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Old 01-20-2020, 12:45 PM   #1
The Great Saiyaman
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Punk Rock, how much of it truly was "Punk Rock?"

Eversince Punk Rock became genre people have a strict view of what Punk is like and it basically came down to:

- Lyric-wise the stone cold truth: songs about alienation, being angry at the local government, angry at your parents, being unemployed, having no dime to spend, typical teenage problems.

- Music wise, fast and loud and you didn't need to be proficient at playing your instrument, the least capability you had the better.

- Crappy instruments, you're on the dole, you cannot afford anything fancy.

- Attitude, there shouldn't be a brotherhood of punk rock, every band was at war with each other.

- Fakers are not allowed.

- Disown everything that came before. Rock Dinosaurs went extinct for a reason.

BUT...

Singing it like you lived it actually went up for very few of the original punk rock bands. When the Ramones sang about "Beat the brat with a baseball bat" they sang about assault and murder but they never went out and actually did it. Exceptions are the Buzz***** with songs like "Boredom." But truly singing it like you lived it was something which Punk bands very rarely actually did.

As for not being musically proficient. There's no denying that Paul Cook and Steve Jones were a very proficient unit on "Nevermind the bollocks" they were tight and threw in some musical curve balls that people with no musical talent would never come up with in the first place. Same with the Clash, Topper Headon and Joe Strummer had been doing the club scene before punk broke and were seasoned veterans and in due time Mick Jones and Paul Simonon mastered their instruments and started writing songs themselves. John Lydon always maintained that Punkrock as music was too conventional, he envisioned it being totally UN-listenable. Public Image Limited's first two albums show what his vision for punk was and even those show amazing musicianship with Jah Wobbles bass lines and Keith Levene's metallic guitars.

Then there's Nina Hagen who is considered to be the princess of punk but she had received classical training and her band are top notch musicians.


Crappy instruments eh?

Well Pete Shelley of the Buzz***** played a guitar with the top half broken off but as soon as he could afford to buy himself a better guitar he did just that. And look at what the others were playing, Fenders, Rickenbackers and a LOT of Gibsons, the Les Paul Custom which has become an Icon of Punkrock because of Mick Jones and Steve Jones using them was even back then a very fancy and expensive guitar.

At war with each other also is a well known fable but the reality was that bands in order to score gigs would help each other out by phoning in where a good venue was and would lend each other instruments if needed.

Fakers are not allowed, just ask Plastic Bertrand.

Who clearly was a creation of the record industry who wanted to cash in on the punk craze. Nobody in the Punk Rock scene took him seriously, certainly not when it came out that he NEVER sang on his songs. BUT for some reason bands like Sonic Youth covered "Ca plan pour Moi" and post punk bands praised the song. The Tubes "White punks on dope" became a punk rock anthem while the song itself was meant to be a spoof on glam rock and featured prog-inspired synthesizers.

As for disowning all that came before. Paul Cook and John Lydon once ran into Pete Townshend who totally was into what punk rock was about and apologized for having been become a Rock Dinosaur at which Lydon told him "No, not at all, we really love the 'Oo." expressing that with the Punk movement Townshend was considered to be a true pioneer. Or what about Sid Vicious covering Frank Sinatra's "My way"

Hindsight is always 20/20 but John Lydon had a point when he ended the Sex Pistols' final show by saying

But even as he was saying it, the ground had already started shifting.

Because in the wake of Punk, came new wave and Reggae. The latter one might make people go "REALLY, where do THOSE two musical genres connect?"

Well that happened because Punk rock shows were all inclusive and black youths came to them too and understood the anger in the lyrics and their own songs had the same message. Between band performances at Punk rock shows the deejay would spin reggae songs and the punks liked what they heard.

UB 40 "One in ten"
This band named themselves after the Unemployment Benefit form, which is a Punk Rock thing to do but listen to that song, how angry and desolate it is. Sang from a band who KNEW that reality, they knew it VERY well indeed.


This is Georg Ruthenberg, AKA Pat Smear, who these days is known among the general public as being the guitarist for the Foo Fighters.

