On Thursday, June 26th, the Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act violated the First Amendment. For those of you who have been reading my column for awhile, that means (at least for now) that you can print pretty much whatever you want on the net without fear of being prosecuted because some prude finds it obscene. Of course, those that want to stifle free speech vow to introduce other initiatives to limit what you can say or do on the internet, but for now, at least, anarchy still reigns. For more information about the Supreme Court decision, and the CDA, check out the Citizens Empowerment Coalition website. You'll find it at http://www.ciec.org .
Okay, so now on to Punk Rock History 101. I'm not going to attempt to cover every band in this article, nor am I going to get into the argument of where (England or the US) or when (late 60s or mid 70s) punk rock started, or what bands are punk and what aren't. What I am going to do is give you web addresses for a bunch of early (oldie) punk bands and maybe hit upon a few other side topics at the same time. We'll just see how this all works itself out.
Some stories have it that the term Punk, as it refers to music, came about from something that the amazing rock writer Lester Bangs wrote about certain 60s bands. If you haven't heard of Bangs, or even if you have, you really should check out http://www2.shore.net/~stooge/bangs.html . This site has a bunch of his writing, though not necessarily the article where he mentions punk. For that matter, you really should head to the library and check out the collection of his writings -- "Psychotic Reaction and Carburetor Dung" to get a better feel for what he was doing. It is a fun read.
Also located at that same site is a page dedicated to the Godfather of punk himself – Iggy Pop, and his 60s band The Stooges. If you don't know of the Stooges, you really are a sorry excuse for a punk rocker. Regardless, you'll want to check out the website. It's at http://www2.shore.net/~stooge/stooges.html . Not a ton of info there, but a few good pieces, and some links to other interesting sites.
Okay, so moving away from the pre-punk era (I know, without mentioning the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, MC5, and a host of others, but I'm the writer here, and I'll do what I want), it's time to talk about the bands that started the whole thing. Of course, here I am referring to either the Sex Pistols, or the Ramones, depending on your point of view. (You know, I just realized that perhaps someone should do a study to find out exactly what personality types think the Ramones started the whole thing, versus the types that think the Sex Pistols started it… it could prove to be quite enlightening).
The stories I've heard have the Ramones (http://www.vivanet.com/~davela19/7ramones.html), going to Britain to play some gigs before the Sex Pistols (http://www.5z.com/pistols/) really had their shit together. Of course, it was ex-NY Dolls manager Malcolm McLaren who engineered the initial Pistols thing, so there is no denying that they got at least some of their influence from NY. Anyway, soon thereafter both bands made albums, both band were considered punk, and the argument over who started it is ridiculous anyway.
Of course, Blondie was playing around this time as well, and they were still in their pre-disco / dance phase. The Blondie Café on the web is a pretty good site dedicated to the band. You'll find it at http://www.thehub.com.au/~bchudso/cafe.htm .
So, after punk got started, there were a bunch of bands that formed in England (or were already formed and neatly fit into the new genre). One of these bands was The Damned (http://www.thedamned.com/), who, if I am not mistaken, put out the first indie punk single. Also forming around that time, from the ashes of the pub rock band the 101ers, were The Clash (http://www.primenet.com/~jendave/clash/clash.htm), X Ray Spex (http://www.comnet.ca/~rina/xrayspex.html) and a whole host of others.
Other bands in Britain that started in the early days of punk included The Jam (http://www.skynet.co.uk/~kefansu/the_jam/frames.html), The Buzzcocks (http://www.cityscape.co.uk/users/ac46/), The Adverts (http://www.comnet.ca/~rina/adverts.html) and a whole slew of others including Gen X, Chelsea, The Cortinas, and more.
The 70s also saw the rise of the anarchist (hippie-esque) punk movement exemplified best by the music, zines, lyrics, etc. of Crass. Believe it or not, Crass are on the web, at the Southern Records homepage. You'll find the site at http://www.southern.com/southern/band/CRASS/index.html .
Realize, of course, that I'm not really trying to be completist in this article. As I said at the beginning, I am mostly name dropping. With that in mind, we jump to the US in the late 70s, where the scene was hopping in both LA and SF. These were the days of bands like Black Flag (http://pages.nyu.edu/~vqd6140/bf/flag.html), Avengers (http://members.aol.com/aytab2/houston.html), the Germs (http://www.efn.org/~austin_r/Germs/GermsPage.html), and the Dead Kennedys (http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/6558/DKPAGE.HTM). Lotsa good music, though I think there are probably as many good bands today… but there are also 5 times as many bad ones.
Finally, hopping on up to Canada, there were The Subhumans, and relatively early on, DOA. There is an excellent DOA fan site at http://www.musicwest.com/DOA/index.html , where actually you can probably find links to stuff about the Subhumans as well.
That's enough name dropping of bands for the time being. Maybe sometime soon I'll do the early hardcore scene, when HC was still considered punk rock. Finally, I want to leave you with a few sites about punk in general, rather than band specific sites.
"Punk and Wave" tells about the early days of punk rock, and has quite a few cool pictures and links. Definitely fun to read, you'll find it at http://www.mital-u.ch/Dada/punkwave.html . "Three Chord Wonders" also offers a brief history, and is a quick read. It's at http://holly.colostate.edu/~batmatt/grrr/punk.htm . In addition, the Pit has a section on British punk rock at http://www.thepit.com/culture/bp112095/ . All are worth your while, so check them out.
Well, that is plenty to keep you surfing for another month. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out the Netpunk website at http://netpunk.base.org . Finally, as always, you can write me the old fashioned way at PO Box 8058; Santa Cruz, CA 95061. See ya.
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