Wednesday, July 19, 2017

REVIEW! SPIRIT OF 76; LONDON PUNK EYEWITNESS by John Ingham (Anthology Editions, 2017)

John ne. or is it neeeeeeee????? Jonh Ingham is just one of those lucky few guys who happened to be stuck in the right rock 'n roll place at the right rock 'n roll time, a feat that could only be equaled by a few other lucky bums who got to see the creation and flowering of it all before the rest of us got to experience the dread downfall, and usually via what we read in magazines at that.
Born in Australia, Ingham's folks had the good sense to leave that hellhole in the early-sixties ending up in the Vancouver B.C. area which was basking in the radiation of the infamous Northwest Sound as typified by such south of the 54/40 line groups as the Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders. The mid-sixties saw Ingham trekking down to San Francisco where the lucky fanabla witnessed first hand the local scene before that did a perfect swan dive into the realm of hippie hackdom. In the meanwhile Our Hero managed to hook up with the likes of Greg Shaw and did a super-fine entry into fandom of a rock and otherwise nature where his comics and articles appeared in the likes of not only WHO PUT THE BOMP but NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS (a much better read than historical snobs would lead you to believe). And hey, if your early-seventies issues of CREEM don't have a Jonh Ingham article in them then hey, they don't have a Jonh Ingham article which is tough luck but worse things have happened.

Ingham eventually ended up in London England where his smart writings for the likes of NME, MELODY MAKER and SOUNDS appeared throughout the mid-seventies and beyond, and  most definitely these pearls of somethingorother oughta be packaged up just like they did with Bangs' and Meltzer's musings and force-fed to millions of college paper rock creeps to show 'em what rock screeding is really about. But while he was anchored in London Town the man also happened to find himself immersed smack dab inna middle of the burgeoning as they always say punk rock scene, and of course he made his mark there championing the new upstarts making their misery known around the area and managing Generation X in the meanwhile. And in this book some of Ingham's own personal collection of primo punk snaps have made their appearance, some for the first time, to give us a first-hand view as to what the punk scene was like o'er there long before punk became pUnk before it became punque and not quite the same thing it set out to be once the movement unraveled right in front of alla the idiots and dolts in their cloistered communities. Y'know, revealed to people like me!

Sure I woulda preferred a nice autobiographical spew regarding the entirety of Ingham's career if not that aforementioned sampling of his critical best, but this package is certainly worthy of your time/effort what with the rare snaps of the S-x Pistols, Clash and (get this!) even Subway Sect (a personal atonal fave at least when I'm in the mood) at the dawn of their careers.You even manage to get a few photos of the likes of a pre-goth Siouxsie and Steve Severin (not to mention the Billy Pout-era Chelsea) along with the usual partygoing suspects and it's sure nice seeing what things were like before (again) the lumpen proles in cooperation with the upper crusts that be turned it all into some marketable fashion for people who didn't have the time to make their own future so they bought it at a department store.

The mood revealed in these photographs seems to show a more easy-going, un-corrupted scene made up of kids who might just have been more "aw golly" 'n altruistic than anyone would lead you to believe. I get the impression that the band members and audience were just out there to have a good time where none of the more "serious" aspects of punk as that great world saving social cause can be discerned. Of course the whole punk as a social concern blabdom was there even at that early stage in the game, but it is quite obvious that fun via raw power was the rule, not the humorless attitude of the Existensil Press people who thought that the music was certainly not entertainment but a total driving revolutionary force that only a base mindless consumer could derive pleasure out of.

In all a good snapshot of an era that vanished way too soon and probably before many people even knew it existed in the first place. Which is too bad for us, but great for Ingham, a guy who I hope continues writing until he just possibly can't because we need him more than we need Joel Selvin or Robert Hillburn (are they even still around?) that's for sure!

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