But Pat came into the public eye when being the guitarist for this punk band called "the Germs" who took those rules I mentioned to heart and to an extreme level. According to Smear, everybody described the band's sound as "Noise and screaming" and that made them decide to go with that, to have a band that was INDEED just "Noise and screaming"

Musical proficiency?
-Nope, if it weren't for the subtitles you probably wouldn't have even figured out what the hell Darby was singing.
Singing it like they lived it?
- You'd better believe it!
Crappy instruments?
- They didn't even own their own instruments, always played shows using loaners.
Faking it?
- Oh no, they were the real deal!

In their wake a third post-punk scene came to be: Hardcore.


These days there are fashion shops which sell punk rock clothing, the legendary New York City club CBGB'S is now such a store. You can go into a barbershop and they'll make you a Mohawk no questions asked.

So, in closure, what was Punk Rock really?

Was it a true youth movement?
- Yes it was.
Was a fashionable thing?
- Yes, no denying that fact.

And that in itself is pretty Punk too.
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:48 AM   #2
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So who are your favorite bands? Anyone you'd recommend?

A lot of my friends were pretty big into the scene back in high school, but by then the culture had already faded. A lot of the big name bands had broken up, so everyone was just living the glory days through albums and VHS tapes loaded on the web. Super fun to go to local concerts, though.
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:19 AM   #3
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I've been listening to people debate "What Is Punk?" and trying to set the rules and/or accuse people of being "posers" since high school, to the point where nowadays, I just throw up my hands, shout "LABELS DIVIDE PEOPLE!" and walk away.

I think the least-Punk thing in the world, frankly, is trying to establish "rules" for a genre that is greatly defined by its determination to break all established rules. Also, setting yourself up as the "inclusive" genre and then being all elitist about who truly belongs in your little club. I've always hated that. It's hypocritical and divisive. Anyone with a checklist going around trying to define what Is and Isn't "punk" is definitely Not Punk, at least in my opinion.

To me, it's less about style and music and more about attitude. That's what I identify with. Although the music is great, too! But the debates just make conversing with other fans just insufferable, to me. It's like they can't even hear themselves talk or they'd realize how silly they are.

I dig it all, every genre and sub-genre. "Pure" punk, "skater" punk, "ska" punk, "pop" punk, "pussy" punk, and whatever other made-up bullsh*t labels anyone wants to put on anyone, if there's a style I promise you I like someone in that general milieu. Love the Ramones. Love the Misfits. Love The Clash and NOFX and the Sex Pistols and The Offspring and Green Day and Blink-182 and Dropkick Murphys and Good Charlotte and New Found Glory and Dead Kennedys and Pennywise and The Replacements and whatever else you wanna throw at me. I literally don't care, and I especially don't care if someone wants to tell me half of those bands "don't belong" on some arbitrary list. I've heard it all before. I just enjoy music, I don't waste my time trying to put it in a box and telling people they're stupid for liking it, or that it doesn't fit a label that someone made up anyway. THAT is incredibly Not-Punk.

Even Nirvana and Guns N Roses, two bands that aren't typically what springs to mind when someone mentions "punk rock", are nonetheless heavily-rooted in punk rock music and sensibilities. The Who, even. So it's really all just a great big circle-jerk. Is the music good? Does it speak to you? Then all is well, my friends.
----------------

That said, I really dig the OP's thoughtful, detailed, and well-presented analysis, as it's very insightful, educational, and doesn't seek to incite or inflame. Very cool. It's just that the whole "What IS Punk?" debate is one that I, personally, see very little value in, as I'm getting kinda old for it. Nobody knew then, and nobody knows now, and I kinda don't think it matters.
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:34 AM   #4
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It ain't punk rock till the punk rockers say it's punk rock.
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:39 AM   #5
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BUT WHO PUNKS THE PUNKERS?!?!?
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Old 01-25-2020, 02:34 AM   #6
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Jesus. . . there goes any chance of sleep I had for the rest of the week.
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Old 01-27-2020, 08:32 AM   #7
The Great Saiyaman
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Meatsweats himself talking punk and the artwork which went with it.
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Old 01-27-2020, 09:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo656 View Post
I've been listening to people debate "What Is Punk?" and trying to set the rules and/or accuse people of being "posers" since high school, to the point where nowadays, I just throw up my hands, shout "LABELS DIVIDE PEOPLE!" and walk away.

