Chapter 16: Punk and Its Aftermath I. Punk A. In the long view, one of the most significant and influential rock styles B. Punk in some ways was a reaction to the mainstream rock of the 1970s 1. Perception of mainstream as overblown, overproduced “rock product” 2. Certain sameness to many top acts 3. As well as “pretensions” of progressive rock C. But also a continuation of garage bands like Kingsmen D. Combined with aggressive, in your face attitude that rejected corporate image of most rock of the day E. Either it was a rebellion against basically all rock after early 1960s, or an extension of hard rock taken to its ultimate extreme F. Also involved cultural elements 1. Backlash against communal optimism of the hippie movement a. Or rather, backlash against conservative backlash to the movement \ b. And failure of significant societal change c. Prolonged economic downturn d. Little sense of a bright future, especially for those at bottom of the economic ladder G. Punk first surfaces in NYC in 1974-75, at club called CBGB OMFUG 1. Country, Blue Grass, Blues, and Other Music for Urban Gourmandizers 2. Basically, eclectic bar where any and all music was welcome 3. In summer of 1975, promoted Festival of the Top 40 New York Rock Bands a. A number of the earliest punk bands played b. Including Television, the New York Dolls, and Patti Smith c. Festival secured an audience for what was previously underground movement H. Major influences on punk 1. Late 1960s New York bands like the Velvet Underground 2. Detroit rock acts on the edge, like Iggy Pop and MC5 3. Garage and psychedelic rock 4. Glam rock I. First punk band debatable, but most give title to New York Dolls 1. Five piece band from NYC modeled after English glam rockers (T. Rex, Bowie) 2. Regularly performed in drag, had the attitude and showmanship 3. BUT – no one in the band was a skilled musician a. BUT – they liked to play b. CBGB provided a venue c. Exemplified the “do-it-yourself” attitude of punk 4. Good example of the Dolls style: “Personality Crisis” J. Characteristics of Punk 1. Reduction of all rock to most basic, common denominator a. Simple and repetitive music i. Rejection of art rock “pretension” ii. Complete dominance of the riff b. “Saturated rock rhythm i. Eight beat style beat dominates every instrument ii. Often the ONLY thing going on in most of the parts iii. Punk is not about complex rhythmic interplay between lines iv. Or subtlety! c. Backbeats usually accented as well 2. Extremely fast tempos (no punk ballads) 3. Harmonically simple a. Pretty much I, IV, V b. More than three chords – just getting fancy c. And could get away with only two 4. Simple forms 5. Deliberate rejection of overt moves to court commercial popularity a. Lyrics often gross, inane, or offensive (or unintelligible) b. Image often bizarre, obnoxious, or offensive 6. Talent seen as optional; passion, essential II. The Ramones A. First widely recognized punk band B. High school students united by love of MC5, Stooges, and garage rock 1. Not actually related 2. All adopted same last name for stage purposes 3. “Paul Ramone” supposedly pseudonym Paul McCartney used C. Essentially, garage rock band on speed D. Style characteristics 1. Breakneck tempos a. Average tempos of 160-170 beats per minute b. Known for playing full sets in under half and hour c. long songs lasted 3 minutes 2. Rock rhythm at forefront a. Eight beat rock rhythm b. Accented backbeats (sometimes rebound backbeat) 3. Simple forms a. Verse/chorus b. Sometimes AABA pop song form 4. Introduced retro character into rock a. Wore simple T-shirts or leather jackets and jeans, like early Elvis b. Songs with teen-themed or novelty lyrics E. Example “Blitzkrieg Bop” III. The Sex Pistols A. Even though weren‟t formed until almost a year after the Ramones, Sex Pistols are easily the most famous punk band 1. Certainly most notorious 2. Ramones played fast, hard music, but no one was named Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious B. Group assembled by Malcolm McLaren 1. owner of a fetish clothing boutique in London 2. Saw Ramones and the New York Dolls in New York a. Briefly managed Dolls (and ran into the ground) b. Liked stripped down sound of punk 3. Thought a similar band