6
Jun 08

THE SEX PISTOLS – “God Save The Queen”

FT + Popular211 comments • 11,993 views

#405.5, 7th June 1977

Did it get to number one? I don’t know. Would it have made any difference either way? It might have accelerated the opprobrium, naturally there would have been questions in the house, a headline or twenty… but in this case a close call was enough. Malcolm McLaren was in a win-win situation, of course: “God Save The Queen” is easily as powerful as a martyr single as it would have been as a chart-topper. Witness the NME’s recent, risible attempt to get it to its “rightful” position – it landed at #42. All crimes are paid, indeed. The Pistols’ failure to hit the top is much more a badge of pride – “they” (whoever “they” were) were worried! – than an injustice to be righted.

A Pistols Number One might have taken us in two directions – both of which happened anyway. It would have underpinned the triumphalism that’s become a characteristic of the long aftermath of punk: an eruption that’s become a touchstone, a definition of the terms in which radical change can and should happen in pop. Those terms, of course, can never be met – the fond endorsement when something tries is as stifling as the harrumphing when something fails.

The establishment and industry responses to punk may have been the same initially: appalled recoil (shared by a vast number of non-punker kids, in fact). But they soon diverged – the music biz didn’t think “this mustn’t happen again”, quite the opposite: “this must and will happen again, and this time we’ll be there”. Similarly the critical and tastemaker response: punk made heroes of its vanguard, gifting some of them long careers. “I will see it coming next time” became a new hero story. And as the post-punk settlement rolled into place, so too came a reinforcement at all levels of the business of the eternal truth about music, whose temporary overthrow was the mid-60s’ great achievement: it’s the crap stuff that sells. Or, in the words of Malcolm, “Of course the real fans aren’t buying it.”

The other direction is more positive: a Pistols number one would also have reinforced the link between punk and pop – a shock and a challenge, yes, but at the same time a novelty, something else to be assimilated into the great gleeful tapestry of pop music. By covering “God Save The Queen” I’m paying lip service to punk’s sense of exceptionalism, but I’m also trying to deny it: this is pop, like anything else. The apparent rejection of punk by the charts was a smokescreen – the renewed attention to the 7” single would reinvigorate the Top 40. And of course it wasn’t just punk – almost all the most interesting music for the next 20 years happens on single, across a bunch of genres just now poking their heads above commercial water, creeping up on us while we fuss about fixes and safety pins and spit. I occasionally think of Popular as a three-act story: this is the end of Act I, the false start of the second great age of singles, which was also the world that shaped me as a listener.

And at the end of all that, is it a great single itself? Oh yes. Someone – Mark or Mike – perceptively noted in the comments box how “punk” was a wild many limbed-thing, internally riven and never any kind of agreed movement: they identified two pertinent wings, the “back to basics”, pop-rejecting end of it and the more millennial, year zero end. “God Save The Queen”’s power is in how well it appeals to both – the rowdy monarch-baiting working as a broad-based “fuck you” to the nobs, before the amazing shift to the more visionary “flowers in your dustbin” material that so excited people like Greil Marcus (and me).

Straddling these is Johnny Rotten, gleeful and vicious. He’s one of those performers whose physicality and voice are completely inseparable – you simply can’t hear the cackles and digs on “Queen” without seeing his bug-eyed goading stare. His performance makes the song explode: his iconic contempt on “we mean it, maaan”, his straight-backed ranting on “there cannot be sin”, and the way half his lines – “we’re the future, your future” – are as much tease and come-on as attack. The other Pistols? The guitarist is fine when not dicking around with glam divebombs, the drummer is doing a good job nudging Johnny from point to point, if there’s a bassist here I’ve never paid him attention. More than the band’s other singles, this is Rotten’s show.

As the record finally detonates, there is a world of difference between “There is no future in England’s dreaming” – so wake up then! – and “There is no future, an’ England’s dreaming” – bye bye. The two hearings are two summaries of punk’s impact. I’ve never checked which Johnny Rotten actually sings: I’m not sure which I want to be real.

Comments

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  1. 121
    Caledonianne on 14 Jun 2008 #

    Another naysayer.

