Not so back in late 1976 and early 1977 when UK Punk was starting to set establishment tongues wagging and the disillusioned youth of the day pogoing for all they were worth. If you'd heard a single you wanted you had to get off your arse and go out and find it. Living in the suburbs of West London this inevitably meant a trip up to London as the "local" record shops rarely stocked these early punk releases but instead would offer to order it for you. This wasn't any good for the impatient vinyl buyer and there was no guarantee it would be the picture sleeve you particularly wanted. Most of the singles featured here I heard for the first time at the local Heavy Rock Disco at the Winning Post in TwickenhamObtaining the piece of music you are after has never been simpler than it is today...a few clicks here...some button pressing there....and its yours to listen to again and again.....and all in the comfort of your own home.
where the DJ caught the "punk" bug fairly early. It must be said that the predominantly leather clad motorbike riding punters who frequented the place weren't all that impressed with the whole punk scene at this point in time and there was real friction in the air when the punk numbers came on and jumping about commenced. The punk image back then was very much a home made affair...anything that would outrage anyone over 30 years old was good enough. I have a vivid recollection of the local punks bringing a real pigs head
down to the Disco one Sunday night to throw about during the punk section of the evening. This really didn't go down well with the afore said biker chappies or the owners of the place. I for my part looked pretty conservative with the only parental allowance to my usual "rock" appearance being a bright orange sweatshirt with a punk inspired badge
thereon. Also, the parental opinion was firmly against me actually going to see any of these "dreadful" bands. This was only relaxed later on in 1977 when I saw the Runaways and 999. By contrast the editor of this fine blog, Mr Maim, went to see just about every single punk band you can name in their early prime.....I wish I had had his truly rebellious streak back then. There was a real atmosphere of excitement and tension in the air in London which I've never felt again to the same extent, and this made buying records an event to be remembered. Can you honestly say that downloading has ever caused your pulse to quicken ? I can recall where and when I bought a frighteningly high percentage of my vinyl....I've a real dustbin for a mind !
The most detailed memories of buying any particular punk single apply to The Saints debut single "I'm Stranded / No Time". I went to the then fledgling Virgin Record Store off Tottenham Court Road in Central London and went down the stairs into the cavernous sub-basement area and nervously approached the counter. "Have you got any Punk singles ?" I asked....the assistant, who now had a look of slight disdain on his face replied they had, and handed me a small box with about 20 records therein for me to look through.
There it was... The Saints...excellent....pushing my luck I asked to hear it...back then you could actually ask to listen to stuff before buying it. The assistant looked nervously about and said that as they weren't too busy...i.e not many people were in there to possibly offend, that he would play it. To the shops credit they did have a real "fuck off" sound system which The Saints strained to the limit !!! When it finished he went to put it back in the box but I said "I'll have that please"....he looked totally shocked that I would want to buy something that to him sounded like a huge row ! I handed over my £1 (?...certainly not much more than that) and left the shop a happy man. Here's the original promo video preceded by an excerpt from a fairly recent tv programme giving a bit of background on the band and the influence they had at the time......
If that has impressed the hell out of you then here's a link to listen to the whole album......if you just want to cherry pick a couple of tracks go for Erotic Neurotic (15 minutes in) and No Time (19 minutes in). I, to my shame, didn't buy this until many years after its release having just frequently borrowed it from a like minded mate..
That's enough lengthy ramblings, so onto a quick fire selection of my early fave punk purchases....
I saw The Damned on a few occasions in the 80's and most recently 5 years ago when they were Supporting Motorhead with Girlschool in Bristol. I bumped into Captain Sensible in the bar and congratulated him on his still youthful appearance after all these years... he thanked me and added that he felt like a sack of shit most mornings !!
This next one was recommended to me on the basis that it was the fastest song my mate had ever heard...and he wasn't far wrong....by today's standards it is of course positively pedestrian but back then it was a real ear opener !The Radiators From Space - "Television Screen"....a breathless outburst.
and finally, here's The Adverts doing "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" on Top of the Pops......which to their credit is with a live vocal track.....
I've deliberately not included The Ramones, Pistols etc ( all of whose singles I purchased asap on release and played to death) in this brief list as I think these early, often overlooked singles deserve their place in the sun for once.
|My surprise is not that Doug still has these singles but that he has a room|
covered in Astro Turf!
words by DOUG E DOGGMy last overriding memory of record shopping in London in the late 70's was that one Shane McGowan, later to become famous with The Pogues, but then vocalist with The Nips (formerly The Nipple Erectors) used to work on a record stall in Berwick Street market just off Soho and Chinatown in London. It may come as no surprise to learn that he was without doubt the most surly disinterested assistant you could ever wish to meet....anything was too much trouble !!!