Archive for April, 2017

The movement of the second wave.


All things considered, it can be difficult to explain a love for music that hits you like a sledgehammer falling at great speed from an even greater height. What pushes those of us toward sonic extremism. Everyone out there has their beginning point; their year zero. For me, three great acts really began to push the envelope and opened up the possibility of deafening their audience on the first song: Black Sabbath (dark, brooding and weight), The MC5 (blues, manic and full of possibility) and of course The Stooges (nuts). All three really get in there and fuck about with sound. Sabbath were just weighty and it was no wonder that people thought they were satanists. The MC5 grabbed rock n’ roll by nuts and could riff for the ages and The Stooges well, they just ripped the heart out of the sixties and danced on the corpse. Search and Destroy paved the way for every refusenik and noise merchant that came ever. They reminded us that the guitar was an animal; untameable and brimming with sexual energy. Of course, all three groups dealt with dark themes; political realities, apathy and the encroaching isolation of the 1970s. Out there in sad-sack suburbia the loners and freaks were listening and ready to take it all on board.

You know the first wave story: the boy looks at Johnny and creates a thousand bands. Somewhere among all that comes a group of hippy anarchists that challenge both the mythology of the moment and also Christ, Buddha, Marx, Thatcher, Reagan etc etc. We know them as Crass. God they really can’t play but it is a glorious racket. No chords and the truth. You see some of us like it discordant. The second wave comes and washes over: Black Flag, Dead Kennedy’s, Bad Brains, Minor Threat from the US drive the music on: faster and faster, harder and heavier. Discharge, GBH, The Exploited, Poison Girls, Subhumans from the UK give Cold War Europe its soundtrack. This is street punk, music made is garages, played at house parties, quasi-anarchist, anti-religion, pro-vegan distorted rage. Metal looks on helpless for a moment until the big four of Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer mix the darkness of Sabbath with the adrenaline rush of punk to create thrash metal. You know I’m leaving out loads like Pentagram, Motörhead, Big Black Ministry, Mastodon oh the list goes on.

So why heavy? Why hard? I suppose at the end of the day I like when extremes are in play. I like the drive. I like the way some of it is simple and then I like the way some of it is complex. Above all I like the energy. Rock n’roll is a simple game: you give guitars to teenagers and let them create a movement that is vain and arrogant and then you watch it eat itself. You know for that to happen you can’t really do it unplugged.