Now that sums up punk for me LOUD AND UNCOMPROMISING
steve jones amp or battered guitars
Back in the early 80's when New Mills was a hive of punk rock activity...pouting blonde Blitz bassplayer Mackie, who was also handy with the pen in between pulling the strings and roaming the cobbles of New Mills. Made time to have a fling with the loverly raven haired Helen who fronted the other New Mills punks The Violators
Joan Jett who produced the debut LP 'GI' by infamous L.A. Punks the Germs' back in 1979, promised the now dead singer Darby Crash that the LP would sound like 'Never Mind The Bollock's'...only better!
This chaper focuses on the more nihilistic blades out there and some of the terror, images and attitudes that were conjured up. Like Anarchy , Boredom No Future and Crass. These are words that are symbolic in our punk rock dreams and walk within the punk realm. They detonated feelings actions and angst among a teenage culture and sometimes it was just a feeling of the times others took it further into a whole new lifestyle as  we know of today.
The Decline Of Western Civilization (1981)(Video):The most important film in American Punk history. Directed by Penelope Spheeris, this does what any good documentary should do: simply present the material and let the participants tell the story. The film is as objective a look as you're going to get at the still emerging 79-80 LA hardcore scene. Sure, Penelope injects subjectivity when she asks direct questions, but she doesn't put answers into anyone's mouth either. Everybody has the chance to look good or hang themselves. The punks are mostly alienated, pissed off, LA street kids from disfunctional homes, and when you hear them define their lives you either shake your head in disgust or think it's really cool, depending on your own prejudices. Throughout the film Spheeris interviews assorted scene kids in stark B&W, the lighting and her questions lending the air of a police interrogation or psycho ward analysis. Most of these kids are just screwed up to begin with and Punk is how they choose to act that out. The bands come off as only slightly better.
There's lots of great concert footage and band interviews. The bands are: X, Black Flag (w/o Henry), Circle Jerks, Fear, The Germs, Catholic Discipline, and the Alice Bag Band. Interviewed are X, Black Flag, Darby Crash, the Germ's manager, and the staff of Slash Magazine. X does a lifestyle of the punk and famous piece from Exene's apartment. It was free tattoo night and Billy Zoom wiggled his ears at will. Black Flag sat in their graffiti filled room at an old church and proved they slept in closets for 16 dollars a month. Darby Crash shows himself to be the Sid Vicious of American Punk and the masochist cousin of GG Allin. He sings like Ten Pole Tudor, too. There's a funny bit where Darby is always so wasted he forgets to sing into the microphone, so he's stumbling around and some guy is yelling, "Darby, pick up the mike. The mike!" And his girlfriend Michelle is not much better. She tells a story about a house painter who died of a heart attack and fell off a roof, and how funny it was that they all took turns being photographed next to the body. Finally Penelope asks her, "Didn't you feel bad that the guy was dead?". "No, not at all, because I hate painters".
Slamming is still called Pogo at this time. The pit is shown to be a very macho, dangerous place indeed. The music is described as "speed--fuzz--monotone vocals--protest like lyrics". Robert Biggs, the founder of Slash, says "Nothing else is going on. It's the only form or revolution left, I think, in the 80s..". The B&W kids say "I guess I'm an alcoholic", "It's easy to be very detached", "I'm a total rebel", and the classic "Society Stinks!". The elderly owner of Club 88 says "It's an energy outlet. They're nice kids. They just have to do something different. It's a release from their daily tensions, I guess". That's all true, but it's always been that way for kids. Why the hyper-aggression of punk? I guess it's a reflection of the increased tolerance for violence in society in general. But that's just my opinion. Rage in the 80s replaced the 70s facade of cool sexiness, which itself replaced the drug-induced mellow 60s.
The performances are for the most part excellent. Catholic Discipline sound like an I.R.S. records band and not hardcore at all, and The Alice Bag band doesn't do much either. The Circle Jerks and Black Flag tear the house down. Of course, the almighty FEAR closes the movie and Lee Ving single-handedly gives hardcore it's image of homophobia and wild hatred. With Ving it's always only half serious, but he's so intense you can't think otherwise. FEAR truly elevates crowd-baiting into an art form. Before they even play, Ving's got the crowd so worked up a fight breaks out on stage. "This is 1980. Can't you afford a f--king haircut?". No wonder Ving got all those acting jobs. He's in total control. The film ends with "Let's Have A War", with its line "the enemy is within". For better or worse, that is the lesson of this film. Penelope Spheeris has a love/hate relationship with Punk and its fans. If you have half a brain you have to feel this way too. On one level Punk is only entertainment, but on another it's a f--ked up lifestyle for f--ked up people. You try to accept it as normal because that's what you're into, but if you forget altogether that Punk is not normal then you're no better than Michael, the grinning freak who shaves an "X" into his head and giggles when he talks about how violent and pathetic he is.