In the beginning there was 1977, a defining year, not just for me but for a dark, desperate Britain too. Yet, before the filth and fury of Bill Grundy’s Today show on December 1st 1976, punk was the best kept secret in the land. Limited to the hipper than thou London-centric cognoscenti and a few less salubrious but no less revolutionary pockets in provincial outposts, the Sex Pistols ‘Anarchy In The UK’ and The Damned’s ‘New Rose’ were the only two ‘authentic’ English punk singles to be had. Johnny Rotten had already changed my life the previous summer but on New Year’s Day 1977, one week into my seventeenth year and still signing on the dole, punk had been catapulted from a minor youth cult into a full scale attack on the establishment. 

   The Peacock cellar bar in Broad Street was central HQ for Reading’s tight knit bunch of twenty or so punks. The Target under the Butts Centre was a lively place to check out bands and ponce drinks but there were plenty of other spit’n’sawdust joints like The Captain’s Cabin and Ye Boars Head when the regular clienteles tolerance of us weirdo, teenage urchins threatened to boil over. The only club not to refuse us entry was the old depository at the back of Heelas in Gun Street. For a brief period in 1978 it would become Bones, Reading’s only punk club. Another regular haunt was The Nags Head in High Wycombe. Awkward to get to it required cadging a lift, but was well worth the effort, The Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, The Heartbreakers, The Banshees, Wire, Generation X, The Vibrators and The Jam playing some of their earliest shows in the upstairs room.

   Carlsberg Special Brew or Colt 45 were the drinks of choice but our main diet was amphetamine sulphate. A bargain at £5 a gram, it burnt my nasal membranes, flared my nostrils and turned me into an emaciated, bug eyed nut but did the job, cheap dope resin smoothing the edges off the vicious comedowns. My girlfriend, who was less a punk and more a gypsy, thoroughly disapproved of my drug taking. I thought my consumption modest and reasonable, she thought it excessive and disgusting. Yet I was having the time of my life, taking drugs to enhance the day, not to retreat into dreamy insulation but to hit the world full in the face.

   We bought our records in Quicksilver, an independent record shop at the top of the escalator in the Butts, and spent entire afternoons listening intently to rare roots and dub imports and ever increasing number of picture sleeved punk singles blasting out of the gut rumbling sound system. It was also one of the few places to buy fanzines like Sniffin’ Glue, White Stuff, More On, Ripped & Torn, 48 Thrills and London’s Outrage. Another was the Acorn bookshop under the Chatham Street multi-storey where amongst many other literary and revolutionary icons I discovered Nietzsche, Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Orwell, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Camus, Karl Marx and the anarchist mag Black Flag. And yet, as blessed as we were, we knew Reading was strictly smalltown.

   Despite the limitations of my meagre £9 a week dole money, the lure of London was impossible to resist. A short 20 minute train ride away, we learnt the art of bunking the InterCity and the tube to The Marquee, The Music Machine, The Nashville, The Speakeasy, The Rainbow, The Roundhouse, The Red Cow, various Poly’s and Colleges but most of all to The Roxy, the crucible for the whole punk movement. Stuck in the middle of Covent Garden, a derelict, weed strewn wasteland populated by opera goers, it was a pilgrimage we just had to make.

   Squeezing a couple of hundred into a stinking, sticky shitpit designed for half that, The Roxy was a seething mass of fucked off, newly energised youth radiating an unforgettable sense of togetherness; a place where you could rub shoulders with the likes of Rotten, Strummer, Siouxsie, Billy Idol, Adam Ant on an equal footing, heckle pain in the arse punter Shane Macgowan jumping around like a nut or take the piss out of Paul Weller tuning up in his cheap Burtons suit. The Roxy was no place for any of that crap.

