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did the sex pistols kill punk rock?


PaulEdwardWagemann
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I think the Sex Pistols were smart to quit after one album though, because if they had continued until they were dinosaurs, they would be extremely hypocrittical. And they didn't kill punk, because there were some great punk albums made after "Nevermind the Bollocks" as well..."London Calling," "Double Nickels on the Dime," "Frankenchrist," "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables," "A Different Kind of Tension," "A New Music in a Different Kitchen," and "Plastic Surgery Disasters" are just a few examples.

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I think the Sex Pistols were smart to quit after one album though, because if they had continued until they were dinosaurs, they would be extremely hypocrittical. And they didn't kill punk, because there were some great punk albums made after "Nevermind the Bollocks" as well..."London Calling," "Double Nickels on the Dime," "Frankenchrist," "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables," "A Different Kind of Tension," "A New Music in a Different Kitchen," and "Plastic Surgery Disasters" are just a few examples.

Well, the vast majority of those albums you just mentioned were by just the two bands: Dead Kennedys and Buzzcocks...but I appreciate what you're saying. There have been many, many more splendid punk albums since the Pistols allegedly "killed punk" by the mere fact of their existence. If I can rustle up the will I may be back later with a list....

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Here are some more decent to great punk bands that came after the Sex Pistols killed punk.

Black Flag

Minor Threat

The Misfits

The Subhumans

The Casualties

Fugazi

Crass

Angry Samoans

Flogging Molly

Dropkick Murphy's

The Circle Jerks

The Butthole Surfers

And of course the infamous GG Allin

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Here are some more decent to great punk bands that came after the Sex Pistols killed punk.

Black Flag

Minor Threat

The Misfits

The Subhumans

The Casualties

Fugazi

Crass

Angry Samoans

Flogging Molly

Dropkick Murphy's

The Circle Jerks

The Butthole Surfers

And of course the infamous GG Allin

Admittedly there were some good Punk Rock records made after the Sex pistols. ANd to be honest, it would be giving the Sex pistols too much credit to say that they killed punk--so I retract my statement. The Sex Pistols did however bring Punk into the Pop Mainstream. But I cant even say thta they did that, because IMO they werent really punk. They were pop all along. If they were really punk they wouldnt have been so concerened with being popular. The bands mentioned above were more punk because they knew they would never achieve mainstream Pop success...

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So GG Allin wasn't concerned only with image? Fugazi isn't mainly known solely because of bumper stickers on beat-up cars belonging to college students?

I don't see how the Sex Pistols can be considered "poseurs" when they essentially breathed life into a new style of music. I'm not saying any of this because I'm a diehard fan, but because I appreciate their place in musical history.

As far as seeking popularity...Don't sign a record deal if you're not interested in it, which all of these groups are guilty of having done. :)

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So GG Allin wasn't concerned only with image? Fugazi isn't mainly known solely because of bumper stickers on beat-up cars belonging to college students?

I don't see how the Sex Pistols can be considered "poseurs" when they essentially breathed life into a new style of music. I'm not saying any of this because I'm a diehard fan, but because I appreciate their place in musical history.

As far as seeking popularity...Don't sign a record deal if you're not interested in it, which all of these groups are guilty of having done. :)

gg allen was mental. Fugazi is over rated imo...

As for the Sex Pistols I suggest you read a book called Too Much Too Soon--which is the NY Dolls story, then a book called England is Dreaming and another called From the Velvets to the Voidoids or a book called Please Kill Me. They all make it pretty clear that the Sex Pistols were fabricated with the motive of getting fame, attentions and money. Malcolm McLaren stole the look and attitude for the Sex Pistols from Richard Hell. He made them into a bunch of posuers. 'The Great Rock-n-Roll' swindle was as choreagraphed as a BackStreet Boys video. I admit there was some talent in the Sex Pistols, but Malcom exploited 'punk' to make fame and money. I really dont see anything so innovative about that or their music or their lyrics.

