally wasn’t one rock single in the whole top 40 and in the couple of months since I think there’s only been a handful entering the single charts in total (and invariably spending 1 week at about no 37). Shit even the Arctic Monkeys (who I thought were supposed to be the new great white hopes not too long ago) with their first single since an apparent layoff couldnt get past no 28!
    This seismic shift is the biggest in the singles chart since the mid ’50s and the dawn of rock n roll and rock has not been this under-represented in the singles chart since about 1955.

    Why has this happened and does it tie in with the rock traditionalists’
    hankering for vinyl and fear that their era is after 55 years finally drawing to a close?

  314. 315
    flahr on 22 Apr 2011 #

    Rock not dead just: because ‘classic’ rock is fetishised it means rock sales are spread over every rock song ever rather than pop which tends to be more focussed on modern stuff; the province of young adult males who spend their money on booze and listen to music on YouTube for free; more stereotypical observations based on wandering up and down university corridors; blah blah blah.

  315. 316
    enitharmon on 23 Apr 2011 #

    Heavens, I hold no particular brief for vinyl. Most of my erstwhile vinyl collection is rotting away somewhere; it’s been a good many years since I had anything to play it on for one thing. For another, vinyl LPs were very heavy to carry between Uni (where of course I earned my degree by wandering up and down corridors) and home.

    All the same, there was something very satisfying about vinyl LPs. Somebody else has mentioned the rituals associated with playing an LP. There’s also the album as an artefact, complete with artwork, and the sense of the best vinyl albums being a carefully constructed total performance in two acts. Transfer to CD took some of that away with its instant selectivity of tracks, elimination the ‘interval’, and the annoying addition of ‘bonus’ tracks which take away the theatricality of the ending. Those bonus tracks might be acceptable if they were otherwise unreleased material of release quality but the padding-out of the capacity of the CD with ‘live versions’ (which might well have been electrifying if you were there but without the adrenaline and the sweat and the smells lack a certain je ne sais quoi, alternative mixes, out-takes and general tat is just taking the piss.

    Pop, of course, is ephemeral by nature. It’s always been so but much more now when, as is evident from postings to this thread, that which endures is to be sneered at. It’s a phenomenon that defines our time; not only is pop ephemeral but our clothes are designed to be worn a couple of times and thrown away and woe-betide the hip young thing caught in public with last year’s mobile phone. Everybody got their iPhone 4? Good, now go out and spend more money on an iPhone 5 or risk social death. Our contemporary nightmare isn’t Orwellian, it’s Huxleyan, but we weren’t watching for that. Stop whining about sustainability and a capitalist system growing out of control, just take your Soma, watch the X-Factor and keep on consuming.

    I have a birthday coming up in a few weeks. Should I fear that my era is after 57 years drawing to a close? Outta my way Grandma!

  316. 317
    wichita lineman on 24 Apr 2011 #

    “Somebody else has mentioned the rituals associated with playing an LP. There’s also the album as an artefact, complete with artwork, and the sense of the best vinyl albums being a carefully constructed total performance in two acts”

    That was me, Rosie. Glad you agree.

    Andy – Who said “fetishising of vinyl” has anything to do with not moving with the times? I like original artefacts. I buy new records on cd if they’re not on vinyl. NO ONE IS SAYING VINYL IS THE FUTURE FORMAT (apart from L Ron Hubbard). I really don’t like the suggestion that people who buy vinyl are a) rock classicists or b) Luddites. I LOVE POP. And deep soul! And Julie London! And Michael freakin Jackson!

    Instead of calling vinyl fans ‘conservatives’ and other lazy insults, how about ‘modernists’ who can differentiate between an ugly convenient format and something of heft and greater aesthetic value?

    Pfffft. How’d you get me in such a bad mood on a sunday morning??