    I am seven weeks away from being 18 when this storm in a tea cup is going on, and felt well too old to be seduced by this charmless racket, which I regarded as a steaming pile of ordure in 1977, as I do today.

    It changed nothing for me, or for anyone I knew. The silver Jubilee made zippo impact on my life (no street parties, no home-baking marathons in Paisley), unlike the Golden Jubilee when my grey-headed self had a whale of a time at my picture postcard not-quite-Cotswolds’ village’s 8am – midnight, firework-lit mega jamboree which had everything to do with celebrating community and solidarity (the sort of thing Mr Brown’s sordid deal with the DUP last week was designed to destroy), and precious little to do with Her Maj, who most saw as kindly providing a vehicle for a day off work, and a fabulous excuse for a blinding knees-up.
    Instinctively a republican (but with no animus towards Brenda) frankly I can’t wait for the Diamond bash.

    The name of Rod’s record seems quite apt – on my council estate, at my school – no-one gave a gnat’s fart for this humdrum record let alone want to talk about it. So long as Janis Ian and Randy Newman were making records all was right with the world. And come to think of it…

  2. 122
    intothefireuk on 14 Jun 2008 #

    Although the Pistols were, by now, already infamous through Grundy & tabloid protestations, ‘Anarchy’ was still, relatively, little heard, at least amongst the general pop public. For the majority of the GPP ‘God Save’ was their point of entry and at this stage of the game it certainly registered more with me too. Mainly because it stuck two fingers up to madge and was outrageous and, more importantly, FUN. It’s hard to imagine a single or a band causing that much upset now but this was a different time and the Pistols were pushing all the right (or wrong) buttons. No future was a glorious catchphrase and worked perfectly as a football chant sing along at the end of record. There surely can be (almost) no doubt that somewhere along the line the chart compilers or the Beeb itself manipulated the figures to ensure it didn’t make the, still coveted, number one spot. The Christmas 1977 TOTP would have been so much more fun with the Pistols onboard.

    Having only recently converted to prog (1976 in fact) and, despite the effectiveness of GSTQ, it was a still a while before I fully embraced punk and I didn’t actually shell out for a record until The Rods power pop/pub rock/punk classic ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’ appeared two months later. This was closely followed in my collection by the Boomtown Rats ‘Looking After No1.’ after that there was no stopping me. The funny thing was it never interfered with my desire to go to rock gigs (or my continuing to buy prog albums). I even bought (on Gabriel’s recommendation in an interview) Throbbing Gristle’s 2nd Annual Report but then wondered what the hell was going on there.

    For me, punk’s main liberating effect was encouraging me to pick up an instrument and have a go at playing music. Something I’d wanted to do but, due to a lack of formal training, never thought I could (it probably didn’t help that I’d been listening to prog and thinking you had to be master of your instrument before joining a band). Punk inspired new attitudes and new ideas and gave rock and pop a much needed shot in the arm. It wasn’t particularly appreciated in the beginning but eventually it seeped into the conscientiousness of all and like it or not changed a good deal of pop and rock forever.

  3. 123
    rosie on 15 Jun 2008 #

    One thing has come up in this debate, (and in arguments for punk in other places), that I’m curious about, and that’s the way that, supposedly, punk encouraged people to pick up an instrument and make music with it. And the thing I don’t really understand is, why was that not the case before? In fact it patently was the case some time before because in my teen years an awful lot of my contemporaries acquired guitars and didn’t much care if they were up to Hendrix standard. I acquired a guitar too and being the kind of awkward sod who hates to follow the herd mine was a cheap classical guitar and I taught myself to play it in the classical manner to the point of being able to doia passable flamenco in a school concert. My guitar hero at the time was Robbie Krieger rather than Hendrix, mind.