I think the least-Punk thing in the world, frankly, is trying to establish "rules" for a genre that is greatly defined by its determination to break all established rules. Also, setting yourself up as the "inclusive" genre and then being all elitist about who truly belongs in your little club. I've always hated that. It's hypocritical and divisive. Anyone with a checklist going around trying to define what Is and Isn't "punk" is definitely Not Punk, at least in my opinion.

To me, it's less about style and music and more about attitude. That's what I identify with. Although the music is great, too! But the debates just make conversing with other fans just insufferable, to me. It's like they can't even hear themselves talk or they'd realize how silly they are.

I dig it all, every genre and sub-genre. "Pure" punk, "skater" punk, "ska" punk, "pop" punk, "pussy" punk, and whatever other made-up bullsh*t labels anyone wants to put on anyone, if there's a style I promise you I like someone in that general milieu. Love the Ramones. Love the Misfits. Love The Clash and NOFX and the Sex Pistols and The Offspring and Green Day and Blink-182 and Dropkick Murphys and Good Charlotte and New Found Glory and Dead Kennedys and Pennywise and The Replacements and whatever else you wanna throw at me. I literally don't care, and I especially don't care if someone wants to tell me half of those bands "don't belong" on some arbitrary list. I've heard it all before. I just enjoy music, I don't waste my time trying to put it in a box and telling people they're stupid for liking it, or that it doesn't fit a label that someone made up anyway. THAT is incredibly Not-Punk.

Even Nirvana and Guns N Roses, two bands that aren't typically what springs to mind when someone mentions "punk rock", are nonetheless heavily-rooted in punk rock music and sensibilities. The Who, even. So it's really all just a great big circle-jerk. Is the music good? Does it speak to you? Then all is well, my friends.
----------------
Agreed 100%
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Old 01-27-2020, 10:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo656 View Post
I've been listening to people debate "What Is Punk?" and trying to set the rules and/or accuse people of being "posers" since high school, to the point where nowadays, I just throw up my hands, shout "LABELS DIVIDE PEOPLE!" and walk away.

I think the least-Punk thing in the world, frankly, is trying to establish "rules" for a genre that is greatly defined by its determination to break all established rules. Also, setting yourself up as the "inclusive" genre and then being all elitist about who truly belongs in your little club. I've always hated that. It's hypocritical and divisive. Anyone with a checklist going around trying to define what Is and Isn't "punk" is definitely Not Punk, at least in my opinion.

To me, it's less about style and music and more about attitude. That's what I identify with. Although the music is great, too! But the debates just make conversing with other fans just insufferable, to me. It's like they can't even hear themselves talk or they'd realize how silly they are.

I dig it all, every genre and sub-genre. "Pure" punk, "skater" punk, "ska" punk, "pop" punk, "pussy" punk, and whatever other made-up bullsh*t labels anyone wants to put on anyone, if there's a style I promise you I like someone in that general milieu. Love the Ramones. Love the Misfits. Love The Clash and NOFX and the Sex Pistols and The Offspring and Green Day and Blink-182 and Dropkick Murphys and Good Charlotte and New Found Glory and Dead Kennedys and Pennywise and The Replacements and whatever else you wanna throw at me. I literally don't care, and I especially don't care if someone wants to tell me half of those bands "don't belong" on some arbitrary list. I've heard it all before. I just enjoy music, I don't waste my time trying to put it in a box and telling people they're stupid for liking it, or that it doesn't fit a label that someone made up anyway. THAT is incredibly Not-Punk.

