The Rolling Stones’ Punk Credentials – By Nick Kent
While you can catch Kent’s full review in the latest issue of Classic Rock magazine (on sale today), he also provided us with a few extra words on The Rolling Stones’ influence on punk rock for ClassicRockMagazine.com. Come on in to check it out!
THE STONES’ PUNK by Nick Kent
Although the Rolling Stones were a cardinal influence on American punk ground-breakers like the Stooges and the New York Dolls during the early 70s they were less highly thought of by the London-based movement that sprang into being in 1976. This in turn sparked yet another source of conflict within the Stones’ inner sanctum about how exactly to react to the ‘new’ music. Keith Richards for one was adamant about simply ignoring the trend. In his view, the Stones were leaders not followers and what punk offered in terms of musical innovation provided no worthwhile substitute for the blues and pioneer rock sources and traditions he’d grown up with. More to the point, he’d taken serious offence at seeing his band suddenly getting slighted in the U.K press by this irreverent rising phenomenon of three chord wonders. To Keith, it smacked of ‘disrespect’ something he automatically found unacceptable. Also it can’t have escaped his notice that many of this new breed – step forward Mick Jones from the Clash and even poor old Sid Vicious – were just aping his old look, riffs and/or lifestyle choices.
Indeed Mick Jagger said it best in a 1977 interview when he archly declared “There’s no-one in the world who can out-punk Keith”. But Jagger has consistently shown himself to be far more amenable about getting the Stones to tackle the latest trends in music and between 1977 and 1981 managed to coerce the band into recording several self-penned compositions that were noticeably imbued with the spiky energy and raucous caterwauling of the safety-pin and bondage trousers set. Both When the Whip Comes Down and Lies from Some Girls bear the stylistic hallmarks of a tentative punk make-over although Jagger wrote the songs more as a homage to Lou Reed than Johnny Rotten. By 1979 though he was affecting a full-blown cocker-nee accent for Emotional Rescue’s Where the Boys Go which found the Stones punking it up on record and sounding depressingly like Sham 69’s reprobate dads for their efforts. Finally the Clash-like Neighbours in 1981 marked the end of their brief dalliance with the medium. It was just as well. The Stones were always better off aping their black music influences anyway. More to the point, the punks couldn’t teach them anything about music or outrage that they hadn’t already learnt and put into practice back in the 60s.