Saturday, June 4, 2022

Going Platinum

Wreckless Eric, among his many talents, is an excellent, if sporadic blogger. He posted a typically wry, world-weary observation on Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, making a point Mrs Bhagpuss and I were discussing between ourselves only last weekend:

"I don’t understand seventy - it seems to me they’ve got marriage and sovereignty rather conveniently confused. Seventy years of marriage would be a platinum jubilee but jubilees of the Queen’s reign have been celebrated so far in twenty five year increments. We - that is they - celebrated twenty five years, the silver jubilee, in 1977, then the golden jubilee twenty five years later in 2002, so shouldn’t the next one be twenty five years on from that in 2027?"

Of course, Eric, like myself, is very much of an age where the very world "Jubilee" brings to mind images of the queen's face with a safety-pin through her nose. For my generation, the entire concept is inextricably linked with the UK punk movement in general and the Sex Pistols in particular.

As I've said, many times, I was never a Pistols fan but I very much was a punk at the time God Save The Queen failed, through no fault of its sales, to top the charts during the week of the Silver Jubilee. As this odd "Platinum" jamboree drew nearer, it occured to me I might put together some kind of punk post to mark the occasion.

The obvious thing to do would have been to pick out some of my favorite punk tracks. Perhaps more objectively I could heve selected some of the best-known and remembered. I could even have gone with whatever was released in June 1977, although that would probably have required more research than I'd have wanted to take on. 

I wasn't keen to do any of those things. Although I've very much overcome my '90s punk malaise, when all those songs sounded excruciatingly out-of-date and I didn't imagine I'd ever want to hear any of them ever again, I'm still not entirely comfortable with the cosy, self-congratulatory shroud of nostalgia that hangs over the period. I certainly don't want to add to it.

As I was mulling it over I started to notice a surprising amount of tracks and songs and bands in my feeds and searches that used the word "punk" to describe what they were doing. Most of the music didn't sound an awful lot like "punk" as we understood it in 1977. Few of the tracks sounded anything like each other. A selection of those, the present and maybe future of what punk has come to mean, seemed like a much better idea for a celebratory post than a bunch of tracks from forty-five years ago. 

So, in respectful celebration of Her Majesty's seventy years on the throne, I give you the Inventory Full Platinum Jubilee Punk Special. God save us all!

Molly Sells Molly By The Seashore - Sorry Mom

More '87 than '77, perhaps, but that guitar solo is something Steve Diggle could have been proud of. I'm almost ashamed to say I still have no clear idea what molly actually is, other than a drug, obviously. I first started seeing it come up in lyrics and fiction maybe five years ago but I've never taken the trouble to look it up and find out exactly what chemical we're talking about. Maybe I should do that now... talk among yourselves for a moment... 

Oh, is that all it is? Got it. I mean I get it. Oh, you know what I mean. Let's move on...

I Threw Glass At My Friend's Eyes And Now I'm On Probation - Destroy Boys

I didn't actually see the word "punk" used to describe Destroy Boys when I happened upon them, although there it is in the first line of their Wikipedia entry: "an American punk rock band ". The YouTube description calls them a "visceral alternative rock band" but this s is pure punk rock, early '80s US vintage, as revised and reinterpreted by Riot Grrl a decade later. It came up as a recommendation when I was watching Sorry Mom and the title jumped out at me, as it's meant to. I'd hate to be the kind of person who wouldn't notice a title like that.

Bisexual - GRLwood

I'm a sucker for a tamped bass. I was trying to save this one for the Pride post I'm planning for whenever the next set of bunnies arrives in EverQuest II (Edit for truth: they're here and they're lions. Post to follow.) but it fits too well here and anyway I'm too impatient.  It's not like I'm going to find myself short of good tunes about gender and sexual orientation. For some obscure reason, those seem to be themes people like to write about nowadays. Couldn't really be less like 1977, when sex was just "two minutes of squelching", according to the official punk handbook.

Almost Like Judee Sill - Mikey Erg

That's a hell of a title for a punk song, isn't? I mean, Judee Sill !? How times have changed since I was ordered by the punk police to remove my Joan Armatrading badge before entering the venue to see Blondie and Talking Heads in 1977. (Some or even all of that may be true.) Also - hell of a punk guitar solo. The other kind.

I was hitherto unfamiliar with Mikey Erg but it appears he's been a punk rock luminary for the best part of two decades. He does a mean punked-up cover of the Paul McCartney and Wings classic, Jet, too, although Paul always had more of the punk about him than the rest of the Fab Four, at least in his songwriting, so I guess it wasn't too far to travel.

Intrusive - Rico Nasty

This, on the other hand, is a journey. "I definitely resonate with being a pop-punk princess", says Rico, which is just as well, since that's what NME called her when they put her on the cover back in 2020. Sounds more like no-wave than new wave to me, art punk not pop punk, but definitions change a lot in four decades. '77's avant garde is chart-friendly now.

I guess that means we won?

Pluck Me - Cumgirl8

NSFW, although you could probably work that out from the name of the band. My first thought was early eighties post-punk, the good stuff, not the dull retreads we've been surfeited with these last few years, but now I listen to it again I can hear the Slits and Judy Nylon in there, too, which pushes it back to the Jubilee, near as dammit. No questioning the "punk sensibility", that's for sure. And now I'm linking old stuff, just like I said I wasn't going to do...

Cranes In The Sky - Big Joanie

A really excellent cover of a really excellent Solange original, Big Joanie are "a black feminist punk band who describe themselves as The Ronettes filtered through 80s DIY and 90s riot grrrl, with a sprinkling of dashikis." Honestly, I can't hear much of any of that in this or their other tracks I listened to, but whatever it is, it's great.

Punk Rock Loser - Viagra Boys

And finally, the antithesis of everything we've had so far. A truly terrible band name, so bad that until this week I'd resisted clicking on anything of theirs that YouTube has ever recommended, and it's been a lot. Couple the band name with a pretty awful song title and you have, yes, a real punk rock loser. The only reason I finally cracked and clicked was for this post. 

I'm so glad I did. This song's not punk even if Fader says the band is but as the man says, it's cool and loose, and that's all that matters. Also it reminds me very strongly of the Moonlandingz, which should be good enough for anyone.

And that's where I think we'll leave things for now. It's late and I want to go watch Stranger Things. If you want more, try this twenty-five minute live set from the Viagra Boys. It was their second-ever gig, apparently. Not sure that's punk either. Sounds more like the Gun Club to me. Oh, and the band's name is ironic, as the opening number, Can't Get It Up confirms.

Now they tell me.


  1. I am so glad I landed on your blog all those years ago, Bhagpuss. I still enjoy reading these music posts, because if nothing else I get to see a window into music I frequently don't listen to. And to be honest, I find I enjoy when I do give it a listen.

    1. Thanks! I'm very happy to have you here commenting, too, particularly on the music posts, which tend to roll past like tumbleweed most times. Mostly I do them for my own entertainment but I'm always hoping I'll introduce someone to something they'll enjoy. Not sure how often it happens!

  2. When you mentioned " cosy, self-congratulatory shroud of nostalgia" hanging over punk, my immediate reaction was to think that's the utter antithesis of what punk was supposed to be about. I suppose every generation's rebellion becomes the establishment a few decades later...

  3. I was pretty cautious with Viagra Boys too, but I loved the tongue in cheek attitude of the Ain't Nice and Creatures videos and they really do fit in with the 2018 Irish/English Post-Punk revival of 2018.

  4. I also read, and watch some of, the music posts. Been a bit distracted in recent times so havent kept up with blogs much but glad to see these still going.


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