(technically ‘ edges ’). Figure 5.1 gives an example from my earlier work (Crossley 2015a ). It visualises the network of key artists and support personnel in the Liverpool post-punk music world of the late 1970s, as derived from analysis of archives and secondary sources. Nodes are linked where I was able to identify evidence of musical collaboration between them between 1975 and 1980.
5.1 Liverpool's punk/post-punk world, 1975–80.
Note that this is a snapshot of a dynamic relational structure which was always in-process. In most
innovations in form in early UK punk music generated ‘shock effects’ which unsettled audiences, engendering a more critical attitude. Moreover, Hebdige's ( 1988 ) analysis of sub-cultural style in some ways echoes Adorno, pointing to the way in which sub-cultural styles challenge convention and, in the case of punk in particular, denaturalise social order. It is unlikely that Adorno would have expressed anything but scorn for punk had he lived to hear it, but these analyses suffice to show that a more open-minded appropriation of his concern with form and its effects might
The Clash, left melancholia and the politics of redemption
the band were quick to point out the disparity between the ‘everyman’
persona constructed by Joe Strummer and his real background as the
public schoolboy John Mellor.9 In their memoir of the punk era, Julie
Burchill and Tony Parsons, for instance, suggest that the distinctive,
drawling, adenoidal speaking voice of The Clash front man was one that
had required ‘de-elocution’ lessons.10 This vein of inverted snobbery was
exemplified in reviews of the 1980 hit single ‘Bankrobber’. Journalists
were wont to point out that the opening line of the track – ‘My daddy
signifiers, a ‘style with no substance’, as the Sunday Times put it, was exposed, and once again
the circular time scales, increasingly identified as ‘postmodern’,
were invoked. ‘If they had been born 10 years earlier they would
The end-of-the-century party
have been punk rockers … 20 years taken LSD and listened to Jim
Morrison’, suggested the Sunday Times on October 30, 1988. The tale
was that Acid House was nothing new; it was merely another, much
lauded, link in the subcultural chain, replaying and reworking the
1950s, 1960s or 1970s –the ‘Golden Age’ of
banal as their songs were prosaic. In 1975, Queen’s promo for Bohemian
Rhapsody was an important element in the massive success of the single.
Interestingly, the success of the video arguably set the group on a course
away from being a progressive rock band to being a far more commerciallyoriented pop band in the next decade.
Progressive rock self-indulgence was shunted aside by the crudity, directness and lack of pretension in the wave of punk rock that overtook Britain
in the late 1970s and found some outlet on television. After the break-up of
punk/post-punk genealogies. Kate Eichhorn’s reappraisal has been crucial in
moving beyond the idea that riot grrrl was simply an oppositional or reactionary
statement to parental cultures of second-wave feminism and the male-dominated
punk scene.11 Such a model, she argues, obscures its wider intellectual and
aesthetic heritage as a ‘queer feminist hybrid of punk, continental philosophy,
feminism, and avant-garde literary and art traditions’.12 Michelle Kempson
has similarly demonstrated zine creators’ uneasiness with locating
London and its ‘English-garden-psychedelia’. In his songs,
Davies reflected on the wider issues of Englishness, creating tools for future
songwriters to express their ideas about England.
Among the objectives of punk rock was to avoid the celebration of
Englishness in a major way. Punk reacted aggressively against the privileged
positions and institutions of ‘old England’ as the 1960s counter-culture had
done before it, and rejected the nostalgia often prevalent in pop-Englishness.
However, it also celebrated a problematic notion of Englishness in the form
such as Talking Heads
and Laurie Anderson, to The Clash as ‘postmodern pop’. Such theorisation of postmodernism and pop takes no account of the most
important developments since punk, especially those associated with
rap and hip-hop, house and reggae. Contrary to this first tendency
there is a line of thought which concentrates on ‘post-subcultural’
styles and replaces Jameson’s pessimism with a cultural optimism.
Whereas Jameson’s focus is more on a politics of production, there
is in cultural optimism a stress on the politics of consumption, and,
intellectual trajectory, which the present book continues, elaborating further the distinctive relational approach to music sociology sketched therein, requires brief elaboration.
Several years ago I wrote a book about the origins of punk and post-punk in the UK (Crossley 2015a ). In this book, taking Becker ( 1974, 1982 ) as my point of departure, I developed a concept of ‘music worlds’ to capture, amongst other things, the network of participants involved (i.e. musicians, audience members and the assortment of managers, promoters, engineers etc. whom Becker
of his adolescence (he was
thirteen in May 1968): George Orwell, Jerry Rubin, Abby Hoffman, a passion
for London and Punk Rock and a decisive encounter with Situationism while at
university. 5 Assayas recounts
viewing the films of René Viénet and later discovering
Debord’s seminal La Société du spectacle:
j’ai adopté ce livre comme point de