   Emerging in the early hours soaked in cold sweat and gob, stranded until the milk train home, we’d sit it out in an all-night café off Leicester Square or on a hard bench in the darkest corner of a deserted Paddington or Waterloo to avoid the cops. If we were lucky, we’d find a spare bit of floor in some dilapidated West London squat or get an invite back to a girl’s house on the proviso we were gone before her parents woke. Sometimes I didn’t bother going home at all.

   Fueled by manic, chemical induced energy, intense sex and seven inch singles, I took in riotous live shows by Wire, The Jam, Generation X, The Adverts, Vibrators, Penetration, XTC, Eater, The Damned, Chelsea, The Heartbreakers, Siouxsie And The Banshees, The Boys, The Cortinas, The Slits, The Only Ones, Buzzcocks, The Clash, Subway Sect, Ramones, Talking Heads, Television, Blondie, 999, Slaughter And The Dogs, The Saints, Adam And The Ants, The Fall, John Cooper Clarke, Ultravox!, The Bears, The Unwanted, The Lurkers, Art Attacks, Steel Pulse, X Ray Spex, The Prefects, Wayne County, The Models, The Flies, The Stranglers, The Depressions, Richard Hell, The Drones, Elvis Costello and The Pop Group. For the first time in my life I felt a part of something real!

   In the first six months of 1977, London was the only place to be and we were, loitering around the second hand record and clothes stalls of Kensington and Portobello Markets, the first Rough Trade shop, The Ship in Wardour Street and a couple of backstreet pubs off the Kings Road frequented by our tame Chelsea bootboys. Permanently skint yet proud of our ripped and torn, DIY threads, we tended to steer clear of the intentionally intimidating, elitist and ridiculously expensive Seditionaries. Vivienne Westwood’s clothes were strictly for the rich kid part timers and glitterati, but the most repugnant sight amongst many on the Kings Road in the summer of 1977 was punks charging gullible photographers and tourists a quid a pic. The rot had already set in while dark, outside forces were gathering to inflict even more damage.      

   Stoked and primed by a seething, outraged media, Joe Public began to attack en masse, particularly in provincial towns like Reading where we continued to be treated like alien invaders, fearful shoppers grabbing hold of their kids and parting like the Red Sea every time we passed through. The occasional brave soul would have a go although with vengeful youth tribes lurking round every corner, they were the least of our worries. Soul Boys, Smoothies, Greasers, Skinheads and football gangs were mostly all mouth and nothing we couldn’t handle, but the Teds were an entirely different proposition. A decade or more older than the typical teenage scrapper, therefore that much more experienced and far meaner, they were the worst of the lot, the sight of a gang of Teds running towards you brandishing their knives and razors absolutely shit-yourself-terrifying. We learnt to scarper. Fast.

   Like any youth movement punk carried with it the seeds of its own destruction, but it was only when it reached its zenith around the time of ‘God Save the Queen’ and the Silver Jubilee that it stopped being fun and became kind of tiresome. While I had been wholly seduced by the punk experience, life in 1977 was lived pretty close to the edge, moving so fast there was no time to think which wasn’t such great news for someone like me who relished at least some time alone. What’s more, punk itself had dumbed down and lost its revolutionary edge to become just another tribal option populated by a new breed in their identikit, High Street uniforms. Ugly, desperate and without purpose, they were a betrayal of punks original manifesto of individuality; the idea of not being the same as everybody else; of asking questions and making your own statement. I wanted no part in their meaningless pantomime.

   Musically too, punk was sinking into a tried and tested formula, second wave groups like Sham 69 and the UK Subs merely recycling the sound of the originators and suppressing any hint of intelligence. I hated all that ‘real’ punk, working class nonsense. Sonically punk’s future, if indeed it had one, depended on the likes of Wire, the yet to release a record Subway Sect, The Banshees, Adam & The Ants, The Slits and The Pop Group, who were busy emerging from a very different Bristol scene.

