Other Punk Bands

“I want more bands like us. I want people to go out and start something, to see us and start something, or else I’m just wasting my time.”
– Johnny Rotten, April 1976 (Sounds).

“I may be sounding dramatic but I wanna go out and hear the sounds that I like every night; I wanna have to choose what gigs to go to. We need something happening daily. If we don’t get that we can forget the whole thing right now.”
– Mark P. September 1976 (Sniffin’ Glue 3).

15th July 1977

BY THE TIME THE Roxy Club opened in December 1976 the band boom was unprecedented. By 1977 there was a New Wave of tidal proportions.

Bands with intriguing names like 1919 Ulteria Motive Five, the Castrators, and Desmond Disgusting and his Amputated Legs (from Newcastle) have fallen out of orbit, But for every band that remains just an idea, there is always another scrambling onto the stage. A few are exceptional and original. Others are copyists – very good to boring – of the punk style and sound. As always, it will be audiences and not music critics who ultimately decide what bands survive…

The Jam Paul Weller (guitar), Bruce Foxton (bass), Rick Buckler (drums). Average age 19. From Woking.

They started playing after school in their local pub. In May, 1976, Joe Strummer said they were great. In August they parked their gig van by Soho market, set up their equipment on the pavement, and using electricity from the Rock On Record stall they startled Saturday afternoon shoppers with a fast, raw, energetic blast of sixties R&B. By March, 1977, they were playing original songs written by Weller. Their sound was extra speedy and solid, their stage presence bursting with stylish attack. They had become one of the scene’s hot favourites.

Encouraged by an over-enthusiastic record company, however, by the time they released their commercially successful debut album they had pushed their Mod/Union Jack/My Generation hero worship over the top. They were hailed in the press as the Acceptable Face of Punk. Although they were talented musicians, they seem to have dug themselves into an unoriginal Who hole out of which it may be difficult for them to climb.

‘In The City’ (Polydor) May 1977.
‘All Around The World’ (Polydor) July 1977
In The City (Polydor) May 1977

The Buzzcocks Pete Shelly (vocals, guitar), Steve Diggle (guitar), Garth (bass), John Maher (drums). Average age 19. From Manchester.

The played with the Sex Pistols and Slaughter and Dogs in the Theatre Upstairs at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in July 1976. The gig was sold out, proving even then that punk rock already had a large following outside London.

For five months they worked with arch-nihilist, Howard Devoto. Then Pete Shelley, a guitar virtuoso who favours half a second-hand ‘Starway’, took over as lead singer. They are original, good humoured and with Shelley up front they communicate easily with their fans. Their look is campy-sharp and neat. The handpainted a la Mondrian shirts they wore at the Clash’s landmark event at the Harlesden Colosseum in March 1977, were magnificent.

With fast but lyrically inventive sounds and exhilarating songs like ‘Breakdown’, ‘Boredom’ (titles on their E.P.), ‘Fast Cars’, and ‘No Reply’, they are one of the finest bands around.

E.P.: ‘Spiral Scratch’ (New Hormones). January 1977.

Subway Sect Vic Godard (vocals), Rob Miller (guitar), Paul Myers (bass). Need A (drummer). Average age 18. From Mortlake.

Played their first gig at the 100 Club Punk Rock Festival. They are part of the general rush on stage of new bands, but they are unique and well respected for the strange, avant-garde quality of the absurd in their sound – which they aptly describe as ‘complete noise’.

Vic, Rob and Paul (they have difficulty keeping drummers) are an unpenetrable unit, deadpan, grave and shy. On stage, Vic likes to impersonate insanity in slow motion. He rarely utters a word between numbers like ‘Parallel Lines’, ‘Nobody’s Scared’, and ‘Rock’n’roll, Even’.

They wear dustbin-grey jerseys and trousers. But they once delighted fans with immaculate outfits of stark black and white. Over the months it has become possible to determine vestigial melodies in their music. A mine of talent.

