Punk bands typically resorted to short and fast-paced songs — generally, three chords and simple, hard-edged melodies with distinctive singing styles.
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker was a popular song from 1977, by a band named Ramones but, then again, during that era, you could have substituted that name by just about any other. As a backlash to the popular sound of disco that pervaded the early ‘70s, the alternative sound of punk [an abbreviation for “punk rock”] and with it, the beginnings of the independent [“indie”] movement, evolved among musicians across the West, especially in England, with slogans ranging from "disco sucks" to "death to disco". Factors that have been cited as leading to the new genre’s evolution included economic and political changes occurring as the world moved towards the end of the ‘70s.
Punk bands typically resorted to short and fast-paced songs — generally, three chords and simple, hard-edged melodies with distinctive singing styles, omitting sonic excesses that defined mainstream rock, and stripping-down instrumentation, often supported by political, anti-establishment lyrics. While punk was embraced largely by independent record labels, the bands that ruled the roster then was the aforementioned Ramones in the U.S., and the Sex Pistols in the U.K., their presence itself led to the formation of a multitude of similar bands and, with it, the evolution of a full-fledged musical genre in punk. No one knows better about this than founding member and original bassist, Glen Matlock, of the Sex Pistols.
Arriving in India, during August, on his debut visit to the country, Matlock has aged gracefully, and was alert at the questions asked during a one-to-one media interaction organised by Ayesha Dominica of Door no.1. Although he commenced his conversation by lamenting on how his arrival into the city, in the wee hours of that morning, was marred by the airline on which he travelled having left behind his Gibson guitar behind at London’s Heathrow airport, Matlock wondered whether he should call the city Mumbai or Bombay. The confusion apparently arose as he was present in the country as a guest of Hyderabad-based singer-composer Shriram Alluri, who constantly referred to the city as “Bombay”. Nevertheless, with Matlock’s dilemma quickly resolved, he proceeded to describe the music on his new album, ‘Good To Go’ [released on August 24], as “straight forward rock and roll, incorporating sounds from the past”. Playing on the album are musicians Earl Slick – David Bowie’s guitarist – and Slim Jim Phantom, drummer of the Stray Cats. In fact, a song from the album, the sing-along of “Sexy Beast”, was performed live by Matlock with Alluri and his backing band, during their gig at Mumbai’s Hard Rock Café, Worli.
Meanwhile, Alluri’s connect with Matlock occurred under intriguing circumstances. Apparently, an impromptu video recording of Alluri’s rendition of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy In The UK” was forwarded to Matlock’s manager, who displayed it to Matlock and the rest, as they say, is history. In fact, Alluri is also scheduled to launch his own album, ‘O Katha: Tales Of This Telugu Man’, several tracks which were showcased during his Mumbai performance, which was undeniably heavy on the rhythm section, but the distinctive pieces actually arrived via saxophonist/flautist Domenico Mamone, especially on the concluding song of his set, “Endukala”. Marvellous vocals supported Alluri’s talent for composing – and his instrumentation too – as he shuffled between acoustic and lead guitar, making it a high-energy debut performance for Alluri in Mumbai.
But the sounds of Sex Pistols will always remain etched in the history of rock and roll as even today’s bands, ranging from Green Day, Rancid, and Blink-182, continue bringing the punk genre widespread popularity, utilising the same template as the “original” punks.
Similarly, and closer home, music producer Shamir Tandon may not be taking the punk route soon – although I will never rule that option out for him – but he has revived an initiative that commenced in December 2010, Music Boutique, by launching ‘OnePlus Playback’ in July this year. Apparently, a one of a kind music property on YouTube produced by Shamir, with an aim to promote independent music. To recommence activities, Shamir has released — or will be releasing – ten new music videos sung by popular artistes and/or those that will be, including: Guru Randhawa and Dhvani Bhanushali, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Neha Kakkar, Divine, and Jonita Gandhi, among others.
So while punk still rules music in a selective manner, what is more important is that indie music appears to be ruling a larger sound kingdom now and, with that, the sound of nostalgia is receiving another musical rebirth.