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Well, the vast majority of those albums you just mentioned were by just the two bands: Dead Kennedys and Buzzcocks...but I appreciate what you're saying. There have been many, many more splendid punk albums since the Pistols allegedly "killed punk" by the mere fact of their existence. If I can rustle up the will I may be back later with a list....

Well you caught me. Of course, I could have been worse, I could have said "many great punk songs were made after the Sex Pistols" and listed all 43 songs from Double Nickels on the Dime.

Jman, congratulations on mentioning Flogging Molly, I love them.

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gg allen was mental. Fugazi is over rated imo...

As for the Sex Pistols I suggest you read a book called Too Much Too Soon--which is the NY Dolls story, then a book called England is Dreaming and another called From the Velvets to the Voidoids or a book called Please Kill Me. They all make it pretty clear that the Sex Pistols were fabricated with the motive of getting fame, attentions and money. Malcolm McLaren stole the look and attitude for the Sex Pistols from Richard Hell. He made them into a bunch of posuers. 'The Great Rock-n-Roll' swindle was as choreagraphed as a BackStreet Boys video. I admit there was some talent in the Sex Pistols, but Malcom exploited 'punk' to make fame and money. I really dont see anything so innovative about that or their music or their lyrics.

How do I disagree with thee? Let me count the ways....

First: I am surprised that, as an apparent advocate of "Rockism", you can claim to be so well-read on the subject of The Pistols/punk rock and yet reach such dizzyingly simplistic, reductionist non-sequiturs in conclusion. I confess that I have not read three of the books you recommend, but I am surmising from their titles that two of these at least are written from the perspective of the U.S. end of the punk phenomenon. It strikes me as likely that any biog of The New York Dolls may contain some none-too favourable references to McLaren and the Pistols, and to debts owed by the latter to the former. Similarly, "From The Velvets To The Voidoids", which may well substantiate the oft-cited and possibly perfectly accurate claim that Richard Hell invented the "ripped T-Shirt look" that would later be associated wih "punk". But these are just so many red-herrings, trivial details. It is several years since I last read Savage's "England's Dreaming" in its 600 page entirety, but its impressively exhaustive study of The Sex Pistols/"punk rock" phenomenon does not (to my recollection at least) support the conclusion "that the Sex Pistols were fabricated with the motive of getting fame, attentions and money". Far from it, in fact. As I recall, Savage acknowledges the role played by the convergence of a vast range of factors, some of them relating to musical influences/style influences, yes, but many more relating to the prevailing political, economic and social climate in the UK at that time, and the state of the "music scene at large". There were a million and one converging forces that created the milieu in which "punk" would inevitably explode, and as many more that handed The Pistols the dynamite...

So what if McLaren previously managed the NY Dolls and that eventually The Pistols style was somewhat reminiscent of theirs? All bands have influences: The Pistols had loads- they weren't inventing music from scratch! The Dolls had been at the party, shot their load and gone again, all to little avail...Absolutely "so what?" that Richard Hell wore a ripped T-Shirt? How much does that matter, apart from to Richard Hell? Hell was a relatively insignificant figure on the music-scene; it's doubtful he would be remembered much nowadays, if it weren't for the fact that punk went ballistic over here and the historians acknowledged his "bit-part" in its development. In any case, it matters not that Hell may have had the look...he didn't have the rest of the essential ingredients: the music, the excitement, the social circumstances...the threat...the Zeitgeist on his side. He was in the wrong country for starters.

Both The NY Dolls and Hell have garnered most of their critical attention retrospectively as a result of the considerable demand for definitive histories of the punk phenomenon/revolution. (Yes, it was a revolution...) Had it not been for the extraordinary events in the UK, (that not only placed punk "on the map", but at a pivotal point in UK music/art history), The Dolls and Hell would have remained but tiny skid-marks on the Underpants of Rock History.

