Recently, when I posted about the Public Image Ltd.-related rarity, Steel Leg Vs. The Electric Dread, DM reader “Mr. Clam” left the following comment:
While Richard is right when he said First Issue was “thee line of demarcation between punk rock and post punk music”, the reality was that post-punk was inevitable. Indeed, it may have paradoxically predated punk itself (see Pere Ubu). Also, Joy Division/Warsaw was already heading into post-punk territory.
That’s a pretty interesting point. Pere Ubu’s Ohio mutant compatriots DEVO also come readily to mind in that way, and so do Suicide. The band that I feel illustrates his theory best though, are Tuxedomoon. When Tuxedomoon formed in San Francisco, punk was at its 1977 height in London and in New York, but the Sex Pistols were still copping Chuck Berry riffs while the Ramones were aping surf rock and Phil Spector. The evil-sounding avant gardists of Tuxedomoon were in many ways closer to prog rock than to punk, stylistically speaking, if not in attitude. Certainly they were “postpunk” before the era began or the term was ever coined. Check out this early video recording of Tuxedomoon produced when they were doing a week-long “artists residency” at The University of Colorado in 1977 and see if you don’t agree.
The numbers performed here are “Litebulb Overkill,” “New Machine,” “Lili Marlene,” “Pollo X,” “Cybernetic Cowboy” and “Joeboy The Electronic Ghost.” This is included in the truly astonishing 35th anniversary Tuxedomoon box set 77o7 Tm that was released in 2008.
Superior Viaduct is reissuing Tuxedomoon’s early EPs on vinyl this fall.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
PiL rarity ‘Steel Leg Vs. The Electric Dread’ is the missing link between ‘First Issue’ & ‘Metal Box’