  317. 318
    enitharmon on 24 Apr 2011 #

    Recent contributors to this thread might find this piece in today’s Observer of interest:


    As an addition to what I said above, I might add that I, too, find the slickness and instant gratification of digital culture oppressive. I love working in black and white with my old Nikon camera and darkroom, and I eat my dinner off hand-made plates gleaned one-by-on from craft shops and fairs over the years. I appreciate the human touch and think it worth waiting for – and this is from one who has been immersed in digitalia since Jimi Hendrix topped the charts!

  318. 319
    ottersteve on 24 Apr 2011 #

    Has anyone mentioned John Miles “Music” for a multi-part single – No.2 in spring of ’76

    Going back in time a bit – Macarthur Park by Richard Harris 1968

  319. 320
    wichita lineman on 24 Apr 2011 #

    Thanks Steve, it was one I’d already flagged up. Used to love it. Does any other song have such a mismatch of luxurious, expansive arrangement and sub-Hallmark lyric?

  320. 321
    thefatgit on 24 Apr 2011 #

    What’s this “fetishising of vinyl” got to do with Rock? As far as I remember the early adopters of CD’s were all buying “Brothers In Arms”. From what I’ve seen and experienced since then, the vinyl champions were within the Dance sphere. Hip Hop drew from a vast aquifer of vinyl to propogate itslf. Dance, in all it’s forms has relied on DJs spinning brand new acetates in clubs, long before Ministry and Gatecrasher released compilations of those successful floor-fillers on CD.
    Even Indie “purists” eschew digital formats for vinyl. But these are a minority. The music industry doesn’t need vinyl to boost sales. The music industry needs vinyl as a means of communicating within itself to generate ideas and attitudes.

  321. 322
    punctum on 26 Apr 2011 #

    That Grauniad article was depressing to read, featuring as it did the sort of people who in a different age would still have been going on about Kenny Ball when the Beatles were happening. The future’s here, grow up and deal with it.

  322. 323
    thefatgit on 26 Apr 2011 #

    I s’pose the de facto punk thread is as good a place as any to say goodbye to Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex.

  323. 324
    AndyPandy on 26 Apr 2011 #

    re 321 the “fetishising of vinyl” = the fact that of of those still buying vinyl (and especially the 7inch the format that is synonymous with “Record Shop Day” etc)and aside from dance 12inchers* just about all of it will be rock music*

    AFAIK you can’t even buy pop/hiphop/r&b on vinyl

    *dance music is slightly different because of mixing/scratching etc and although CD mixing/scratching is making inroads the survival of dance vinyl does seem to be for a valid reason rather than just a desparate clinging to the past…

  324. 325
    Tim on 26 Apr 2011 #

    Andy I can’t tell whether your disapproval is directed at people who like vinyl more than they like CDs, or at people who like to buy hard copies of music rather than downloading soft copies? I’m not sure why you would disapprove of either, either.

  325. 326
    Mark M on 26 Apr 2011 #

    Re 325: It’s certainly still possible to buy some hip-hop albums on vinyl – and not just the hip-hop equivalents of the indie bands who put out 7 inch singles (which, by the way, I don’t think is a bad thing to do).

    Re 322: It’s from the Obs, as Rosie correctly cited. I think the Guardian have damaged their brand with the combined website as nobody reading stuff online notices that the vacuous Sunday filler rubbish comes from The Observer.

  326. 327
    weej on 26 Apr 2011 #

    Re:323 – Sad, didn’t know she was even ill. First Ari Up and now her, suddenly there aren’t many original female punks left.

    Re:322, 326, etc – it’s a poor article for sure, but I think it’s unfair to characterise these people (or the musician at least) as closed-minded nostalgics for an age they don’t remember. What they’re doing is imposing restrictions. When you’re making music these days it’s hard to know where to start – if you can make any sound in the world, where do you start? Trying to get broken equipment to work sounds like a much more productive creative process than sitting in front of cubase cycling through your influences on a completely concious level. It’s a shame the writer doesn’t seem to appreciate this point.