Eater Andy Blade (vocals), Brian Chevette (guitar), Ian Woodcock (bass), Philip Roland (drums). Average age 16. From Finchley.

School kids who were among the earliest punk fans. Formed in November 1976 and played one of their first gigs at school the same month. Their first drummer, Social Demise, had trouble taking time off school. Rodger Bullen aka Dee Generate, Rat Scabies’ protege, took over. He was fourteen.

Eater got off to a good start by announcing in their first interview that they thought Johnny Rotten was ‘too old’. Their musical style is M.O.R. Punk and they wear regulation safety pins and ties. At first their promiscuous determination to play rock’n’roll was a source of amusement but they played down their punk wunderkind image, and continued to improve. Notable numbers include ‘Sweet Jane’ (Lou Reed), a version of Alice Cooper’s ‘Eighteen’ and original compositions like ‘Bedroom Fix’ and ‘You’.

‘Outsider View’ (The Label) January 1977.
‘Thinking of the U.S.A.’ (The Label) June 1977.

Generation X Billy Idol (vocals), Bob Andrews (guitar), Tony James (bass), Mark Laff (drums). Average age 20. From North and South London suburbs.

Billy Idol, a philosophy student dropout from Sussex University, was one of the Bromley contingent. Tony James once played with Mick Jones’ fabled band, the London S.S. In October 1976, Billy and Tony joined up with Gene October (vocals) and John Towe (drums) and called the band Chelsea. October didn’t fit so he left to find another line up for Chelsea. Billy, now lead singer, Tony and John, changed their name to Generation X. They found Bob (17) three days before their first gig. John left in April 1977 (he occasionally works with Alternative T.V.) and was replaced by Subway Sect’s drummer, Mark Laff.

Generation X opened the Roxy. Billy’s perfect features and the band’s ‘melodic’ approach to songwriting inspired Zip Vynil fanzine to rave: ‘above all their sound is that of pop, which makes them truly subversive’.

‘Your Generation’/’From the Heart’ (Chrysalis) August 1977.

The Saints Chris Baily (vocals), Ed Keupper (guitar), Kym Bradshaw (bass), Ivor Hay (drums). Average age 27. From Australia.

Formed Brisbane, Australia, in 1974 as Kid Galahad and the Eternals. Changed their name to the Saints in 1975. Became the scourge of the outback, banned from gigs and unable to gain the confidence of record companies. Recorded their debut single ‘(I’m) Stranded’ on their own independent, ‘Fatal’ record lable. Sent copies to individual critics in the U.K. The sound was raw, Ramones-fast – exactly in mood with the music being played on the U.K. punk scene. By Christmas, ‘Stranded’ had become an alternative hit. The growing interest in the Saints led to E.M.I. signing them but their debut album was as disappointing as they were live when they arrived in London in June 1977. They needed time to live up to their legend.

‘(I’m) Stranded’ (Fatal) June 1976.
‘(I’m) Stranded’ (Power Exchange) November 1976.
‘This Perfect Day’ (Harvest) July 1977.
(I’m) Stranded (Harvest) May 1977.

The Adverts T.V. Smith (vocals), Howard Pick-up (guitar), Gaye Advert (bass), Lorry Driver (drums), Average age 25. From Devon.

T.V. Smith and Gaye Advert joined up with Lorry and Howard in December 1976. Their sound is typical M.O.R. punk. But they play with more than average conviction and energy. Best numbers include ‘Great Britain Mistake’, ‘New Day Dawning’ and ‘Bomb Site Boy’.

‘One Chord Wonders’ (Stiff), May 1977.

The Vibrators Knox (vocals, guitar), John Ellis (guitar), Gary Tibbs (bass), John Edwards (drums). Average age 28. From London.

