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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Patricia Barber
(Blue Note)
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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
Prairie Dog Ballet
(Oak Avenue Publishing)
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Andy Timmons Band
“Gone (9/11/01)”
(Favored Nations)
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Ralph Towner
Time Line
(ECM Records)
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
"Arms Of A Woman"
Amos Lee
(Blue Note)

Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
Alligator Shoes
(Electric Roots)
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Feature [Issue #2]
: And On The Eight Day, Punk Was Born: Punk I
By Mandana Beigi

As the 21st century welcomes us into a world built upon technology, corporate laws and commercialism, the bittersweet memory of Punk and its philosophy and ideology may seem a bit tarnished in our minds. What is Punk? What was Punk? How has it altered the music and culture of the late 20th century? What will it become in the years to come?

The truth is that punk has no place of birth, no identity, no social security and definitely no rules! Punk is the citizen of the world: colorful, yet simple. Regardless of what Punk really was or what it still is, it is impossible to separate it from the shape of our society. I have always believed that Punk was the bastard child of economical and social inequalities. Unemployment, injustice and poor social conditions produce depression and frustration. And that's exactly where Punk came from; it came from the hearts and minds of the underprivileged working-class disaffected youth in Britain and the U.S.. They needed something more than the Beatles to express their feelings of dissatisfaction and alienation. The music was no longer about musicianship and quality audio recording; it was all about letting the music shape itself through reality.

In the 1960s, when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was becoming the global pop anthem and the Beatles were taking over the world, no one expected the garage rockers to challenge the scene simply by returning to the very basics: three simple chords and a melody. Punk sounded louder, faster and noisier than anything ever heard before. In the U.S., the Velvet Underground, the Stooges and the New York Dolls were the incredible active garage rockers of the late 60s who were warming up the stage for the pre-punk movement in England. The Velvet Underground (named after a paperback book about sadomasochism) were experimenting with Rock in a whole different level. They brought a unique social-sexual realism into their lyrics and performance. The Velvets may have had a brief lifespan but they certainly had a considerable amount of impact on what the punk music sounds like today.

The Stooges released their first debut album, Stooges, in 1969 and Iggy Pop's vocals on "I Wanna Be Your Dog" bought their pass to the underground scene of the late 60s (it is worth noting that the word "scene" in punk vocabulary refers to the punk community itself). The Stooges' performances consisted of Iggy's body covered in blood or peanut butter, self-mutilation, stage diving and vulgarity. Collaborating with David Bowie on their third album Raw Power, Iggy Pop and the Stooges adopted a more brittle sound and despite the release of the album on Columbia Records, the band stayed an underground sensation and never really broke into the mainstream. Iggy finally went solo but the group's legacy was carried on over the next two decades to influence the post-punk acts such as Chrome, Placebo and the Foo Fighters.

By the mid 70's, Punk was ready to leave the underground walls and head out to the real world. In December of 1973 CBGB opened on 315 Broadway in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. A few days after the grand opening, Television got their first gig at CBGB…the cover charge: one dollar! The show was not a success and Hilly Kristal (the owner and founder of CBGB) booked the Ramones to make up for it. "As for the Ramones, they were even worse than Television. At that first gig at CBGB, they were the most untogether group I'd ever heard. They kept starting and stopping - equipment breaking down - and yelling at each other. They were a mess… Little did I suspect that both Television and the Ramones would eventually get it together and become two of the most important punk bands of the 70's," says Hilly Kristal. The Ramones went on to make history with their first four albums from 1974 to 1978. They celebrated the punk aesthetic through a revolutionary sound and became the leaders of the New York Punk Rock movement.

At the same time Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Richard Hell (from Television) were making a more self-conscious and intellectual sound which was closer the "profile" of punk music: loud and weird. Richard Hell was the first punk rocker who wore ripped clothing and safety pins. He brought out not only the sound of Punk but also the face. All of a sudden, wearing torn shirts and blue hair wasn't all that bad! Whether Hell or the rest of punk rockers of the 70's wanted to make a fashion statement or not, the audience embraced the "look" of Punk. The sound of Punk did not appeal to everyone but the "look" went main stream and put an end to everything that Punk ever stood up for: being labeled and forming a standard shape. As the physical style of Punk became more and more popular, the media began to portray punks as violent and self-destructive individuals. Soon the American talk shows used the term "Punk" to refer to every drug-junkie, aggressive, or unemployed person.

As the American punk rock scene was blending into the main stream culture, the Sex Pistols in the U.K. were considered a serious threat to the political and social structure of England and were banned across the country. The band nourished the dying roots of independent music in both the U.K. and the U.S. and their singles "Anarchy In The U.K." and "God Save the Queen" caused much controversy to be banned on BBC. The Sex Pistols made music for about 3 years before they disbanded in 1978, but both Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten went on to become the godfathers of Punk.

The Sex Pistols were the inspiration behind many musical acts in the 70s and numerous bands in both countries followed the path of the Pistols into the world of Punk Rock. Johnny Rotten once said in an interview with Zigzag (U.K. music magazine) that they wanted to see thousands of different bands form and instead they ended up with thousands of different versions of the Pistols. Putting aside the nihilistic notions of the Sex Pistols' music, The Clash was formed in 1976 in England with a more leftist-idealistic point of view. Singing mostly about the working-class and revolution, The Clash released their first album The Clash in 1977 in England. The band won over the U.K. scene but it took them a couple of years to break into the U.S. market in the early 80s (just a few months before they imploded).

The punk movement will resemble a nice scar in the face of the music history, a scar left by the creation of art and music not through the beauty of love, peace and happiness but through the ugliness of inequalities and unhappiness. To deny Punk's rejection of conformity and authority would be to deny its very creative freedom. Some are more politically and socially conscious than others and use their freedom in writing song to oppose authority in society and some refuse to produce "corporate rock" and take pride in staying a free artist.

And On The Eight Day, Punk Was Born: Punk I

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