Open main menu

Proto-punk (or protopunk) is the rock music played by garage bands[4] from the 1960s to mid-1970s that presaged the punk rock movement.[5] The phrase is a retrospective label; the musicians involved were generally not originally associated with each other, and came from a variety of backgrounds and styles, but together they anticipated many of punk's musical and thematic attributes.[5]

DefinitionEdit

According to the Allmusic guide:

Proto-punk was never a cohesive movement, nor was there a readily identifiable proto-punk sound that made its artists seem related at the time. What ties proto-punk together is a certain provocative sensibility that didn't fit the prevailing counterculture of the time ... It was consciously subversive and fully aware of its outsider status ... In terms of its lasting influence, much proto-punk was primitive and stripped-down, even when it wasn't aggressive, and its production was usually just as unpolished. The genre also frequently dealt with taboo subject matter, depicting society's grimy underbelly in great detail, and venting alienation that was more intense and personal than ever before.[5]

Most musicians classified as proto-punk are rock performers of the 1960s and early-1970s, with garage rock/art rock bands the Velvet Underground, MC5 and the Stooges considered to be archetypal proto-punk artists,[5][6] along with later glam rock band the New York Dolls.[7]

Origins and etymologyEdit

One of the earliest written uses of the term "punk rock" was by critic Dave Marsh who used it in 1970 to describe US group Question Mark & the Mysterians, who had scored a major hit with their song "96 Tears" in 1966.[8][9] Many US bands were active in the mid-to-late 1960s playing garage rock: a ragged, highly energetic, often amateurish style of rock.[10] While garage bands varied in style, the label of garage punk has been attributed by critic Michael Hann to the "toughest, angriest garage rockers" such as the 13th Floor Elevators and the Sonics.[11] AllMusic states that bands like the Sonics and the Monks "anticipated" punk;[12][13] the latter have likewise been cited as examples of proto-punk[14][15] and the Sonics' 1965 debut album Here Are the Sonics as "an early template for punk rock".[15] The raw sound and outsider attitude of psychedelic garage bands like the Seeds also presaged the style of bands that would become known as the archetypal figures of proto-punk.[16] One of the earliest examples of protopunk is "She Lied" (1964) by the Rockin' Ramrods, which features a sneering chorus and guitar downstroking nearly ten years before it became popular in punk.

In parallel, in 1964 garage band Los Saicos appeared in Lima, Peru, considered as one of the first Spanish-American groups that can be classified as protopunk.[17] One of their key songs is "Demolición", released as a single in 1965.

Debut albums by two key US proto-punk bands were released in 1969; Detroit, Michigan's MC5 released Kick Out the Jams in January, and the Stooges, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, premiered with their self-titled album in August. The latter album was produced by John Cale, a former member of New York's the Velvet Underground; having earned a "reputation as the first underground rock band", the Velvet Underground inspired, directly or indirectly, many of those involved in the creation of punk rock.[18] Michigan, USA was also the birthplace of bands the Dogs, the Punks and Death, the latter a pioneering but commercially unsuccessful African-American proto-punk group.[19]

International developmentsEdit

In the early 1970s, the UK underground counter-cultural scene centred on Ladbroke Grove in west London spawned a number of bands that have been considered proto-punk, including Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies and Third World War.[20] According to Allmusic, glam rock also "inspired many future punks with its simple, crunchy guitar riffs, its outrageous sense of style, and its artists' willingness to sing with British accents (not to mention the idiosyncratic images of David Bowie and Roxy Music)".[5] With his Ziggy Stardust persona, David Bowie made artifice and exaggeration central elements, that were later picked up by punk acts.[21] The Doctors of Madness built on Bowie's presentation concepts, while moving conceptually in the direction that would become identified with punk.[22] Bands in London's pub rock scene anticipated punk by stripping the music back to its basics, playing hard, R&B-influenced rock 'n' roll.[23] By 1974, the scene's top act, Dr. Feelgood, was paving the way for others such as the Stranglers[24] and Cock Sparrer[25] that would play a role in the punk explosion. Among the pub rock bands that formed that year was the 101ers, whose lead singer would two years later adopt the name Joe Strummer and form punk band The Clash.[3]

Bands anticipating the forthcoming movement were appearing as far afield as Düsseldorf, West Germany, where "punk before punk" band NEU! formed in 1971, building on the krautrock tradition of groups such as Can.[26] Simply Saucer formed in Hamilton, Canada in 1973[27] and have been called "Canada's first proto-punk band",[28] blending garage rock, krautrock, psychedelia and other influences to produce a sound that was later described as having a "frequent punk snarl."[29]