Basically a competent R&B outfit who impressed the 100 Club’s manager, Ron Watts, into booking them for the 1976 Punk Rock Festival. They turned up with short hair and so impressed Chris Spedding that he took them on as his backing band. If they had been less coy about their reasons for stepping into the punk scene they might have endeared themselves to the hard-core of the movement. Instead they engaged the services of Ian Hunter to deny that they were punks. Gary Tibbs replaced Pat Collier on bass in June 1977. Entertaining live. Will be remembered for the great backing to Chris Spedding’s unsurpassed piece of punk kitch, the single ‘Pogo Dancing’ (RAK).

‘We Vibrate’ (RAK) November 1976.
‘Baby Baby’ (CBS) May 1977.
The Vibrators (CBS) June 1977.

Ultravox John Foxx (vocals), Steve Sheares (guitar), Warren Cann (drums), Billy Currie (keyboards), Chris Cross (bass). Average age 28. Based in London.

Formed three years ago, as Tiger Lily, by Bradford-born, ex-Royal College of Art student John Foxx aka Dennis Leigh. Changed name to Ultravox in 1976 after John had become an early enthusiast of the punk movement. They wear black plastic, the occasional safety-pin and ripped jacket, but their music is often inspired with complex textures not usually associated with M.O.R. punk. Brian Eno helped produce their first album which included the exceptional track ‘My Sex’. They are part of the New Wave because they want to be. But their progress has been hampered by lack of confidence in their musical direction.

‘Dangerous Rhythm’ (Island) February 1977.
‘Young Savage’ (Island) June 1977.
Ultravox! (Island) February 1977.

Siouxsie and the Banshees Siouxsie Sioux (vocals), Steve Havoc (bass), John Mackay (guitar), Kenny Morris (drums). Average age 22. From Bromley and London suburbs.

Sixouxsie and Steve, with Debbie, Simon, and Billy Idol, were the Bromley Contingent – five teenagers with incredible style who were ardent Sex Pistols followers. They went to every gig they could and their fantastic clothes did much to determine and influence the fashions which evolved with the punk movement.

Siouxsie and Steve, with Marco (now with the Models) and Sid Vicious (now with the Pistols) made their first appearance on stage singing the Lord’s Prayer at the 100 Club Punk Rock Festival.

Alternative T.V. Mark P (vocals), Alex Fergusson (guitar), Tyrone Thomas (bass), Need A (drummer). Average age 23. From Deptford, Scotland and London Suburbs.

In July 1976, Mark P aka Perry from Deptford, left his job as a bank clerk in South Kensington to start the first punk rock fanzine, Sniffin’ Glue. He razored up his suits, dripped paint on his ties and wore chains around his neck. But he never enjoy the process of writing. His ambition was to be in a band and after an abortive spell with the New Beatles, he formed Alternative T.V. Somewhat mortified by the indiscriminate bad mouthing endemic to the punk scene (i.e. he tended to get as good as he had given) he left Sniffin’ Glue and, with the financial backing of B.T.M. Records, he became a Director of Step-Forward Records. He signed up the Cortinas, the Models and Chelsea.

‘I’ve lost the high I used to get back in September and October,’ said Mark P to Barry Cain (Record Mirror, June 1977). ‘We meant something then. But now I can’t get enthusiastic about the scene. If my band don’t relate to punks I’m sorry, I apologise, but I’m never going to change. I’m into Zappa and Can and jazz.’

Mark P’s band transcends M.O.R. punk with a committed political bias which is especially impressive in epics like ‘The Guardian, Times, and Observer (etc.)’, and ‘Alternatives to NATO’.

…Chelsea, the Models, the Rich Kids, Slaughter and the Dogs, Stinky Toys, the Jolt, Desperate Bicycles, Art Attacks, Snatch, the Cortinas, the Boys, X Ray Spex, Radiators from Mars, Skrewdriver, Penetration, Wire, the Unwanted, Johnny Moped, 999, the Zips, the Outsiders, the Rejects, the Users, the Boomtown Rats, London, the Lurkers, the Fall, the Ants, the Rings, Hack Harry and the Big G, Johnny Curious and the Strangers, Ricky and the Last Days of Earth…

© Caroline Coon1988: The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion, 1977

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