23 March 2012

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5 Bands That Shaped UK Punk

Depending on which side of the Atlantic you live, the term 'punk' conjures up different things. In the US, the punk movement incorporated a lot of different bands from rock to the art pop movement. A punk could be almost anyone with a non-conformist look. For the UK, a punk was a different animal. It went beyond non-conformist to outrageous. The more unacceptable the attire the better, which went for the height and colour of the hair and the prodigious use of safety pins. British punk had one clear aim: to offend and shock as many people as possible. It was excessive, aggressive and frustrated. At its height in the late 70s, punk was the antidote to disco. Here are five bands that epitomise what punk really meant in Great Britain.


Depending on which side of the Atlantic you live, the term 'punk' conjures up different things. In the US, the punk movement incorporated a lot of different bands from rock to the art pop movement. A punk could be almost anyone with a non-conformist look. For the UK, a punk was a different animal. It went beyond non-conformist to outrageous. The more unacceptable the attire the better, which went for the height and colour of the hair and the prodigious use of safety pins.

British punk had one clear aim: to offend and shock as many people as possible. It was excessive, aggressive and frustrated. At its height in the late 70s, punk was the antidote to disco. Here are five bands that epitomise what punk really meant in Great Britain.

Sham 69 – Formed in Hersham in 1976, Sham 69 was perhaps one of the few punk bands that actually had foundations in the working classes. The band's songs revolved around the most ordinary lives in the UK's towns. The band's most enduring song, 'Hurry Up Harry', is an anthem for that great British pastime: 'We're going down the pub!' Sham 69 is most notable for carrying their punk sound past punk's golden year of 1978, as one of the foundations of the Oi! Movement.



U.K. Subs – Originally called The Subversives, the U.K. Subs were a London based band that made their name on the pub rock circuit. U.K. Subs also managed to have comparable success with a few singles entering the UK Top 40 chart, something rare for the genre at the time. As the 70s reached their inevitable end, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal began to emerge, which gave U.K. Subs a way of adapting their sound as punk waned.



Buzzcocks – Excited by a review of a Sex Pistols gig in NME, Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto (real names Peter McNeish and Howard Trafford respectively) hopped on a bus from Bolton to London. Impressed and influenced by the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks were spurred on, and were soon part of the punk scene. Their song 'Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)' remains a popular number today, and has been covered by Pete Yorn, Fine Young Cannibals, Kim Wilde and The Noisettes.



Angelic Upstarts – British punk was a movement that acted as a mouthpiece for the disillusioned youth. Many bands would voice their political agendas from pubs, to student bars and clubs. One such band was the Angelic Upstarts. From 1977, the Angelic Upstarts wrote songs with a socialist, anti-fascist edge. Perversely, their 'Oi!' image was often used by neo-nazi skinheads, which is a clever move if you're trying to educate those with a different agenda.



Sex Pistols – Without a doubt, the Sex Pistols are the most famous British punk band that ever existed. Originally formed by Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Wally Nightingale, playing instruments they's stolen, the band went through various line up changes, including guitarist Glen Matlock. With the influence of impresario Malcolm McLaren they changed their name to the Sex Pistols, taking on John Lydon, later to become Johnny Rotten, so called by Jones because of his dental hygiene. Eventually, Matlock was let go for “liking The Beatles” as legend has it, although Matlock struggled with the content of songs such as 'God Save The Queen'. Johnny Rotten's friend and Inventor of the Pogo Dance, Sid Vicious took over and the rest is history.





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