68. Punks

Tapehead no 68 

Rock Family Trees sensibly passes over the fact that, apart from Blondie and The Ramones, none of New York Punk’s contributions amounted to very much. (Anyone who mentions David Byrne will be taken out and made to listen to his album, The Catherine Wheel.)

Once again, though, we have to suffer the pathetic spectacle of Richard Hell claiming credit for inventing the whole scene, even though not a single British band ever cited him as an influence.

Eighteen years on, Hell is actually more famous for doing what he does here – whingeing about having to play support to The Clash, touring in (oh God !) a transit van, and complaining that when he was in The Neon Boys, the fans used to call out for his songs more than Tom Verlaine’s. (Songs like Blank Generation and, erm, Blank Generation.)

Tina Weymouth obligingly reveals that when they needed her to learn bass, Talking Heads loaned her some Suzi Quattro records (oh, very intellectual). Not exactly the spirit of the zeitgeist.

Vintage videos of Ms Harry bopping and smirking away to Denis certainly put today’s pop talents to shame, but New York’s only true pioneers in those days were The New York Dolls, as everyone from Morrissey to Malcolm McLaren realised.

True to form, David Johansen (Tommy Lee Jones in nuns’ shoes and a dress) is the classiest contributor here. 

“We would look like a bunch of Puerto Rican sluts at this point,” he growls, still looking brilliantly boxed.

The Ramones, inevitably, get the best lines. 

“I guess we were just influenced by a lot of things around us,” recalls Johnny Ramone. “Like mental illness. We couldn’t really sing songs about cars and girls ‘cos we had no girlfriends and no cars.”

Five points for spotting how much Richard Hell now looks like Kevin Costner, or American quarterback, Joe Montana.

Ten points for noticing the resemblance between naff Rocky Horror Show pub-rocker Jayne County and either Teresa Gorman or Ivy Tilsley.

More double takes on Match of The Seventies.

Brian Kidd is one of The Verve. Paul Madeley is actor, Francis Matthews. Charlie George is the singer from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. As for Alan “sniffer” Clarke, has anyone ever seen him and Mark E Smith of The Fall-ah in the same-ah-room-ah ?

“Turn-stile Psyche Goal-hanger Conspiracy,” as Mr Smith would say-ah.

Tragically presented by Dennis Waterman, rather than Stan Bowles or David Coleman, episode one of this nostalgia-fed-footie-fest vaguely traces the monthly ups and downs of the 1970-71 season as Arsenal and Leeds fought it out for the league title.

“And why did they invite you?” journalist asks Arsenal boss and former physio Bertie Mee.

“Presumably they like the shape of my nose,” smiles Mee enigmatically.

Strange days. Despite an appalling script (understandably uncredited), there is still plenty of opportunity to revel: at Alan Whittle’s hair, Pail Reaney’s sideburns, and Norman Hunter’s purple shirts.

And ponder, who let Huddersfield and Burnley into Division One ? How did a team with Gary Sprake ever get anywhere ? And why don’t they still play with those Subbuteo-style red balls in winter ?

Worth watching principally to enjoy the sight of Emlyn Hughes “writhing in agony” and for the moment when Leeds boss Don Revie (the man who took “dirty northern bastards” as a compliment) sits down in the dug-out at Anfield in a huge sheepskin coat, lights a fag, and brusquely tosses the match onto the pitch.

Now those were the bloody days.

Eagle –eyed viewers will also spot a rare shot of a league table featuring Man City in second place.

Meanwhile, according to Channel 4, in this Wednesday’s Brookside, “the Jordache appeal suffers a serious setback”

Well, that’s one way of putting it.

As the closing credits roll, Mandy Jordache is Gloria Gaynor as her crushing rendition of It Should Have Been Me demonstrates.


Rock Family Trees: Sat, 9.05pm-9.55pm, BBC2

Match Of The Seventies: Weds, 10.20pm-11pm, BBC1

Brookside: Weds, 8pm-8.30pm, C4