  327. 328
    punctum on 26 Apr 2011 #

    Trying to get broken equipment to work when you’ve got up-to-date technology available at your fingertips strikes me as perverse to the point of sectionable.

  328. 329
    thefatgit on 26 Apr 2011 #

    I think there could be an element of Steampunk influencing these artists, rather than nostalgia itself. The piece also touches on the need for a certain skill or ability to get the best from the equipment they are using, which involves trial and error as part of the creative process. That in itself, once the artist has achieved what he or she has set out to do, can be immensely more satisfying. It’s not necessary for the audience to appreciate it, although some may find the creative process just as fascinating as the finished product. There are people who value craft (now, there’s a contentious word. I’m not necessarily talking about chops here, the kind of formal training you get to become a skilled professional whatever, but an ability to become comfortable within your chosen medium, like an amateur painter who gets a couple of pictures displayed at the Royal Academy every summer). These artists have chosen an outdated, but nonetheless valid medium.

    It works for them, and as long as there are those who enjoy their product, where’s the harm?

  329. 330
    punctum on 26 Apr 2011 #

    It gets in the way of the future when promoted as a creed. Like woodwork, like politics.

  330. 331
    Mark M on 26 Apr 2011 #

    However, a good half-dozen recent futuristic-sounding chart hits have namechecked the Roland 808, a piece of tech that was obsolete a good quarter century back…

  331. 332
    Mark G on 26 Apr 2011 #

    Who says it’s obsolete? It all comes down to the noise it makes.

    Which is better, a guitar or the guitar setting on the oberoid?

    ans:= “Whichever one sounds the way you want it to.”

  332. 333
    weej on 26 Apr 2011 #

    I’d point to the ultimate evidence of “difficult tech = more interesting results” as being the output of the BBC Radiophonics Workshop. Pre-synths = most amazing sounds you’ve ever heard, post-synths = now-naff-sounding 1970s incidental music. Having a physical process gives you a structure to experiment around, whether it’s an instrument or an outdated piece of electric hardware.
    These days people can make any sound they can imagine, but their imaginations often don’t seem to stretch further than their immediate influences, so instead of an infinite vista of sounds, everything sounds more and more similar. More often than not inspiration comes as part of process. No process can mean no inspiration.

  333. 334
    wichita lineman on 26 Apr 2011 #

    The Observer article is for people who used to say “oldy worldy” and now say “retro”, both of which suggest zero grasp of history beyond “it’s all old”.

    Simon Reynolds’ next book is called Retro Mania. I’m scared.

    Andy, Punctum… I don’t understand why you’re getting so pissed off about vinyl per se. I thought I’d explained why I buy and collect vinyl upthread, which is for socio-historical reasons as well as aesthetic.

    I don’t live in the past, I would never choose to, and if I could use a Tardis I’d always go forwards. But the past, and its musical hardware and software, fascinate me. Sorry if that offends you – I haven’t got a bleedin’ clue why it should.

  334. 335
    thefatgit on 26 Apr 2011 #

    Can’t quite get the thought of people getting all Henry Ford over vinyl on a blog that examines the past! Quite strange.

  335. 336
    enitharmon on 26 Apr 2011 #

    Marcello, would you say we should drop Mozart because of Schoenberg? Do you believe every advance to be a positive one? Can you not appreciate the journey for its own sake?

  336. 337
    anto on 26 Apr 2011 #

    I don’t own an ipod. I don’t own anything on vinyl.
    As far as I’m concerned time is curved before it is linear.

  337. 338
    thefatgit on 26 Apr 2011 #

    One more observation; I hardly think the likes of Kitty Daisy & Lewis are gamechangers that threaten the future. I can understand the need for forward momentum, but let’s at least pause along the way to see where we’ve been. Otherwise, we’ll all be wondering how we got (t)here.

  338. 339
    swanstep on 27 Apr 2011 #

    Vaguely relatedly, has anyone read Greg Milner’s _Perfecting Sound Forever_ about the co-evolution of recording and studio and playback technologies? I skimmed the 30-40% I could find on-line one afternoon and was impressed/depressed by its basic picture.

