Neu! being German for New! Hero being the closest Neu! ever came to a proper song with lyrics and singing and everything. Meanwhile, at pretty much the same moment in time, somewhere across town, their former band mates Kraftwerk were perfecting what would come to be known as techno-music. So maybe call Hero a proto-form of punk. Beat simple and four-to-the-floor, everything else snarling melodically along until screaming to noise at the end. And the world would hear it one way or another, the times would change. And seriously, who better than some malcontent German hippies to call bullshit on the whole notion of heroism? Or whatever it’s about.
“1969 is the highest Stooges track on the list because I only have the one album and I’ve got to assume everybody’s already heard I Wanna Be Your Dog. Which isn’t to diminish 1969, it’s solid and raw all the way. It was the year of Woodstock, the year we all got back to the garden apparently, but Iggy wasn’t seeing it that way. He just saw war across the USA, and another year with nothing to do, except maybe get the ball rolling on inventing so-called punk rock.” (Philip Random)
(Photo: Glen Craig)
It’s Britain, 1977, and if you’re not punk, you’re not worth knowing. Unless you’re the Stranglers, who were more like punk’s mean older brother, more sophisticated, and tougher in a street fighting sort of way. Also, they had a sort of existential edge as a song like Get A Grip On Yourself makes clear. Yeah, society’s f***ed, the world’s going up in apocalyptic frames. No reason to lose your cool, man.
“In which Queen unleash one minute fifty seconds of punk rock a good three years before they had a label for such stuff, Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll being found on their first album, the one titled simply Queen. And exhibit A when it came to proving that they could do anything any other so-called rock band could do, and better. At least, that was the argument in the Grade Nine ghetto down by the metal work room.” (Philip Random)
In which the legendary MC5 kick things so hard, loud and superlative that the very rules of physics break down, all known boundaries of space and time dissolve, music and noise fuse as a higher sonic form, Sun Ra‘s starship is encountered roughly halfway to Jupiter (or perhaps Africa), and entire galaxies are set blissfully free.
“In which angular German hippies Neu! do their bit to invent punk a good three or four years before the fact. Of course, I wouldn’t discover Neu! until at least ten years later, so for me, they had more to do with providing an overall blueprint for the future of everything. Just lock that beat and lay down some music mixed with noise, because we’ll always need a beat, and there will always be noise, and music just makes everything better.” (Philip Random)
“I would’ve first heard of the New York Dolls when they were still pretty new, 1973, early Grade Nine. A friend pointed out a picture of them, probably in Creem magazine, guys in dresses, even freakier than Alice Cooper. No mention of their music. In fact, I wouldn’t hear any of that for at least another five years. A mixtape heard at a punk rock party. I’d say they fit right in, but they didn’t. Their stuff stood out to my ears, like the Rolling Stones at their sleazy early 70s best, except harder, trashier, sleazier. Who cared about what they were wearing?” (Philip Random)