White Music: Post-Punk RevisitedMark Gullick
Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84
London: Faber, 2005
In January 1978 British band XTC released their debut album. Punk rock in the United Kingdom had passed its zenith but there were many such acts, clearly not punk but propelled to the forefront of the music scene by the effects punk had had on commercial music. Elvis Costello, The Police, The Tom Robinson Band, The Boomtown Rats — none of them punk, but part of what the music press termed “new wave,” which would become, once it had a mission, a history and a context: “post-punk.” Innovative, experimental, intelligent, this mostly anti-dance music (disco was far bigger than punk) also had another feature, summed up by the title of XTC’s debut album: White Music. Although this would be unlikely to get the green light from a record company today (do they still have them?), we will return to that title.
Punk rock in both its British and American incarnations is as thoroughly documented as any musical genre. Punk seen as a transition, stage, or catalyst, however, and the loose, disparate, and inspired genre it gave rise to, is relatively uncharted territory, which makes Simon Reynolds’ book Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984 a useful and entertaining almanac, particularly if you were around at the time, as I was.
Musically, punk is familiar territory: The Ramones, 1-2-3-4 (which The Slits’ Ari Up would shriek at the start of every song, not to set time but because she thought that’s what you did), rolling eighths on the bass, total 4/4 drumming, and what was habitually described in the music press of the time as “buzz-saw guitar” (the go-to adjective for post-punk guitar sounds being “angular”). Post-punk took the liberatory spirit of punk and shifted its central frame of reference. Howard Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire remarked that post-punk was about more than “regurgitating Chuck Berry riffs.”
Punk did not simply stop, of course, allowing post-punk to clock in for its shift, and Reynolds marks a temporal division by which punk ends with the final Sex Pistols gig in America, and the post-punk period commences with John Lydon’s formation of Public Image Ltd. Although the title of Reynolds’s book — from a song by Scottish band Orange Juice called “Rip It Up and Start Again” — suggests a year-zero reset for alternative rock music, there was of course a shading of one “movement” into its successor.
Punk had liberated rock music in two main ways: financial and formal. Pre-punk, you needed record company backing or well-off parents to buy equipment (undoubtedly one reason so many British rock bands of the 1960s and ‘70s were quite posh). APE (after the punk era), you could emulate The Cure’s Robert Smith, who recorded the band’s first albums with a £17 (about $25) electric guitar from Woolworth. I saw the guitar played on several occasions, having known The Cure when they were starting out, and it always sounded good to me, becoming a trademark sound for Smith.
But, and as Reynolds shows, there is another dividing line, not temporal but conceptual. Where punk was mostly visceral, post-punk was in equal part cerebral. Punk stripped down the concept of the song to its bare components, and this formal simplification of music — not “deconstruction,” please. Reynolds can’t resist the temptation on a couple of occasions — carried over into all the major post-punk bands. The Gang of Four’s Damaged Goods is about as far from Yes as it is possible to get. But this was not denial of rock history; far from it. Among post-punk bands there was also an awareness of what went before them, and what had evolved from the semi-nihilist ramalama of punk rock developed into a type of working manifesto.
Punk bands found their musical lineage in ‘60s garage rock, rockabilly, The Stooges, MC5, and some were more rock-literate and aware of the provenance of their sound than others. But where punks had a vague inkling of what birthed them, many post-punks knew to archivist-level detail which bands were their progenitors (names that recur include Roxy Music, The Velvet Underground, Can, Captain Beefheart, and the obligatory Bowie). And post-punks were not just aware of musical tradition. You were more likely to hear Sheffield industrial-synth duo Cabaret Voltaire (as their name would suggest) talking about Dada as about The Damned.