    And RIP Phoebe Snow.

  339. 340
    punctum on 27 Apr 2011 #

    #336: We’re talking technology here. No doubt there are people who prefer to listen to Don Giovanni on a series of crackly, scratchy 78 discs which you have to get up and change every three-and-a-half minutes than on CD, with high-grade sound quality/remastering and only having to get up and change the CD once or twice (I recommend the 1966 New Philharmonia/Otto Klemperer reading myself). But that’s Canute level perversity.

  340. 341
    enitharmon on 27 Apr 2011 #

    Oh well, Marcello knows best, as always.

  341. 342
    Mark G on 27 Apr 2011 #

    But Canute didn’t have the feeling that actually even though his courtiers were convinced the new way was better, his own ears told him different. Or maybe he did, in his own way, decide “Actually, my feet needed washing, and it’s a nice sensation too. Who needs a bucket when you have the sea?”

  342. 343
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 27 Apr 2011 #

    Grrrr, I hate the way this (probably made-up) story is now misremembered! Canute knew perfectly well the tide was going to come in! He sat there and allowed it to wash over him to prove a point to his fawning courtiers — that he did NOT have power over the sea….


  343. 344
    AndyPandy on 27 Apr 2011 #

    re 334 I’ve no problem with anyone listening to music in anyway they think fit but in certain articles/threads about vinyl/against digital technology, I’ve seen – its not just about a positive view of vinyl but also often an antipathy to cds/digital downloads and more than occasionally a hostility to certain musical genres too (hiphop,r&b, pop whatever)which they don’t seem to see as proper music.

  344. 345
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 27 Apr 2011 #

    In my experience — viz a vast but unfinished critical history of music and technology :( :( :( — there is definitely a linkage between the eras of given technologies, with their particular strengths and flaws, and the eras of cultural dominance of music genres. What there certainly isn’t — despite the rhetoric of the manufacturers — is a Universal Technology showing ALL POSSIBLE musics to best advantage… not least because different musics of course thrive in willed antipathy to one another. (One of my arguments in the unfinished book is that there has never been a time, since the arrival of the phonograph, when tere weren’t two formats locking horns with one another; the meaningful shape of that era’s history being the unresolveable story of the struggle, of salvage and transformation, rather than the slavish acceptance of one side’s version of events…)

    I haven’t read Greg Milner’s book — tho I should have done :( :( :( :( :( :( — but certainly one of the most interesting aspects of the arrival of digital sound synthesis has been that speed and flexibility — both of which depend to some extent on pre-programmability of functions, and compatiblity — were achieved at the expense of range of possible sounds…

    (Also: blunt fact — early digital for a long time didn’t deliver the sound and shape of electric guitar distortion to the satisfaction of its senior exponents: Neil Young and Lou Reed could both jabber yr ears off in regard to this… cranks both, of course, but experts in that specific soundfield.)

    (The relationship between technology and format on one hand, as the material basis of a medium, and the expressive potential of that medium — especially the tendency of a given medium to rationalise purely arbitrary practical limitations as Iron Laws of Art — is to me the possibly most interesting issue of all.)

  345. 346
    Steve Mannion on 27 Apr 2011 #

    sukrat “The relationship between technology and format on one hand, as the material basis of a medium, and the expressive potential of that medium — especially the tendency of a given medium to rationalise purely arbitrary practical limitations as Iron Laws of Art — is to me the possibly most interesting issue of all”

    How about, as an example, the idea of there being an “ideal length” that most albums should be? Did this shift and increase in the CD age? Is it now too sticky to fade away even once we reach that point where no new music is released on physical formats?

