It is good to see that BBC4’s Punk Britannia ended on a high note as it looked at Post Punk, after my previous comments here. I was not in the mood to be disappointed, having blown out a gig I really wanted to go to because I felt unwell earlier in the day, (sorry Rocky). Several medicinal whiskeys later, and laying on the sofa, I was braced for an anticlimax to an anticlimax. But it did the period of 1978–1981 some justice, with most of the key names present; The Fall, Magazine, PiL, Gang of Four, The Slits, Wire, etc. It strayed into anarcho-punk, electronica, and Two Tone, but still took a wide berth around industrial music. There was much else missing as well, just like in the previous programme, and again, it focussed mostly on music. Although their was a brief section that broke off to talk about how Rough Trade changed the music industry; there was still a distinct lack of discussion about other art, design and media revolutions in the wake of punk, such as fashion, publishing, broadcasting and graphic design.
The harking on about the grimness of the 1970s started to grate after a while, but the talking heads were genuinely funny, despite the austere music that came from many of them. Jah Wobble eulogised his love of bass, and clay pigeon shooting, (!); Mark E Smith slurred along with a can of Tennents ever present, (the logo was blurred, I guess, at Tennents’ request of not wanting him to be an advert for their product, rather than advertising censorship from the beeb); Colin and Graham from Wire came across like an old married couple as Graham objected to Colin stating they were grumpy old grand dads; and Mark Stewart out-quoted John Lydon, having Claire and I in stitches of laughter at various points: “Punk is about experimenting… not about some fat fart lecturing you about Punk on BBC4”, with his packet of fig rolls on the coffee table as ever present as Smith’s can of lager.
If you know nothing of any of the bands discussed in this post, go watch the programme, this one felt at least a little educational, and is certainly entertaining.