Put simply, the musicians who followed the punks were several leagues more intelligent. Magazine’s Howard Devoto, all of Wire, XTC, even The Fall’s Mark E. Smith — given bouts of incoherence — were all thinkers. Reynolds tells of The Ramones’ dumb amazement, while touring with the Talking Heads, that David Byrne et al. read books in their down time instead of raising hell. Rather sadly, the abiding iconic figure from punk ended up being Sid Vicious, as inarticulate and destructive a clod as you could find. Compare and contrast with Gareth Sager of post-punk band The Pop Group: “In an NME feature, Sager argued that Western civilizations, being ‘based on cities’, were sick because they were cut off from ‘natural cycles’, unlike African tribes where repression simply didn’t exist.”
On the money or neo-Rousseauist nonsense as you will, whereas with punk there was a riot going on, post-punk sometimes felt like there was a seminar going on.
That said, the politics of post-punk were little more than placardism, cartoon Marxist finger-daubs. Green Gartside, the heart of Scritti Politti, would name-drop Derrida and Gramsci, but these were like flashy designer baubles with which to dazzle the post-punk world. Post-structuralist Marxism was essentially an accessory for Green, like a Prada tote bag. When the savant became disillusioned with Marxism — around the same time he commandeered the band and got rid of the squatter collective involved from the start — Gina Birch, bassist with The Raincoats, lamented that Scritti Politti “was no longer a democracy.” There was a lot of that sort of space-cadet political fluff around then.
The production side of the music industry also underwent change due to post-punk. It is a common perception that while punk was about do-it-yourself records and musical autonomy, its demise represented the end of independence and the return of the big record companies and promoters. In fact — and Reynolds devotes a painstakingly researched chapter to this — the punk bands couldn’t wait to get famous and get on a major label, while the period covered in Rip It Up was notable for the fierce autonomy of some of the bands and labels. Of course, as The Clash’s Joe Strummer (somewhat hypocritically) had noted in “White Man in Hammersmith Palais,” record labels were always going to be “turning rebellion into money” and, as Mark E. Smith wryly noted in “C ‘n’ C/Stop Mithering,” “All the English groups act like peasants with free milk, on a route to the loot,” but the post-punk era saw more determination about retaining creative and financial control.
Post-punk also had something which punk had only in larval form: variety. Punk simply could not pluck cards randomly from its deck and come up with a hand as musically diverse as Joy Division, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Television, Throbbing Gristle, and Pere Ubu. At least post-punk had musical diversity, and not so much of the racial kind, which would be entry-level today. Diversity was not post-punk’s strength. Of the random list above, only Dexy’s Midnight Runners really had any black influences (mostly Northern Soul) and the remainder are far more representative of a glaring aspect of post-punk. Like XTC’s album, it was white music.
Does a race require its own music? Does an ethny require a soundtrack? Much is made of the phrase “black music,” but to what does it refer? Hip-Hop or Sam Cooke? Howlin’ Wolf or Chic? The Upsetters or Jay-Z? “Black music” is just another fetish-word, revered not as music but as a key promotional element of the black brand. And if it is not straightforwardly simple to encapsulate black music, what of any white equivalent? Now, any medium named “white music” in our enlightened times would be under a savage artillery pounding from the woke regime’s big guns. The Left got themselves a little confused a while back when they decided classical music was racist, and now they are divided into two camps: Was Beethoven racist or black?
Reynolds features one particular cultural artefact from the era which eerily foreshadows our own culturally troubled times. Lester Bangs was a ramshackle New York music writer best known for being Lou Reed’s shambolic and drunken court jester, and in 1979 he wrote a piece for the Village Voice titled The White Noise Supremacists. According to Reynolds, Bangs makes an issue of
. . . the near total absence of black musicians on the CBGB/Max’s scene, punk’s fashion for using racist language . . . [a]nd Nazi imagery. Factor in the sheer whiteness of New Wave music, and you had a situation where, for the first time since before the 1920s hot jazz era, white bohemians were disengaged from black culture. Not only that, but some of them were proud of it.
Legs McNeil, founder of Punk magazine and credited for the original use of the word, stated unequivocally:
We were all white: there were no black people involved with this. In the sixties hippies always wanted to be black. We were going: ‘Fuck the Blues; fuck the black experience’.
