Exactly what is post-punk? Many people include bands such as The Culture Club, the Go-Go's, and Duran Duran in the post-punk roster. The inclusion of such pop creampuffs seems ridiculous -- should a band be post-punk simply because it found fame... [more]
Exactly what is post-punk? Many people include bands such as The Culture Club, the Go-Go's, and Duran Duran in the post-punk roster. The inclusion of such pop creampuffs seems ridiculous -- should a band be post-punk simply because it found fame in the 1980s? However, we heard that "Punk is dead," general confusion has reigned as to whom to add to the list.
First we must examine punk itself, tracing a thread from those inaugural bands out of London and New York. Bands such as the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Ramones, and the Clash left a definite legacy to their progeny. 1970s punk bands were do-it-yourself rebels -- be they with a cause (the Ramones) or without one (the Sex Pistols). Whatever their differing ideologies, these punk bands all put the good, clean fun back into rock -n- roll with catchy hooks and cheeky lyrics laid over simple, four-chord guitar grinds.
As time went on, the more hard-line enthusiasts refused to accept punk's assimilation of more mainstream influences. It seemed that punk's definitive agenda was unsustainable, as bands either burned out or mellowed out. But in acts such as X, the Meat Puppets, the Pogues, the Minutemen, and early Elvis Costello, there is a clear line of descent that falls under the broad denomination of post-punk. Not quite punk and not quite rock, post-punk occupies a precise place in music history.
Post-punk kept the garage-band mentality of punk, but turned to a broader palette for its expression. These bands were not afraid to get goofy with their music, adopting the buoyant sounds of rockabilly, folk, funk, and more. The Pogues blended traditional Irish instruments with punk's pulsating rhythms: over the sound of a gleeful fiddle, Shane MacGowen screeches drunkenly as only he can. In another twist, the Meat Puppets went country, laying twangy melodies over a driving bass line and electric guitar.
One might also argue that post-punk occupies the place between 1970s punk and 1990s grunge. Nirvana, a self-proclaimed punk band, considered the Meat Puppets one of their great inspirations. So much so, they asked the Puppets to play on their "Nirvana Unplugged." It seems post-punk is simply a point on a decades-long continuum, a co-optation of new influences that kept the spirit of punk alive in the 1980s. [show less]