Styles & Forms | Punk | The Aftermath (1980) | Key Events
The Pistols On Film
Polish-American director Lech Kowalski based his punk documentary, D.O.A: A Rite of Passage, around The Sex Pistols’ American 1978 tour, which ended in the band’s dissolution. Footage from the tour was intercut with live performances by other British punk bands, Generation X, The Dead Boys, Rich Kids, X-Ray Spex and Sham 69. Iggy Pop and The Clash also feature. Along with the music there are interviews, the most notorious of which is with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen; Sid repeatedly nods off mid-interview. The grainy, hand-held filming makes for a suitably edgy atmosphere and the live footage provides an invaluable record of early punk.
The Ramones’ End Of The Century
Their appearance in the movie Rock’N’Roll High School brought The Ramones to the attention of legendary wall-of-sound originator Phil Spector, who produced End Of The Century, their fifth album. The match was far from perfect as the notoriously demanding Spector required multiple takes in the studio and, according to bassist Dee Dee Ramone, demonstrated his fondness for firearms by holding the band hostage at gunpoint during the sessions. End Of The Century, released on 4 February 1980, was The Ramones’ most successful album, reaching No. 44 on the Billboard chart and No. 14 in the UK charts, where it spawned a Top 10 single, the band’s cover of Spector’s ‘Baby I Love You’.
X’s Los Angeles
X were among the first punk bands to form in Los Angeles in 1977. The line-up comprised female singer Exene Cervenka, bassist John Doe, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer DJ Bonebrake. After two independent singles, the band released their debut album Los Angeles on 26 April 1980. Clocking in at less than half an hour, the album is regarded as a seminal American punk record. It was produced by Doors’ keyboard player Ray Manzarek, as was X’s second album Wild Gift, which was voted album of the year in 1981 by The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.
The Dead Kennedys On Holiday
The Dead Kennedys’ second single, ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ released in May 1980, continued where their first left off, with a typically visceral performance and a characteristically politicized lyric. Frontman Jello Biafra turned his satirical eye to liberal rich American college students, whose supposedly enlightened beliefs are at odds with their complacent indifference to the anguish caused by their country’s foreign policy in places like Cambodia. The song became a bone of contention between band members when the ex-members sued Biafra for unpaid royalties after his refusal to license its use in a Levi’s jeans commercial.
Joy Division’s Closer
Recorded in March 1980, the second Joy Division album had a richer sound with more emphasis on keyboards and synthesizer. The stately, elegiac and sometimes funereal feel to Closer, and the tomb depicted on the cover, took on tragic proportions following the suicide of singer Ian Curtis in...
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