Post the Damned Roundhouse gig, the flood gates truly opened.
I remember walking through the graveyard at St Mary’s church, the route I always took to and from our local pub, the Queen’s Head on the quay in Maldon, late one November night in 1976, having consumed several Bob and Abbots, a particularly potent beer, anticipting playing a new single Will had picked up for me, “Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols.
As per, I got home and Ma and Pa were watching some mind numbingly dull(to me!)tv show. The music centre, the source of all the family’s loud vinyl premieres was unfortunately in the same room as the tv, but no matter, headphones at the ready, the 7 inch piece of plastic that was about to change my life was cocked and loaded. After a few seconds my Ma tapped my Pa and told him to sort me out, apparently my breathing had become rather fierce, as had my body movements! As GG Allin so succinctly summed it up, convulsions! Such was the power of Rock’n’Roll, Sex Pistols stylee! A fantastic first single, the layered guitar production a heavy revelation, and Johnny’s vocals, all Baa Lamb bleaty and mad! I could hear Chuck Berry’s influence looming large on Steve Jones’ guitar playing, and a little bit of a Hawkwind boogie banging around in there.But that was it, the guvnors had arrived.
And when God save the Queen was vreleased, in May 1977 they were the coolest, and just in time for the Silver f**king Jubilee, which Will and I celebrated at the Carpenter’s arms, at the posh end of Maldon, by getting the most drunk we ever had!
But prior to that, when Her Maj had visited Maldon in 1971, Will had barged his way through the crowd to the front of the Moot hall, all greasy hair and great coat, and given her lovely Limo the facist salute! He was already Punk, he pre empted the Pistols!
And we really didn’t think we had a future, or rather we didn’t want any of the futures they offered, kicking against the pricks we hated, the rich, the government, the snobs, the people who wanted us to be factory fodder, to conform.
Didn’t happen chaps, did it?!?
I spose the next big event for Will and I was seeing the Clash at the Chancellor hall on May the 29th, supported by the Subway Sect, the Slits and the Prefects, in that order I believe. The Clash were dynamite, I loved their look, and they were still very credible then. I remember Joe Strummer shouting “Go home in gangs!” at the end of the evening. The support bands didn’t really do a great deal for me, and I positively hated the Slits, grubby, noisey children!
I got to meet Paul Simonon at a party at Hilary’s in Islington later that Summer, think he just about managed “Hello”. He was with Jasper Conran, who in those days was just a wannabe designer, from the famous family, but still a nobody. I was wearing a really cool blue Lewis bike leather, with about as many zips on it as were humanly possible, with bright red drainpipe cord jeans, and blue 8 hole Doc Martens.
Jasper must’ve tried every way he possibly could to get the jacket off me! Money, drink, drugs, invites to trendy parties, etc, but I was having none of it, I was proud of the jacket, it was beautiful, maximum Punk rock and a gift from a beautiful woman whose name I recall as Becky, but if you asked me what she looked like, the only thing I could say was pretty.
And of course Will became the social secretary at the Colchester institute in the Spring of ’77, which gave him carte blanche to book all our favourite Punk bands.
One gig that has always stuck in my mind was Generation X gig supported by the Art Attacks, who were led by Edwin Pouncey, a friend of mine and Colin Murray’s from art school. Eddie was an amazing fellow, apparently someone had slipped Eddie a tab of Acid on the last day of one of his terms at Art school. On the train home he’d become convinced a Grizzly Bear was chasing him through the train! He made a series of fabulous photo collages as a result, some of which he showed me.
He had a wonderfully skewed slant on life.
Colin had become my Rock’n’Roll guru at the time, but unbeknown to me, he’d copped a lot of his licks and likes from Edwin. Edwin was(and hopefully still is!) a short chap, with a dapper look, light suits and a perma-beret. In 1975 he turned me onto the Blue Oyster Cult, specifically “On your feet, or on your knees” the live double vinyl album. But more importantly, he played me “Go Girl Crazy” by the wonderful Dictators from New York. A truly life changing record, very funny, very hard rocking with major nods to Iggy and the Dolls, produced by BOC’s producers, Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman. Their productions really came alive played very loud, something Colin Murray would treat us to on his great sounding HiFi he had in the squat he lived in, in Belle Vue road, in Colchester.
Of course Pearlman and Krugman also produced Pavlov’s Dog, I loved “Pampered Menial” and still do. Aside from the Mellotron( a 60’s keyboard, as popularised by the Beatles, the Moody Blues, King Crimson et all.) and the very dynamically played, almost Gothic arrangements, David Surkamp’s voice was incredible, I initially couldn’t tell whether his voice was male or female. Beautiful, melancholic music.
Generation X were great, they seriously rocked, and Will and I hung out with them after the gig, having a few beers. Billy Idol had disappeared into the toilets with some Teeny looker, but we hung out at the bar, the rest of the band Tony James, Mark Laff and Bob Andrews were very approachable and we had the crack. Will and I also DJ’d between bands, lots of Dub reggae, from Will’s fabulous collection of pre release(as Jamaican imports were called in those days) 7 inch vinyl singles.
Another fab pre Punk(and post Punk) ritual for Will, and me occasionally, was to visit Daddy Cool records, which was originally just off Oxford street in London.
It was an odd little shop, probably no more than ten feet square, and on Friday afternoon, when all the new singles arrived, the place would be rammed out. There were huge speakers in the shop front, and each new single was given probably a minutes preview through this system, fantastically loud. You couldn’t get to the counter to ask the shop assistant/DJ for a copy, so the form was when the preview had finished, you raised a hand and a copy was put on the counter for you. At the end of an hour or so’s previews, Will would have a fair lump of vinyl sitting there. Think they were £1.50 a copy in 1976, undoubtably Reggae’s golden year, with Lee Perry, the Mighty Two, and King Tubby to name a few of our favourites, producing some of their best work.
As the Autumn came in 1977, so the musical tide shifted, and Punk Rock became very mainstream, neutered by the major labels for the masses. The Clash very definately sold out, and style became more important than content, at least to us fledgling suburban Punkers. For us, never again would they reach the glorious heights of their first album, and started producing what Will termed “HippyShit”! And with Glen Matlock leaving the Pistols, and the nigh on impossibilty of seeing them live, although we still loved them the Pistols kindof slipped off our radar. We loved Sid, and “Bollocks” was fabulous, but sadly their existance became a media circus, specifically when they toured America.
The Jam probably lead the “New Wave”, with their more sophisticated songwriting and musicianship.
And at that point, Will, Paul and I looked like Beatle Boys(all snowy white).
I still loved the Ramones, the New York Dolls and the Stooges, but having seen the Groovies several times, and with Paul rediscovering the Beatles and Merseybeat for us, Punk was old hat, and the New Wave had begun……