Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Punk isn't quite punk

Posted By on 05.16.12 at 01:31 PM

Dear Punk...
  • Dear Punk . . .
Before the Internet, the process of going punk, especially if you lived outside a major urban area, involved a lot of research with an extremely spotty library of resources. Those resources consisted of whatever you could get your hands on: you might have some zines if you were lucky, or get tips and mix tapes from an older punk if you were very lucky, but more likely you'd have to settle for things like making note of the band shirts that the cooler members of Guns n' Roses wore in videos and photo shoots, or just blindly buying records that looked even vaguely "punk." The amount of randomness built into this exploration, coupled with the fact that no one really had an entirely clear idea what they were doing, resulted in constellations of weird microregional variations on what "punk" was: in Jackson, Michigan, for instance (Prison City Punks represent), it was an inexplicable combination of G.G. Allin and Cap'n Jazz, while across the state in the Kalamazoo area the punks were super heavily into Amphetamine Reptile-brand noise rock.

One shortcut to punk discovery was the compilation album, generally viewed as kind of a cheap cop-out even though everyone seemed to have at least a few in their collections. While some comps were actually smart and well-curated (Rhino's series based on regionally specific early punk scenes still stands up), a lot of them were garbage, their track listings less a reflection of any clear idea of punk than of what songs the compiler was able to snag the rights to on the cheap.

What I'm trying to get at is that I pity anyone who was looking to get a real punk education in the 90s by ordering Westwood Promotions' two-CD/two-cassette compilation Punk. I've always maintained a pretty broad definition of what qualifies as punk, but I'm positive that Crowded House, the Greg Kihn Band, and Huey Lewis & the News don't make the cut. Check out the comp's incredible TV commercial (starring two actors I don't believe were actually punks in real life) after the jump.

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