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Writer: Boz
Date Posted: 19/07/01

One of the great punk cliches.... an " Ever get the feeling ..... " one to be precise, this particular observation reading " ever get the feeling that 90% plus of punk is shite and where is the 10% that does anything for me? ". Amongst the recent promo rubble - a nightmare Pompeii style mix of padded envelopes and poorly xeroxed press blurb - was another in a long line of extremely slick product, a two in one German compilation called PUNK CHARTBUSTERS VOL.4. It turned out to be a strange experiment in cover versions of frag, mostly from the '80s, by some of your favourite punk bands. 40 tracks, very few of which bring anything inspiring to the craft of rearrangement. Surprisingly, Die Toten Hosen's big hair execution of the McCoys "Hang on Sloopy" is a stand out feature.... we've got The Living End doing "Tainted Love" and a load of other bands which fail to capture memory cells, varying from splendid to guff.

I have developed an understanding of certain forms of entertainment, generally the worst slop, as having a place in this world. It's a sad but realistic planet where you finally reach a comprehension of Aaron Spelling and his anal splatterings of escapist output, but, in a seemingly unstoppable era of TV which gathers the dullest 20 somethings and puts them in a house / on an island / behind bars and broadcasts the jock prick antics, I really can't help but view Melrose Place as an infinitely superior product - not from the point of view that it's actually good - but in relation to the spectrum of TV that's currently available to us.

Rarely, but occasionally, something leaks out into the mainstream - BRASSEYE, THE BOYS FROM THE BLACK STUFF, or TWIN PEAKS, for example - which has been a genuinely inspired labour of love - Quirky, inventive, intelligent, funny, ruthless... ENTERTAINING.

Seems to have been a forgotten word.

In a recent interview with an english fanzine CAT ON A STRING, the question was put to me as to whether or not I thought too much emphasis in punk was placed on music??????

Well fuck me, that's what got me into this whole mess in the first place, it's what inspired me to scrawl, drink, read, listen, learn, form opinions based on a wider spectrum of viewpoints not available in fucking Religion class. It's kind of scary to think that without " Inflammable Material " or " Fresh Fruit " or " Tell Us The Truth " that I might now be a middle management IT worker with a 30 grand plus bank balance, a huge beer gut, asshole friends, and knee deep in girls who look like TV3 weather forecast rejects.

But this is only opinion - My stubborn opinion so it seems - there are at least 1 million people in this country who fit that bill, and are extremely happy, not particularly stupid - and financially comfortable enough to pay the mortgage and still have the money to replace the copy of ABBA gold they accidentally stood on in a Coors Light haze late on saturday night.

As human nature dictates mental laziness, It surprises me that there is anything attractive about punk for the spotty teen upstart. Sure, there's loads ( and Loads and LOADS ) of nice punk CDs to choose from, but does it all amass to anything which inspires a lifestyle, the foolishly risky one which most of us have chosen, premeditating a lifelong barrage of venom from the REAL people.

If punk has a learning process attached to it, then it's becoming very well hidden under sentiments where it now matters again whether you can play like an expert. In the dark ages ( The '80s - for all those under 21 ), this was an opinion weilded by bedroom trashers, 14 year old kids who could play any one of a number of Metallica solos perfectly on the Marlon Sidewinder ( With nut lock and fine tuning ) that they got for christmas off their parents.

And for the hardware snob - A kick in the proverbial nuts came leaking through with Sepultura's " Beneath The Remains " - That their previous two albums had been recorded on Marlon Sidewinders - Excellent news for the not so fortunate, not so talented - Countless examples of this learning process leaked through the mainstream to the common nobody through the likes of FAITH NO MORE, THE PIXIES, SONIC YOUTH, NIRVANA etc.....

To illustrate an obvious example - Through the LEMONHEADS greater commercial successes, someone may have discovered their early work, TAANG records, and a solid line of inspiration which taps right into the vein of Husker DU, SST and the Black Flag hardcore aesthetic - one life ruined for the better -

As an old style rawk punk band, the often dire Die Toten Hosen had a little more method than most in their logic madness to cover a McCoys track rather than some '80s hit - In that maybe one person, as a result, might go and seek out one of the many IMMEDIATE singles collections or label showcase CDs, and discover SMALL FACES, AMEN CORNER, the wonderful PP ARNOLD, and many more.

But this sort of initiative is somewhat of a rarity in punk circles.

Credo would generally deny a punk enthusiast the right to discover whatever the fuck he/she/it wants to discover for the sake of ENTERTAINMENT. I still own that copy of BAT OUT OF HELL I got when I was 8, people still laugh, partly in disgust at it, but what does CRASS, or BAD RELIGION mean to an 8 year old???

A purchase the same day as the PUNK CHARTBUSTERS VOL.4 was from an inspirational bunch of sonic anarchist upstarts THE EX. Their new record " Dizzy Spells ", while not maintaining the dynamics of the collaboration albums with Tom Cora is a joy to listen to, not just because of the music, ( hard, I would imagine on innocent poptastic skapunk ears ), but the fact that this is a group who have transcended their Holland's-Answer-To-Crass roots, and still live & love self sufficiency 21 years on... still believe in the groundwork laid down by guessing punks all those years ago, and have drawn their own conclusions. Few bands carry this gene... maybe the previously mentioned BAD RELIGION, THE VANDALS or the reconstituted MILLIONS OF DEAD COPS, bands who have happened to strike a nerve deeper than AFI or The ATARIs or Lagwagon or hundreds of others ever will.

I met an old friend in a pub about a year ago who'd remembered me playing him SUFFER by Bad Religion. I think the minor MTV hits convinced him and he wanted to know what other bands there were out there. He went to the punk section in TOWER and examined product, but didn't know what else to buy. I had to tell him that he was at a source gene and that most of what was similar lacked that something special. I was hardly going to direct the poor guy towards DOWN BY LAW or SNFU or PENNYWISE or a countless mudslide of also-rans - Countless bands that may as well be doing covers of 80's songs that were shit in the first place for all power of music and mind they have behind them. How often more do I have to discover along this path that POISON IDEA or MOTORHEAD are a bit too dirty for your average punk???? Too hard on the ears......

There's something seriously missing from what people generally believe punk to be, and the spectrum goes far and wide beyond Fugazi, Nomeansno...... But includes a lot less than what is currently calling itself music containing a punk gene.

As for this asshole..... I'm not planning on mapping it out as I see it, that would be too easy, and some irate teenager might take offense ( don't wanna upset anyone's study routine!!! )....... but I'll give you a couple of clues..... you won't find it in the punk section of tower, in the letters page of MRR or at HOLIDAYS IN THE SUN....

To be continued..........- BOZ

Rabid pox to Boz