   And yet, even then I continued going to selective shows, following the Clash to any number of tatty seaside towns, the habits of the previous year proving tough to break. In fact, at no point did I make a conscious decision to stop being a punk, I simply replaced my stained and soiled threads with cheap, ill-fitting, jumble sale suits and moved on, determined to explore my own creativity in as many ways as possible. I was on a mission, I just didn’t know exactly what that mission was. Yet within 18 months, having finally given up on my own musical misadventures, I was well on my way to writing fanzines, promoting shows, starting record labels and a future of endless possibilities. 

 

01. DAVID BOWIE ‘Speed Of Life’ (Low LP January 1977)

   Odd that my soundtrack to the year when punk entered the national consciousness should kick off with a Bowie instrumental, but during the first weeks of what turned out to be a truly momentous 12 months, there weren’t too many other records to get excited about and ‘Speed Of Life’ always did sound like a particularly relevant title for a bunch of 16 and 17 year olds hoovering up drugs, music and every other kind of influence like there was no tomorrow.

 

02. THE CONGOS ‘Children Crying’ (Heart Of The Congos LP January 1977)

   Quicksilver Records would ship their roots and dub records over monthly in a crate direct from Kingston, which is how I came to discover Heart Of The Congos amongst the reggae racks. A certified roots masterpiece, its soulful tones kept us afloat through the long, early morning, after show hours when the drugs and excitement had worn off and the comedown and cold, cold night made sleep impossible.   

 

03. THE BUZZCOCKS ‘Times Up’ (Spiral Scratch EP January 1977)

   Punks vinyl storm finally broke not just with any old record, but a blueprint for DIY and the independent labels of the future that contained four, lo-fi missives from Manchester so incendiary in form and content, even now they sound like they could start a revolution of their own.       

 

04. THE DAMNED ‘Fan Club’ (Damned Damned Damned LP February 1977)

    The Damned were brilliant live. I must have seen them half a dozen times, their breakneck energy and short tunes a speed freaks dream. What wasn’t so brilliant was their jokey, pantomime tendencies; Vanian’s Dracula shtick, The Captain’s tutus and Rat Scabies getting his knob out at every opportunity.

 

05. TELEVISION ‘Friction’ (Marquee Moon LP February 1977)

   The arty New York punk impulse was entirely different to the brutalist British one and Tom Verlaine’s Television were more different than most. With its dueling guitars and poetry, Marquee Moon introduced the possibility of beauty to a punk world clogged with nihilism and decay. Full of youthful concerns and immature wonder, at just 17 years old it made me think of music in an entirely different way and confront feelings I didn’t even know I had.

 

06. THE CLASH ‘1977’ (Single B Side March 1977)

   There were no iPods, iPhones or iPads in 1977. Not even a Walkman. We had to make do with a crappy portable cassette player and a stack of C90 mix tapes guaranteed to feature The Clash’s year zero, call to arms as side one, track one.

 

07. CULTURE ‘Two Sevens Clash’ (Two Sevens Clash LP March 1977)

   Reggae was an intrinsic part of the punk experience, not because of the rebel music, mutual outcasts theory, Rotten and Strummers love for it, or Don Letts spinning dub plates in the early days of The Roxy, but because most of us had a long association with reggae stretching right back to the hits of the early seventies. Roots was the natural progression of all that, Culture’s prophecy toting, anthemic album built on a genius title track that made even The Clash appear weedy.

 

08. ELVIS COSTELLO ‘Less Than Zero’ (Single A Side March 1977)

   My girlfriend gave me this single. She wasn’t a punk but then neither was Elvis Costello; a nerdy, mutant hybrid of Buddy Holly and Joe Strummer putting the world to rights with a melodic sensibility that in 1977 was practically non-existent.

 

09. RAMONES ‘Pinhead’ (Leave Home LP March 1977)

   In the summer of ‘76 The Ramones debut had provided a handy, high octane template for young punks like me who had no discernible musical ability yet were determined to form a group and make their mark anyway they could. A difficult totem to follow, thankfully Leave Home’s neater, harder hitting tunes and more polished production were even better. Gabba Gabba Hey!    

