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Punk Capitals, the impossible choice of London or New York City

Well another week consigned to the rear view mirror then, well done you lot. I hope that your week went better than the Irish or Dutch football teams or indeed the Russians who quite understandably got smashed up in Warsaw. I really struggle with nationalism getting in the way of common sense, what’s wrong with some people?

A short post tonight but a worthwhile one to give you advance warning of something on BBC Radio this Sunday 17/6. I know we all have our opinions but I hopefully won’t offend to many people when I state that London and New York are two of the greatest cities on this planet (*out of the ones I have visited probably the top two). The list of reasons could easily fill this page but range from the very obvious to the more subtle too. I suppose if you describe a city with the words ‘there’s nowhere else quite like it’ then it deserves to be classed amongst the very best, with the assumption that you’re not describing them in negative terms in which case I’d probably be writing about Houston or Hannover with apologies to those with no sense of humour. London and New York both offer so much that is vital in metropolitan life in similar doses and it’s no great shock that some of the best bands of the last 40 years evolved from one or the other. I guess there’s a long standing debate as to which was more influential in terms of punk, although I can make very good cases for both but for extremely different reasons. New York obviously has the upper hand for origins but from 1976 onward London took the lead in terms of diversity of activity. I’d call it an honourable dead heat although I think Brisbane might be the original birthplace of what we consider 70’s punk. If you disagree then you need to listen to what The Saints were doing as early as 1974.

clash nyc Punk Capitals, the impossible choice of London or New York City

image the exclusive copyright of Bob Gruen

The BBC however are going to try and settle this debate over NYC and London this weekend with a special broadcast that compares both cities as ‘Punk Capitals’ to try and determine a winner. It should be a great broadcast and I hope they can’t pick a winner, if you really backed me into a corner and forced me to make a decision I’d naturally go with the home of The Clash. However you probably expected that.

The broadcast is 8pm GMT, 3PM EST on Sunday on BBC Six Music – here’s the link and beneath is the blurb. I hope you can listen, I expect it will be archived for a week also. On the day you can see a ‘listen now’ button in the top right of the page. I’m not impressed by the term ‘Punk people’….what’s that about? (see below).

A Punk Tale of Two Cities answers a question that Punk people love to debate – where did punk begin? London or New York? Other cities try to stake a claim – Paris, for example, or Los Angeles. But everyone knows they’re non-starters, really. The tension, the energy of punk, crackled between London and New York. .

In this show, we’ll rip the duality apart and see where punk really started. Or not. After all, Punk was never supposed to be an easy answer.

Along the way there are new insights from those who shaped Punk on both sides of the Atlantic – John Lydon, Talking Heads, Neneh Cherry, The Slits, Don Letts, Chrissie Hynde, Public Enemy, Lenny Kaye, Dennis Bovell and Patti Smith



pixel Punk Capitals, the impossible choice of London or New York City

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