Saturday, April 11, 2009

Coming out of the punk vault

Another one of those rare admissions: I never had the gear or the motor to pull off the punk music scene. The only jacket I owned with leather was my old Whitehall Norsemen letter jacket. The only chains I cared about were the ones that helped keep me out of the ditch during another Wisconsin winter. And, sadly, already it was too late for me to consider a Mohawk haircut.

Funny thing, though. Punk fans really looked no different than the "greasers'' of my Fifties youth who combed their hair into ducktails, wore engineer boots and rolled their cigarette packs into T-shirt sleeves. Greasers were Gothic before Gothic was cool, and they always had the best rides.

The big difference between greasers and punkers -- besides the wide cultural bridge that separates them by two stone-different decades -- was the music that propelled them. For greasers, it was the early rock 'n' roll that would be revitalized by Sha Na Na and then vaporized by the TV show Happy Days. For punk fans, it was the music of the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash and hundreds of bands I never heard of, much less gave a listen to. My loss, as it turns out.

It's never too late to revisit an earlier period and sift through the carnage for clues, if you will, especially now that we have the musical time machine known as Wolfgang's Vault. This weekend's featured concert is a 1974 Mike Bloomfield show at the Record Plant. Among the B-Side Concerts is a hidden treasure for West Coast punk fans: Pearl Harbor and the Explosions at the Oakland Auditorium in late 1979. I dare you to visit:

I learned a lot about Pearl E. Gates (formerly of Leila and the Snakes) this morning as I clicked around while listening to excerpts of that concert. Then I went to YouTube for an actual look-see. Unless you were a Bay Area punker at the time, you might have missed her:

Even if you saw the Explosions live, it's possible you don't remember. Here's a comment (unedited) left at the YouTube site:

I saw them open for the Talking Heads in 1980 at Rec Hall at penn State University.I got quite buzzed prior to the show therefore I have no recollection of their performance.This helps.Thx for the post.

I'm not saying I'm going to start playing their music in my pickup truck. I'm just saying...

1 comment:

  1. punk was driven by greaser music. 'soemthing else' by eddie cochran, covered by the S pistols. ramones, come on. clash, x ... greasers all.