 

10. IGGY POP ‘Funtime’ (The Idiot LP March 1977)

   Until Bowie came a calling and took him to Berlin, Iggy Pop was a no good, drugged up loser carrying the heavy legacy of The Stooges on his skinny shoulders. I hadn’t given him a second thought since Raw Power, but Bowie’s continued endorsement and their joint interest in European electronica and funk immediately transformed The Idiot into a cult classic, returning The Igg to his rightful place as defiant punk rocker number one.   

 

11. ULTRAVOX! ‘My Sex’ (Ultravox! LP March 1977)

   Arriving fully formed on the wrong side of the punk party line to be slaughtered for their major label deal, violins, Neu!-style exclamation mark, PVC jackets and neon signs, no-one ever wanted to borrow my Ultravox! records. But no matter, I loved them regardless, John Foxx’s poetic imagery capturing the alienation and post-industrial wasteland of the Capital and my hometown perfectly, while the sparse, Ballardian beauty of the deeply personal and slightly disturbing ‘My Sex’ was clearly so far ahead of the game it was scary.      

 

12. KRAFTWERK ‘Europe Endless’ (Trans-Europe Express LP April 1977)

    Bowie, Iggy and Eno’s japes in Berlin led directly to Kraftwerk, an ice cool anomaly amidst the endless 1-2-3-4 sloganeering and trails of phlegm. Being both very young and very English, these Teutonic electro Ramones broadened our minds, opened our ears and fast forwarded us into the future.

 

13. PRINCE FAR I ‘Heavy Manners’ (Single A Side April 1977)

   ‘Heavy Manners’ wasn’t just a handy slogan for The Clash to stencil on their clothing, it was an essential, hard hitting, righteous roots single broadcasting Prince Far I’s socio-political message from a seriously troubled Trenchtown.

 

14. THE CLASH ‘Janie Jones’ (The Clash LP April 1977)

   Not necessarily the best, but easily the most important album I ever bought, The Clash convinced me that music was going to be my life. No other record can take me back so instantly and completely to a time when everything was possible and I felt a part of something that was going to change the world, The Clash’s sharp songs epitomising the fears and aspirations of an entire generation while suggesting days of terminal boredom and perpetual grey which made 1977 Britain sound like a police state, which of course it kind of was.

 

15. THE ADVERTS ‘One Chord Wonders’ (Single A Side April 1977)

   The Adverts played brilliantly wordy, complex songs way beyond their limited musical abilities, so giving hope to legions of newly formed outfits like my own self-taught, fuzz driven Kaotix. Following the punk maxim ‘Here’s three chords, now form a band’, we took our cheap Woolworth’s guitars, borrowed drum kit and ever changing line up to the youth clubs and village halls surrounding our hometown, the only venues that would have us.  Little kids loved our noisy racket but we weren’t very good and we knew it, yet we still played those three chords for all they were worth.

 

16. THE BOYS ‘I Don’t Care’ (Single A Side April 1977)

   The Boys rarely feature in punk history. Maybe they were too rock’n’roll or maybe they just too damn proficient. But whatever they were, we found them the friendliest bunch of the lot, 18 year old bassist Kid Reid the go to boy for getting in through the back door. 

 

17. THE USERS ‘I’m In Love With Today’ (Single B Side May 1977)

    In one minute 38 seconds The Users, a bunch of unknown kids from Cambridge doin’ it for themselves, brilliantly captured the sulphate singed frustration, anger, attitude and poetry of provincial punk youth.

 

18. RAMONES ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ (Single A Side May 1977)

   Sheena was a punk rocker and so were the beautiful ‘we’; Hanson, Josef X, Julie, Cass, Dizzy, I and I, Egypt, Eddie, Debra, Karen K, Frankie, Fifi, Kenny The Spliff, Bobby The Skin, Jackie The Lad, Gary The Preacher, Joe Drummer, Johnny Whizz, Peter Puss, JFK, Nic and Nat, Gilly And The Videos, The Chelsea Kids, The Three Ian’s and all the young punks who shared the greatest year of my teenage.        

