Earlier this week, I posted to Nostalgia Zone’s Facebook page the six segments of the Punk Rock episode of the 1995 PBS documentary ‘Rock & Roll‘. The documentary series runs 10 episodes in all, covering the many eras and personalities of rock’ n’ roll. I figured I’d post the punk stuff, because that’s the most interesting to me.
But, there was something that bothered me (and at least one YouTube commenter). It was only an hour long episode, so we can’t expect everything to be included, but as the Punk segment came to a close something was missing. The ’80s. The way the episode wrapped up was Blondie had a hit with ‘Heart of Glass’ and then… Nirvana came along.
Uuuuh, guys? There was an entire decade of punk, post-punk, hardcore punk that carried the ball, while mainstream radio waited to stumble upon Nirvana, discovering money could be made now that punk “broke.” There could have at least been some mention of those artists, but, nope. No mention of the Dead Kennedys, Killing Joke, The Minutemen, Black Flag, The Replacements, and the countless other bands keeping the punk ethic alive through the decade between ‘Heart of Glass’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
I went through my teenage and young adult years in the ’80s. I hung out at the legendary Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue & 7th Street Entry. (Remember, kids! Before there was Seattle, there was Minneapolis!) I listened to and saw a lot of musical acts, who, apparently didn’t warrant being counted by ‘Rock & Roll’.
OK, so they didn’t have the time. Well, I do. Here’s a list of ten artists, not in any particular order, any one of whom could at least gotten a mention:
Dead Kennedys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3VXiyS6zl0
Black Flag https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om6ho37eSYE
The Replacements https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2zkO-pB0LU
Bad Brains https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EcNclDR9U0
Gang of Four https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xzE9dslFqg
You may not agree with each of my choices. But, I think you’ll agree that these and many other artists upheld the punk ethos into and through the ’80s, as the recording industry waited for Nirvana.