And even if it were true that the Sex Pistols were motivated by the attractions of "fame, attention and money", I find myself asking , "what is so unusual about that?" Arguably, the vast majority of bands that have ever existed a) hope to get reviewed by the papers, B) hope to get themselves an audience, maybe get pursued by loose women and c)wouldn't mind at all if they made some money out of it. Are you suggesting that they weren't at all bothered about the music? They originally formed, like many young chaps do, because they wanted to be in a band. Like most young bands do they started out by playing covers of songs by bands that they held in high regard. They then got themselves a manager , recruited themselves a new singer, wrote some of their own songs: so far, so commonplace. The rest is history, and to a great degree, mythology....To suggest that they are in any way comparable to a "manufactured boy-band" is disingenuous and, to my mind at least, inaccurate.

It is bizarre to cite the Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle as an example of such "choreography". The Rock'n'Roll Swindle was a film, made after the band had split up. It was a combination of spurious biography, allegory, fantasy, mythology and satire. As with most films, it had to be scripted, filmed, edited, produced and marketed: a big project. I doubt it would have worked if somebody hadn't "choreographed" it. It was, as you rightly point out, a further example of McLaren milking the cash cow, of "exploit(ing) 'punk' to make fame and money". Arguably it succeeded as an entertainingly subversive piece of art and at the same time guaranteed that The Pistols place in musical history would be forever shrouded in mystery and terminally debated. Whilst McLaren's exploits around this time appear unsavoury, (especially with the benefit of hindsight), and the band's legacy was in the process of being grossly undermined, The Rock'n'Roll Swindle still managed to throw up one of pop/rocks most iconic moments in Sid's performance of "My Way"...his one glorious existentialist moment.(It's important to put things in their historic context, rather than relying on the benefits afforded by hindsight)

I really dont see anything so innovative about ....their music or their lyrics...

This the point where our respective wavelengths part company most dramatically. On the music front I can just about see your point. The Pistols offered a contemporary variation on what might loosely be termed "heavy rock". Stylistically it bore most comparison, (I would suggest),with The Who's amphetamine-fuelled youth anthem "My Generation" from over a decade previously and, of course, a less "lightweight" variant on the NY Dolls sound. In the overall scheme of things one might even place them towards the Black Sabbath end of the rock continuum in terms of "heaviness". (I appreciate that I'm making loose comparisons here). However I would still contend that it didn't sound much like anything the general public had heard before...

But as for the lyrical content..."not innovative"??!! I firmly believe that Rotten's lyrics (and his individually-stylised delivery thereof) were a crucial factor in really setting The Pistols apart from everybody else, and in particular the "sour-grapes" crowd who accused the Pistols of pilfering their guitar-sounds and fashion sense.(Did the Dolls ever say anything, lyrically, of any consequence whatsoever?)

What lyrical precedents are there for "Anarchy In The UK?", and in particular "Holidays In The Sun" and "God Save the Queen"? As far as I know,"protest" had been off the UK chart agenda for quite some time. As for lyrics as incendiary as those penned by Rotten....nothing much since "People try to put us down, just because we get around, the things they do look awful cold, hope I die before I get old", which seems pretty tame in comparison...

"I don't want a holiday in the sun, I wanna go to the new Belsen, I wanna see some history, cos now I gotta reasonable e-con-o-my" (Holidays In the Sun"). Believe me, the UK charts in the 1970s were not exactly littered with stuff like that until The Pistols came along...

"God Save the Queen, She aint no human being, and there's no future ..in England's dreaming" may not be the best lyric ever written, but it certainly couldn't be mistaken for anything by The Bee Gees....

Again..."historical context"....

Re: The "Killing of Punk"

It has been argued (by Siouxsie Sioux, amongst others) that the phenomenon that became known as "punk" died the moment it was given a label. Such an argument would tend to indicate the protagonist's disappointment that the imposition of the label entailed a simultaneous imposition of "membership criteria"; a rigid interpretation of what "punk" represented , ("rules"), a template, an element of conformity at odds with, and undermining, the original point.