We might wearily concur today, but for different reasons.
Reynolds was already aware — the book was published in 2006 — that operating in a field in which white culture was flourishing and is therefore worthy of critical praise requires a compensatory sub-narrative highlighting black input. No one who knew anything about the subject would deny black influences on white rock music. But not everyone who is white fetishizes black music in the same way the Left make a juju totem out of all black culture. Blacks invented the light bulb and the Internet and the cell phone and everything, and doubtless there is plenty more good stuff waiting in the warehouses of Wakanda. Why not gin up white music as indebted to the black version, whatever that is?
Reynolds, at times, does more or less what he says Manchester band A Certain Ratio did. This brittle, gloomy, funk-lite urban outfit were cast as the Mancunian candidates after the death of Ian Curtis, and Joy Division and New Order had both received flak from the music press about the fascistic element to their names, packaging, and cultural references. For A Certain Ratio, the evidence needed to be far less damning;
‘ACR had a bizarre sense of fashion — close-cropped hair, baggy khaki shorts’, recalls Manchester pop historian Dave Haslam. The look, vaguely redolent of colonialism or the Afrika Korps, led to accusations of flirting-with-fascism (a morbid preoccupation that [ACR singer Simon Topping] also shared with Curtis).
But these were still days — just — in which a bit of tokenism worked its wonders;
“Still, the presence of a black man behind the drum kit helped to counteract A Certain Ratio’s faintly dubious aura.”
Reynolds is undecided as to how far to reveal that he is onto the game of racial tokenism. He notes, concerning synth-pop band Heaven 17 (named for a fictional group mentioned in A Clockwork Orange, for trivia fans), that the year of their big hit, 1983, “was the year of the obligatory black backing singer.”
It is in the chapter on the Talking Heads and my particular favorites, Wire, that Reynolds hits peak white guilt:
The vocals tended to be high pitched, geeky and very ‘white’ . . . at a time when New Wave was at its most starchy white . . . the whitest-sounding music on the album . . . as Wire’s sound evolved, it seemed to grow colder and whiter . . .
I believe, sir, you have made your point. As far back as 2006, woke was always waiting.
And when Reynolds crosses the great divide from post-punk to the second section of the book on what he calls New Pop, he is able to show his multicultural credentials. The wave of sheeny, two-dimensional, sequenced, and synthesized pop music that grew out of post-punk in the 1980s — including Duran Duran, Wham!, and various pretty boys — was more obviously a cauldron in which various black ingredients were efficiently stirred: “The success of blue-eyed Brit soulsters like [Paul] Young and [Annie] Lennox made sense in a way, because the back story to New Pop was actually a black story.”
This is more like it. Now Reynolds is starting to get ready for the woke future. The black influences on the Two-Tone/ska bands of the early ‘80s — The Specials, Madness, The Beat, The Selecter — is worth pointing out en route, yes, but not worth thematizing. This is and ought to be a book about white music, or a strain thereof.
This is not to detract from Rip It Up, however, and Reynolds gives a full and enjoyable fairground ride through the era. I found myself thoroughly enjoying chapters on bands I had never heard of, let alone heard. Post-punk, as Reynolds makes beautifully and caringly clear, was very far from monolithic. Ska, Goth, New Pop, Synth-pop, Industrial; post-punk’s territory is expansive and divulgent. With the exception of The Residents, I had never heard of the subject bands of the chapter “Freak Scene: Cabaret Noir and Theatre of Cruelty in Post-punk San Francisco.” Reynolds is encyclopaedic, so some bands were complete news to me, and I was what Mark E. Smith called a “printhead” at the time when it came to religiously reading the New Musical Express and Melody Maker. And the importance of the music press was a debt post-punk definitely owed to its snotty cousin.
Punk did post-punk a great service in Britain by creating a highly significant, high-circulation, rock-literate music press. Reynolds estimates that, including the “knock-on” rate of readership, where copies are read and passed on, the combined readership of the four big titles was around two million a week, figures the mainstream media would kill or die for today. And so post-punk was not left floundering around wasting its sweetness on the desert air because of mass media’s lack of interest. They had a dedicated press pack from the start.