    It didn’t have to be a guitar, of course. Tin whistles were cheap. Harmonicas were easy to pick up. There was even the autoharp, a beast that seems to be extinct now though I understand good specimens are quite sought after. And there was always that old standby, the recorder (and if Jefferson Airplane and Led Zep could get away with it, it couldn’t be that uncool)

    Around the time we are talking of I, of the cloth ears when it comes to singing or playing an instrument, was part of a medieval/renaissance band called the Beverley Consort which played around the folk clubs of the East Riding. I could play in this because I had bought a recorder when at uni – to avoid charges of uncoolness I bought a tenor recorder, a biggish beast with metal keys that is never given in a plastic version to small children – and taught myself to play it. Once I could play a recorder I could also play the other workhorses of the medieval band, funky things like the crumhorn (a curved thing that blows sophisticated raspberries), cornemuse (much the same only straight) and shawm (a gloriously ear-splitting noise). And the glory of playing in that kind of band is that you really don’t have to play in tune! All those instruments are unbelievably difficult to play in tune (another good reason why they shouldn’t be given to small children, especially when there is more than one of them) but that’s all part of the authentic experience.

    I get the feeling that according to the myth, before punk there was nothing but great megalithic icons playing stadiums. That is very far from the truth. I don’t think I ever attended a gig in a stadium until the 80s – I saw Joe Jackson at the Wembley Arena and it was a disaster, totally different from Joe Jackson at the much more intimate Hitchin Regal. Then there was the 1990 Mandela bash, which wasn’t that great because the world and his dog was playing and the result was something like you got when all your coloured Plasticene got mixed up together in a turd-coloured mess. But there were always local gigs in community centres by bands that never got a sniff of the charts but were always perfectly enjoyable. There were the journeyman bands like Ducks Deluxe who were stalwarts of Saturday nights at the Liverpool Students Union.

    I suggest that what happened after the Sex Pistols what not that something new was happening, but that what had been going on almost unnoticed for years suddenly became fashionable. I think that’s reflected in the good stuff to come, once those bands had stopped clinging to the coat-tails of the Pistols.

  4. 124
    SteveM on 15 Jun 2008 #

    punk encouraged people to pick up an instrument and make music with it. And the thing I don’t really understand is, why was that not the case before?´

    isn´t it just the old “well if THEY can do it, so can I” thing? that perception of ability becoming less important than creativity and that it was as if less talent OR hard work was required to become a pop star. 10 years later i guess i had the same feeling with acid house.

  5. 125
    rosie on 15 Jun 2008 #

    Steve, I think you could easily say that about the Mersey Sound in ’63. At that time, everybody including primary school kids wanted to form a group (they wouldn’t have called it a band then) even if it involved banging out a rhythm on cardboard boxes and strumming on an old mandolin? And before that, what was skiffle but much the same thing?

    Nothing new under the sun!

  6. 126
    LondonLee on 15 Jun 2008 #

    But wasn’t the big difference in the greater number of avenues open to an aspiring band? There was no Rough Trade or Factory back in the early 60s (at least not ones with much chart success), now you didn’t have to go through EMI or Decca to get heard.

  7. 127
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jun 2008 #

    Not only that – at that time it was a closed shop. Unless your band had at least one former member of a well-known band the majors weren’t bothered. And it was all about technical proficiency; play 2000 notes a minute like Robin Trower or Keith Emerson otherwise you are a no-mark waster.*

    *The irony of course being that most punk bands did have “chops” but they kept them hidden; cf. Keith Levene revisiting old Steve Howe riffs through Metal Box (by his own admission and in his pre-punk days he was even a roadie for Yes).

  8. 128
    rosie on 15 Jun 2008 #

    Sounds like the publishing industry today! I’m sure Marcello at least will recognise that. Alasdair Gray (and I don’t know whether to be pleased or infuriated by the amount of common ground Marcello shares with me) would be the first to acknowledge that the genuinely innovative writer finds it next to impossible to find a big-name publisher these days. I heard Rose Tremain – a very good writer but not exactly radical – on the radio the other day, saying how lucky she was to get her break twenty years ago, because there’s practically no way in to the big houses (meaning, in effect, Random House, Bertelsmann and Viking Penguin) these days unless one is a celebrity or knows somebody who can pulls strings. And even then, it’s all strictly formula. Of course, technology allows lots of small independent publishers to flourish, and that’s a valuable outlet for writers these days, but what they don’t have is control over distribution. While the number of music stations and has expanded greatly since the mid-70s the number of bookshops has shrunk and the big supermarkets have muscled in.

