Punky Cons Unite

by James S. Robbins

I think some criteria need to be established in order to dispel my doubts. Certainly the live version of “Where’s Captain Kirk” is an all time Geek Rock classic (the studio version is sterile). But there are so many less gimmicky punky songs that really get the party started, such as the Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen in Love,” the Clash’s “Bored With the USA,” the Bush Tetra’s “Too Many Creeps,” the Dickies “You Drive Me Ape,” X’s “Beyond and Back,” Hüsker Dü’s “Could You Be The One,” Johnny Thunders’ “Chinese Rock,” the Stranglers’ “Hanging Around,” or the Violent Femmes’ “Kiss Off,” to name a few. Just my two cents. Also, I would not call Devo’s “Satisfaction” a punk tune. Not sure what to call it, since the term “New Wave” was a marketing gimmick, but “Punk” was too. Devo was a great experimental group that went in directions I would never associate with punk, especially in using electronics, which was definitely not a punk thing to do. Punk bands were stripped down, basic, 3-chord rock with a hard fast beat, part rediscovery of 60s garage sound, part rebellion against 70s self-indulgence. Almost any Ramones tune sums it up. I heard a tale once of a guy who was hearing the Ramones for the first time, back in the late 70s. “Check out the guitar solo,” he was told. When the song ended he asked, “Where was the guitar solo?” “Exactly.”

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