A Brief History of Punk Rawk!

1876: Henry Rollins is born in a cave and suckled by bears.


1912: The word ‘Bollocks’ enters into the English language when Queen Victoria drops an iron on her foot and will come in very handy later on in the history of punk.

1939: First Doctor Marten boots are made and instantly become hugely popular with a new youth craze called the ‘Nazis’ who popularise the footwear and a new dance called the ‘Goose Step’. The craze sweeps across Europe whilst off their tits to bangin’ heavy Oompah music. Hitler personally favours an Ox blood 8 eye.

1956: First report of someone who is too young to buy a drink anyway claiming to be Straight Edge in a Beatnik bar outside San Bernardino.

1970s: The UK is downing with surplus Royal Stewart tartan after the Bay City Roller craze has died. A canny cockney rag merchant called Malcolm McLaren purchases the lot and starts making them into tight trousers for the Highland fetishist market.

1974: New York- The Ramones print their first tee shirt and shortly after decide to form a band to better publicise their business.


1975: David Bowie invents Punk during a paranoia filled coke induced fit where he bangs Brian Eno’s head against a drinks tray for over an hour and records the sound. But Bowie forgets to patent it or tell anyone except for his flatmate Iggy Pop who is unimpressed as during this period Iggy is under the impression he is a lizard until the drugs wear off in 1990.

1975: A pair of pants rips so someone (maybe a hobo) shoves a safety pin in to keep them together and it catches on.

1976: A perky boy band called the Sex Pistols hoping to be the next teen sensation release an album of catchy beat/folk ballads about London’s terrible parking restrictions under the title ‘Never Mind the Bollards’ due to a terrible printing error they end up in hot water and on the front pages of every newspaper.


This new aggressively nice and overly polite mix of Folk and 1960s beat music and charity shop chic is dubbed ‘Punk’ by the press when they pick that name out of a hat during an office party. The scene soon centres around key locations of: The Kings Road, Malcolm McLaren’s shop in London and John Robb’s garden shed in Lancashire.

Soon a whole new army of ‘Punk’ bands are forming such as:

The un-Damned ( a Christian band from Dudley) The ‘Slits’ (An all female band of road trench diggers) The Buzzcocks (who only sing songs about chickens high on caffeine) The UK Subs (a band recruited from stand in teachers) and many, many more such as:

Eddie & The Hot Pots, Ian Dreary & the Dickheads, Useless Eric, Generation Z, Stiff Little Mingers,The Understones, Killing Poke, Chelsea-sick-Steve

and of course lesser groups such as:

The Fancy Lads, Rumba Bastards, the Adverts, Pelican Crossing, 999, The Yobs, Pole Smoke, GBH, Extraordinary Offence Caused By Our Music (EOBOM for short), Discharge, Norks, Frilly Knickers, More Tea Vicar, Scruffy Oiks, Shocking Sound and the Dingle-Berries (an Irish folk-punk band)

1976 (again) : The Clash win Opportunity Knocks and go head to head in a singles war with The Sex Pistols for the number one slot. This battle of the bands is the top story in all the papers with the lead singers from each band often seen scuffling with one another outside the Groucho. This struggle defines the two camps of Punk between the middle class fans of the suburbanite Pistols and the working class estate football based ‘lad’ culture of the Clash and is whipped up to a frenzy by the NME and Q magazine. The Pistols win but victory is pyrrhic and short lived as people are already moving into the latest craze which is Zydeco fuelled all nighters warehouse parties. Britain is now wholly looking forward to Thatcherism, things can only get better surely?

Disillusioned the Pistols move to Hollywood to start a football team of lardy ex-pat former celebrity Brits. Lead singer Johnny Rotten reverts to his birth name of Old Dirty Bastard and invents Hip-Hop.

1976/77: The Clash sell out, buy back in and then decide to sublet instead.

1977: Punk is dead, long live punk. The trend is now global so the real punkers move on and buy capes, get widow peak haircuts and hang upside down in coffins for long hours to protest the death of their scene, this inadvertently gives rise to ‘Goth’.

1979: Sid Vicious always a rebel bucks the usual pop music trend by dying aged 21 and not 27. Elvis back from the dead for a brief period.


A band called The Spam kick start a Mod revival. Punk bands left over from 77 quickly buy parkas and get their mums to give them a bowl cut.