    All right, supposing we have established that this new found freedom is not, in fact, the freedom to perform before an audience; a freedom which I’m sure you will agree was never denied. Of course, the corollary is that audiences have the freedom not to listen, but that’s a whole other point. This freedom is the freedom to have a recording contract then? And to be broadcast on mainstream radio so that one can get in the charts? And thus to be famous? An icon? Or am I missing the point again?

    Anyway, it’s perfectly true that in the 1960s the big players (EMI, Decca, Philips, Pye) had a stranglehold, and broadcasting opportunities were limited to Radio Luxembourg (heavily sponsored by EMI, Decca, Philips, Pye) and what crumbs the BBC had to offer so it was bloody difficult to break in. One could argue that the first Golden Age of Pop (which I’d place from 1964-1967) came about because of The Beatles, but I don’t think that holds water. Something happened, or more likely several things were happening and things changed when they came together to form a critical combination, and that something allowed the Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Animals and so forth to reach a wider audience. They’d all been around in one form or another for years, but now they were allowed to burst forth. No doubt this was due to the increased accessibility to radio technology, surplus ships and redundant sea-defences that allowed the pirates to proliferate.

    Was something similar happening in the mid-seventies? Certainly there was a big change in the way records were sold, and had been for quite a few years. No longer did you buy from electrical retailers like Strothers of West Kirby (where my first singles came from) but from discounting chains (Harlequin, Virgin) and independents (Rag Records of Hatfield). They were all still very general and mainstream, however. I think one thing that was changing fast is hinted at by my exploits in a TV studio in 1975-76; that would have been unthinkable ten years earlier but by the mid-70s the technology to make TV programmes was not only within the compass of a university rather than a big corporation but not so precious that you couldn’t let a bunch of postgraduates play with it on a Friday afternoon. And if TV equipment was becoming more accessible because the size and costs were coming down, then so did music recording equipment and the wherewithal to produce marketing materials ceased to be a monopoly of the super-wealthy and powerful. Enter, for example, Stiff Records.

    So, my thesis is that neither the Sex Pistols nor Malcolm McLaren precipitated change. Change happened and it would have happened anyway without the Sex Pistols even if a couple of months later. But it didn’t happen a couple of months later, did it, because it had already happened well before June 1977. As we have already agreed. Grundy helped it on its way by providing some very welcome publicity but again that wasn’t essential to the process. Change happens, not because of isolated acts by individuals, but because the conditions are right for it to happen.

    The monopoly of the big dealers was broken, I think we can agree on that, and that was only a good thing. It wasn’t only punk that was a beneficiary though , nor I suggest was punk a major benficiary. After all, once whatever shock value punk had was spent, it pretty well fizzled out. There’s a lot of astonishing stuff on its way though – some of it branded punk at the time no doubt for commercial reasons, but it’s not what I call punk. What will start to flourish in the next few popular years, is genuine innovation of all kinds. As the Bunny (or perhaps Bunny’s proxy, the Mountain Hare) will no doubt testify before very long at all.

  9. 129
    LondonLee on 15 Jun 2008 #

    Not entirely sure any changes in recording technology had much to do with it, Joe Meek managed to create home-made pop masterpieces all on his own 20 years previously.

  10. 130
    Tommy Mack on 16 Jun 2008 #

    Isn’t it more the case that punk served as a wake-up jab to the sort of malcontents who wouldn’t otherwise seen music as an outlet for their ideas and frustrations?

  11. 131
    Waldo on 16 Jun 2008 #

    Rosie #128 – You’re absolutely right with regards your remarks on publishing. I knows it. Perhaps we should all change our names to “Wayne Rooney”… “HALLLOO, Random House!!!”

  12. 132
    Mark G on 16 Jun 2008 #

    OK, rosie.