would generate great publicity for shop 4. Recruited band from guys who hung around store a. Several – guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook, and bassist Glen Matlock (an employee) – about to form band b. McLaren took it upon himself to find singer with correct image a. Johnny Rotten (neé John Lydon) looked right b. No one knew if he could sing! c. Recruited Sid Vicious after Matlock quit (little musical talent) C. Word of band spread quickly 1. In Britain band tapped something darker than dissatisfaction with mainstream rock 2. Violent backlash against popular culture and false social optimism 3. Quickly attracted large audience, especially after Ramones 1976 tour of UK 4. Just as quickly signed by record execs afraid to miss next Beatles or Stones D. Added to characteristics of NY Dolls and Ramones 1. Nihilistic attitude - nothing matters, and it‟s all bad anyway 2. Gross antics, stage behavior (from Iggy Pop and the Stooges) 3. Screamed, monotonous and offensive lyrics E. Ironically, much of their behavior, lyric content carefully designed to offend 1. Album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols nearly banned for obscene title (could be construed as such in England) 2. First single, “God Save The Queen” a. Carefully timed to coincide with Queen‟s Silver Jubilee b. Caused a big scandal, generated tons of publicity c. Banned by the BBC – sure sign of a good record in England! d. Shot album to the top of the charts in the UK – first successful punk album e. Song reached #2 on pop charts 3. Example “Anarchy in the U.K.” a. Slower tempo than Ramones songs b. Rock rhythm slammed out in all parts i. Back beat in snare ii. Occasional drum fills c. Only real melodic interest the bass and guitar riffs d. Guttural, nearly incomprehensible lyrics e. Garage rock guitar solo IV. The decline of punk A. Pure Punk burned itself out within a few years B. Energy, drive that punk brought back to rock influenced almost all bands that came after V. New Wave A. Sometimes used interchangeably with punk 1. Bands shared anti-mainstream sentiment 2. Similar audiences 3. Generally adhered to basic rock instrumentation B. But shouldn‟t be C. New wave bands took punk as a primary influence and fused with other rock styles a. Due to back-to-basics nature, punk mixes with nearly all kinds of music b. Creates numerous sub-styles VI. Punk + art rock A. Seems an unlikely combination B. Basic, stripped down textures of punk provided blank canvas for basically anything 1. Poetry 2. World music 3. Electronica 4. Examples: Patti Smith, Devo, Talking Heads C. The Talking Heads 1. Group of art school students formed in early 1970s 2. Part of original CBGB crowd, but had more diverse stylistic influences a. Pop b. Funk c. Art rock d. R&B e. World music (in „80s) f. Combined in unusual ways 3. Often impressionistic lyrics 4. Example “Psycho Killer” a. Thin, transparent texture b. Jangly, Rickenbacker guitar sound b. Eight beat very much present i. simple, continuous rhythmic pulse on woodblock (drum machine) that sounds robotic ii. Guitar accents backbeat iii. Later taken over by metallic sound from drum machine c. Somewhat the “behind the beat” feel of reggae d. Definitely not pop lyrics – a little creepy and…psycho e. Nearly monotone lyric delivery amplified psychotic portrayed in lyrics D. Elvis Costello 1. English singer-songwriter 2. Started career in pub bands a. Something like garage rock b. Emphatic rhythms c. Boozy, hollered lyrics 3. Influenced by both punk and reggae – early material often contains elements of both 4. Challenging lyrics couched in poetic or innocuous terms a. Often expressing rage and frustration toward system b. At times a little sinister… 5. Example, “Radio, Radio” a. Opens with a scream b. Aggressive, hard rock time keeping i. Rebound backbeats ii. Double time drumming in last half of each bar c. Sustained organ chords thicken texture d. Verse/chorus form i. Texture thins under verse aa. Saturated eight beat feel in drums, guitar bb. Punctuated by organ chords on rebound backbeat ii. Complicated chorus aa. Short organ chords on each beat bb. Shifting accents create off-balance feel cc. “Better do as you are told” – accompanied by simple eight beat in tom-toms