OK, to tie this down a bit which was the best early British Punk Band and, to avoid cries of; what about Siouxsie and the Banshees, X-Ray Spex and Generation X? Let’s tie it down even further to which was the best British Punk Band that toured or nearly toured on the infamous 1976 Anarchy tour?
The Clash, The Damned, The Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols. What a line-up that could have been!
The 1976 Anarchy tour, headlined by the Sex Pistols was due to start in December 1976. But, of the twenty four dates booked, on seven were actually played. All those cancellations were down to one Mr William Grundy and the Thames Television, current affairs programme, Today.
The Sex Pistols appeared as a last minute replacement for Queen and, following a few bevvies back stage and a bit of goading from Grundy, launched into a tirade of choice words.
Sex Pistols - Bill Grundy Interview
This brief exchange lead to a national outcry and the Sex Pistols and all whom were associated with them and British punk rock were banned from appearing in most venues around the country.
The opinions of the moral majority of the time were expressed in an interview with Bernard Brook-Partridge, a Conservative member of the Greater London Council and chairman of the Arts committee from 1977 (After the short intro by Malcolm McClaren):
Most of these groups would be vastly improved by sudden death.
Which was the best Punk Rock Band?
Choosing the best British punk band of the time is a difficult task. The natural choice is the Sex Pistols because they were first and they were the most infamous but were they the best?
Despite what some people may think, British punk rock spanned many different styles of music and proffered many different messages.
The Sex Pistols lead the way in the British puck rock revolution. Formed in 1975, mentored by Malcolm McLaren and clothed by Vivien Westwood, the Pistols initiated the look and the sound that would come to define British Punk Rock.
What they lacked in musical ability and political stance they are up for with raw anger and energy. Their one and only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, is now considered one of the most influential records ever made.
What the Pistols picked up from the influences of US bands like the New York Dolls, Richard Hell and the Voidoids and the Ramones they made their own and, despite their short lived career, are cited as the catalyst for, pretty much, all the early UK Punk bands.
The Clash were the social consciousness of early Punk Rock. Formed in 1975 after Joe Strummer had seen the Sex Pistols, the music of the clash, even in their first album, showed more influences than just the Sex Pistols with the inclusion of their version of the reggae song Police and Thieves, originally by Junior Murvin.
Interestingly, the Clash were one of the only early British punk rock bands to acknowledge their punk rocker following in their lyrics with mentions of Punks in White Man in Hammersmith Palais, All the Young Punks (New Boots And Contracts)and complete Control.
The Clash were one of the few punk bands that had the time to evolve and went on to become a highly regarded rock band before their demise performing on the same bill as The Who, David Bowie and Van Halen. It must have seemed ironic, though, performing Career Opportunities to a stadium crowd of 140,000.
The Buzzcocks were more pop punk than pure punk though their first record release, Spiral Scratch was one of the pioneering punk recordings.
Formed in 1976 in Manchester, the Buzzcocks combined fast paced punk with pop to produce some of the catchiest punk tunes of the time.
Again, influenced by the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks music began with the punk ethos in Boredom from Sprial Scartch, currently used by Sainsburys in a TV advert!, then moved on to songs of teenage angst such as Ever Fallen in Love With and Orgasm Addict.
Their punk credibility was blown away for me when one of my uncles, a classical music fan, told me that he liked some the Buzzcocks music!
Where the Pistols were anger, the Clash the political message and the Buzzcocks the love interest then the dammed were a bloody good laugh.
With Dave Vanian looking like he had just stepped from the set of a hammer Horror movie and Captain Sensible dressed often in his red beret and little else, the Damned were disliked by some of the other punk bands for not being serious enough.
It must have been galling then to those other bands when the Damned seemed to get there first with everything:
The first British punk rock single with New Rose, the first punk album; Damned Dammed Damned, the first punk band in the UK charts, the first punk band to tour the USA, the first to split and the first to reform.
From the hard-core thrash of Love song to the melancholic I just can’t be happy today, The Damned have continued as a punk band from the very beginning and are still touring today. They have teetered into heavy rock with Lemmy of Motorhead, played with Goth and Captain Sensible even had a brief career in mainstream pop with Happy Talk, but the Damned remained a punk band throughout.
The Best British Punk Rock Band – Have Your Say
Despite the failure of the Anarchy Tour to reach many people, each of the four bands have had a direct influence on the music scene.
The Damned influenced Goth music, The Buzzcocks kick started the Manchester music scene, The Clash became rock legends and the Pistols influenced a generation.
But forgetting the all the hype; who swore the most, who was sick on stage or who would win on the gobometer, which one was your favourite?