Monday, June 18, 2007

Punky Hippy Party

Your Reader Questions Answered!
From Kurt: “Ok, so I've seen the Sex Pistols reunion tour, the Gang of Four reunion tour, the Slits reunion tour. I saw Wreckless Eric last year, reuniting with himself I suppose. All but one was great. My question, Punk Prof, is this: do bands owe us anything when they get back together? Are there right or wrong reasons to do it, or is it all just their own flippin' business?”
Punk band reunions puncture society’s fond delusion that fresh creativity is the prerogative of the under-25s. Somewhat to their surprise in many cases, these bands realize that there’s a market for these reunions with their old bandmates/frenemies, and it strikes a chord – particularly as many of these musicians had found themselves adrift, forced to acknowledge that their sum really had been greater than their own egos. However, for both musician and audience, these shows usually wind up being quite powerful events, more than mere nostalgia. If the artist has given up playing in the interim, they’re bound to fall in love with playing all over again, a sensation vividly captured in “New York Doll,” Greg Whiteley’s documentary on Arthur “Killer” Kane of that band. Seeing the Sex Pistols reunion was remarkable as now their playing had improved so they sounded as good as the polished sound coaxed by Chris Thomas, the producer. When I wound up jamming onstage with the Slits at their reunion, it was frankly a thrill that bass player Tessa Pollitt and singer-songwriter Arri-Upp had found a new crew of junior Slits, who were obviously the band’s artistic progeny, with their dub influence and white girl dreads.
It’s a given that there’s a Pavlovian fascination with the music we first XXXed to (insert your favorite wild thing here,) in our childhood and adolescence, which in many cases is transmitted to the offspring. Thus the many families attending the recent Roger Waters concert in a Jersey Arena, generations singing and playing air guitar together along with his band’s performance of the whole ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ the hippy magnum opus Waters recorded with the band he co-founded in the 1960s, the Pink Floyd.
In short, old punk bands, LIKE OLD HIPPY BANDS, deserve a chance to grow, just like everybody else. These shows can fire memories and inspire the next generations.
Hope this answers your question, Kurt. Thanks for asking.
OK, you in the back there, I’m wondering why your essay on the tension between punks and hippies has no words, and what exactly these sixty-four drawings of brightly colored safety pins and skulls actually mean? You say this is the result of three solid weeks of original research? Oh, I see. You were switching between LSD and amphetamine to compare and contrast punks’ and hippies’ drugs of choice, and this is your response. Well, I’m afraid your research will have to be a bit less original, unless you want your grade to be @@###?”///. Consolation: that grade may not get you a degree, but it’s like an invite to the Punky Hippy Party.
Roger Waters kept the Pig in the Pink Floyd divorce
Yes, Bob Marley sang about the Punky Reggae Party, to which the Clash and various other punks were invited, along with the Wailers. “No boring old farts will be there,” promised Marley, and many listeners assumed that he must be referring to the Pink Floyd and their ilk – the dinosaur 1960s superstars who had dominated the charts, it was felt, for far too long. Nobody sang about the Punky Hippy Party -- not till this column, anyway. The whole point of punk, or so it seemed at the time, was to sweep away what was seen as the deluded idealism and annoying naïveté of hippies and replace it with punk’s gritty realism.
Jon Carin with Punk Professor: Both factions of the old Floyd love this multi-instrumentalist and punks do too
“Punks hating hippies? That was all a load of rubbish,” declared Jon Carin firmly, helping himself to some moules in the leafy garden of a West Village restaurant. An hour before, the brown eyed multi-instrumentalist had been onstage in front of twenty thousand people at a New Jersey arena, backing Roger Waters, the co-founder of Pink Floyd. “John Lydon and Steve Jones (ex-SexPistols,) Captain Sensible (Damned) – I’ve got them all tickets to our shows.”
And Carin should know. Taken on by the supergroup while he was still in his teens, due to a particular combination of talent and personality, he is now the only musician invited to shuttle back and forth between Waters and Dave Gilmore – the two feuding ex-Floydies who each tour the world with their own representation of that august catalog. Reggae has paid Dark Side of the Moon the ultimate tribute with a great favorite of mine, the Easy Star All Stars’ “Dub Side of the Moon,” but the original version still sounds strong. It was a gas to watch that familiar Floyd emblem, the big pink graffiti’d pig, float overhead—Waters reserves his ripest anti-Bush insults for the pig’s plump rubber rear and the graffiti are altered according to issues relevant to each concert’s location, Carin explains. Being immersed in the big sound of LEGENDARY SINGER, P.P. Arnold, the guitar stylings of original pop icon, the Amen Corner’s Andy Fairweather-Lowe, plus their sophisticated mini-movies and psychedelia, was a delicious sensation. A handy reminder of why, though punk happened in stinky cellars, I’d have quite liked IT to be bathed in irridescent colored lights.
Though Waters’ political analysis in songs like Leaving Beirut, is a touch lacking in nuance, the timing of its performance sent a shiver down my spine. While Waters was emoting against a superb backdrop of oversized cartoon frames telling the story of how a nice Arab family rescued Waters when he was a lost hitchhiking student, my hostess, super Punky Mummy, fashion PR Oberon Sinclair-Carin, showed me the latest war death updates on her mobile phone. Seems like the fight for different IDEAS of peace has an even longer shelf life than the Pink Floyd’s canon.
And you in the back there, staring obsessively at a blank wall.  While you're busy opening the doors of perception, don't forget to close the classroom door on your way out, as this lesson is actually over.  The other students are all gone - and so, it would seem, are YOU.  REAL GONE.