From Pedro Marazzi: What is your view of modern-day punk bands? Particularly those we in the US are subjected to. In the UK there was deemed to be three generations of punk bands. The first generation, which you seem to belong to, being Pistols, Clash etc. Generation 2 being Stiff Little Fingers, Ruts etc. Generation 3 being Anti Nowhere League, Exploited etc. Due to my age I came in at Generation 2 and initially felt like I'd already missed the party. First generation punkers tend to be too easily dismissive of most punk that followed, probably due to less originality. What is/was your view?
Thanks for the astute question, Pedro. Your breakdown is very precise 'specially as the waves you mention came quite close together. But who do you think is less original -- the late-wave musicians, or the people (not) listening? I'm assuming you mean the musicians, in which case I'm glad you dig the under-appreciated Ruts. If only their wonderful singer, Malcolm Owen, hadn't OD'd on heroin so young... he was gorgeous and had a great intensity that was very compelling and seductive but seems to have burned him right up. You're probably right anyway, Pedro, in that seeing any style, e.g. punk, coming round the cultural conveyor belt yet again can prompt yawns from the been-there, done-that dudes. Not those neck tattoos AGAIN?
There's also the nostalgia factor -- people get all smooshy over the music they first snogged to. So it's partly too-blasé-to-bop, and partly that original punks like the Clash had a commitment that still inspires people.
But the sign of a lively mind -- crucial to punk - is not to get locked into one era. Keep cruising for compelling voices! Lily Allen is this column's reigning Punky Reggae Princess; Tanya Stephens is our Rebel Queen; and the mighty Manu Chao, whose new album La Radiolina, breaks a six-year silence, is the artist Joe Strummer would have liked to be. So it's never all hopeless, even when it's a bit grim.
In the Wailers dressing room after their fantastic, packed out show at the High Line in Manhattan, Tré Cool from Green Day, a huge Wailers fan, was there to big up the band with his super girlfriend, Sarah Belger. He insisted on having his photo taken with the Punk Professor and bass legend Aston "Family Man" Barrett, and rather impressed me with his glee at how the band's smash hit, 'American Idiot' had distressed President Bush.
Emotion and excitement bubbled like the champagne at the lunch in London's hip Portobello Road that writer, artist and activist Caroline Coon put together for 'The Lost Women of Rock Music: female musicians of the punk era,' (Ashgate Books) by Dr. Helen Reddington. It was old home week for first wave punk rock grrrlz, and British punk legends, Lora Logic, and her old bandmate in X Ray Spex, Poly Styrene, were both there with personality-packed daughters! There were also various MoDettes, Belle Stars, and others.
Caroline gave a great speech, which you will be able to see a bit of right here (coming soon!). The author used to play in a Brighton punk band called The Chefs as Helen McCookeryBook. Classic punk rage at how girl punk musicians have been ignored and written out of history -- see, that's why it starts with "his"! -- inspired Helen to write this valuable book. It began as an academic thesis but will reach much further.
The seriously cool guys, like Kurt Cobain, who championed the Raincoats, and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, do get the greatness of the girls. Supported by London's original punky reggae female rockers, the Slits, Sonic Youth performed the whole of their 'Daydream Nation,' at McCarren Pool, a hipster hangout in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Onstage Moore hailed up the Slits and called Ari Up "My hero!" Although Thurston later humbly said "I just kept my head down and tried to get through to the end," the show really felt like a journey, epic and emotional. Kim Gordon is a sultry, brooding rock star, with a fluid, forceful bass style, who scores double 'cos guys love her and the females in the audience all sense she's a sister.
The audience had never seen anything like the Slits, who played many of their old school gems like "Typical Girls" and some of their newer material, too. Sadly, the listings were wrong so keen Slits fans like the girls of "no age jungle riddim vendors", Gang Gang Dance, missed them. Backstage, GGD's Lizzi Bougatsos and Jess Holzworth introduced their own sister in punk, the smashing actress Chloë Sevigny, joking, “She's a star!" Nice Chloë practically crawled into the room in a major just-a-regular-gal attack! They're old friends and Slits fans forever.
The new generation of Slits, like Hollie Cook, keep the vibe alive. Hollie is original punk rock royalty as her father's Paul, the drummer of the Sex Pistols, and her mother is Jennie of the Belle Stars, who was in great form at the Women In Punk lunch. You can also hear Hollie on 'Milk And Honey,' the single from a new release that I love, called "Survival of The Fattest: Battling the forces of evil with hippy reggae," by Prince Fatty. It's the new project by Mike Pelanconi, the producer/engineer who made the smash "Alright, Still," with Lily Allen.