 

19. THE JAM ‘Art School’ (In The City LP May 1977)

   Sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the skunky herbert’s of punks first wave, The Jam were little more than retro mod’s doing their high energy, Who thing. Nonetheless, in June 1977 at Reading’s first ever punk show, they took the Top Rank by storm. Packed with 500 regular kids with their regular hair and regular flares but safety pin bedecked school blazers and scrawled on shirts, the whole occasion felt like a fifth form, fancy dress disco. And yet, as hugely embarrassing as they were, somehow these pseudo punks still managed to cause outrage amongst the populace, a fact borne out by a noticeable increase in threats and menaces directed at us, car occupants winding down their windows to gob a novel variation on the more customary forms of abuse.

 

20. SEX PISTOLS ‘God Save The Queen’ (Single A Side May 1977)

   It’s funny, until the Pistols finally delivered the riot they’d always promised on ‘God Save The Queen’, most folk in the provinces were still completely unaware of punk, never mind the Sex Pistols. At the same time as going out to shows was my entire life, they were planning Jubilee street parties, baking cakes, sticking up bunting and painting Union Jacks on their front doors.

 

21. THE HEARTBREAKERS ‘Born To Lose’ (Single B Side May 1977)

22. THE ONLY ONES ‘Lovers Of Today’ (Single A Side June 1977)

   Amphetamine sulphate, Black Bombers and quadruple Durophet spansules when we could get them and Moroccan dope were our drugs of choice until brown heroin started doing the rounds. Smack was very rock’n’roll, very glamourous. Even at the height of punk there was a sneaky regard for Keith Richards and easy to spot down at heel punk versions like Johnny Thunders and Peter Perret of The Only Ones. Some of our number began to dabble, yet bothered by what it might lead to, I wanted no part in it. And as I witnessed firsthand how it consumed my friends, and how the grim reality of heroin addiction was not in the least bit glamourous, I knew I’d been right to be fearful.

 

23. I ROY ‘Point Blank’ (Single A Side June 1977)

   As far as I was concerned, I Roy, U Roy, Prince Far I were all equally innovative but the most memorable toasting single of 1977 was I Roy’s ‘Point Blank’, if only for its faux cockney intro.

 

24. WIRE ‘12XU’ (The Roxy London WC2 LP June 1977)

   Dismissed by many as a bit shit, the live Roxy compilation was still an interesting reminder of the infamous first 100 days era. Featuring snippets of chatter from ordinary punters between tunes by Slaughter & The Dogs, The Unwanted, The Adverts, Johnny Moped, Eater, X Ray Spex, The Adverts and Buzzcocks, it also offered the first recorded evidence of Wire.

 

25. THE VIBRATORS ‘Petrol’ (Pure Mania LP June 1977)

   There were two kinds of punk groups; those inspired into existence by the Pistols or those who sussed the wind was changing, got their hair cut, and narrowed their strides. The Vibrators were clearly unrepentant opportunists, frontman Knox literally old enough to be my father, but you know what, sometimes opportunists have the best tunes and Pure Mania was full of them. Live they were no slouches either.

 

26. THE SAINTS ‘This Perfect Day’ (Single A Side July 1977)

   The Saints were another scorching live outfit who relocated from Brisbane to London as punk hit the heights and the front pages. Slated as fraudulent gatecrashers for refusing to conform to the spiky haired, swastika and safety pin punk stereotype, they poured their seemingly endless fury into overlooked treasures like ‘This Perfect Day’.     

 

27. SEX PISTOLS ‘No Fun’ (Single B Side July 1977)

   The Pistols dirty, ragged crawl through The Stooges ‘No Fun’ was always a favourite, Rotten’s malevolent sociology, psychology, neurology, fuckology opening yet more proof of his genius. But it was also a reminder of how ‘God Save The Queen’ had awakened the slumbering beasts of Olde England wishing nothing but death and destruction on the punk upstarts walking the streets of their towns, and that the summer of 1977 really was no fun at all.

