Well, as I’ve documented on Psychedelicgaragepunk.com, as the Prog years petered, and Pub Rock became more New Wave, England in the 70’s was a very exciting place. Unless you’re of an age to remember, it’s hard to imagine just how exciting and revolutionary the 70’s were, just like no doubt people who lived in the Swinging 60’s would have.
Trust me kids, noughties culture is bland and lifeless, no matter how many new clothes the Emporer dons.
I must admit, whilst the UK 70’s Glam thing was actually happening I hated it. Because the Stooges and the New York Dolls were my Gods, and I thought Sweet and the like were dreadful shite, though I loved Bowie. “Brickies in Bacofoil” as I’ve already said. But once it got to about ’75 I heard “Fox on the run”, then “Action” I though “Wow, this seriously rocks!!”
By then of course, the Sex Pistols and the Damned were making minor ripples in London.
I was actually at the Kilburn and the High roads gig that John Lydon (very minorly, I might add) heckled Ian Drury, in the Summer of ’76, at the Nashville rooms. The only thing I really remember about Johnny was the fact he looked like he shopped at Oxfam for his clothes, just like I did. At Art school, in ’75, the straight kids called me Mr Oxfam, which I loved. I wore “Granddad shirts”, ripped at the sleeves, with out the collars, a raggedy old Rabbit fur coat, DMs, 501 Levis, usually with rips in the knees, with Skinhead braces, and fairly long shoulder length hair.
Prior to leaving school in ’75 I did experiment with some make up, mostly blusher and eyeliner, just like my Glam heroes. And Jeez did the girls love it! Now I understood why these bands adopted the “Girly” look, it meant I looked sexually ambiguous, and for the time, really individual, which equated as “I must have you” with the ladies!
But Punk was another beast indeed. I remember when “New Rose” by the Damned came out, what a revelation that was. I probably heard it for the first time on Peel, and almost certainly purchased it from Parrot records in Colchester, bless ’em. October ’76. A particularly fine vintage, and I can remember thinking MC5’s when I first heard it, which would no doubt please the Captain, all esoteric, a pic sleeve worthy of the walls of “Rock On”.
Will and I went to see them at our fave stamping ground, the Roundhouse, in November of that year.
The Flamin’ Groovies were sposed to headline(post their July success with the Brudders) but apparently, as Rock’n’Roll myth would have it, Cyril and the boys imbibed too much Sire hospitality, and retreated back to San Fransisco.
So the Damned kicked off the gig, and very fabulous they were too. Will and I were very fast in those days, as was the norm, and I remember our spikey ‘Do’s frying under those massive infra red bar heater type things the Roundhouse had hanging from the ceiling.
Brian James’ guitar really Rocked, very late 60’s Detroit, really distorted and agressive, Rat Scabies drumming was Moon-like and fantastic, the proto for US 80’s hardcore (Punk, that is) and the good Captain was funny and stoner, even then it was obvious he was a more than capable player. With Vanian’s Jim Morrison crossed with Lord Sutch vocals, and Vampiric Hammer horror persona, they blew us away and compensated brilliantly for the Groovies no-show.
The Troggs were headlining, and whilst they had their moments, essentially they came across like a Heavy Metal version of their former selves, the caberet stylee that most 60’s bands had adopted those days, and pre “Andover” reinvention, were pretty crap. Teeth grindingly we stuck it out, with much refreshment from the unusually quiet bar. But make no mistake, to us fledgling Punkers, the Damned had made their mark. And the first onslaught of UK Punk had begun!