Kris Needs Presents… Dirty Water 2 – More Birth of Punk Attitude

(2CD set, Year Zero)

Happily, the overwhelmingly positive response to Dirty Water – The Birth of Punk Attitude has enabled journalist, DJ, broadcaster, and all around living leg end Kris Needs to again take us by the hand and lead us through many of the dimly lit tributaries that ultimately combined to lend their fetid waters to the great punk torrent.

In my review of the initial 2CD set, I made the connection between Kris’s inclusive approach to defining punk attitude and James Burke’s interconnective approach to explaining sequences of historically significant events. If anything, this comparison is even more apt the second time around – to understand why this happened in 1976, you have to go back to here.

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In some cases, the lineage to punk rock is self evident – the likes of Death, the Velvet Underground, Suicide, Patti Smith, Jayne County, David Bowie, Mott The Hoople, Kilburn & The High Roads, the Hammersmith Gorillas, the Doctors of Madness, the MC5 and Blondie all have acres of printed paper establishing their varying roles in shaping the scenes that would burst out of tiny pockets of defiance in New York and London. However, many of these artists are represented by seldom heard cuts such as the Motor City maniacs’ epic set closer ‘Black To Comm’ and Vega/Rev’s startling ‘Creature Feature’. Similarly, the historical connection between primal rock’n’roll and punk is also a matter of historical record, and trailblazing greats such as Bo Diddley and Eddie Cochran are duly represented here.

These, however, are the basics – dig around the period when the likes of Diddley. Cochran, Gene Vincent and Link Wray were laying down the fundamentals for generations to come, and you’ll find all manner of other stuff going down. Through drawing lyrical inspiration from the lives of the disenfranchised, and subsequently influencing Joe Strummer (a.k.a. Woody Mellor), Woody Guthrie’s rough hewn folk can be readily identified as one of the germinal building blocks of what would later be identified as a key aspect of the punk mindset. One only needs one listen to Guthrie’s ‘Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad’ and Patti Smith’s ‘Piss Factory’ to realise that they are coming from the same benighted place. ‘Strip away and Woody was a punk in the old-fashioned way,’ explains Kris, ‘a short, scruffy, road-wise, quick tempered, skirt-chasing, chauvinist boozer, who couldn’t be controlled by any political party, but campaigned in a much broader sense against homelessness, poverty, racism and inequality.’   

Moreover, by following the folk path along a möbius strip of drug-fuelled weirdness and inspiration, Needsy also establishes the contribution of freaks such as the Godz and the Holy Modal Rounders in developing a conviction that each generation of young people should start at Year Zero, disregarding the ideas of their elders as moribund and irrelevant. Specifically, the sense of wild abandon embraced by both these bands provided a gateway to the kind of free-thinking non-conformity that found its apogee in the late, great Don van Vliet’s Captain Beefheart. Indeed, not only did the Captain and his Magic Band’s wilful disregard for the established parameters of rock’n’roll provide a mutable template for punk rock, it also pointed the way forward into post-punk and all subsequent experimental and courageous readings of the form. Fittingly, given our host’s epoch-making tenure as editor of the much-missed Zigzag magazine, Beefheart’s ‘Zigzag Wanderer’ has been selected to open the two-disc set.

Of course, rock’n’roll was hardly the only ingredient bubbling in van Vliet’s voodoo stewpot – jazz, bebop and doo-wop all broiled among the gumbo. Perhaps the true genius of Dirty Water 2 is the way in which Kris Needs has taken artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Albert Ayler, the Silhouettes, and George Clinton’s mighty Parliament collective and clearly demonstrated how they too fit into the mad parade. This is achieved on a number of levels – not least by identifying the way in which bebop and free jazz marginalised audiences in exactly the same way that punk would do decades later, as well as establishing the direct influence of doo-wop on groups such as Suicide.

Like its predecessor, Dirty Water 2 stands as a monument to defiance, transgression and self-determination, 150 minutes of exceptional music are matched by a robust booklet in which Kris recounts a history that through his own personal experiences and lunatic adventures intertwines with his selections to provide an enjoyable, inclusive experience. From the artists mentioned above to several nicely soiled nuggets of garage frustration, via the titanic storms of sedition whipped up by Blue Cheer or the Edgar Broughton Band, Needsy’s selections provide an object lesson in the advantage of keeping mind and ears open. And surely, if nothing else, that is the idea that underpins the punk attitude.

Order Dirty Water 2 direct: www.futurenoisemusic.com/product.aspx?id=718

Catch Needsy on fnoob radio, every Wednesday from 7pm: http://fnoob.com/

Originally posted 2011-05-25 18:48:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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