Friday, 16 December 2011

Top 5 British Punk Singles

I wouldn't say I had a sheltered upbringing but growing up in a small village in the heart of the Surrey commuter belt was never going to make me into a street wise trend setter. The only knowledge I had of popular culture came from the TV and in particular Top Of The Pops. This is why I spent several months believing Pink Floyd were one of those Punk Rock bands I kept hearing about. By the time I knew what Punk was about it was all over.

1. Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK" (1976) - The Sex Pistols were almost certainly the first punk band I ever heard and have defined my idea of what punk should sound like. I remember someone bringing a single into school and playing it on a small portable record player over lunch. It might not have had an instant affect on my musical tastes (which up to that point were rooted in The Beatles & The Carpenters) but there was a definite frisson of excitement in hearing a "banned" song played. "Anarchy" is the band's debut single and one of a handful of cracking tunes the Pistols managed to release before imploding in a style completely appropriate for the genre. I spent a good 20 years mishearing the lyric "I want to destroy the passer-by" as "I want to destroy, possibly" which puts an entirely different perspective on John Lydon's rage.

2. The Damned "New Rose" (1976) - I have only recently got into The Damned having previously been more aware of their mid-eighties Goth period. Their first few albums were proper punk though and "New Rose" became the first punk single released in the UK beating the Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK" by a month and a few days.

3. Stiff Little Fingers "Suspect Device" (1978) - One of my favourite bands. Whilst they've never veered too far from their original style, they have written some brilliant tunes. Jake Burns lyrics, born out of living in Belfast during the height of the Troubles, set them apart from other bands of the time. I discovered them thanks to a 1981 episode of the BBC's Play For Today series. Jake Burns made his acting debut as Ducksey in "Iris In The Traffic, Ruby In The Rain" which also saw the rest of the band playing themselves and a SLF heavy soundtrack.

4. Buzzcocks "Orgasm Addict" (1977) - I spent far too long only knowing Buzzcocks for the (admittedly excellent) "Ever Fallen in Love". "Orgasm Addict" was released as a 7" shortly after Howard Devoto had left the band to form Magazine and filled the gap between the seminal "Spiral Scratch EP" and their debut full length album "Another Music in a Different Kitchen".

5. Alternative TV "Action Time Vision" (1978) - Alternative TV were formed by Mark Perry, the founding editor of the influential punk fanzine Sniffin' Glue. I think the best Punk records blur the distinction between trashy D.I.Y. rock and perfect Pop and this gets that combination spot on.



dotmund said...

Preposterously, I did my university dissertation on punk. OK, stop laughing now.

Anyway, here's mine.

1. Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen
2. The Clash - Complete Control
3. The Adverts - No Time To Be 21
4. Siouxie and The Banshees - Love In A Void
5. X-Ray Specs - Warrior In Woolworths

Chopper said...

dotmund - That's awesome. If I'd gone to University (and it's a huge regret for me that I didn't) I hope I could have done something similar.

Great top five too.

The Equalizer said...

Dave, I'm going to chuck this over to the Emergency Bitter boys and see if I can get some comments from them!

Chopper said...

That would be cool Eq. My list is quite "mainstream" (if that's actually possible for Punk) so I'd love to see some less obvious choices.


1. “We’re the flowers in the dustbin”. It was banned by all radio stations. It was the biggest selling single but the charts were manipulated to stop it being number one. There were questions raised in the house of commons about it, it was only on sale in independent record shops. It was God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols. If you can name another track that created so much controversy, go ahead.
2. “some people think little girls should be seen but not heard, but I think…”. Oh Bondage, Up Yours – X Ray Spex. Proof punk was not just male dominated and a huge blast of fresh air on scene rapidly going stale.
3. “Is she really going out with him?”. New Rose – The Damned. The UK punk first single, still sounding as vital as when I first heard it.
4. “Mr & Mrs Strummer, are have having a party…” Where’s Bill Grundy Now EP – Television Personalities. Okay, it’s a EP, so a bit of a cheat, but four awesome tracks - Bill Grundy, Part Time Punks, Happy Families, Posing at the Roundhouse. The birth of post punk and lyrics ridiculing the so called punk elite.
5. “You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools, But that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live for ever”. Ace of Spades – Motorhead. Whaddya mean it’s not punk, it’s more punk than 99% of all punk songs ever written.

Shoot me down…

Chopper said...

EBs - Thanks for the contribution, that's a great list.

I clearly need to get hold of more X-Ray Specs, only have a couple of tracks on compilations. Was listening to a Poly Syrene solo track earlier and loved it. Sad that she passed away earlier in the year.

I'm with you on Motorhead too and Ace of Spades is probably one of my all time favourite songs.