March 19, 2017

THE REST IS HOMAGE:

Chuck Berry (RIP) Reviews Punk Songs by The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Talking Heads & More (1980) (Open Culture, March 18th, 2017)

When the punk wave broke in the UK and the States in the mid-1970s, it threatened to leave behind the established rock bands that once seemed so rebellious. Pete Townshend, the guitar-smashing songwriter of The Who, said: "I kind of welcomed [the arrival of punk], challenged it, and wanted it to happen, and then I realized that the person they wanted to shoot was me." And indeed Sid Vicious, of the Sex Pistols, would say, "I don't have any heroes. They're all useless to me."

And yet despite the posturing, punk remained rooted in the rock tradition, paying tribute, whether they knew it or not, to their musical fathers (The Beatles, The Who, The Stones) and even the grandfathers (Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly). In Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (a book I completely recommend) editor Legs McNeil writes:

Then the Ramones came back, and counted off again, and played their best eighteen minutes of rock n roll that I had ever heard. You could hear the Chuck Berry in it, which was all I listened to, that and the Beatles second album with all the Chuck Berry covers on it.

It all goes back to Chuck Berry, and Berry knew it. In a 1980 interview with the zine Jet Lag, Berry shared his thoughts on the punk anthems of the day and spotted his influence in many of them.

People tend not to get that punk rock was nostalgic and just a way to purge rock of the pernicious pretensions of the Beatles.

Posted by at March 19, 2017 9:01 AM

  

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