  346. 347
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 27 Apr 2011 #

    It did increase, yes — LPs were roughly two sides of 15-22 mins, plausible max. total c.45 mins (longer LPs were said to suffer from “groove cramming”: they delivered less volume and sometimes the gap between grooves was so slight that the indents on a neighbouring groove affected the groove the needle was currently in, so you faintly heard a kind of time-lapse bleed-thorough); CDs after a while started to come in at 1 hr minimum (the ones that weren’t simply new-format reissues, I mean)

    There’s a more complex question about human attention span, though*: a song that’s one second long is a novelty, and a song that’s (say) five hours long is a rarity — it tends to be thought of as a “work”, and will have breaks built in (like the chapters and volumes in very long 19th century books). If anything the thing that’s seems to have become “sticky” is the notion of the “album” as a quasi-unified collection of short semi-autonomous pieces; this isn’t strictly speaking an invention of rock culture, but the modes of its elaboration and its bedding in to the unconscious levels of our reception both are. To the extent that non-rock musics are battling to free themselves from its grip — dance music probably is, rap certainly isn’t — they are fighting against something they need to be understood; the militant energy of resistance would evaporate the moment the earlier form was actually culturally forgotten.

    *Stockhausen had a theory about what he called “octaves” of time — different clusters of timespan that demanded different mode of attention (the timespan of the note is roughly 0.05-1 second, for example; and there’s the timespan of the melodic phrase, the timespan of the song, the timespan of the movement, the timespan of the work, the timespan of the ritual, and so on up… ) (He articulated it semi-scientifically, and it actually falls apart as science I think — but as sociology or ethnology it’s interesting to see what the similiarities of attention-span are between different cultures)

  347. 348
    Erithian on 27 Apr 2011 #

    You probably know of the widespread supposition that the maximum length of a CD was set at 74 minutes specifically to accommodate Beethoven’s 9th symphony, and that Herbert von Karajan, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, was a major factor in determining that this should be so. (So what was Oasis’s excuse for Be Here Now, one wonders?!) Here’s what the myth-debunking site Snopes says about it: http://www.snopes.com/music/media/cdlength.asp

    Did you find that on K-Tel compilation LPs in particular the volume was markedly lower, so as to cope with groove cramming?

    Incidentally, I love how after 340 posts we get from JJ Barrie to a silly Cnut.

  348. 349
    lonepilgrim on 27 Apr 2011 #

    another significant change to our consumption of music has been the swing between speakers and headphones. Families would congregrate around the one ‘wireless’ before the cheap transistor radio allowed more personal and portable consumption.
    I first associate headphones with (appropriately) the ‘head’ music of the 70s and bands like Pink Floyd exploited the possibilities of panning and sound effects.
    The ghettoblasters of the late 70s/early 80s supported a more public consumption before the Walkman swung things back.
    Early CD players were part of expensive hi-fi with speakers to emphasise the quality of the recording until the discman repeated the role of the walkman. Mp3 players have extended this experience – to the extent that most of my consumption of music is via headphones – unless I’m driving.

  349. 350
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 27 Apr 2011 #

    Very roughly speaking — certainly until the 90s — the two-format tension would unpacked as hifi/classy vs lofi/street: with jazz, for example, migrating from street in the 20s and 30s to classy in the 80s, and “quality” in jazz similarly mutating, from “cellarful of noise” joy, back when it was it be found on the lo-fi format, to stately historical self-awareness in the 80s, when it primarily being made for high-end reproduction. Making a racket was the smartest way to exploit the lo-fi formats; noisy music sounded relatively better.

    But it’s actually a good deal more complex than this, even in the 30s or the 50s or the 70s, and I’m not actually sure that music in the age of the free download entirely conforms to the same protocols.

  350. 351
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 27 Apr 2011 #

    First “pop” CD is Ry Cooder’s 1979 Bop Till You Drop: which sorta kinda conjures Uncut-style dadmusic into being a decade in advance… so is it a lovingly crafted pastiche reissue or music expressly refashioned to suit its gleaming new mode of reproduction?

  351. 352
    flahr on 27 Apr 2011 #

    I dunno why people keep calling it dadmusic. FT is surely one of the most daddest places on the internet and everyone loves Girls Aloud. (As does my dad.)

