Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A 1970s New York Punk Rock Primer

Text © copyright Robert Barry Francos
Images from the Internet

Recently, I was asked by some friends (who are about my age) to teach them a little about the New York City punk scene in the ‘70s. The following is the list of records (both LPs and 45s) and CDs II played for them that are part of my collection. There is more I could have played, and there may even be some that were extraneous, but I chose from my heart, and from what I own. Certainly, I could have played stuff all night, but I tried to keep it somewhat realistic. Note that with the exception of No 1 and No. 31, I have seen all these bands play live in that time period, usually more than once, so stories went with the airings. I have supplied videos for them here, as many of the originals as I could find, with some exceptions (which will be noted).

This was the second “class” I taught, the first being the influences (including the Shangri-Las, Velvet Underground, Iggy & the Stooges, and the New York Dolls, among many, which is why they are not listed here). I will make some notes here and there, to explain my reasoning.

My attempt was to show the diversity of the scene, before the codification of second wave of British punk came to the US and turned this rebellion into the third wave of hardcore. I am going to assume that most of the audience viewing this will understand, though I am happy to answer questions about relevance, etc., at rbf55@msn.com. Also feel free to leave comments at this blog about my choices, or alternatives, or additions.

1. Radio Dinner: Deteriorata
I started off with “Deteriorata” to emphasize the malaise that was growing in youth culture and society in general after Altamont, when things started to go “wrong” in the paradigm belief systems.

2. Television: Little Johnny Jewel

3. Richard Hell and Voidoids: Blank Generation

4. Richard Hell and Voidoids: Love Comes in Spurts
I played the Voidoids album version, put this will certainly do.

5. Heartbreakers: One Track Mind
I tried to show that this and “Love Comes in Spurts” is musically the same song, just that Walter Lure re-wrote the lyrics after Richard Hell left the band (as Walter wrote the music).

6. Heartbreakers: Let Go

7. Heartbreakers: Chinese Rocks
Not the album version I played, but a good representative live one.

8. Patti Smith: Piss Factory

9. Patti Smith: Gloria

10. Dictators: Next Big Thing

11. Dictators: Master Race Rock

12. Ramones: Blitzkrieg Bop
The song and band that changed everything for me.

13. Ramones: Rockaway Beach
Still my favorite Ramones song.

14. Ramones: I Wanna Be Sedated

15. Talking Heads: Love -> Building on Fire
I still consider this the best TH song, when they were still a trio; an non-LP single.

16. Talking Heads: Psycho Killer

17. Wayne County: Max’s Kansas City
Could not find the version I played, and the live one with the Fast is just too different to make my point.

18. Blondie: X Offender
From Blondie’s best album, their first.

19. Blondie: Heart of Glass
The start of New Wave (mixing punk with mainstream); I’m happy to say the group was not into it.

20. Fast: It’s Like Love

21. Fast: Kids Just Wanna Dance
Couldn’t find the powerpop version I love, before they went metalish.

22. Marbles: Red Lights
It’s a live version, but it’s accurate (and enjoyable) enough to add here:

23. Milk and Cookies: I’m Just a Kid
Decent live version, but not the record I played them.

24. Tina Peel: Fifi Goes Pop

25. Cramps: Human Fly

26. Cramps: The Way I Walk

27. Cramps: Garbageman

28. Cherry Vanilla: The Punk
While this live version is not what I played, it uses the same backtrack as the single, so it’s similar and passes along the message. (Oh, and remember that the Ramones and Johnny Thunders are all from Queens…)

29. Flame: Beg Me
The video sucks (not condoned by the band), but it is the right song. Don’t bother looking at the screen, just turn up the volume.

30. Tuff Darts: Slash
Could only find the studio album version, not the Live at CBGBs one I played (i.e., Robert Gordon).

31. Dead Boys: Sonic Reducer
The first American hardcore band?

32. Dead Boys: What Love Is

33. Suicide: Cheree
For some reason, this song touched the group most positively.

34. Suicide: Frankie Teardrop
I know someone who played this loud around when it came out, and a neighbor called the cops because of all the screaming.

35. Theoretical Girls: US Millie
It’s nice this video includes the lyric sheet (still have mine, too).

36. Sic F*cks: Rock or Die
37. Sic F*cks: Chop Up Your Mother
Both are on the video. Always end with a joke, I say, and I certainly mean that complementary.

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