I’d never felt at home with punk. Went down the Youth Club Disco, and it was all very pleasant, was chatting to a girl called Trudy, making a tiny bit of headway, arm furtively creeping around her shoulder when on came God Save The Queen by The Pistols. From nowhere the quiet kids from the back of the history class were transformed into whirling dervishes, pogoing across the highly varnished floorboards. I think one of them may have even spat.
Hard to know how to react. Join in? My heart wasn’t into ripping up my clothes. It was the middle of a typical English winter and I was susceptible to the cold. Anyway, what would my mother say? But what were the alternative listening options in 1977? Bowie, yes, can’t go wrong there. Art rock I liked - 10cc, Sparks. Hadn’t heard of Krautrock, and was not yet tuned into what was happening in CBGBs. Not much going on.
So post punk (with or without the hyphen) was a godsend to a bookish 16 year old in 1978. If I’m completely honest I didn’t really get into post punk proper that year. The Jam, Blondie, yes, but still chart-friendly rebellion. It was only in 1979 that it all started making sense and I became a devotee of John Peel’s 10-12 slot on Radio One.
But let’s pretend I was the first kid at school to get into the Swell Maps and Wire. That it was me who held forth in the sixth form centre that autumn about how The Buzzcocks would never be the same now Howard Devoto had left, and what did you think about the Gang of Four EP. That I was the first to buy a Factory Sampler on its Christmas Eve release, and play Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Division and the Durutti Column in my room the next night instead of watching The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special.
So we all know about 1977: The Year Punk Broke. The safety pins, the swearing, the outraged tabloid headlines. Let’s hear it instead for an avant-garde movement, inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but diversifying into electronics, jazz, funk, disco and dub, experimenting with novel recording and production techniques, and taking in ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art and literature.
Let’s hear it for 1978: The Year Post Punk Broke. Tracklist:-
Buzzcocks / Ever fallen in love
Gang of Four / Damaged Goods
Magazine / Shot from both sides
Wire / Outdoor Miner
Blondie / Picture This
Talking Heads / Stay Hungry
Keith Hudson / Felt We Felt the Strain
The Clash / White Man in Hammersmith Palais
PIL / Public Image
Subway Sect / Ambition
Swell Maps / Read About Seymour
The Cure / 10.15 Saturday Night
The Only Ones / The Whole of the Law
The Mekons / Where Were You?
Joy Division / Digital