Even Nirvana and Guns N Roses, two bands that aren't typically what springs to mind when someone mentions "punk rock", are nonetheless heavily-rooted in punk rock music and sensibilities. The Who, even. So it's really all just a great big circle-jerk. Is the music good? Does it speak to you? Then all is well, my friends.
----------------

That said, I really dig the OP's thoughtful, detailed, and well-presented analysis, as it's very insightful, educational, and doesn't seek to incite or inflame. Very cool. It's just that the whole "What IS Punk?" debate is one that I, personally, see very little value in, as I'm getting kinda old for it. Nobody knew then, and nobody knows now, and I kinda don't think it matters.
Quote:
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Agreed 100%
Yup. Punk has it's meat hooks into all sorts of the rock sub-categories. The Nirvana example is a great one - Negative Creep? Absolutely punk song.

But to your point about fitting into a box - it's probably easier to identify the roots of punk rock (think: Sex Pistols) than it is to try and label exactly where it's gone. A lot of the DNA inherent to that scene have been chopped up, studied and cribbed for chords, style and shows. That ubiquitous influence is incredibly ironic considering how the scene began as an exercise in counter-culture.

As a pound-for pound comparison, the only other music scene I can think of that comes remotely close to that original U.K. Punk culture is probably the industrial-rock driven Chicago Wax Trax! label era.

Last edited by IMJ; 01-27-2020 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:19 PM   #10
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You know the funniest thing about Punk rock when it came out is that the music critics of the time were going "GREAT, now we finally have something that will help us get rid of ABBA!"

...And then the opposite happened. Far from avoiding ABBA like the plague, the punk rock movement actually embraced them!

- Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols wrote "Pretty Vacant" aping the piano riff of ABBA's "Mama Mia"
- Joe Strummer of The Clash wrote "Spanish bombs" with an ABBA like song structure.
- Elvis Costello wrote "Oliver's Army" which had a very obvious ABBA Piano riff.

So what was the deal here? Remember what I said in the OP about "Singing it how you lived it?"

What were punk songs about: being angry with your girlfriend, being angry with the government, being totally broke, being alienated, being totally negative about your foreseeable future.

And what were ABBA songs about: Abusive relationships, ("Mama Mia" is NOT the happy go lucky song people mistake it to be.), the scare of a nuclear war ("The visitors"), boredom ("The day before you came" oh boy that's a DARK song), Divorce and how devastating that procedure is ("Knowing me, knowing you", "The Winner takes it all" and especially "One of us")

So the topics ABBA's songs were about were basically the same topics which were Punk Rock's bread and butter but sung from a 30-something's point of view and sung with an authenticity that was impossible to fake, and the punk rockers respected that.

Agnetha Faltskog in the music video for the "Winner takes it all" that look of total devastation was genuine. Not even the best actress can fake that.

So when Nirvana headlined the Reading festival in 1992 Kurt wanted to have an ABBA tribute band there so "Björn again" was booked and they played an ABBA style version of "Smells like Teen spirit" which Kurt totally approved of.
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Old 01-27-2020, 04:02 PM   #11
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Fozzy's cover of ABBA's "S.O.S." is legit one of the greatest things ever recorded. I'm not even kidding.
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Old 01-27-2020, 04:55 PM   #12
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Fozzy's cover of ABBA's "S.O.S." is legit one of the greatest things ever recorded. I'm not even kidding.

It is really good....
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Old 01-28-2020, 06:04 AM   #13
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No denying the greatness of SOS in general. Good cover.
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Old 12-06-2020, 01:52 PM   #14
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Pushing this one up again because...


It's a long vid but worth every single minute.
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:15 AM   #15
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Punk rock is my favorite genre, but I am not a big fan of the buzz c0cks. One guy who actually lived what he wrote was GG Allin. That guy was a piece of trash, but he is interesting.
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:43 AM   #16
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Punks are pirate-wannabes who, in the absence of ships to plunder and treasures to dig up, pretend to be musicians.
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:54 PM   #17
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Punks are pirate-wannabes who, in the absence of ships to plunder and treasures to dig up, pretend to be musicians.
I bet you couldn't play a short nofx guitar solo or a rancid bass line.
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