1980s: The second wave of punk is led by Roland Rat Scabies and The Exploited. Soon across school job fairs punk stalls can be seen recruiting gullible kids for the ranks. On deciding to become punk they are issued with one leather jacket, a pair of bleached denim jeans, a glue bag, army boots and a book of clichés. Many instead opt for the army and a tour of Northern Ireland or sell their souls to get jobs in the City.


1981: Henry Rollins decides to reinvent the wheel and ends up just calling Punk ‘Hardcore’ instead which seems to do the trick. He visits Preston, gets beaten up and will never cease to mention this forever more as if anyone can do anything about it now. He overcompensates by bulking up and shouting a lot, he is in effect the Brian Blessed of Punk Rock.

Who Really Remembers Britpop?

“Can you remember what you were doing at the height of Britpop? Perhaps you were running the country? Bands like Damon Albarn’s Blur furnished the soundtrack to the early Blair Years, ‘Cool Britannia’ and all that’.
(Steven Smith)

Er? No, except they didn’t did they?
Britpop was at its zenith between 1992-1995 (at its peak around 1995’s Oasis Vs Blur feud) all firmly within and during the Conservative years of John Major’s government and by the time Blair gained power in 1997 and attempted to co-opt the sound and cool factor for New Labour propaganda it was, as a scene pretty much on its way out and maturing into something quite different in the face of mainstream media hype and anyone who used the term ‘Britpop’ to describe their musical tastes in ’97 would have been seen as being rather naff and possibly a bit of a poseur than a fan. 

britpop fight
It’s true though that both Pulp & Blur released what I think are their best albums of that scene around that period. Pulp with the wonderful ‘This Is Hardcore’ in ’98 and Blur with ‘Blur’ in ’97 but that was a last surge of creativity as things seemed to come to a natural halt with the bands who’d been slogging away and ever changing their style since the 1980s C86 shoegazing movement, then hurriedly through both the ‘Grebo’ & ‘Baggy’ fashions. Some clearly worn out after the slog of getting onto Top Of The Pops and noticed by the NME long before the Britpop craze reached its peak, others were keen to shift indie on into other areas and reinvent themselves for a new decade such as the a more clearly ‘rock’ based sound which was finding favour during a resurgence in the generic ‘Alternative’ music scene which would dominate for most of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Pulp Blur

Most of the leading lights of ‘Britpop’ actually split up in the years 1997/1998 (their ranks include such stalwarts as- Sleeper, Lush, These Animal Men, Menswear) so it can hardly be said that Blair rode in on a wave of Cool Britannia rather than he attempted to go for a paddle as the tide was going out. I’m not sure where this myth originates but I think it could very well be with Blair, after all New Labour were brilliant at self-promotion and smarmily latching onto things which seemed to offer some semblance of credibility with the young voters. Or maybe we remember it that way because we’d like to think that the biggest explosion in creativity and self confidence in a sort of British identity for the modern age which whilst nostalgic was undeniably ‘now’. For a time we couldn’t go wrong in everything from fashion, music, film (Trainspotting springs to mind), art (the YBA’s ‘BritArt’) and even Comedy, touted as being the ‘New Rock n’ Roll’ at the time oddly enough. Maybe we’d  justrather pretend that it didn’t happen under the watch of a Prime Minister so characterless he was often portrayed as having grey skin and a nerdy voice by the Spitting Image to the cartoonist Bell. So Blair got all the glory and in the process he possibly killed Britpop, without anything to kick against anything approaching the angst which often sees a rise in such creativity soon fizzled out as Noel Gallagher supped champers with Tony and Albarn legged it to Iceland for a bit in a sort of self imposed exile.

Politicians of any stripe pretending to know or care about pop culture are just as embarrassing as the shyster talking heads for hire and self professed street culture experts who propagate these half remembered things as facts on TV items and thoughtful articles (such as this one).

blair and brown britpop or shit pop

As for what I was doing during Britpop, well for the latter half I was pretending to be at Art College whilst doing very little to be creative and wore the then appropriate ‘Indie Kid Uniform’ of charity shop long black overcoat, clumpy boots and floppy home cut fringed hair.

Far more wrong than Wright.