 

28. HORACE ANDY ‘Government Dub’ (In The Light Dub LP August 1977)

   Jammy’s mesmerising, hard edged, dubwise versions of Horace Andy’s sweet tunes were an unexpected treat, completely at odds with the original album. Explosive and full of dread, so different was it that I remember ‘Government Dub’ being played constantly in record shops and not having the faintest idea who or what it was.  

 

29. PERE UBU ‘Heaven’ (Single B Side August 1977)

30. ALTERNATIVE TV ‘Love Loves Limp’ (Sniffin’ Glue #12 Flexi Disc August 1977)

   Pere Ubu and Alternative TV’s strangely similar excursions into catchy as hell, white boy, punky reggae before such a thing really existed confounded everyone, but with David Thomas’s avant-garde, American longhairs nothing to do with punk in the first place and Mark Perry denouncing it in Sniffin’ Glue before it even got going, I guess that was the idea.  

 

31. GENERATION X ‘Day By Day’ (Single A Side September 1977)

   For all their rock’n’roll posturing and punky pop, Generation X detailed a subtle, more personal revolution for wide eyed, amphetamised  teens demanding the right not to work or the need to do anything. It wasn't ignorance, it was simply ‘Fuck it, I don't care. I just wanna’ have some fun.' We were 17 years old! What 17 year old doesn’t want to fuck around, get drunk, take drugs and make some noise?      

 

32. THE SLITS ‘Newtown’ (John Peel Session September 1977)

   Cassettes of Peel sessions by punk groups still to release a record would get passed around, copied and recopied. I adored The Slits, a feral girl gang scratching their way through a fucking horrible, squawling racket but prayed they would never release a record because it was sure to be crap. Thankfully the great, early Peel version of ‘New Town’ proved me wrong, highlighting their don’t-give-a-fuck chaotic charm yet sounding nothing like their wonderfully inept live shows.

 

33. THE CLASH ‘Complete Control’ (Single A Side September 1977)

   The Clash’s tendency to sing about themselves would become a regular feature but ‘Complete Control’, in essence a grumble about how shit it was being signed to a huge multinational corporation, was far more than that. Marking the moment they moved away from the reckless, joyous abandon of their debut LP towards the well-produced, powerhouse they would soon become, somehow it turned into a manifesto about integrity, defiance and the shifting scale of values. The sound of innocent lost, it was one of The Clah’s finest punk statements and a cautionary tale for a movement being strangled by a rulebook that should have remained unwritten.

 

34. X RAY SPEX ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours’ (Single A Side September 1977)

   The girls in our tight knit bunch were in awe of Poly Styrene from the moment they first laid eyes on her. In a Neanderthal age, when men were men and women were expected to be subservient, second class citizens, she was an in your face, feminist force who together with The Slits and Siouxsie recreated punk in the female image and in so doing liberated those determined to fight for a different kind of life.        

 

35. IGGY POP ‘The Passenger’ (Lust For Life LP September 1977)

36. DAVID BOWIE ‘Heroes’ (Heroes LP October 1977)

   Punk was already smashing its head against its own Berlin wall when Bowie, Iggy and Eno came up with the records that would enable its more enlightened protagonist’s to pole vault right over, no two songs capturing that moment more than the everlasting brilliance of ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Heroes’.     

 

37. XTC ‘Science Friction’ (3D EP October 1977)

   XTC were four, nondescript, early twenty somethings from Swindon who played our local Target pub so often they were the nearest thing we had to a group of our own. Ridiculed by the Kings Road hipsters as country bumpkins, knowing exactly where they came from and that their jumpy, suburban, teen life vignettes spoke directly to me, just made me love them more.

