40 Years: 76-77

Youth and Chaos

Wild Youth. Continuing with our focus on Britain forty years ago, in today’s New Musical Express, 21 AUG. 1976, Eddie and the Hot Rods are once more touted as leaders of this new thing called Punk. Reviewing their ‘Live at the Marquee’ EP, the NME‘s man in the listening booth, Bob Edmands, declared that it was:

Hot-Rods-singles“Proof positive that Britain is the home of punk rock. They don’t really have punks in American rock — only punks’ dads. You’ve only got to look at the Ramones. Too knowing, too jaded, too weary, too defeated. More hackneyed than acned. Displaying the sullen aggression that’s no more than the tired reflexes of losers.

You’d never catch Joey Ramone turning cartwheels like the Rods’ singer Barrie Masters. His switchblade, welfare card, and Sanatogen would fall out of his pocket as he was going over. The essence of punk is brash assurance fuelled by a high octane mixture of youth and ignorance. That’s Eddie and the Hot Rods on this E.P.”

If the Hot Rods were the face of punk, and the Ramones were duds, what was going to be the next happening thing in the USA? Well, punk, or something, it seems – according to the paper’s ‘Teazers’ column:

“The Future Of Rock’n’Roll Part 97: Definite buzz for Los Angelean punk Tom Petty; his first album, on Shelter and produced by Denny Cordell, due out in States any day now. Tom’s such a punkoid punk that he and his band have been rehearsing in front of mirrors.”

Tom Petty was really from Florida, and had been flogging it around since the mid-to-late 60s, but – well – he was new in LA. What we can see is that the spectre of punk was clearly in the air. Even Bruce Springsteen – on account of the leather jackets and songs about street culture – was touted as a punk in these months. But, next up on the singles review for Ben Edmands was a 45 by Black Oak Arkansas, the band named after the town that spawned it, and led by the raspy-voiced purveyor of the sleazy stage rap, Jim Dandy. ‘Fistful of Love’, this single was called, but this wasn’t quite punk – or Jim himself wasn’t a punk:

NME-BoC-76“Jim Dandy is not so much a punk rocker as a slob-rocker. Slob rock could be the next big thing – there are plenty of exponents already in the field. None are more adept at the style than Jim. He has to be rock’s smuggest chauvinist. As butch as a lamb chop. He dances about the stage like a navvy who secretly envies Nureyev, like a flasher who can’t quite achieve a breakthrough. He wears his genitals on his sleeve. He’s the sort of man who walks down the street with a 20 stone German shepherd to bolster his vanity. You can’t help but like him.”

Elsewhere, the paper’s cover story on the Blue Oyster Cult by Max Bell, was adorned with a headline intended to sum up the story’s main point, which seemed to be that the BoC were “the only heavy metal band capable of leading an audience over the killing floor and putting their brains through some kind of intellectual fitness programme”:

Nectar of strychnine! Seminal Psychedelic trip-wire rock’n’roll! Geometric chaos! Neo-nuclear Pearl Harbour precision! Flash-pod explosion! Blood-on-snow controlled fury! Boot-heeling dangerous!


By John Scanlan

John Scanlan is the Series Editor of Reverb with Reaktion Books.