MONDAY, JUNE 8, 2015
WEEK 23: PUNK
Punk meant a thousand different things to a thousand different people but to me, a 16 year old boy kicking against the oppressive, colourless shades of 1976 Britain, it represented absolute freedom. Punk said ‘believe in yourself and if others don’t like it they can fuck off’. In fact, the sound I remember the most is not the everlasting thrash of buzzsaw guitars, but the everlasting fuck off-ness of it all, because punk was the ultimate ‘Fuck Off!’
I’d left school as soon as I could and signed on for £9 a week. I’d never had it so good. Desperately seeking excitement, it was inevitable I would become intrigued by the Sex Pistols and the whispers of punk, the stars finally aligning on Tuesday, 29th June 1976 when five of us scraped the cash together for a trip to their 100 Club show. In my youthful mind London was still Dickensian and mythical so that alone was excitement enough, but when the Pistols hit the low stage, I changed forever.
I‘d never seen or heard anything like it and from that first second knew I could be whatever I wanted to be, and do whatever I wanted to do. Spellbound, we returned home, cut our hair, reconstructed our flares into drainpipes, sprayed our shirts, pierced our ears with needles, snorted our first lines of sulphate and speeded into an uncertain future. It really was as simple and quick as that.
From then on I lived each day with no thought of the next, my huge leap into the everlasting present of the teenage an incredibly intense rite of passage that became almost messianic. Punk was a secret society with the most glorious soundtrack, the coolest clothes, the fiercest debates and the most idealistic politics. My life was full of incident and adventure lived at a million miles an hour, fuelled by crazy, bug eyed, chemical induced energy, cheap sulphate, crap sex and riotous live shows.
One of the many myths perpetrated in punks twisted history is that it was an entirely London based revolution hanging on the every word of McLaren and wearing every costly stitch of Westwood. It’s true that with the capital just a 30 minute train ride away, Reading itself never had much of a scene. But what should be remembered about towns like Reading in the seventies was not the physical difference from London, so much as the mental distance. Until the filth and fury of the Pistols hit the headlines in December 1976 there were never more than twenty of us, even with some of the hipper Chelsea boot boys latching on to scare the prole’s in punk disguise.
Like any youth movement, punk was never built to last, we knew it even then. There was a period, just after the moment of high punk in June 1977, when it felt as if a once bright future of infinite possibility had turned into a litany of tribal tyranny, violence and High Street fashion. The fragile punk unity of working class realism and artful innovation fractured and dispersed, each nurturing its own version of what punk meant and its own vision of where to next.
01 THE RAMONES ‘Judy Is A Punk’ (The Ramones LP June 1976)
02 THE SAINTS ‘I’m Stranded’ (A Side September 1976)
03 THE DAMNED ‘New Rose’ (A Side October 1976)
04 RICHARD HELL & THE VOIDOIDS ‘Blank Generation’ (A Side November 1976)
05 THE BUZZCOCKS ‘Boredom’ (Spiral Scratch EP January 1977)
06 TELEVISION ‘Marquee Moon’ (Marquee Moon LP February 1977)
07 THE JAM ‘In The City’ (A Side April 1977)
08 THE ADVERTS ‘One Chord Wonders’ (A Side April 1977)
09 THE HEARTBREAKERS ‘Born To Lose’ (B Side May 1977)
10 SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS ‘Cranked Up Really High’ (A Side June 1977)
11 THE VIBRATORS ‘Into The Future’ (Pure Mania LP June 1977)
12 SEX PISTOLS ‘Pretty Vacant’ (A Side July 1977)
13 THE CLASH ‘Complete Control’ (A Side September 1977)
14 THE WEIRDOS ‘Destroy All Music’ (A Side September 1977)
15 GENERATION X ‘Your Generation’ (A Side September 1977)
16 X RAY SPEX ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours’ (A Side September 1977)
17 THE SLITS ‘Vindictive’ (John Peel Session September 1977)
18 ALTERNATIVE TV ‘Love Lies Limp’ (Flexi Disc October 1977)
19 DEAD BOYS ‘Sonic Reducer’ (A Side November 1977)
20 PENETRATION ‘Don’t Dictate’ (A Side November 1977)
21 WIRE ‘Strange’ (Pink Flag LP November 1977)
22 SIOUXIE & THE BANSHEES ‘Love In A Void’ (John Peel Session November 1977)
23 999 ‘Emergency’ (A Side January 1978)
24 BUZZCOCKS ‘What Do I Get’ (A Side January 1978)
25 MAGAZINE ‘Shot By Both Sides’ (A Side January 1978)