This year’s awesome box set was a gift from my brother: No Thanks – The 70s Punk Rebellion. Rhino put together 100 songs covering the period around 76 – 79 — great creative/raw music from Patti Smith, The Buzzcocks, The Mekons, The Germs, Pere Ubu, Richard Hell, X-Ray Spex, The Fall, Sham 69, etc.
Rhino did a good job keeping the catalog on the punk side of the punk / new wave tight rope (no B-52s here, though there is one Devo track). But at the same time, by stopping at the end of the 70s, the collection avoids the harsher, less musical (and less creative) spit and broken glass punk of the early 80s (Fear, Saccharine Trust, DK, etc.)
Though not every track is awesome or even “seminal,” it’s a really nice slice of a period that was a turning point in the evolution of my own musical tastes. At the time, I too was wearing a “Disco Sucks” badge on my backpack and dissing Led Zeppelin and arena rock.
The funny thing is that I believed my own tripe about disco and anthem rock. Now I’m simultaneously enjoying the incredible 2-DVD set Jimmy Paige put together covering a decade of Zep in video. Talk about “Hammer of the Gods!” The punks wrote off Zep and the like as pompous bombast — they wanted to take rock back to roots. And they did. But to dismiss Zep is to miss out on a whole other flavor of roots rock – totally elemental yet soaring, majestic. The Rhino collection is fantastic, but not one band on it can hold a candle to Zep in terms of pure passion, presence, musicality, intensity…
I’d like to apologize to my former self for years of digging punk at the expense of loving Zep.