Whilst not wholly unsympathetic with this contention, I would argue that once the genie is out of the bottle, you can't put it back in...

"Punk" is just a word, a term coined by somebody to label a phenomenon, (and quite an amorphous one at that): a flag of convenience. It has become a noun, an adjective, a prefix and a suffix. It can be used to describe a person, an appearance / "style", a guitar-sound, a helluva lot of quite different musical sounds, a piece of art, or something as ambiguous as "an attitude". The word has as many interpretations as there were people involved in or inspired by the original phenomenon: every single one has formed their own interpretation of what punk meant, and in many cases transferred this interpretation to their own art (whatever that may be). So many took the baton and ran in so many different directions. It is for this reason that one can cite GG Allin ("mental", according to you, generally perceived as "amoral", "nihilistic", etc.) and Fugazi(sane as you like, politically-aware, promoters of emotional honesty/self-respect, an antithesis of amorality and nihilism) as examples of punk's diaspora, with equal validity. Personally, I would have no trouble in adding, say.."Boy George" to that mix, without compromising the integrity of my argument.

I wonder if such differences in perception can be attributed to the respective impacts of the genre on either side of the Atlantic.

As I understand it, in the USA, the artists originally bracketed in the punk/new-wave genre had little in common, apart from being a bit "out there", away from the mainstream, and had little impact on the mainstream music scene, or on American life in general: "punk" if it existed, was a marginal concern , and arguably has remained so. Has "punk" ever troubled the mainstream Singles charts? Seeped into the public sub-conscious? No revolution, then...

It may be difficult for others to grasp the extent of its enormous impact in the UK, not only on the music scene, but its reverberations throughout society in general, (the tabloid frenzy, questions in Parliament, etc,) It really was perceived as a threat, the enemy within: a folk devil.

As you pointed out earlier on in the thread, I was perhaps too young to appreciate or get involved in all this at first hand at the age of 12. But I do remember it...

Punk in various guises continued to trouble the charts for several years, before being consigned to the underground for a significant period of hibernation.(Well its generic incarnation, at least).

Two years or so after the punk's emergence as "a force to be reckoned with" (and after many had pronounced it "dead"), I was watching Top Of The Pops (weekly chart TV show) and saw a group called The Angelic Upstarts (anathema to the likes of Siouxsie Sioux), working class street-punks, not photogenic in the slightest (quite the opposite), performing an aggressive punk anthem called "Teenage Warning". It was at once thrilling and slightly scary. I was accustomed to listening to commercial music; this was ugly blokes passionately urging a teen uprising. Punk Was Still Alive!

I felt similar when I heard The Prodigy's "Firestarter" for the first time, but maybe I digress...

For all those that interpreted "punk" as a more politicised variant of "hard rock", the many different interpretations of what it might mean led to all manner of sub-genres, which themselves became internationally acknowledged and influential: Goth, post-punk, Two-Tone, New Romantic, industrial, "indie", to name but a few, as well as the more extreme and marginal subcultures of Brit-punk, hardcore, psychobilly, etc.

Through "The Unseen Ripples From A Pebble"....

PUNK LIVES ON!

I would like to stress that all of this is only my opinion, and that I totally respect everyone's right to hold opinions that differ from my own, (however much I may violently disagree with them). I offer my personally-held views on this subject within the spirit of mature, intelligent, rational debate.

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Another one of Blind Fitter's off the cuff statements!

BF, I admire your fortitude. I also value your well thought out and articulate thoughts, especially since you were part of the scene of which you speak. :thumbup:

I wish I had the energy to type that much about anything!

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Have you never heard of the Stooges? Or the Dictators or the Dead Boys or the Ramones? Or even the MC5. Maybe you are in a vaccum because you are stuck in the Uk(which also explains your nationalistic loyalty to Brit Punk) but by the time the Sex Pistols jumped on the band wagon the golden age of punk was already on the downswing. By commercializing Punk, the sex Pistols basically undercut everything Punk stood for...

