British vs American?

A journey beyond mainstream to rebel music

Re: British vs American?

Postby (atomic_punk) » Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:34 pm

I know it's not "first", but don't forget about the Orange County scene with the Dead Kennedys and bands like that...(I LOVED the DK!!) They railed on political correctness, politicians taking over the world (California Uber Alles), and the general "growing up in the OC with no future" thing...
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Re: British vs American?

Postby (mikko) » Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:52 pm

In my opinion Sex Pistols are quite funny case. Often mentioned as one of the greatest punk bands. I would say not the greatest but definitely the most influential. Sex Pistols weren't very good band (no offense) but many people took it (too)seriously and formed bands inspired by them. Many of those band were really good. I also find it amusing that punk was supposed to be anti-commercial amongst other anti-this-and-that things. What were the Pistols? Malcolm McLaren's ingenious idea to make money. Kind of proto boy band ;> And they kind of started the whole punk thing. What a great paradox.
About the original question; I like both british and american punk. Usually the most political bands are the best. I don't always share their opinions about things, but people who really believe in what they are singing very often writes the most intense music too. Same goes with other music styles as well.
Black Flag's "My war" is probably my all time favorite punk record. It's B-side played an important role in birth of "sludge" genre. And then there's "Suomi HC" aka 80's finnish HC punk scene...but that's subject for another topic.
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Re: British vs American?

Postby (wayang) » Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:29 pm

The U.S. used to be a British colony...some would say still is...but either way, we remain kind of joined at the hip, for better or worse...

As far as the difference between American 'punk' and it's far more legitimate British precursor goes, one of my first brushes with 'the movement' here was when I got back from working overseas in 1980, and saw a guy in camo gear and combat boots with a foot-high, salon-produced mohawk getting out of a brand new Corvette. I didn't know for sure, at the time, exactly what punk was supposed to be, but I was pretty sure I wasn't lookin' at it there...
Not long after that, I encountered some seriously gnarly looking kids in a supermarket aisle, lookin' like they were ready to tear someone's head off. As I passed, I heard one young woman, in a perfectly 'twee' Valley Girl voice, say "Shelly, come ON..."
It was then that I realized that Frank Zappa was right: there has never been a modern musical trend that wasn't accompanied by a clothing trend, and musical/clothing trends are the biggest, quickest way for the 'man in the suit to buy a new car with the money he's made off your dreams'.

And that's how, just as the 60's 'revolution' gave way to 'the ME decade', 'Anger and Anarchy' passed harmlessly into 'Armani and Abercromie'...
I didn't get where I am today by being on time...
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Re: British vs American?

Postby (danbind) » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:14 pm

Great perspectives on American punk in the book "Our Band Could be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991" by Michael Azerrad--highly recommended.

I think a good word for what has driven a lot of American punk is "disaffected". With societal norms, school, work, being uncool, girls, popular music, you name it.

But I prefer the "who cares" argument. It's all pretty great!
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Re: British vs American?

Postby (captsandwich) » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:00 am

I just picked that book up last night at a used book store (previous to your posting, what a coinkydink!).
Looking forward to it & will report back!
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Re: British vs American?

Postby (whojamfan) » Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:17 pm

atomic_punk wrote:I know it's not "first", but don't forget about the Orange County scene with the Dead Kennedys and bands like that...(I LOVED the DK!!) They railed on political correctness, politicians taking over the world (California Uber Alles), and the general "growing up in the OC with no future" thing...

Dead Kennedys were from San Francisco, which was completely different than the OC scene. The Adolescents and Social Distortion were from OC, and pretty much defined the "OC sound."
The first time I heard the term "hardcore", it was in reference to Minor Threat and Black Flag.
There were other bands in the UK doing what became known as "punk" before the Pistols. In fact, their manager approached another group, "CockSparrer", to try to enact his vision on them. When he refused to buy a round, they showed him the door. He then decided to use the kids hanging around his shop for his big money making venture.
The Ramones played their instruments in a way no one had done before-loud, nonstop jackhammering, and with very little dynamics. Often a song would have the guitar and bass play from start to finish with no change in tempo or stops. Nobody was doing this, and their songs were about their everyday lives and the things they did and saw. The Stooges and MC5 were still doing a rock based thing with their own twist, love it, but not really breaking away enough from what was going on to be it's own grnre. While both bands couldn't be matched for what they did, their whole deal was still mainly sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The Sonics sound the way they do because of the horrible recording gear that was used. All of that fuzz and distortion they had was not intended, simply a product of substandard microphones and such. They, of course, were happy to be successful with that sound, but it was certainly not meant to be a catalyst for a "scene".
The British love to make everything a "movement" with it's music subcultures. "Teds" "Mods" "Rockers" "Skinheads"-and that's just up to the late 60s-are prime examples of these musically driven subcultures. The US punk thing was more of a happening that went to England and got repackaged as some sort of revolutionary armegeddon. When you listen to the diversity of the initial music of that time, there really wasn't a scene "formula" until the Pistols public packaging. It was really quite a marvel of pop culture marketing, and still is. Unfortunately, it killed everybody elses career that fell in to the "punk" category, and created the need for a different name-New Wave.
The Pistols made some great music and some great albums, even if they don't quite fit the purists definition of what punk should be. I've never understood how the Clash always seem to get a walk on this, as they were on a major label, and had other people put their image together. I love a lot of their stuff, but they weren't the most honest about their ages, motivations, and inspirations. This wouldn't be such an issue if it wasn't for the whole posturing that goes along with being "the only band that matters".
Englands 2nd wave of punk was much more honest, down to earth, and completely street level. Unfortunately, it went hand in hand with the whole football hooligan thing at the time, and some bands and followings were/are very loyal supporters and gigs would often turn out to be bootfests. To add insult to injury, some-very few-had affiliations with unpopular political organizations that allowed the media and the government to dismiss the entire scene in an even more unpopular light. British Prime Minister at the time-Margaret Thatcher-was so frightened by this whole "movement" that she actually had special police groups(SPGs) infiltrating concerts and stuff and doing their best to make it very undesirable to be involved in any of it. Pretty sad how out of control this whole fiasco got, and how you never see any of the bands of this era mentioned in the history books. Ever wonder why punk in the UK seems to end with the Pistols and turn in to something else untill grunge comes over? Too bad, there is some great punk rock-The Exploited, Angelic Upstarts, Blitz, Crass, Cockney Rejects, Chron-Gen, Red Alert, Subhumans, Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Toy Dolls,The Business, and Vicious Rumours just to name a few. Even 1st wave UK punk like Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, Damned, and Siouxsie and the Banshees continued to play, but still hardly ever get a mention. Even the Ramones, who toured almost nonstop for 30 years, got little recognition outside of their audience until just a few years before they broke up.
It's no surprise how different the scenes sounded, as punk is mainly geared to being about what you know, and what is around you. The social and economical structures of the different societies of the time really dictate genre as it relates to it's geographical location, much as Rap/Hiphop has become.
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Re: British vs American?

Postby (bge66) » Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:33 pm

Wasn't MC-5 the first punk band?

Probably gonna get flamed for this, but I always had a hard time accepting the Pistols as much more than an angry act - but that might be because I missed the Pistols by a few years and heard them and PIL about the same time. There also seemed to be a bit of a social difference between punk (I always think british) and hardcore (states) - punk always seemed to me to be us against the world where hardcore seemed to be me against the world...

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