Styles & Forms | Proto-Punk | Rock
Proto-punk bands, like all ‘proto’ genres, are by definition only identified retrospectively and generally share subversive and anti-establishment attitudes. Although punk rock was primarily a British phenomenon, there were several notable American punk bands and its musical roots lie more with these American bands than with British bands.
Although The Velvet Underground’s debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) didn’t sell huge amounts on its release, its impact on non-mainstream forms of rock music was significant, with its disregard for conventional song structures and lyrics that dealt head-on with sex and drugs. The roots of punk rock, goth rock and glam rock can all be traced back to this album.
The MC5 gathered a loyal following on the strength of their exciting and anarchic live performances, so much so that they elected to record a live show for their debut album, Kick Out The Jams (1969). Beginning with singer Rob Tyners rabble rousing cry of ‘Kick out the jams, motherfuckers’, the early use of the ‘mf’ word – nearly 30 years before it became commonplace on rap records – led to some shops refusing to stock the record. Elektra Records had to release an alternative version with ‘brothers and sisters’ replacing ‘motherfuckers’. With their radical anti-establishment politics, The MC5 became the figurehead for the White Panther Party whose manifesto included ‘an assault on the culture by any means necessary, including dope and fucking in the streets.’
You won’t find an anti-establishment manifesto with Iggy & The Stooges, but they certainly helped themselves to the sex and drugs. A band with one finger permanently on the self-destruct button, singer Iggy Pop would cut himself onstage or smear himself with peanut butter or raw meat – then launch himself into the audience. Raw Power (1973) reveals a wild, wired and weird band, with raw and spontaneous music and lyrics, thanks to the band’s habit of improvizing in the studio.
And speaking of self-destruction, The New York Dolls’ second album Too Much Too Soon (1974) became a self-fulfilling prophesy and the band split shortly afterwards, despite hapless manager Malcolm McLaren’s attempts to promote the band to a wider audience. McLaren would put his experience to use afterwards as the infamous manager of The Sex Pistols.
Having established herself as a poet, Patti Smith released her debut album Horses (1975) to critical acclaim, and revealed a poet’s sensibilities with her imaginative use of language in loosely constructed song forms.
Smith described her music as, ‘three chord rock merged with the power of the word’. Her debut single ‘Piss Factory’ (1974) describes the boredom of working in a factory, something the punks could relate to.
An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...
Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.
The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.
Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers
his life, music, art and movies, with a
sweep of incredible photographs.