In passing, Reynolds is a good rock writer who can’t resist the temptation of a bit of purple prose, which I never mind in a music hack given the exuberance of their subject matter. Many British rock writers used the medium as a springboard to the mainstream media proper, as I’m sure they did in the United States, and it was a pity over the years to see some of the wordy, slightly anarchic writers get their stylistic wings clipped as they had to adapt to the matte-grey coding that passes for contemporary mainstream media journalism. Julie Burchill is the only one still flying her true colors.
As well as a vibrant and rocking plot on the fourth estate, post-punk bands also had a figure who is sainted in any music biography covering the period he was alive, and rightly so: English DJ John Peel. This much-loved and lamented trailblazer began his media life as a sort of ambassador for The Beatles and the first Brit invasion in the ‘60s before becoming a household name on the radio for beating the path flat for more obscure rock music. Having championed punk and taken enthusiastically to its descendants (before an attack of musical malaise in the mid-1980s led him to claim that “I don’t even like the records I like”), Peel was as crucial as he had been and was to be in the promotion of what Reynolds calls “dissident music”; music produced outside the establishment industry channels: “Peel’s support of the marginal and maverick was all the more crucial because Radio One, before deregulation of the airwaves, enjoyed a near monopoly over pop music in the UK.”
Post-punk’s innovations were not limited to the aural, however. Graphic design also made a quantum leap, and Rip It Up has occasional sleeve art which shows a much more advanced visual and graphic awareness about packaging — perfected by Scritti Politti’s use of famous commercial branding to adorn their sleeves –, doubtless a result of the link between post-punk and art college, where several of the bands featured were formed.
For the record (as it were), this is my pick of albums released within the “Reynolds Window” of 1978-1984 that I couldn’t have lived without at the time:
Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures
The Slits, Cut
Scritti Politti, Songs to Remember
Magazine, Real Life
Talking Heads, Remain in Light
The Fall, Dragnet
Killing Joke, Killing Joke
Television, Marquee Moon
Alternative TV, The Image Has Cracked
And even that has no space for The The, The Associates, Byrne and Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, The Stranglers colossal Black and White, or countless others.
I found post-punk a rich and rewarding time and territory, and Rip It Up was for me both a pleasant, if somewhat noisy and chaotic, stroll down Memory Lane and a useful cultural document. I listened back to a lot of the bands and find a lot of it too shapeless and fractured for me now, and the industrial side of post-punk was too rich for my blood even then.
Post-punk came about because punk had to change or die. The post-punk “movement” said to the gasping, failing punks who had both preceded and enabled them the same thing Mark E. Smith said on a live recording from 1978 in which he harangues some punks in a Doncaster audience: “Are you still doing what you were doing two years ago? Well, don’t make a career out of it.”
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Siouxsie playlist, here I come. I love when articles like this show up on C-C. Can’t wait to read it after work.
Souxsie is the band who appeared first appeared as punk and then made the transition to the abstract expressionist music called ‘New Wave’. You could get lost in the instrumentation alone. But the mix? To die for. I saw her once. and can vouch for the fact that, in spirit, she was always the same nasty little punk wench who hung with the Pistols. Bless her.
Such a true original. Absolutely! She really understands dynamics, among other things. A superlative songwriter.
Great article and thanks for a trip down memory lane. White music is real and is much different than black music.
I started becoming aware of then-current Brit music in 1984 thanks to a few of these bands being played on MTV. My dad was transferred in 1985 so I moved to a college town where – thanks to a college radio station – I was introduced to all sorts of US and UK bands that were not played much (or at all) on MTV.
Strange how the UK bands I listened to from around this era – Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, The Cure, Stone Roses (though they were a bit later), PFurs, etc. are still known and relevant. US bands I liked back then – Translator, Smithereens, The Plimsouls, The Replacements – are mostly unknown, forgotten or just have small cult followings.
