A post about music. Because academics need hobbies.

I was going to do a post on Fall Out Boy.

But it turns out that my post on FOB doesn’t make any sense if I don’t first talk about punk rock, and the history of a whole series of punk subgenres, and the way that the current Chicago hardcore scene developed out of a whole bunch of bands from DC and Minneapolis and LA and Boston. Because FOB (who are neither punk nor hardcore nor emo) came out of that scene. So then I was going to do a post on the history of punk.

Only…forty years is a lot of musical ground to cover in one post. And the 1300+ songs that I have from which to choose are a bit daunting all at once.

And so I’m going to do a short series on punk music. With a little culture thrown in. And some politics. Ready? Good.

A temporary link for these tracks:
hxxp://www.sendspace.com/file/bkv33b (31mb, change xx to tt and unzip)

There’s a term in punk history, now that it’s been around long enough to have a history, that gets used to describe the huge variety of bands that were said to be the foundations of the punk movement, the influences that became, in the 1970s, the source for a new musical movement. Protopunk bands run from garage rock to glam, and the only things they have in common are a certain “fuck the system” attitude and having been mentioned at some point by a punk rocker as an influence.

A lot of them played gritty music about subjects that weren’t for polite consumption. Except for the ones who didn’t. And so, the following is a playlist of tracks by frequently-mentioned protopunk bands. It’s not the full list, but it’s a decent selection of the groups punk rockers talk about.

They are not necessarily the most “punk” sounding songs by each band, because the point of this is not to cherry pick the songs that sound the most like later stuff. These are tracks that are either a) well-known, or b) my favorites.

“You Really Got Me,” The Kinks (1964)

This is the first single by the Kinks that actually went anywhere. It’s got the harsh guitars that later showed up in British punk, and the band wore leather capes and boots for concerts. They were also known for the sometimes violent fights the band members would have onstage, behavior which, let’s face it, is sort of the gold standard for any decent punk rocker.

The Kinks are referenced all the time by punk bands, and their influence and the chord structure they popularized remain sort of all-pervading.

“96 Tears,” ? And the Mysterians (1966)

Welcome to the garage rock that birthed American punk. Some key points about ? and the Mysterians: they were one of the first Latino bands to chart in the mainstream US music scene, the lead singer was crazycakes (there’s this thing about martians, and another about dinosaurs, and also, you know, he calls himself Question Mark), and this was their first hit.

In 1971, they were probably the first band to be called punk rock by a critic.

They’re from Flint, Michigan, and still playing shows. Which is sort of awesome, if you ask me.

“Oh! Sweet Nuthin',” The Velvet Underground (1970)

It would probably be shorter to talk about which bands and genres weren’t influenced by The Velvet Underground. Seriously. Lou Reed is like the patron saint of kids who want to start a band. And members of Velvet Underground were crucial for developing all kinds of later punk bands, both by producing and by filling in on various albums and tracks.

Their original drummer quit because they took some cash for a gig and he was in it for the Art. So it’s because they were sellouts that they ended up with one of the most interesting girl drummers ever.

This is not one of their toughest tunes. It’s not even the hardest rock from Loaded. But I love it, and so it’s the one you get.

“Baba O'Riley,” The Who (1971)

Right. Back across to the UK, this time to one of the biggest rock bands of all time. This, like the previous track, is not the most “punk” of their songs. In fact, it’s more about “Look! Synthesizer!” than disaffected youth. But that makes it the exception, and there are a ton of other songs and albums they did that had an impact on the development of punk all over the world.

Still. Beloved album, much-covered song, not actually called “Teenage Wasteland.”

"Raw Power," Iggy & the Stooges (1973)

Strictly speaking, I should probably have gone with “T.V. Eye” because of the whole Henry Rollins, Kurt Cobain, Jack White thing. But I’ve always liked “Raw Power” better, and this is the album that gets talked about the most.

The Stooges came about because MC5 originated in Detroit. And if you get a chance, MC5 has some tracks which have held up well, and they too are considered to be protopunk. I just don’t have any of their tracks in digital form, and I’m far too lazy to convert them this week.

Reasons that the Stooges are important:

1. Stagediving.
2. Covers by every punk band ever, practically.
3. Hamburger, peanut butter, broken glass, Iggy Pop’s stage show.
4. The Godfather of Punk. ‘Nuff said.

“Frankenstein,” New York Dolls (1973)

The New York Dolls were influenced by MC5 and the Stooges. They took it and ran, inventing glam punk along the way.

I actually started listening to them because I love Joy Division. It’s a bit of a long story, but my main argument is this: if you want to know where the Ramones came from? You need to know the Dolls.

“Never Gonna Kill Myself Again,” Rocket From The Tombs (1974)

It was this or Devo, folks. (Yes, (that Devo. They were a garage band before they got the keytars and funny hats.)

Cleveland protopunk, a band that was only around a year, and then…well. They’re on a couple of Playstation games, sampled by the Beastie Boys, their bootlegs were common right up until somebody finally collected them for a real album in 2002. They also inspired a later punk rock band, Rocket from the Crypt, and directly spawned two more bands, Dead Boys and Pere Ubu.

Oh, and in case you still aren’t convinced? Some of you have heard of a little Canadian film called Hard Core Logo, right? “Sonic Reducer” is a cover. Well, actually a cover of a cover, since Dead Boys played it after Rocket from the Tombs split up. Still. It started in Cleveland, back when this band was the entire punk scene.

So don’t ever say I never taught you anything. RFFT kicked ass.

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