In Japan, the anti-establishment Zunō Keisatsu (Brain Police) mixed garage, psych and folk. The band's first two albums were withdrawn from public sale after their lyrics were found to violate industry regulations, and their "spirit.. was taken up again by the punk movement."[30]

A new generation of Australian garage rock bands, inspired mainly by the Stooges and MC5, came even closer to the sound that would soon be called "punk": in Brisbane, the Saints recalled the raw live sound of the British Pretty Things, who had made a notorious tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1965,[31] while in Sydney, Radio Birdman, co-founded by Detroit expatriate Deniz Tek in 1974, began playing gigs to a small but fanatical following.[32] The Saints are regarded as a punk band and as being "to Australia what the Sex Pistols were to Britain and the Ramones to America,"[33][34] while Radio Birdman are regarded as co-founders of punk[35] but have also been designated as proto-punk.[36]

List of artistsEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Robb, John (2012). Punk Rock: An Oral History. PM Press. ISBN 978-1-60486-005-4.
  • Sabin, Roger (2002). Punk Rock: So What?: The Cultural Legacy of Punk. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-69905-6.
  • Taylor, Steven (2003). False Prophet: Field Notes from the Punk Underground. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6668-3.

Further readingEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Campbell, Neil (2004). American Youth Cultures. Psychology. p. 213. ISBN 0415971977. Furthermore, the indigenous popular music which functioned this way-and which represented in the same instance a form of localized resistance to the mainstreaming, standardizing drive noted earlier — was the proto-punk more commonly identified as garage rock.
  2. ^ Pell, Nicholas (January 26, 2012). "Deathmatch: Which Is Better, Pub Rock or Garage Rock?". LA Weekly. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Robb 2012, p. 51.
  4. ^ Bangs, Lester (1981). "Protopunk: The Garage Bands". In Anthony De Curtis and James Henke (eds.). The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll (Second ed.). Picador Books. pp. 357–361. ISBN 0-679-73728-6.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e "Proto-Punk". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  6. ^ "The Stooges - Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  7. ^ "New York Dolls - Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  8. ^ Taylor 2003, p. 16.
  9. ^ Woods, Scott. "A Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy Interview with Dave Marsh". RockCritics.com. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Garage Rock Music Genre Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  11. ^ Hann, Michael (30 July 2014). "10 of the best: garage punk". The Guardian.
  12. ^ Mark Deming. "The Sonics | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  13. ^ Richie Unterberger. "The Monks | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  14. ^ "The 5: Proto-Punk Bands of the 60's and 70's - The Interrobang". 24 July 2013.
  15. ^ a b "10 Essential Proto-punk tracks". Treblezine.com. 2015-11-05. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  16. ^ Sabin 2002, p. 159.
  17. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/sep/14/where-punk-begin-cinema-peru
  18. ^ Taylor 2003, p. 49.
  19. ^ "Death - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  20. ^ Ironside, Gus (21 May 2014). "Louder than War Interview: Luke Haines Says (New York in the 70s)". Louder Than War. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  21. ^ Laing 1985, pp. 24–26.
  22. ^ Reynolds, Simon (19 May 2017). "Doctors of Madness: The punk band before punk, that predicted Trump before Trump". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  23. ^ Atkinson, Mike (21 January 2010). "Give pub rock another chance". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  24. ^ "The Stranglers in Guildford - punk rock and ice cream". surreylife.co.uk. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Cock Sparrer, Krawall Bruder - live review". louderthanwar.com. 22 July 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  26. ^ Neate, Wilson. "NEU!". Trouser Press. Retrieved 2007-01-11.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2011-12-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-15. Retrieved 2011-12-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ Sendra, Tim. "Cyborgs Revisited Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  30. ^ Anderson, Mark. "Zuno keisatsu" in Buckley, Sandra (ed.)The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture. Taylor & Francis, 2009, p588
  31. ^ Unterberger 2000, p. 18.
  32. ^ Cameron, Keith (20 July 2007). "Keith Cameron explores the history of the Australian punk scene". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  33. ^ "The Most Primitive Band in the World - The Saints - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  34. ^ "(I'm) Stranded - The Saints - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  35. ^ "The Essential Radio Birdman: 1974-1978 - Radio Birdman - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  36. ^ "Radio Birdman - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 March 2018.