The concern with having black band members for “authenticity” reminds me of how the Savoy Brown, in its first incarnation (they may have inspired the Spinal Tap joke about having 32 members “over the years”), was the first and only “British blues” band of the 60s with a black member, indeed two! Singer Brian Porteus, however, was about as “soulful” as Debbie Reynolds, and after the first LP bombed, guitarist Kim Simmons fired everyone (rip it up and start again) and embarked on a much more successful series of all-white lineups.
I still like that LP, Shake Down, due to its wonderful cover — the band brooding around in what looks like a London squat, or the Blair Witch house, sporting what I think is “suedehead” attire — and being the first “import” I ever bought back in the day (being too unsuccessful to be released stateside).
As for black drummers, a few years later Traffic added an actual African drummer, with a wonderful name: Rebop Kwaku Baah (dubbed “Rebop” by no less than Dizzy Gillespie!). On a related note, “Ginger” Baker, arguably the whitest man in rock, used to regularly defeat black and/or jazz drummers in “battles of the bands” contexts, and if I recall correctly spent most of his later years in Africa; despite or because of this, he apparently was a total asshat.
As much as I think of Ginger Baker being overrated, the album he did with Fela Kuti is incredible.
I like playing oldies on YouTube now and then, and that often includes doo-wop and very early rock ‘n roll. I also love reading the comments, some of them funny (‘whenever I listen to this song, my neighbors do too’), some touching (‘my late father loved this song and I cry every time i hear it now’).
One comment on the Del Vikings’ Come Go With Me, was something about how great it was to see a racially integrated band in that era. A sensible commenter replied something along the lines of ‘Good grief! Racially integrated?! They were friends, for Pete’s sake!’
Baker would say the reason he could compete with Black drummers was because he was Black himself.
I remember ca. 1994 one of the Beastie Boys making a crack that Soul Asylum was ‘white people making white music for white people, and most white people suck.’ Not long afterward, Soul Asylum added a black drummer.
Great article. One band worth mentioning that wasn’t included here is Liquid Liquid. I don’t know if they would be considered more “no wave” than post-punk, but what an amazing band. Last year I bought a three LP set called Slipped In And Out Of Phenomenon and it’s highly recommended if you can find it for a decent price.
Even though Fear Of Music is probably my favorite Talking Heads album, Remain In Light is a close second. Two flawless records back to back, like Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi by Can. Also, for anyone reading this who hasn’t heard the above mentioned My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by David Byrne and Brian Eno, do yourself a favor and listen to it today. It’s one of the most interesting and different albums I am happy to own.
Thanks for the recommendations. I just listened to Liquid Liquid – “Cavern” 1982. That bass line was totally stolen by “Grandmaster Flash” (White lines). I never knew. …
Walked into the East Side Club in Center City Philly one weeknight in the early 80s to witness four of the scrawniest nerds imaginable—they made DEVO look like pro wrestlers—crank out these Godzilla-sized slabs of funk. They were called Liquid Liquid.
Devo strike me as the earliest bugmen: nerds who overrate their own intelligence and who wallowed in irony and snark.
I agree totally with the playlist, and I have to add the compilation „Wanna Buy A Bridge?“ (released for the US market), for me one of the greatest records ever, and bizarrely never available on CD.
Everybody has their tastes, but post-punk is one of the worst genres of White music. Maybe you had to be there, and I wasn’t around in that era, but listening to that music a generation later almost made me understand the appeal of being a wigger.
What was the deal with Siouxsie and David Bowie to name a few wearing Nazi emblems? Was it to be edgy? Did they just like the aesthetic?
“We were all white: there were no black people involved with this. In the sixties hippies always wanted to be black. We were going: ‘Fuck the Blues; fuck the black experience.'”