dd. Call and response with organ chords iii. Return of intro iv. Contrasting section aa. New melody bb. Over saturated eight beat v. Second verse aa. Incorporates true stop time bb. Some melodic variation vi. Chorus E. Devo 1. Part of surprisingly vital Ohio punk scene 2. Philosophical – though quirky – theory of evolution a. Man not evolving, but devolving b. Iterated in print, music, and film i. Last – The Truth about De-Evolution – shown at film festival in 1976 ii. Got attention of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, who helped them secure record contract 3. Dada-esque approach to music and political commentary a. Dada – artistic movement that embraced anti-art b. Protesting war and establishment, middle class values through anarchy and irrationality, as both war and bourgeoisie values seemed irrational c. Calculated and purposeful silliness i. Weird, depersonalizing jumpsuits ii. Pyramid shaped plastic hats iii. Robotic behavior on stage 4. Latter bleeds into approach to music 5. Extensive (or exclusive) synthesizers and electronic instruments 6. Mechanical rhythmic precision 7. But with pop hooks 8. Example “Jocko Homo” a. Synthesizer and distorted guitar b. Odd, seven note riff (3+4) – notes evenly spaced c. Plus drum (on beat or afterbeat) d. Verse/chorus form with contrasting interlude i. Verse - call and response between lyric and riff ii. Chorus (“Are we not men? We are Devo”) same iii. Followed by unison statement of riff e. Interlude i. Martial eight beat rock rhythm on synthesizer ii. Punctuated by double time guitar riff iii. Unintelligible lyrics treated by extensive distortion - creepy f. Suddenly breaks into 4/4 time i. Grandiose guitar riff and melody ii. Sounds almost like a Queen song! g. Return to opening riff and verse h. Verse – same as the first – but with distortion from interlude i. Rhythmically displaced statements of chorus j. Mutates into what sounds like stadium cheer k. Outro – seven note riff VII. Energy, riff-basis of punk seemed to fuse particularly well with reggae A. Political and social protest common to both styles B. Rhythmic activity of reggae, especially accented afterbeats, highlighted by punk‟s saturated eight beat style beat C. Examples – Clash, Police, Elvis Costello D. The Clash 1. Part of original British punk scene 2. In 1979 begin to incorporate reggae, ska, rockabilly, and jazz influences 3. Left wing political idealism important aspect of band a. Commentaries focus on fighting racism, inequality b. Social problems like addiction, influence of advertising and media 4. Generally advanced musicianship 5. Third album – London Calling (1980) - broke group into mainstream a. Many critics thought it finest album of the year b. One of most influential LPs in rock history c. Foundation of reggae-influenced, socially conscious rock 6. Example, “Death or Glory” a. Intro i. Strummed eight beat rock rhythm on acoustic guitar ii. Tom-toms on beat iii. Electric guitar riff enters iv. Snare drum enters on backbeat v. More aggressive, hard rock guitar riff enters aa. Hard accent on first two beats of bar bb. Recedes as vocals enter b. Verse i. Pop-influenced, catchy melody ii. Accompanied by simple guitar riff iii. Musical irony – violent imagery c. Chorus i. Each statement preceded by accents on first two beats in guitar ii. Accompanied primarily by guitar, bass riffs iii. Hooky! d. Interlude, with more active drumming i. Elaborate drum fills ii. Active bass line iii. Parrot sounds iv. Distorted guitar e. Verse in lower register i. Rebound backbeat and emphatic statement of eight beat rock rhythm ii. New guitar riff f. Chorus g. New interlude with delicate guitar accompaniment h. Grows more aggressive and distorted as approaches final chorus D. Punk and pop seems like unholy combo, but actually worked 1. Back to basics feel of punk revitalized tired pop 2. Bright rhythmic feel of pop worked well with dominant eight-beat rhythm 3. Both employed stripped down, simple textures 4. Examples – B-52s, Elvis Costello, Blondie 5. Enduring style a. Fades in mid 1980s b. Returns to prominence in the early to mid nineties i. Blink 182 ii. Green Day iii. Weezer iv. Query students: other examples?
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