September 4, 2009 Playlist

When Prog Met Punk
Musical Subculture Clashes of circa 1974-1982
"Nadir's Big Chance" by Peter Hammill (1975)
Peter Hammill  "Nadir's Big Chance"  1975 (UK)
The theme of this month's special is "when prog met punk" -- that weird period in popular music history when long haired boys with flaired trousers and epic synthesizer solos were suddenly supplanted by nihilistic short-haired black-clad punk rockers and their "three chords, no lessons" approach to rock.  In some ways it's the flip side of last year's September special on "the psychedelic roots of punk rock" -- this time from the progger's point of view.  
Perhaps the most inexplicable record of this era was Nadir's Big Chance  -- which demonstrates that subgenre labels are more about style and perceived "hipness" rather than anything "musical".  For you see, the first "British punk rock" album was actually created by the normally guitar-less, super-pretentious prog rock band Van der Graaf Generator, who reunited in late 1974 after a 3 year hiatus to back up their lead singer Peter Hammill on one of his solo albums, before producing a new stream of VDGG records  beginning in 1976.  The point being, Hammill refers to his "beefy punk songs" in the liner notes to this LP which came out in February of 1975 -- 14 months before the debut of The Ramones, and 21 months before the debut of the Sex Pistols!!  But wait there's more -- in 1977 the newly famous Sex Pistols front man Johnny "Rotten" Lydon appeared on a radio show and spun some of his favorite records -- including two cuts from this Peter Hammill album!  In retrospect, it's easy to see the similarity between Lydon's vocal style and Hammill's, and three chord stompers like the title track to this album do indeed sound like the blueprint for the Sex Pistols brand of rock & roll.  (The truth is the Sex Pistols were really a prefabricated pop group much like The Monkees!)
Here's a Hammill-less power trio version of Van der Graaf Generator performing "Theme One", a George Martin theme from a TV series which the band released as a single in 1971.  Next, here's a rare French TV appearance by VDGG in the early 1970's featuring Hammill at his histrionic best.  For some more video stimulation, here's legendary prog band Genesis live in 1973 -- the band's singer Peter Gabriel did quite well for himself as a solo artist during the punk/new wave era, as did the remnants of the group he left behind under the new leadership of Phil Collins.  And here's the genre-bending Roxy Music live in 1972 exploring the boundaries of artsy progressivism and sloppy glam-punk, with Brian Eno on synthesizer and Phil Manzanera on guitar.
Artist Song Album Year Country
Rocket From The Tombs 30 Seconds Over Tokyo The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs rec. 1975 USA
Pere Ubu Heart of Darkness B-side 7" single
(Terminal Tower compilation CD)
1976 USA
Patti Smith (with Tom Verlaine) Hey Joe (Version) A-side 7" single 1974 USA
Television Prove It Marquee Moon 1977 USA
Blue Oyster Cult Dominance & Submission Secret Treaties 1974 USA
Sex Pistols Sub-Mission Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols 1977 UK
Peter Hammill Nobody's Business Nadir's Big Chance
1975 UK
Peter Hammill The Institute Of Mental Health, Burning Nadir's Big Chance
1975 UK
Public Image Ltd. Poptones Second Edition (aka Metal Box) 1979 UK
Van der Graaf (Peter Hammill) Ship Of Fools (live) Vital 1978 UK
The Au Pairs No More Secret Lives Sense & Sensuality (CD reissue bonus track) 1982 UK
NEU! Hero NEU! '75 1975 Germany
Faust The Sad Skinhead IV 1973 Germany
Can Turtles Have Short Legs A-side 7" single (Cannibalism 2 compilation) 1971 Germany
Planet Gong Floating Anarchy (live) Live Floating Anarchy '77 1977 UK
Robert Calvert (with Lemmy) The Right Stuff Captain Lockheed & The Starfighters 1974 UK
Hawkwind (Lemmy Kilmeister) Motorhead B-side 7" single (Warrior On The Edge Of Time CD reissue bonus track) 1975 UK
801 (Eno & Manzanera) Third Uncle (Eno - live) 801 Live 1976 UK
Talking Heads Memories Can't Wait (live) The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads rec. 1979, rel. 1982 USA
Eno King's Lead Hat Before And After Science 1977 UK
King Crimson The Great Deceiver Starless And Bible Black 1974 UK
Robert Fripp (with Peter Gabriel) Exposure Exposure 1979 UK
Brian Eno & David Byrne Regiment My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts 1981 UK/USA
Emerson Lake & Palmer All I Want Is You Love Beach 1978 UK
Emerson Lake & Palmer Love Beach Love Beach 1978 UK
U.K. (Bill Bruford & John Wetton) Killing Time U.K. 1978 UK
The Police Omegaman Ghost In The Machine 1981 UK
Frank Zappa The Blue Light
   / Tinseltown Rebellion (live)
Tinseltown Rebellion 1981 USA
Neil Young We R In Control Trans 1982 Canada
MC5 The American Ruse Back In The USA 1970 USA
Styx The Grand Illusion The Grand Illusion 1977 USA
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