468. Punk – Music & Culture (with James)

Talking about punk music and culture from the UK with James.

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A bit of pop culture history in this episode, talking about the musical movement of punk and the social situation in which it happened.

This year we have several anniversaries in British music.

50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper by The Beatles

40th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols

A lot changed in British music between the release of those two albums. 1967 was the height of the peace and love movement but 10 years later music was much more gritty, cynical and realistic. In this episode we’re looking at the whole punk movement, understanding what it was all about, what the music was like, who was involved and how the whole thing has now become a sort of pop culture myth.

I’m joined by my brother James who has been a fan of punk music ever since he borrowed a tape of The Sex Pistols from a chef when he was a teenager (I don’t think the fact it was a chef has any significance to the story, but I just like saying he borrowed the tape from a chef. I can imagine a man in a chef’s hat giving James a tape. Just me? Ok) So he discovered punk music later, in the early 90s. He wasn’t actually there at the time the music was made in 1977, he was too young, but he’s collected a lot of records by punk bands, read all the books, seen all the documentaries and even played drums in a few punk bands himself. I think he knows more about punk than anyone else I know, so I think he’s a good person to talk to.

Check out the page for the episode where you’ll see video playlists chosen by James and also a musical punk mix that he did from his vinyl record collection.

But without any further ado, you can now listen to my conversation with James about punk rock music and culture.


Conversation Notes

  • 40 years since Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols was released. Is that the seminal punk album?
  • Why are we talking about punk in this episode?
  • What gives you any authority on the subject? Why should we listen to you?
  • Importance of punk for understanding culture
  • What is punk?
  • Origins of U.K. Punk
  • Youth subculture
  • Musical context
  • Political context – state of the country
  • American punk
  • Main bands
    • The Damned
      The Slits
      X-Ray Specs
  • What was the era like / music scene of the time
  • Spirit of punk
  • Purpose of punk music
  • Reaction to punk – tabloids
  • Punk art / design / fashion
  • 2nd wave / post punk / punk influence
  • Reality vs legend / absorption into the culture / establishment

Some Words & Phrases

  • Subculture
  • Subversive
  • Anarchy
  • DIY – Do It Yourself
  • Back to basics

From the archives: Other episodes you might like

134. The Story of Salvo

115. A Chat About Music

234. Making “Choons” with My Brother

Leave us your thoughts

  • Is or was punk popular in your country?
  • Is or was there a punk movement where you come from?
  • When did it happen?
  • What was it all about?
  • What was the music like?
  • How did they dress?
  • Is it similar or different to British punk?
  • Are British punk bands popular where you’re from? Which ones?

End song clip: 17 by the Sex Pistols

Videos

Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy (the unedited version)

Sex Pistols Christmas 1977 – A must see to show what a weird time / place England was in 1977 – click the video, it should work.

The gig that changed the world (24 Hour Party People)

Classic Albums – Never Mind The Bollocks

The Filth and the Fury trailer

The Sex Pistols absorbed into the mainstream establishment

Brilliant documentary about Joy Division

Cliched memories of punk (parody)

The Damned – New Rose (typical punk song)

Jim’s punk mix

Jim’s Punk Mix