Well I was rather disappointed to turn on the TV as background hum soundtrack to my hurriedly getting sorted to leave this morning to discover that one of my favourite poets was a pundit on the bloody dire Wright Stuff. Murray Lachlan-Young a man once hailed as the enfant terriblé of the performance poetry scene and for bringing it back into vogue after its previous heyday of the angry, shouty, affected working class voiced agitprop 1980s now reduced to reading out tabloid headline stories to a baying phone in audience and a group of imbeciles in the studio on loan from Jeremy Kyle.

wright stuff

At first I didn’t quite recognise him, I was sure it was him but the doubt was caused more by how different he looks now.
Long gone is the Byronesque hair of curly locks, gone the dandy-ish almost gothic dress sense and toned down the fruity rich sounding thespian voice instead to present a sort of slightly nondescript figure on yet another panel magazine show. He now has the look of a shabby ‘minor celeb’ about him but one which most people probably would find hard to place. Think Jona Lewie with a hint of B. A Robertson. It oddly enough saddened me as when I met him (admittedly a few years back now) at some hippie-dippy counter festival to Glasto. He still cut the same svelte Modern-Romantic figure that he had done back when I first got into his stuff by watching on various late night ‘youth’ programming back in the 1990s and I have to say he was really very lovely by the way, a true gentleman and gave a lot of time to the people gathered for signings after his performance.

Murray Lachlan Young Gothic

Of course, his dress sense and appearance on this show doesn’t and shouldn’t have any bearing in his art or his great wit (after all we all change with time and what might have once worked for us might seem to distract from the whole package) and he’s never stopped performing live in venues where he’s fondly known and well received but to see him now on a TV show like The Wright Stuff… well, for whatever reason it made me sigh quite heavily a fair bit over my toast and coffee to be honest. He is an acquaintance of long time Wright Stuff panellist Steve Furst and has performed poetry at cabaret nights in which Furst compares as the wonderfully entertaining ‘Lenny Beige’ so maybe its a favour, a filling in a slot. Sadly even his prodigious talent couldn’t make the show interesting (well, for me at any rate) and to be honest I doubt he has a lot of chances to chuck in a verse or two. Still to quote Mr Bell: “A Gigs a gig” and I’m sure he has bills which need paying same as all of us.Just a bit odd seeing such an important and really very exciting figure from my teens, he was the first poet to reportedly sign a million quid record deal remember, swiftly dubbed the saviour of ‘punk’ poetry dragging it into the pre-Cool Britannia 1990s with his acerbic and very funny observations and fantasies, the focus of much rubbishing by tabloids such as the Daily Mail sort and even making a blink and you’ll miss it cameo in the British film Plunkett & MacLeane (in which he is by far the most interesting person in it and which seemed to have led to a minor side job in acting) Now to be seen on such a tedious, provincial and truly humdrum phone in opinion show for the next week.

Murray Lachlan Young Plunkeet and McLean

Now I’ve managed to make it sound like I’m an utter snob I can only hope to redeem myself by suggesting everyone who reads this goes out and search for his work (and especially his joyous children’s book) to see what a rare talent he really is. Much more than the 1990s headlines and any possible schtick which the press attributed to him but a true eccentric and talented voice. In an age where the pained adopted mannerisms of Performance/ Street Poetry are easily parodied and cliché we need figures like him to stand as beacons of nonconformity for their fluidity of speech, articulate manner, outlandish storytelling, dramatic readings and dare I say it also for the virtue of being a little bit ‘posh’ in an age when so many poets artificially ‘dumb down’ and adopt some garish ‘street’ style of faux-hip hop posturing.


Hurrah for MLY I say. (less said about The Wright Stuff the better though)

A book about Britpop and now I’m feeling rather old thanks to it.

Back to Britpop and the 1990s.

just for one day

I’ve lately been dipping in and out of the book ‘Just For One Day’ adventures in Britpop, the memoir of Louise Wener from the band Sleeper. I’m currently in two minds about this book on one hand it rekindles a strong sense of nostalgia in myself and my own tentative forays into the world of pop music fandom, that wonderful point in adolescence when you start to develop your own tastes in clothing and music entirely distinct from what you may have heard from listening to your parents record collection or from those of your friends and siblings, in my case I suppose my first love was undoubtedly indie music, the sort of post Grebo, post-post punk, post-Madchester boon bands who would later be rallied under the genre title Britpop and a thousand Union Jack motifs.

