England's Still Dreaming - 30 Years Of Punk


0120190620 (6M)
20061202 (6M)

Steve Lamacq look at the events of 1976, which led to the explosion of punk music.

By the mid-70s the UK was experiencing economic meltdown. Lengthening dole queues and a grey landscape of high rise disasters stood in rubbish-strewn streets. In retrospect, it was inevitable that the music of the time would be dark, nihilistic and fuelled by an energized political anger.

Whilst the New York music scene, built around CBGBs, was much more rooted in rock's rich tapestry and art school ideas, it was nowhere near as ferocious and dangerous as what was happening in the UK. The London punk scene, initially driven by Malcolm McLaren's clever posturing, was given added power by John Lydon's fierce intelligence and neo-psychotic glare.

The Sex Pistols were getting out onto the circuit, wrecking PAs and getting occasional column inches. The Stranglers were gigging around the country, trading punches with irate punters. In Bolton Buzzcocks read a paragraph about the Pistols in the NME and drove all the way down to London to search for the band. TV Smith was putting together The Adverts in Torquay. Elsewhere, the capital was calling and the Clash were on hand to write the soundtrack. Everywhere punk rock was beginning to emerge.

All these loose strands were beginning to coalesce around the Sex Pistols. McLaren noticed this and managed to place the movement behind his group and his shop. the race was nearly over and London was about to win. A generation of kids, feeling let down by the government had at last found an expression for their discontent, a music that spoke back to them.

This documentary was first broadcast in December 2006, to mark thirty years since the birth of punk.

Steve Lamacq looks back on the events of 1976, which led to the explosion of punk music.

0220190621 (6M)
20061209 (6M)

Steve Lamacq continues his look at the impact of punk. Programme two begins with the murder of Nancy Spungen and the subsequent death of Sid Vicious, two appalling events which marked the end of the first punk explosion.

By 1979 the Pistols had imploded, The Clash had embraced rock 'n' roll and a new generation was making its feelings known. The late 70s saw an explosion of street punk culture in all its myriad forms; whether the beery Oi scene, the anarchist art rock pioneered by Crass, the Ska revival, or the student-driven, post punk, post rock sounds of Joy Division and U2...the bastard sons and daughters of Johnny Rotten were keeping the spirit alive.

It was a time of confusion and gang fights, of danger and excitement, culminating in the 1981 riots and 1984 miner's strike - a colourful street reaction to the scourge of Thatcherism.

But let's not forget the intense sounds of those second wave bands who virtually created the template for modern rock - The Exploited, GBH, Angelic Upstarts and UK Subs. Discharge laid the foundations for heavier outfits such as Metallica, and it's no coincidence that Guns 'n' Roses liked to cover UK Subs songs.

The DIY ethic kick started by punk inspired a lot of these new bands, who would go on to lay down the blueprint for independent music. The post rock/post punk era was in full swing, with Joy Division coming out of Manchester, Gang of Four forging ahead across the Pennines in Leeds and U2 laying plans for world domination across the Irish Sea in Dublin. It was obvious that the punk revolution had spread far and wide and with it the spirit of independence; punk's legacy was assured.

Steve charts the demise of the first punk explosion with the deaths of Sid and Nancy.

Steve Lamacq looks back on the events of 1976, which led to the explosion of punk music.