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Monday Music: Oi!

23 Mar 10 | Re: Real punk movement or maybe not a real movement

People think of punk as a back-to-basics movement largely featuring the simplest possible songs played by barely competent musicians who made up for a lack of talent with their bile-fuelled vehemence. But in fact, most of the more famous punk bands did that for a little bit and then started mixing in reggae (Clash) or being able to play guitar (Jam) or teaming up with musical virtuosi and releasing concept albums of rumbling freeform jazz (Mr John Rotten). As a kind of counter to that, you then got a number of slightly later bands who had zero chance of betraying their roots by doing any of that inventive stuff - they hadn’t even been inventive enough to invent punk for themselves - and they played a straight-ahead version of no-nonsense, true punk called Oi!.

At least, Garry Bushell called it Oi!. He managed one or more of the prominent Oi! groups, and seems to have had a lot to do with trying to kick-start the movement - I’m not sure how many other people actually bought into it. You can read the story of Oi! in a recent Guardian article, in which Bushell features prominently. On the site the article’s credited to their main musical man Alexis Petridis, but in the paper it appeared with no byline at all, rather leading me to suspect that Bushell had written the whole thing and that the supposed Oi! scene was just a construct of his imagination that only ever really existed on Planet Bushell.

Some of the music certainly existed. The best example of this type of punk song that I know about is definitely Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please by Splodgenessabounds, a work of minor genius that turns the genre’s characteristic lyrical economy to its great advantage. In just a few repeated lines, it says just about all there is to say about a certain frustrating situation that most people find themselves in at one time or another. This makes it a triumph on a par with Common People or Yesterday or anything by Dylan; isn’t that what every lyricist alive is trying to do?

Posted by ORINOCO at 07:73

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