 

38. POET & THE ROOTS ‘All Wi Doin’ Is Defendin’ (Single A Side October 1977)

   Initially Linton Kwesi Johnson appealed more for his poetry than his music, but crackling and burning with a barely suppressed anger it was obvious his words, spoken in the street patois of his Brixton dialect, were ideally suited to the rhythmic dread of roots.

 

39. SEX PISTOLS ‘Bodies’ (Never Mind The Bollocks LP October 1977)

   There’s no getting away from it, within the cultural context of the times the stodgy, hard rock of Never Mind The Bollocks was a crushing disappointment. While it was good to hear the recorded versions of vintage live favourites ‘Seventeen’, ‘No Feeling’ and ‘Submission’, they sounded worryingly safe and conventional, which is something The Pistols never were. Apart from the glorious singles, the only song to restore at least some of my faith was the previously unheard ‘Bodies’, Rotten’s raging, true life tale of abortion one of the few times he managed to rise above Steve Jones Axe God fantasy.

 

40. THE ADVERTS ‘Safety In Numbers’ (Single A Side October 1977)

   TV Smith had a knack of being able to put into song exactly what we were all thinking, ‘One Chord Wonders’, ‘Bored Teenagers’ and the questioning ‘Safety In Numbers’ effectively documenting the start, middle and end of 1977 punk. In truth we had realised long before that there was another, far more important version of punk that had nothing to do with mohair jumpers, tartan bondage trousers, the King’s Road or an easily mimicked music or fashion style, and everything to do with not waiting for permission but doing it and doing it now, even if we had no idea of how to do it or even what ‘it’ was.

 

41. BUZZCOCKS ‘Whatever Happened To?’ (Single B Side November 1977)

   Not so much the nostalgia fest the title suggested as the first of Pete Shelley’s painfully articulate, androgynous love songs.

 

42. SUICIDE ‘Rocket USA’ (Suicide LP November 1977)

   There were a host of revolutionary, ground shattering records in 1977, the like of which had never been heard before. Most sold next to nothing and yet they would become the building blocks of everything we hear today. Suicide was another one of those records, Alan Vega and Martin Rev’s distilled essence of rock’n’roll and golden age pop, retooled for drum machine, synth and spooky vocals

 

43. WIRE ‘Strange’ (Pink Flag LP November 1977)

   With a Molotov cocktail in one hand, a scalpel in the other and a gleeful grin, Wire deconstructed the history of rock’n’roll over Pink Flag‘s 21 tracks and rebuilt it in a dramatically new and different way. Like a home demo of brilliant ideas when there’s no point bothering with three minutes if thirty seconds will do, it was entirely unexpected, wilfully experimental and surprisingly poppy, opening the door to a new type of rock intellectualism at a time when that kind of thing was considered heresy.

 

44. SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ‘Metal Postcard’ (John Peel Session November 1977)

   One of the many groups formed in the early heat of punk who struggled to capture the intensity of their live performance on record, on stage I found Siouxsie so intoxicating and alluring that I completely ignored the music. Having said that, The Banshees first Peel session did sound startlingly unique and adventurous, but nothing was ever going to match the bewitching power of Siouxsie’s live presence.    

 

45. BRIAN ENO ‘Kings Lead Hat’ (Before And After Science LP December 1977)

   I decided to stick with Eno for his fourth solo album solely because of his involvement with Bowie’s Berlin albums. Eno being Eno, Before And After Science sounded nothing like them yet by offering a compelling argument that music made by intelligent, white, Englishmen didn’t need to and probably shouldn’t have any connection to the blues, it highlighted a place that new music could travel to. Of course, a matter of weeks later in January 1978, having followed a similar thought process, Howard Devoto would re-enter the fray with ‘Shot By Both Sides’ and suddenly we had entered a brave new, post punk world. While many of the groups here would soon be rendered obsolete, thanks to them and 1977, the impossible had become possible!

 

Chris Green. February 2017.