This is a very interesting quote. In that it could be argued that punk in essence was a rebellion/reaction to the hippies. And of course, we have the Nazi aesthetic with various punk and post/punk artists like Siouxsie, . Not to mention the implicit whiteness of punk. But what was once a subversive genre got subverted itself with gay punk bands like Propaghandi. Eventually black musical influences crept into the punk scene what with ska originating from Jamaica. Queue the collegiate leftists types to harp that punk rock is therefore cultural appropriation.
Another instance of subverting a subversive genre was The Offspring. This may have been the final subversion of the genre. What Wikipedia credits for reviving punk in the 90’s would eventually morph from a real punk band to a pop-rock band what with the Americana album. The “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” pretty much mocks suburban wiggers all the more so with scantily clad black ladies in the music video singing, “give it to me, baby!” The music video is essentially a reverse minstrel show. Metaphorically speaking, it’s an act of dysentery after food poisoning from bad Mexican food on white suburban culture.
That being said, a non-white using an implicitly white artform need not necessarily be subversive nor mockery. The bass player in the new wave band Thompson Twins is black (INB4 every black person knows how to play bass guitar) and is pretty damn good.
The punks were indeed trying to be ‘edgy’ by wearing Nazi regalia. But that stuff was really mainly done in the UK. 70s CBGBs NY punk had a lot of middle class Jews in it, and some posited that the anger and pain and self-desructiveness in it was post-WWII Jewish cultural and familial trauma manifesting itself in the music.
The brassnecked brash bastard brats in England screaming abject mockery at the UK (remember, John Lydon was working class Irish, a section of the populace hated in London at the time because of the IRA bombing campaigns back then) were not Jewish or middle class (although that dodgy cunt Malcolm McLaren was), so their use of provocative symbols in a city that had been bombed flat during WWII three decades before was much more abstract for them, just trying to be as nasty as they could be.
Witness the excellently hateful, caustic, bilious, vicious, over-the-top Sex Pistols song Belsen Was A Gas, and you get the general idea. No American punk band would have done a song like that (irony of ironies: Belsen did not even have gas Chambers!), and it took Lydon decades to own up to the fact he wrote the lyrics. Apparently even Rotten had limits. 🙂
A good deal of punk is an attempt to annoy and shock (what today we would call trolling) hippies and the art school set. Since these people are either clean cut or naturalistic, with subdued colors, the aesthetic of punk is gritty and abounding in outrageous colors. Since these people are mostly bourgeois leftoids, punks will signal fascism and national socialism, which is both right-wing and associated with the working class, specifically to outrage them.
My interpretation of that is that it was just a way to shock the older generation that had lived through or participated in World War II. It wasn’t even limited to particularly edgy genres. Some of the more pop outfits in the New Wave and postpunk scenes used less overt references to fascism. Reynolds mentions bands like Japan and Berlin in this category. I’d also add that the Heavy Metal scene was doing this same thing at the time, with obvious examples like Manowar and the largely forgotten early Metallica song “Blitzkrieg.”
I don’t attribute any real political intent to this stuff, beyond irreverent shock value. Probably why all of this eventually fizzled out into really nihilistic and apathetic genres like grunge or shoegaze. Still, the fascist aesthetics of punk, postpunk, and heavy metal definitely frightened the establishment, helping inspire the utterly lame “Rock Against Racism” campaign. I also wonder if this has anything to do with the aggressive promotion of rap in the 1990s.
FYI, the song Blitzkrieg is a cover song by the band of the same name, and Metallica still plays it live to this day. But to your point, early thrash metal did indeed flirt with Nazi and fascistic symbols. Look no further than Slayer, who was known for using Nazi symbology as well as naming their fan club Slaytanic Wehrmacht.
What came first though? The fashy punk or the anti-fashy punk? Either way, I think what’s undebatable is the implicit whiteness in punk. What’s interesting is to see how within a certain movement there can be conflicting and subversive usages. In the case of punk, an implicitly white art form, you have Green Day singing about wanting to be a minority (INB4 this was when Green Day went from punk to more pop-rock). In the case of rap a good example would be Mr. Bond.
