Punk Britannia

I have to admit that for the last few weeks, I have been really enjoying the BBC’s Punk Britannia programming. From the televised documentaries that have been gracing BBC’s digital channels through to the specialised programming on 6 Music and Radio 2, each has revealed a different facet of a movement that revolutionised not just the world of music but also fashion and culture. I know there’s been criticism from various quarters about how some of the coverage hasn’t told the full story but pieced together, the stories that are being told are fascinating.

As I type this, I’m listening to the second part of Steve Lamacq’s England’s Dreaming – a look at how the punk movement grew beyond its self-imposed boundaries after Johnny Rotten left the Sex Pistols. It reminds me of the extensive research and editing I have done over the years – particularly for my own goth documentary Beyond The Pale, which Lamacq broadcast on his Radio 1 show back in the early 00s. Only having limited airtime to tell a huge story was quite a challenge and it was one that was both exciting and frustrating as I whittled through interviews, music and background material. Funnily enough, I experienced these feelings last year when I wrapped up the final draft of my first book ‘Worldwide Gothic’! But back to the Beeb – it’s fascinating listening to all these amazing stories from the people who were there at the time, each with their own tales to tell.

On this particular episode of England’s Dreaming, Billy Bragg likens punk’s DIY ethos to all those unsigned Myspace bands – let’s add similar sites such as Lastfm, Bandcamp, Facebook and Soundcloud to that mix as well. For many years, there’s been much deliberation over whether there could ever be another musical revolution like punk – perhaps we’ve all played down the power of these online portals that took punk’s DIY approach and sent it global?

It’s only really in hindsight that we’ve come to realise just how important punk was in the grand scheme of things so perhaps in another 10 or 20 years, we might realise the proliferation of the internet was in fact the new punk rock!

Of course by then, punk will be heading towards its very own diamond jubilee…


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