Posted tagged ‘1970s’

Life Before Memes

2012/10/22

Not Just White Noise Supremacy: The Diversity of the Underground Punk Network in late 1970s-early 1990s America

2012/01/22

Recently, a book called White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race, edited by Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay, was released. Race has been at the forefront of debates on punk, probably before, and definitely since, Lester Bangs wrote his article “White Noise Supremacists” in the Village Voice in 1979. Reactions to White Riot reveals the diversity of opinion on race and politics in punk milieux, especially this review of the book in Maximum Rocknroll, White Riot: Another Failure.”

Discussions on punk and race instantly brings to mind not only the Clash song “White Riot,” but also the Minor Threat song “Guilty of Being White.” The song was written by Ian MacKaye, who was frustrated by being mistreated, because of the color of his skin, by black youths in the community he grew up in. Highly contentious, debate and different interpretations continue to surround the song. As the book White Riot and the reactions to it show, this contention extends to the issue of race and punk as a whole.

The thing about punk is, as D. Boon said: “punk is whatever we made it to be.” From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, punk was a melange of not only different races, but also voices, messages, outlooks and ideas. Music scenes sprung up across the United States (and parts of Canada), forming an underground network where people could raise voices differing to the status quo of the mainstream.

In the following, I try to touch on the diversity that existed in the underground punk network in the United States. It is by no means comprehensive, but should provide a taste of what was happening, and how the varying elements of that diversity mixed together.

Well, except for Diversity being an old wooden ship from the Civil War era

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Poly Styrene, 1957-2011

2011/04/26

Poly Styrene, frontlady of the seminal punk band x-Ray Spex, passed away today at age 53.

Read about her in the BBC article here.

“Just head that Poly Styrene has passed away. Little girls should be seen and not heard wasn’t only a view held by our parent’s generation – the rock hacks of the mid-70s also subscribed to the idea that female musicians should be rock chicks a la Suzy Quatro. Poly pushed against that and the boys club that was early punk rock. Celebrate her life!” -Billy Bragg

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Transmissions from the Punk Heart

2011/02/02

When the music scene in Seattle exploded in late 1991, bands from everywhichwhereplace rushed to the Pacific Northwest to try and get in on the buzz. This wasn’t how things usually went. Normally, a musician had to leave the Emerald City in order to make it big. Heck, even Jimi Hendrix had to do a reversal of “follow the yellow brick road.”

Example of a brilliant scientist

Here’s some other examples of people that had to ditch Seattle to order to find “success.” I put success in quotations because it can be a pretty subjective term, and the following musicians certainly achieved different levels of it.  Of course, the examples given will then be combined into a trifector (trifecta?), because science has proven that’s the best way to make an overall argument. Thanks in advance, science.

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Dropping the Iron Curtain

2010/12/29

Nowadays, American bands don’t just influence American bands. American bands also influence British bands, Canadian bands, Australian bands, heck, American bands influence at the very least bands all over the world, if not also in places that aren’t even planets, like Pluto. (sorry Pluto)

The same was the case during the Cold War. Despite the USSR’s official rejection of western culture, all things American were slipping through the Iron Curtain. Music was no stranger to this transmission into Eastern Europe and the USSR. Musicians picked up from acts like Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, and of course later punk bands like the Talking Heads. I know this to be true because I read about it in a fanzine called Flagpole Magazine, from Athens, Georgia.

BIX

In 1991, a band called BIX came across the Atlantic to perform across the United States. They were from Lithuania, a country that had just declared independence from the Soviet Union. Already veterans of playing throughout Europe, and at a short 1990 US tour including a stop at the New Music Seminar in NYC, BIX was back for their second tour of America.

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punk’s passionate heart

2010/12/18

Compare, if you will, the following two songs:

The Ramones, “Judy is a Punk” 1974

Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer” 1975

Boy, each band sure does have sonic uniqueness. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t both punk.

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City of Love & Revolution: Vancouver in the Sixties

2010/12/13

Professor Lawrence Aronsen from the University of Alberta has written a book called City of Love & Revolution: Vancouver in the Sixties.

According to the good professor, it’s a book about “the Baby Boomers coming of age, trying to find their identity. The hippie thing is a nice way to counter the mass consumption of the ’50s and ’60s.”

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