11-6 History of Rock (P2) – UK Punk 1974-1977

11-6 History of Rock (P2) – UK Punk 1974-1977

we turn now to a consideration of punk in the uk and it’s a story that uh starts with one guy and that guy is malcolm mclaren when we talk about the rise of punk in the uk um you know we probably should think about uh before we talk about malcolm mclaren we probably should think about some of what was going on in the culture of the uk at the time the uk had very very uh troubling financial uh a very troubled economy during the 70s the u.s did too but the fact is that most middle class kids in the united states had plenty of toys to play with but in the uk it wasn’t so clear and it was a kind of it could be a kind of a despair a situation of despair for many who felt like it didn’t matter what they did they would never be able to move out of where they were in the culture they’d never be able to rise up and so there was a sense of why bother no hope and so punk music is often associated not just with the you know the aesthetic of i like the way that music sounds but as a kind of um a cultural expression of the despair that was that was part of the life of a young person during that period i think that’s one way in which the uk seat and the u.s u.s seem for punk are kind of different because it wasn’t really so much that way in the u.s but as it was in the uk and those of you who are who are taking this course from the uk can say a bit about this on the discussion forum what life was like there uh in the 1970s to say it was horrible but there was a certainly an amount of despair so along comes this guy malcolm mclaren who by trade was a haberdasher and owned his own shop and managed it on the king’s row and was a bit of a put us poke a stick in your eye kind of guy when it came to the establishment and the more sort of upper crusty aristocracy types that business types that would that would frequent some of the other stores uh where he was he had a store that was called let it rock it later changed its name to too fast to live too young to die they kind of sold biker jackets and leather wear and that kind of thing and this was malcolm mclaren’s way of acting out a bit next next to stores that would have you know the most elegant of men’s wear and suits and that kind of thing you come by malcolm mclaren shop and he’s selling biker garb and leather leather apparel and that kind of thing but he wanted to make even a bigger uh a bigger splash in the world and so when he saw the new york dolls um he thought this is an a group that i would like to manage and think i think he even actually supplied for them these red leather outfits that they would would sometimes wear but the new york dallas by the time malcolm mclaren got to him uh at 1974 or so in 1975 we’re really on the verge of breaking up as the story is sometimes told i don’t know how accurate this is but you know there was one group of uh members of the new york dolls who were addicted to drugs and another group of another section of the group that were addicted to alcohol and they just couldn’t get along with each other the drug addicts and the alcoholics whatever was going on there that may be unfair to them there was the group broke up and it was too late for malcolm mclaren to get involved with the new york dolls so he thought that he would start his own group because he still wanted to make the kind of shocking impression that new york dolls made when they came over to london and appeared on television he renamed his shop sex and sold not only leather clothing but also fetish wear a further sort of stick in the eye of the um the elegant and very sort of uh prim and proper uh clientele uh on the street next to him there uh i’ve heard the story told many different ways and some of this is probably apocryphal but that the the um the show window was too scandalous for people to be able to sort of see for it to be walking by to be able to see it so we covered it all up with paper except for a little hole in the window where you could look in and see what was in the show window if you really wanted to so it wouldn’t be offensive people walking by anybody who wanted to see could and of course that just made people want to see more and that was perfect for him so he has this store called sex so he decides to call the band that he puts together specifically for this purpose the sex pistols well you can imagine just the name of the group is already a bit of a kind of outrageous kind of act and the sex pistols become surprise surprise uh famous for their scandalous and notorious punk behavior absolute disregard and disrespect for all authorities in any kind of form appear on british television and use swear words and become a a real kind of um they become the ultimate bad boys of of of popular music uh during this period and and malcolm mclaren works this masterfully he gets an advance from emi but then the sex pistols do something outrageous and emi says you can keep the advance we don’t want you you’re done so then he signs with a m records and gets an advance and they do something scandalous and they say get out of here we don’t want you keep the advance so now he’s got two advances he hasn’t even put the album out yet he finally puts the album out for virgin records after getting a third advance that band puts out one album but got three advances on that record never mind the bollocks here’s the sex pistols from 1977 goes to number one in the uk but only number 106 in this country it’s easy when we talk about the sex pistol story to think oh well this must be the same thing that was happening in the u.s but no the sex pistols were largely unknown during the summer in 1977 the queen’s jubilee year queen elizabeth jubilee year where the sex pistols rented a barge and came down the thames during a celebration with the queen royalty in the aristocracy playing on a barge of course they were arrested perfect that’s exactly what they were shooting for anything they could do to get in the papers with the scandalous behavior the big songs for them 1976 anarchy in the uk god save the queen from the sex pistols had a relatively short career but everywhere they went everywhere they played in the uk it seemed like four or five punk bands sprung up from that performance they had a short period of time where they were in the sun i mean how long can a group that’s as volatile as that really survive i mean you really can’t something something’s bound to blow something’s bound to give and so the sex pistols did not last all that long but they had a very lasting and foundational effect in the the punk style the punk approach and other groups would then come along and really develop that and capitalize on it some of the other groups that would come along uh the clash led by joe strummer if the sex pistols were nihilists the clash were political protesters their album from 1977 the clash featured the song white riot which is a pretty good representation of them for those of us in this country we didn’t really hear much about the clash until 1980 okay so this is three years after the the big sex pistols um scandals and all of that right we’re hearing about the the clash with the album london calling which made it to number 27 in the us here and the song train in vain stand by me which was a number 27 hit so by that time the whole excitement about punk and the bad boy attitude of it was pretty much had pretty much gone underground again and the clash though they had their roots in punk maybe by that time would be thought of more as a new wave group but we’ll get to that in the next video other groups that we want to mention with regard to uk the uk punk scene during this period the buzzcocks led by pete shelley were maybe a little bit more pop oriented their album from 1978 another music in a different kitchen is a pretty good example of that the jam led by paul weller drew their musical and stylic stylistic influences from mod culture i remember we talked about the mods and the rockers from back in the 60s they were sort of looking back to mod culture their 1977 album this is the modern world and 1978 all mod cons are pretty good representations of what they were up to talk a little bit about also about women in the punk scene and women the the emergence of women in pop and rock music again not just as singers but sometimes as instrumentalists really starts to happen in punk and new wave at the end of the 70s and that’s an important development from the from the uk punk scene we can talk about susie and the banshees fronted by susie sue but also x-ray specs featuring polly styrene and an all-girl punk group called the slits anyway this all as i say sort of developed by the sex pistols having been influenced by the u.s scene in new york which was largely unknown in the u.s but which malcolm mclaren had observed in trips to new york in fact the the guys from the clashes said that they learned to play guitar playing along with those ramones records right so that’s how important the american scene was in england as a foundation for the uk scene but what’s going to happen now is the uk scene with the sex pistols and all the trouble that they’re they’re stirring up in this country in in the uk makes it back to the united states and now americans are introduced to the idea of punk rock even though it’s been going on in new york city going all the way back to the early 1970s but when they’re introduced to it it won’t be punk for very long it will be transformed into something we call new wave and its new wave that we turn to in the next video you
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11-6 History of Rock (P2) - UK Punk 1974-1977

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