PragVEC – Existential

4th October 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Music, Punk

Looking back from more than half a century later, it’s astonishing how rapidly the primitive pounding of punk evolved into the questing experimentalism of postpunk. PragVEC were one of the first to embrace the avant-garde.


Of all the great female-fronted bands that punk produced – Siouxsie, Slits, Raincoats, Delta 5, Kleenex – the most confrontational were the Au Pairs. They were also my favourites.


Spizzoil – 6,000 Crazy

1st October 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Music, Punk

Of all the oddballs produced by punk (and there were many), one of the oddest was Kenneth Spiers – universally known as Spizz. He’s best known (if at all) for his habit of constantly changing the name of his band – always using ‘Spizz’ somewhere – over the course of his long career.


The Mekons – Where Were You?

29th September 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Music, Punk

The Mekons were one of the quintessential punk groups, coming out of art school in Leeds in 1976 – the same scene that spawned Gang Of Four and Delta 5. Where Were You? – a minimalist masterpiece of bare-bones punk rock – remains one of the defining songs of the era. (more…)

Pere Ubu came out of Cleveland in the mid-Seventies with an abrasive avant-garde sound unlike anyone before or since. This was their remarkable debut.


Suicide – Rocket U.S.A.

25th September 2022 · 1970s, 1976, Music, Punk

I love Suicide. They were punks before punk and their debut album is the template for nearly all the electronica to emerge since its release in 1977. This is their first release – the version of Rocket U.S.A. that appeared on the Live At Max’s compilation the year before. And this is the article I wrote for The Quietus when Alan Vega died in 2016:


P J Harvey – 50ft Queenie

21st September 2022 · 1990s, 1993, Music, Punk
After the death of the Queen a Las Vegas hotel, the Palms, erected a giant billboartd featuring a portrait of our late monarch… a 50-foot queenie.


Not even hardcore punks from the Class of ’77 are likely to remember Kleenex – Switzerland’s solitary contribution to punk. Or their two singles on Rough Trade that went on to inspire the Riot Grrrl movement.


The Slits’ debut Cut has come to be regarded as one of the classic post-punk albums. But they sounded nothing like that whenever I saw them live: for the first couple of years they were widely mocked as a joke band. (more…)

I remember the first time I saw Siouxsie and the Banshees – supporting Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers at the Music Machine (now Koko) late in 1977. They sounded like no other band, with a cold industrial edge, accentuated by Siouxsie’s ice-maiden persona. (more…)