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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Punk turns the big 3-0

Published: February 2, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

2007 marks the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the punk music scene in the mainstream culture. It is strange for many to imagine their parents moshing as they might have 30 years ago during the very beginning of the movement. As the legendary and perhaps the most well-known punk group of the era, The Clash, put it best in their song, 1977: There were no Elvis, Beatles, or The Rolling Stones in 1977. Author Roger Sabin declared 1977 as year zero in reference to the rise of punk. In memory of the 30th anniversary of this influential movement, here are ten groups definitely worth checking out (besides the big three of The Ramones, The Clash, and the Sex Pistols) that may pique your interest as much as the best of todays prototypical pop punk oriented musicians:

– Wire: The release of their debut album, Pink Flag, was seen by many as perhaps one of the best examples of an entire album made up of short, hard hitting songs at or barely over a minute long. Wire re-released their first three albums this past year, while the band has been widely covered or paid homage to by their many followers. Although the group never achieved massive sales success and is often overlooked in favor of the aforementioned big three, the influence of Wire is certainly still prominent today.

– Blondie: Contrary to the belief of many, Blondie was not just another 80s pop group led by a talentless yet outgoing front woman. The immediately recognizable Debbie Harry was quite the opposite;

she and her group helped bring punk to the forefront of the American music scene in New York City during the late 70s. For better or for worse, Blondie fused punk with pop, reggae, and even hip hop with more success than almost any of their punk rock contemporaries.

– The Jam: Unlike many of the other punk bands that arose in 1977, the Jam were heavily influenced by classic rock and roll groups, particularly the Who, the Beatles, and even some early Motown staples. The Jam were unafraid to sing about the working class and their everyday lives, which helped make them a major precursor to the Britpop movement and other prominent punk bands like Green Day.

– Minor Threat: Similarly to Wire, Minor Threat produced short, incredibly rapid, loud music. They are often noted as the definitive hardcore punk band along with their contemporaries in Washington D.C., Black Flag and Bad Brains. Perhaps most interestingly, Minor Threat were leaders of the straight edge movement and took a stance against both alcohol and drugs in their songs. Also, lead singer Ian MacKaye went on to form the band Fugazi following the groups break up.

– The Minutemen: Named after the colonial militia during the Revolutionary era, the Minutemen released what is considered by critics to be one of the best rock albums of the last thirty years, Double Nickels on the Dime. Featuring an epic 45 songs, the album mixes jazz, funk, and classic rock with punk to create an intelligent, full work.

– Generation X: Prior to Billy Idols appearance in The Wedding Singer and his up and down solo career, he actually fronted this often overlooked punk band. Both theatrical and brash, Generation X attempted to break many of the standards of the punk genre, whether it be covering a John Lennon track or releasing more experimental works in the latter stages of their career.

– The Misfits: The Misfits, who were named after a Marilyn Monroe film, based a lot of their lyrics on retro science fiction and horror, while they possessed a sound reminiscent of heavy metal. Possessing a signature hair style known as the devilock and known for their chaotic live shows, the Misfits are recognized as the best example of horror punk and have achieved a major cult following.

– Television: Another band based out of New York City in the 70s, Television used dueling guitars to create a more sophisticated sound than the typical punk band. They are also credited as playing a major role in a subsection of the genre now thought of as art punk. The groups music was characterized by an unpredictable sound inspired by the Velvet Underground.

– The Slits: Known for having a snotty, avante-garde filled punk sound, The Slits followed other groups of their time by combining punk with reggae. This female punk band was more raw than Blondie and certainly had an impact on its successors like Sonic Youth, Le Tigre, No Doubt and Hole.

– Suicide: Unlike the other bands listed, Suicide used electronics as part of their act. The bands 1977 self- titled debut was an early appearance for industrial music, the synthesizer and techno. Though only around for a brief period, the group has attracted many fans, among them being Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M.