    You are not wrong in any of what you say, just I would add:

    After the fifties rock and roll boom happened, the acts as presented got watered down (or substituted) by the ‘big players’ into acts that would sell more. And, at that time, meant being more safe, responsible, non-dangerous. This led to a lull in acts from the US making inroads into the UK market, and the groundswill of UK acts that were making a name on a local basis, and coming up through a grass-roots approach.

    The Beatles, by the time they got signed, were not an unknown entity. In fact, they played their biggest UK gig (in terms of tickets sold) as part of a multiband package of Liverpool bands, themselves being top bill, before they signed to EMI!

    So, the major labels had either to sign UK acts that were coming up and getting ever more popular, or stick with what they knew and die off (many did)…

    The same thing happened around punk. Yes, it would have happened had the ‘grundy’ thiing not happened but then they had already featured on Nationwide (a national TV prog), so the likelihood that “Anarchy” would have sold ‘respectably’, “Pretty Vacant” the follow up would have been a bigger hit being ‘airplay friendly’, and the big controversial “God Save the Queen” would have made the same waves as history now knows…..

  13. 133
    Drucius on 16 Jun 2008 #

    Rosie #128 “All right, supposing we have established that this new found freedom is not, in fact, the freedom to perform before an audience; a freedom which I’m sure you will agree was never denied.”

    Well, yes it was. The fact is that there were very few places that a band could get their start, especially outside of London. The colleges were dominated by people who felt that any song that didn’t feature an eight minute guitar wank had no virtues whatsoever. The pubs would happily accomodate the nostalgic R n’ B or soul merchants but that’s about it.

    Rosie #128 “Of course, the corollary is that audiences have the freedom not to listen, but that’s a whole other point. This freedom is the freedom to have a recording contract then? And to be broadcast on mainstream radio so that one can get in the charts? And thus to be famous? An icon? Or am I missing the point again?”

    Yup. You missed out the right to be taken as seriously as anyone else. After the Pistols, anyones musical vision could be as valid as anyone elses. Something which holds true today; a hell of a legacy. Where prog was exclusive, punk was inclusive.

  14. 134
    DJ Punctum on 16 Jun 2008 #

    Re. Rosie re. book publishing:

    To be truthful, getting CoM published as a book was always going to be an uphill struggle, not just because thus far I’ve had to go about the painful business of trying to pitch it myself, sans intermediary agent (with the expected failed result), but because it’s about trying to persuade publishers that this is a new and different type of book, and since publishers generally want to follow precedents rather than set them, the word “innovation” gets their knees knocking a-trembly before the desk sergeant that represents their shareholders.

    It would help to some degree if I could find an agent but this is also proving impossible since in closed shop terms you have to have an agent in order to get an agent, in an unfunny way – however, I think it vital to have one to act as the sort of plugger between me (as artist) and publisher (as radio station) since publishers need to be convinced that someone is already convinced, so to speak, but even after that it’s a case of fitting in your agenda and format with what the publishers want without compromising what you’re actually trying to do; thus the general response I’m getting back at the moment is great writing but is it a book and wouldn’t you really want to write it as an autobiog in the Eggers/Pelzer street of dreary catharsis and you have to supplant the scream of THAT’S NOT THE POINT because otherwise you have to accept that publishers will only take on things with an identifiable hook which are easy and quick to market (thus Belle de Jour etc.) rather than cumbersome affairs like CoM which require long and careful nurturing.

  15. 135
    rosie on 16 Jun 2008 #

    And who’s got a stranglehold on the book retailing business in Britain? Why, the HMV Group of course!

  16. 136
    DJ Punctum on 16 Jun 2008 #

    Scott Pack to thread…

  17. 137
    Waldo on 17 Jun 2008 #

    I do, in fact, have an agent, although her main job is running a clothes shop in Eastbourne’s arnedale and she also doubles as a DJ, something she has been doing for years (she’s now in her forties).

    As has been agreed, without an agent, you’re going nowhere in a hurry. My advice for those without one is simply to cheat and use a reliable and literary suitable contact as a letterhead (ie: “agent”) to make the approach for you. This may not help you at all in approaching the large houses direct, but it might cut some ice when you already have something published by a small house and your agent attempts to sell an existing product to a larger company. This is what I shall shortly be attempting to do ere long, all being well.