  352. 353
    Tom on 27 Apr 2011 #

    I am a Dad, and I listen to a lot of Dadmusic, so I view the term Dadmusic as inherently value neutral, while knowing precisely what sukrat means.

    (My personal insult of choice is “Joolsbait” though)

  353. 354
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 27 Apr 2011 #

    Haha fair enough, flahr, bad old habits die hard. Exceot I don’t know what to handwavingly call it if I don’t use its (misleading) name.

  354. 355
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 27 Apr 2011 #

    I’m not even actually being insulting, really: BtyD isn’t my favourite Ry Cooder LP (and I hardly ever read Uncut and never watch Jools), but I think RC’s a good thing, on the whole.

  355. 356
    weej on 27 Apr 2011 #

    Ha, my Dad’s favourite artiste was always Ry Cooder when I was young, though I think it’s probably been Steve Earle these last ten years. I don’t think he’d be interested in Uncut, Girls Aloud or watching Jools though.

  356. 357
    thefatgit on 27 Apr 2011 #

    Is this thread slowly morphing into a repository for everything that is supposedly “bad”, like we’re all a bunch of, dare I say it…Grumpy Old Men???

  357. 358
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 27 Apr 2011 #

    i’m only grumpy when people diss cnut!

  358. 359
    Mark G on 27 Apr 2011 #

    It was like when all those jazz dudes couldn’t play to their people as they were ‘colbarred’ from entering theatres, so they would make those short films of their performances for showing in the cinemas in the black parts of town.

    Which is why we have all those great films of Cab Calloway, Louis jordan, etc, and not of all those ‘white-only’ acts that always played to their people in the nice theatres….

  359. 360
    punctum on 28 Apr 2011 #

    Too bad Mark S missed the recent episode of Jools where Mr Boogie Woogie Piano Magic was utterly pwned by McCoy Tyner, who would not stop his piece; he was reduced to grimacing camera pseudo-grins and having to yell “MCCOY! TYNER! JAZZ! LEGEND! GETOFF!” so that Elbow could close the show with their community singalong. Nothing against Elbow, whose current album I greatly prefer to their extremely overrated previous one, but it was terrific television.

    “Grumpy Old Men” bang on about how great things used to be, whereas I’m more concerned about how things are going to be. Hence vinyl fetishists etc. have more in common with GOM than I do.

    A friend of mine was once shocked to see me ranting away on an episode of GOM before he realised it was Ken Stott.

  360. 361
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 28 Apr 2011 #

    You were chuckling about that when I saw you last, Marcello — I wish I had seen it, the New Thing’s belated Bill Grundy moment!

  361. 362
    enitharmon on 28 Apr 2011 #

    Quoth marcello @ 360:

    “Grumpy Old Men” bang on about how great things used to be, whereas I’m more concerned about how things are going to be. Hence vinyl fetishists etc. have more in common with GOM than I do”.

    Erm, Mr Child-Prodigy-Who-Went-To-Oxford, did they not teach you Logic amongst those dreaming spires?

  362. 363
    punctum on 28 Apr 2011 #

    I done moral philosophy innit.

    I gave up quothing in 2003 on doctor’s orders.

  363. 364
    flahr on 28 Apr 2011 #

    So you will quoth nevermore?

  364. 365
    enitharmon on 28 Apr 2011 #


    Bravo, my little caramel wafer! I was a bit of an Ethics Girl myself at one time.

  365. 366
    Billy Hicks on 13 Jun 2011 #

    Can I be a bit controversial and say I actually quite like this song? Maybe it’s bad for 1976 standards, but given some of the crap that’s been at number 1 in the 35 years since, I don’t think it’s as bad as people claim. Maybe because JJ Barrie seems like a genuinely nice person (having never heard of him before the recent TOTP repeats), a friendly uncle type, yeah it’s overly sentimental but it’s written at least with some heart. There are records much, much worse than this to have graced the top spot, I’ll listen to this over some dire manufactured boyband ballad/X Factor winner any day. It wasn’t even the worst record on tonight’s TOTP, that honour went to Our Kid.

