The Sweet - 1974
Sixties garage, The Who, Small Faces, Iggy Pop, Ian Dury and Dr Feelgood can all claim paternity rights to the Godfather of Punk title. True enough, each one's a conributor to the movements genetic heritage. But let's not forget the big brassy pantomime dame that is punk's glitzy older sister (or brother). Glam!
Anecdotally and historically, glitter-rock's smudged lipstick and sticky fingerprints are all over the frightwig hair and short, sharp, stomp of punk...
Sex Pistols: Rotten's Pistols auditioned was played out to Alice Cooper's I'm Eighteen. McLaren briefly managed the NY Dolls with Steve Jones bagging Sylvain's Les Paul. McLaren's original group idea was for subversive Bay City Rollers style boy band.
The Damned: toured with Bolan, and later covered the Sweet's Ballroom Blitz and borrowed Gary Glitter' Rock and Roll riff..
The Clash: Mick Jones was a Mott the Hoople avid.
Adam Ant: make up a go-go and peacock wardrobe. Glitter Band double drums and guitar twang. Marco owns Dave Hill's Super Yob guitar
Ramones: Slade influenced (the Brothers Ramone aped Dave Hill's hair and the bands pile-driving pop).
The Undertones: Covered Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll
Factor in the Rocky Horror, Bowie, Roxy Music and Eno's louder output and the sound of the suburbs begins to take shape. For me one the greatest indicators of the punky shake-downs and bust-ups to come is The Sweet's Turn it Down.
A black leather 'n' studs pop-stomper for the angry brigade, the single kicks in with a honking two-fisted riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a Pistols single with Andy scott's squeal and feedback anti-solo being the sound of the Velvet Underground. Sweet's bubbleglam angst gets graffitied with references to 'degenerates' 'creeps' and gum-chewing sneers of' 'don't gimme no lip'. But the phrase that really pays is gobbed out...'listen hear, ya punk'.
Typically, Legs McNeil's New York fanzine - Punk, debuting in 76 is recognised as the earliest use of the word 'punk' with a musical association. But here we have lipstick-brickies Sweet (banned by the Mecca dancehall circuit for their 'overtly sexual stage act'), spitting and snarling the P word two years before Punk went to print ~ and on a single banned by UK radio for being 'unsuitable for family listening'.
Now if that isn't punk, I don't know what it is..
Look out for: the inverted hippy symbol on Andy Scott's guitar sticker.
Listen out for: the throaty rumble of Steve Priest's Rickenbacker bass. A model later played by Glen Matlock, Rick Buckler and Paul Gray of The Damned and Hot Rods
The Sweet - Turn It Down
Oi! Waddya mean Andy Scott's barnet looks a bit famil'?