At times though the book begins to read like a sulky complaint ridden account of those years compiled by a slightly jaded but surprisingly not quite as bitter as she should be individual. Wener it would appear, never quite managed to grow entirely out of her petulant teenage stroppy persona. Don’t get me wrong I can strop with the best of them and by Lordy I have good reason to an all but after a while you start to find her sarcastic wit and dry commentary grating a wee bit which might be a bit unfair as after all is said and done she does do all said stroppy commentary with style and there is also a lot of humour dotted about so I’m still on-board and rather enjoying the read. If you’re looking for an unbiased history of the era and the scene then this  obviously highly personal account of one persons experiences within the eye of the media storm isn’t really going to deliver on that score. It is though an entertaining and insightful look into the experiences of Louise Wener and the manner in which Sleeper were ushered into the indie Top of the Pops fold but sadly though since Sleeper were never in quite the same level as the mighty super league of bands like Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Suede and Radiohead you always feel as though you’re rather slumming it a bit in their company. At times you can almost feel the chill of the shared bedsit with no heating and the tedium of being skint enough not to be able to go out to the pub but just flush enough to fork out for a few shared cans to be passed around whilst sat on the fag scorched sofa or on the sticky carpet as the telly blares in the background. No sooner have Sleeper seemingly started to ‘make it’ by appearing on Top of the Pops and being interviewed in the music press then they’ve split up.

louise wener from sleeper

This whole era in British pop music and cultural history is amazingly already the subject of much retrospective myth making and cliché driven nonsense, from the politics of New Labour to the woeful advent of reality TV, Princess Di to ‘Blur Vs Oasis’, it didn’t happen quite as it might seem thanks to several retellings later. Poor old John Major has been rather airbrushed out of the histories as no one can quite bring themselves to admit that the biggest boon in home grown guitar pop or the idea of Britishness being sexy and cool again since the 1960s happened on his watch and under a Tory government. Instead it seems that the whole thing was orchestrated by the then saintly Tony Blair and New Labour to get the UK economy back on its feet by selling copies of ‘Definitely, Maybe’ to foreign markets.

Of course the entire story of these years is way beyond both the scope of this blog and frankly my own and your patience to work through it. Suffice to say the whole affair was undoubtedly a less sexy on ground level far in the provincial north away from the champagne parties at No:10 and the coke fuelled loos of the NME and Melody Maker to say nothing about Camden lock and London in general.

noel uk

According to those in the know on high street fashion, which unsurprisingly appears to be the clothing retailers and fashion press we’re soon to face hordes of fresh faced twenty-somethings decked out in mid to late 1990s indie fashion which personally I can’t wait to see, I genuinely liked the 90s for youth fashion even though I was hardly best placed to comment being a bit of a nark and being way out of the cool leagues with my Travel Fox trainers and Brutus jeans not having quite the same cut n’ dash of vintage Adidas and red tag Levis. What most of the 1990s indie crowd wore going from my memory was practically a homage to many UK youth cultures prior taking elements from post punk, Skinhead, Mod and up to the terrace Casuals ( is it me or did Britpop also happen about the same time that Football became decidedly ‘posher’ and more middle class?) so a 1990s revival will all make a welcome change from the current trend of everyone, absolutely everyone! wearing those seemingly same bloody green parkas.

As for the original ‘Britpop’ fad I had a chance to be a part of this entire 1990s coolness the first time round but blew it through no fault of my own as I was blessed a painfully obvious lack of self confidence to ever hope to play the Brett Anderson like louche card, had far too much puppy fat to pass for a Jarvis like introspective waif and the biggest blow being far too middle class and lacking in the required Manchester accent to pass for a hooligan Gallagher-a-like … although I did have the mono-brow. In fact the look that I did rock back then has since been described by people looking at the collected photographic evidence in such heart warming descriptive utterances of  ‘ JESUS! Yuck!’,  ‘Aww bless him’  and ‘What on earth where you thinking?” and my personal fav being  “Did your mum dress you at the time?!”. Sigh, Life is cruel indeed as now this time round I’ve been equally blessed with a middle aged spread, a receding hairline and bad eyesight, hardly the stuff of uber cool now is it? My only hope is to write my own warts n’ all memoir of my time on the lowest possible rung of the rock n’ roll ladder and garner some dubious kudos points from naming names and shaming faces. More on this idea later.bootys



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