Punk Rock in its truest form developed in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, each region independent of knowledge of the other due to the difficulty at the time of following distant scenes in the era prior to global radio and the Internet. Each Punk scene at the time developed its own take on the concept, though for the most part there was a shared distaste for the “excesses” of ’70s mainstream rock.
For that reason, bands began speeding up their music, cutting down songs to their barest essence. Short songs, stripped-down arrangements, and often political lyrics gave Punk Rock its traditional sound. But it was a short-lived development, as Punk Rock gave way to harder-edged music in the ’80s including hardcore, while diverging to provide room for post-Punk, alternative rock, and eventually the grunge movement of the ’90s.
If you’re looking for an entry-point as a listener to discover what set Punk Rock apart from the rest, and why the music of a four-year period has managed to remain distinctive in itself while managing to influence artists as disparate as Nirvana, the Pixies, and Green Day, this is the article for you. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, and I’m not looking to focus on the most obscure bands. This is for those of you who think you hate Punk Rock without ever having actually had a chance to dig into it. These five bands made their impact on the Punk scene during its most active period, paving the way for countless others even as the scene eventually self-destructed.
#5 — RADIO BIRDMAN
Radio Birdman formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1974, and influenced the work of many of Australia’s best-known bands of the ’80s and beyond, making them one of the more critical bands leading to the eventual development of a rock scene in Australia. Their early music didn’t fit at all with what was being played in the pub scene at the time, so the band found a pub in Taylor Square, Sydney, took over its management, and renamed it the Oxford Fun House. Opening the club up to bands of similar ilk to themselves, Radio Birdman singlehandedly built up a Punk Rock scene with a unique aesthetic. The band’s debut EP Burn My Eye got to the attention of music critics well outside the Australian purview, twisting the sounds of Detroit bands like MC5 and The Stooges into what would eventually be described as Punk Rock. Though they’re not particularly well-known outside Australia, their early work features numerous examples of what made ’70s era Punk Rock great.
Next: How punk reinvented “Leader of the Pack”…