I think the Nazi imagery in punk came from one person: The Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton. It was a childhood fascination he had for the dress of the German military of both WWI and WWII. This was mentioned in the oral history of punk, Please Kill Me. It first rubbed off on fellow Michigan bands like Brownsville Station who were fans of The Stooges (evidence: on the cover of their greatest hits CD the singer has a big WWI German cross on his shirt). It was transplanted overseas when Iggy and the Stooges lived in England and got notoriety through David Bowie’s championing of them. It rampaged through the punk culture after that.
Julie Burchill converted to Judaism and is now a total nut. And 2-Tone was a music specifically built to be multiracial: all the iconic iconography from that record label’s artwork was done literally in black-and-white, and all the bands, except Madness, were multiracial. Just a thought.
I was such a music geek in the early 2000’s that I wasted countless hours at dissensus.com arguing with the likes of Simon Reynolds & Mark Fisher over the merits of techno and the (then) new crop of post-punk bands, The Strokes, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand. Reynolds was generally dismissive of these bands because they failed to “creatively misappropriate” black music, unlike the original post-punk acts. For Reynolds, Gang of Four had engaged with funk, Mark Stewart & Pop Group borrowed from free jazz and reggae, and Johnny Rotten had always been dubwise, revealed with Public Image. Even the Associates, so heavily influenced by Bowie, owed their best album, Sulk, to the echo & reverb effects of dub. Black music, on this reading, was the true situs of sonic innovation. Similarly, in techno, the real action was to be had on what Reynolds termed the “hardcore continuum,” “a specific strand of dance music centered in London with outposts in the Midlands, Bristol and various Northern cities with a large black population.” See https://www.thewire.co.uk/in-writing/essays/the-wire-300_simon-reynolds-on-the-hardcore-continuum_introduction
This valorizing of black music would eventually lead Reynolds to heap praise on trap music and Young Thug. Mark Fisher was much more honest, writing this in 2006:
If Junior Boys’ inventiveness is no longer concentrated on beats, that is a reflection as much of a decline of the surrounding Pop context as it a sign of the JB’s newfound taste for rhythmic classicism. Last Exit’s reworkings of Timbaland/Dem 2 tic-beats meant that it had a relationship with a rhythmic psychedelia that was, then, still mutating Pop into new shapes. In the intervening period, of course, both hip hop and British garage have taken a turn for the brutalist, and Pop has consequently been deprived of any modernizing force. Timbaland’s beat surrealism became water-treading repetition years ago, displaced by the ultra-realist Thuggish plod of corporate hip hop and the ugly carnality of Crunk; and 2 Step’s ‘feminine pressure’ has long since been crushed by the testosterone-saturated bluntness of Grime and Dubstep. That skunk-fugged heaviness remains the antipodes of the Junior Boys’ cyberian, etherealized, plaintive physicality; listening to the Junior Boys after Grime or Dubstep is like walking out of a locker room thick with dope smoke out onto a Caspar David Friedrich mountain. A lung-cleansing experience.
And I think Gullick meant Richard Kirk . . . .
Howard Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire remarked that post-punk was about more than “regurgitating Chuck Berry riffs.”
That Lester Bangs article was terrible in that he named his colleagues and “friends” as being racists. Miriam Linna of The Cramps years later said in an interview with, I think, Black to Comm magazine, that the photo of her and her friends outside a KKK rally or whatever it was, that Bangs mentioned as if Linna was there as an attendee, was obviously meant as a tour or travelogue souvenir and they just happened to be there and were not Klan fans. It was also horrible because Bangs confessed in excruciating detail to his own tacky classless drunken verbal abuse in person against blacks who hadn’t done anything to deserve it. Of course he was so shameless he might have been making that last part up, as a boast: “see, I’m so big and tough they just walked away instead of fighting back, but I’m very sorry because racism is so very very bad.”
It’s well known that Sex Pistols played in the South to “rednecks,” but what might not be known is that in each venue on that tour there were local bands opening. At least one of those bands spoke about their experience. According to one of them, Sid was not a violent clod but “a real quiet guy.”
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