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Really ! Mine or Paul Edward's ? Mine's supposed to be a joke ! If that causes you any offence I apologise unreservedly B-F.

I believe the whole thread is a set-up to bait you anyway ! I thought a bit of humour might help defuse the situation.

:P

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Have you never heard of the Stooges? Or the Dictators or the Dead Boys or the Ramones? Or even the MC5. Maybe you are in a vaccum because you are stuck in the Uk(which also explains your nationalistic loyalty to Brit Punk) but by the time the Sex Pistols jumped on the band wagon the golden age of punk was already on the downswing. By commercializing Punk, the sex Pistols basically undercut everything Punk stood for...

Well, I've heard some complete and utter guff in my time.......

...so "Thank Heavens" for something like a serious debate for a change. :smirk:

Of course I've heard of those bands: I'm not totally ignorant, you know. ;) Nor am I trapped in a UK Brit-punk vacuum. I was into "punk" for many, many years, during which time I enjoyed music from diverse strands of the genre (hardcore,pop-punk, anarcho, street-punk,industrial, alt-core, goth and many more), from all corners of the globe (including plenty of stuff from the US, but also mainland Europe, Scandinavia, Japan....), encompassing the intensely political (anarchist/socialist),the nihilist/apolitical, stuff with no specific agenda beyond "entertainment", etc. Being of a certain age and located primarily in the north of England, many of the gigs I attended throughout the eighties featured mostly (but not exclusively)UK bands. This in turn may have influenced my buying habits, so , yes I do possess alot of Brit-punk records, amongst many others. I also have (let me count them) seven Ramones albums. Why I have to justify myself to you, I've no idea, but I just felt like straightening one or two things out....

I mention The Ramones because it leads on nicely to my next point. Earlier in this thread you castigated The Sex Pistols for being choreographed like a boy-band, poseurs, and now you're claiming that "by commercializing Punk, the Sex Pistols basically undercut everything Punk stood for". So where do you stand on The Ramones? You don't think that having a band uniform, a gimmick (pretending to be brothers), a logo, etc. represent distinct elements of boy-band choreography, posing, striving to turn their schtick into something "commercial", or , in other words...uh, "commercialism". The Ramones were not "anti-commercial" in any respect. They and most of the other artists you mentioned would have given their right arms for something like the commercial profile achieved by the Pistols and The Clash. As it is, it required a youth explosion in the UK to generate interest in those bands, which in turn enhanced their profile "back home". Nobody denied the crucial influence of those US bands on the development of The Pistols/UK punk, but it's as well to recall that even in their own country they were perceived as "minority interests" and their popularity confined to tiny ghettoes. I suppose it depends whether you consider this to have been "by choice" or not,...whether you want to be elitist about it....Most of those who survived, when offered the opportunity to enjoy an enhanced public profile, took it gladly...and didn't ask The Sex Pistols permission one way or another... I think you tend to overplay the "anti-commercial" stance of the early punks....Maybe their stance wasn't dictated so much by "anti-commercialism" as by the lack of a sympathetic domestic market?

You have avoided recognition of my point that punk invoked a far-reaching musical, cultural and social revolution over here.

You named half a dozen "punk" artists (using the term loosely) in the context of "the golden age of punk" (that sounds so quaintly nostalgic), yet if one were to consider how many fantastic bands have existed (here, there and everywhere)in direct result of the UK punk revolution, I fail to see how it can in any way be perceived as a "downswing".

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b-f :bow:

seriously though, isn't it awful being stuck in a vacuum over on this side of the world? i don't know of anything that goes on in the big world of the USA. sometimes i find it hard being so cut off from the rest of the world but mostly i just enjoy being a big salmon of knowledge in a small pond - at least not having access to information about the rest of the world means i don't have to learn much.

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