The Voice Of The North

by Steve North

I've never been able to understand this idea that punk was negative. For anyone growing up in a small country town in the south of England in the late seventies it was a godsend. I missed out on the first wave of music, too busy buying Queen albums and too young too know better, but 1979 was one of the great years, for music, Wantage and me.

Early punk memories: Eleven years old first year at school seeing Rob Carter sixth former wearing drainpipes and short hair when everyone else had cowboy boots and flares, what seemed like the whole school laughing at him/ John Bale bringing his older brother's Never Mind The Bollocks and Ramones albums to an end of term music class and the teacher refusing to play them/ Stuart Foulkes telling us The Sex Pistols were bringing this song out called "Pretty Va-cunt" and being really shocked/ getting my mum to buy Give 'Em Enough Rope my first punk album/ seeing the Undertones at Oxford New Theatre (now the Apollo) my first punk gig/ listening to John Peel with the radio under my pillow/ trying to sew a plastic zip in my taken in white flares and failing miserably/ learning all the words to White Man In The Hammersmith Palais and Down In The Tubestation At Midnight/ spraying Sham 69 on a garage wall/ piercing my ear with a safety pin in an RE lesson and thinking it looked really cool (two years too late)/ Inflammable Material by Stiff Little Fingers, The Crack by The Ruts, and Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division, three great 1979 albums/ forming my first band with Gus Mills while still at school called Infernal Corruption and playing a first gig consisting almost entirely of Clash covers/ playing CND benefits at Shallow Village Hall with The Diplomats/ pegging at school discos to Something Else by Sid Vicious because it was the only "punk" track the DJ had/ trying to pluck up the courage to go in the Oranges And Lemons in Oxford, the punk pub, and failing/ seeing The Buzzcocks with Joy Division supporting, Ian Curtis collapsing on stage and not knowing if it was part of the act or not/ learning how to play bar chords on guitar/ ringing up Zigzag with Brian Keefe and pretending to be John Lydon/ seeing The Clash opening in darkness with Clash City Rockers on the London Calling tour at Bristol Colston Hall, three hour set absolutely brilliant, meeting them after and asking Joe Strummer if he'd do an interview for our fanzine "What The Rich Are Doing"/ wearing green army trousers, black harringtons and brown Docs/ having the Jam aren't mod arguments/ supporting the Damned in my third band Turn Of Vice, wandering in on Captain Sensible doing something he shouldn't, him telling me to fuck off then coming in five minutes later and giving us a beer/ thinking it was cool not to wash/ learning Alison by Elvis Costello/ always loving loud pop music with thrashy guitars/ Andy Wetherall, Leftfield and The Sabres Of Paradise-old punks with a new sound....

Punk didn't die when the Pistols split up, for many of us that's just when it started....England's been dreaming ever since....

Steve North. 21.7.96.

Steve's Review of 1995
"Colin" in London's Burning
Steve's (Uncensored) "Hyper" (May 1996)
Steve's (Uncensored) "Hyper" (June 1996)
Steve's (Uncensored) "Hyper" (September 1996)