    Wikipedia page reveals that Mr Barrie is still alive and well, and approaching his 78th birthday in a few weeks. He’s also an ex-comedian, so I wonder if he’d have appreciated the Billy Connolly parody.

  366. 367
    wichita lineman on 14 Jun 2011 #

    1. Tonight’s TOTP??

    2. Better than Our Kid??? I haven’t heard their sole hit in years but in my mind it sounds like a Spector-lite pre-pubescent smash.

    3. No Charge better than most Westlife no.1s???? Err, yes, of course you’re right.

  367. 368
    Mark G on 14 Jun 2011 #

    1. Yup, watch on the iplayer!

  368. 369
    wichita lineman on 15 Jun 2011 #

    Bye bye JJ… never to be seen again after this week’s TOTP.

    Our Kid… memory playing tricks. Wafer thin production.

  369. 370
    Cumbrian on 5 Aug 2011 #

    Mojo this month has an article advertised on the front cover about “Why Punk Had To Happen” written by Jon Savage. Not read it yet – bought it for a flight later on this month (it came complete with Suze Rotolo’s book on Bob Dylan, which I imagine will help kill the time too). I wonder whether he’s bothered reading this epic thread to get some ideas.

  370. 371
    wichita lineman on 7 Aug 2011 #

    Ha! I’d like to think so. But sadly it’s mojo selling the mag with their usual exclamation mark-ridden front page. The piece has little to do with “why”. No mention of JJ Barrie. Or Third World War for that matter.

  371. 372
    wichita lineman on 7 Jun 2012 #

    The Guardian’s ‘Euro 2012 Of Pop’ omits JJ’s duet with Cloughie:


    …which I’d never heard til just now. The song’s lousy but Cloughie’s spoken part is really quite touching.

  372. 373
    punctum on 7 Jun 2012 #

    “Why Punk Had To Happen” – so that ageing hacks could earn a crust writing articles about it 36 years later.

  373. 374
    lonepilgrim on 8 Jun 2012 #

    Why punk had to happen:


    Thanks to LondonLee for the link

  374. 375
    cliffpost on 4 Apr 2013 #

    what was on the ‘B’ side of no charge?

  375. 376
    cliffpost on 4 Apr 2013 #

    looking for a song called love is all around from the mid to late 70s, so not the wet wet wet version.

  376. 377
    Lazarus on 6 Apr 2013 #

    # 375 the B side is called ‘Till I’m Loving You Again’ and you can hear it on Youtube. Someone is selling this record on eBay at the moment, asking £6.49, seems a trifle optimistic, but you never know I suppose …

    # 376 that song was originally recorded by the Troggs in the 60s and it’s been covered many times, so no doubt a few artists did it in the 70s. Or do you mean a different song?

  377. 378
    weej on 24 Apr 2014 #

    Watching the video for the first time I’m struck by how much JJ Barrie reminds me of the young-people hating third juror in 12 Angry Men – “Rotten kid! You work your heart out…”

  378. 379
    Inanimate Carbon God on 17 Jan 2015 #

    Can’t believe this bloke’s got another film adaptation in the works. Peter Pan wasn’t even that good a book!

    That joke might be cast adrift from the best, but it never gets old.

    Psalm 51:3

  379. 380
    lonepilgrim on 13 Nov 2019 #

    lest we forget the rubbish that clogged up the charts, here’s this cynical, passive aggressive product delivered with self satisfied smarm. I’m not sure that this in particular was why punk had to happen but along with a lot of the number ones of the previous years it does embody a culture where young people were neglected and patronised – thank goodness that changed

  380. 381
    Gareth Parker on 6 May 2021 #

    I would go along with Tom’s 2/10 here…..

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)

If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page