Monday, August 21, 2006

Punk Rock Recommendations

Here's a comment and question I just received. I started to write a lengthy reply but then thought I would just post it as a new entry. If anyone cares to give recommendations, please feel free.

Arkansas Hoosier said...

"Would you, my dear Alice, give me some names of bands and songs that will give me a great introduction and sampling of punk, that will make me like punk?

You see, I missed the punk thing.

Last week, I spent $800 going to two Tom Waits shows. That's my style, my speed, my favorite artist in the world.

The show at the Cleveland House of Blues was so awesome, I felt privileged. I felt like my aunt erma would have felt had Elvis sucked her toes.

But seriously, I'd love to have a sampling of punk to check out. I can listen to clips at and then take it from there.

Again, nice pic. And my god, you're only three years younger than me. I just missed the punk thing and don't know why."

Dear A.H.,

I think it's great that you have your favorites and your own taste in music. I don't want to recommend music for others because I think that discovering music you like should be a personal adventure. You're welcome to listen to my podcasts if you want to hear what I listen to, but I suspect you might not like it. That's o.k., because I do like it and I don't care if anybody else likes it. I wouldn't pay ten cents to see Tom Waits but I fully respect your appreciation for his music.

As far as punk rock is concerned, there are tons of compilations out there and I think the Rhino box is probably pretty comprehensive. Go to your local library, check it out and if you like it, burn a copy.

I think that the reason I like certain groups has to do with who I am and where I was in my life in 1977. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to translate the meaning of my favorite songs for someone else. Groups like the Weirdos (my favorite punk band) needed to be seen live to be fully appreciated.

I believe that important musical (and perhaps art) movements are an attempt to touch and change what is happening in the world at the time. For example, when I listen to Janis Joplin, I think she's great but all I hear is her voice and her soulful interpretation. I suspect that I'm missing part of what it meant to be a young adult in the sixties hearing Janis for the first time. The social and political context of her music is absent for me so there is no way for me to understand what, say my older sister would have felt.

I still think that the best way to experience punk rock is firsthand, so I'd like to share a video of one of my favorite current bands, The Gossip, who definitely capture the stripped down, energetic and youthful soul of punk rock. Here's a little taste of the glory. I bet it tastes better than your Aunt Erma's toes!


Anonymous said...

considering all the punk bands that were in LA at the time, The Weridoes & X are the only bands repping LA..
i am in shock, well not but am.

Joel said...



Anonymous said...

I think Joel stated it as succinctly as possible, although there are a few who would disagree, choosing to look further back in time.

"Ramones" by the Ramones was the shot heard 'round the world. If you got that record and you loved it, then you pretty much "got" punk rock. Punk went lots of places from there but that record was both the watershed event and blueprint for punk rock. It was also a litmus test. If you played it for your friends and they hated it, then they weren't going to be along for the ride through the original punk movement.

We started with the Ramones and as much as anyone wants to say they were dumb, boring and repetitive, you still can't beat the rush of the opening chords of Blitzkrieg Bop.

Anonymous said...

Dear Alice,

I have to admire your response to the gentlemen with his Waits question.To me he was possibly trying to "bait" a reaction. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyway you responded with grace,intelligence and good humor.


Michelle said...

Ditto, Alice. Your reply was both thoughtful and respectful. You are right on about trying to pick music for someone who wants to learn to "like punk." Music is such a subjective thing that it's damn near impossible to guess what someone else will enjoy. The Rhino box you suggested (No Thanks!) is as good a jumping off spot as any but has some glaring omissions and some questionable selections.

Anonymous said...

Dear Alice,

Double kudos to you for referencing both The Gossip AND Nacho Libre in the same post. Now that's cutting edge.


Drindle said...

Here is my list of top essentials: Ramones (Self-titled & Leave Home), Hüsker Dü (Zen Arcade, New Day Rising), Minutemen (Double Nickels on the Dime, What Makes a man Start Fires), Echo and the Bunnymen (Porcupine, Crocodiles), Wire (Pink Flag, 154), Sex Pistols (Nevermind the Bullocks), X (Los Angeles, Wild Gift), Patti Smith (Horses), Joy Division (Unknown Pleasures, Closer), Modern Lovers (self titled), The Germs (G.I.), The Fall (Live at the Witch Trials)