    I perhaps need not add that there are many wonderful writers who simply cannot get a break, whilst much monstrous rubbish is snapped up in a blink. This used to infuriate me when I first set out but I quickly understood and accepted the first principle of the game, which is that the world of publishing is unswervingly unfair. As is life.

  18. 138
    Tommy Mack on 17 Jun 2008 #

    Didn’t a lot of publishers lose money on all those celebrity biogs? By paying huge advances assuming that the books would sell in much greater quantity than they did, the public presumably thinking ‘Anthea Turner may be a competent TV presenter, but I imagine her autobiography will be a far from riveting read’?

    Johnny Rotten’s autobiography on the other hand is brilliant if packed with ludicrous and obvious lies.

  19. 139
    Alan on 17 Jun 2008 #

    Celeb biogs are not always big winners – a lot of it is about treading water financially, with the publicity and contacts to nab the one that will actually make cash (i.e. Jordan). In many ways this is like a lot of book publishing – the majority of books make no money (where “no” = worth it for living off), publishing houses exist to absorb the risk of most books in the financial rewards of the few big sellers.

    ah i remember when we conspired with nielsen (or was it Whittaker back then?) to stop johnny rotten’s biog getting to number one – the fiend, etc

    (bonus extra point: the celeb angle is messed up by the vanity/ego of the commissioning editor, but they still have to persuade someone to come up with the publicity-baiting cash advances)

  20. 140
    Erithian on 29 Aug 2008 #

    Something I’ve only learned this morning about Marcus Lipton, the MP Waldo and I were discussing at ##96 and 112 who wanted pop music destroyed. He was clearly an old hand at identifying threats to the Establishment, as in October 1955 he was the first MP to mention the name of Kim Philby in Parliament and ask whether he could be the Third Man. Philby challenged him to repeat his claims outside the protection of the House of Commons and Lipton withdrew the statement. Just over seven years later Philby fled to the Soviet Union as evidence of the spy ring was building up.

    Kim Philby and Johnny Rotten – an enviable enemies list!

  21. 141
    Roadhog on 4 Sep 2008 #

    I’ve always found it highly amusin when cultural commentators bang on about punk being the sound of the inner cities/council estates etc. Absolute bollocks on my council estate noone gave a toss and to be honest and if any music was being taken seriously it was soul/funk with and the vast majority of working class girls likeing pop music.Any punk who’d reared his head would have been ridiculed as a scruffy bastard.
    Punk should more obviously be called the sound of the (slightly more trendconscious) the sixth form common room…

  22. 142
    DJ Punctum on 4 Sep 2008 #

    I imagine Supertramp and ELO were still very much in favour with the chaps in your Senior Common Room.

  23. 143
    The Intl on 5 Sep 2008 #

    Here I was all ready to weigh in with “Yank’s View”, and as I read the posts it’s all turned round to publishing, which I neither know about nor care about – sorry. But initially I was wondering exactly how deep & wide Pistol time was in UK, because here in 1977 US you could poll any huge crowd and bet money that no one ever heard of punk or our Ramones let alone your Pistols. It was definitely media-driven here – that is, unless you read MM, NME or marginally Creem (they were still big on Kiss and Alice Cooper) you didn’t know what the deal was. It always seems to have been like that with any kind of pop culture scene thing I find some interest in – it only seems to hold any level of import to me. But then, fair enough, because I never know baseball stats or any other mainstream cultural crap, except enough to make fun of it.

    So I was just wondering – was most everyone, as it seems to me, Pistol-aware enough that it made a real difference in things, or was it just the same kind of “cool kid in spiffy gear” clique that Charles Sharr-Murray and Nick “I Got Beat Up By Sid Vicious” Kent hit the presses with every week?

    Oh, and even though I gladly recognize them for being the standard bearer for that scene, I can’t bear to listen to them anymore. Same for most safety-pin acts. Just haven’t aged well. And maybe that was kinda the point. Although I may be full of shit. But try & be kind if you respond.

  24. 144
    DJ Punctum on 5 Sep 2008 #

    Brief answer: not really. From a general perspective it didn’t ripple the pond. Most of my peers continued to listen to and like the music they’d done before. It was considered a noisy novelty.

    But to square peg individuals like me it coalesced with a lot of other things to change the way I looked at the world and I think you’ll find many similar stories from those who went on to become notable names in the eighties and beyond – think, for example, of Kurt the Seattle backwater misfit who can’t understand anyone or anything until he discovers punk on his own in 1983, possibly the least punk of all years, and finds a purpose for his life.

    So the influence was not immediate, but subtle and long term.

  25. 145
    Mark G on 5 Sep 2008 #

    My experience: A lot of my friends were very anti at first, being Yes/ELP/10cc/LedZep/proper rock music fans, I was more curious than hostile, and over the course of a year they all changed and realised it for what it was and took it on board. (Most took a month, to be fair)

    I cannot claim to say I saw the pistols on Nationwide and went “yes! This is what I’ve been waiting for!” immediately (although I did have such a reaction on seeing Eddie and the Hot Rods on TOTP about 2 months before)…

    I guess because I was more a pop kid, I didn’t have any great muso attitude to unlearn, When Danny Baker said about hating “Highway Star” in Sniffin’ Glue, I thought it again curious, but was of a similar mind. Somewhat disappointed to find he was lying about that, and bored to TEARS man about his apologies over the years for saying that. (Not bothered about him liking it, each to their own you know, more his disavowal of all things rock-non-punk before 1976 – mainly because I actually was that person and he was not.

  26. 146
    mike on 5 Sep 2008 #

    All my classmates loathed and detested punk, and openly scorned me for liking it. In terms of social currency, it cost me dear – but then I was horribly f**ked up at the time anyway, and there was arguably something a little too desperate and obsessive about the way I clung to punk as a lifeline. However, what I lost in popularity (up until that point I had been everyone’s go-to guy for Hot New Sounds), I ultimately gained in perspective (punk taught me things that boarding school never could, and anyway I Was Right and They Were Wrong, so f**k ’em).

    By the back end of 1978, most people had caught up, and my status as everyone’s go-to guy was restored. Oh, they all wanted to get their hands on my Bollocks!

  27. 147
    Ashley Pomeroy on 13 Oct 2008 #

    Browsing through all the number ones, this seems to me (born in March 1976) like the start of a new era. This and “I Feel Love”. Everything before this is the Wurzels and Pilot and David Essex etc; lots of music that is never written about or played on the radio. Or, if it *is* written about, it’s done so in the kind of semi-desperate, deliberately barrel-scraping way that classic car magazines write about the Austin Princess. There was Abba, but even today Abba have a certain cheese factor, whereas there is nothing really cheesy about this record.

    I don’t remember who said it first (Danny Baker?), but there is a quote along the lines that, whereas in 1977 it was Bill Grundy that looked normal and the Sex Pistols looked odd, it is nowadays the other way around.

    Looking back at this record, the thing that strikes me is how well it is played and produced. It still sounds awesomely loud and furious, whereas most of the other mainstream punk records from the period sound a bit thin and weedy. This is like Queen! But without vocal harmonies. It’s such a terrible shame that Public Image Limited never had a number one.

  28. 148
    Warhol didley dye day on 15 Nov 2008 #

    What the f””s this? Nostalgic waffle clap trap? Honestly who gives a stuff The whole idea about punk was making modern music available to the people on the street. WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW – SOD ALL THAT’S WHAT!! Music changed for a while until the money fascists took over. Stop talking dross and change it again if you’ve got the balls!

  29. 149
    thefatgit on 10 Nov 2009 #

    @148 I think you’ll find that within the genres of dubstep, drum & bass and all the variants of house music, the DIY ethos of Punk has survived. No statues are going to be kicked over, and no Winter Palaces will be stormed, but I can’t think of a time when so much home-made music has been made available to the public.

  30. 150
    Tim on 10 Nov 2009 #

    Results 1 – 10 of about 39,400 for “the whole idea of punk”. (0.23 seconds)

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

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