Intellectually and sartorially, Richard Hell was the original New York punk: the template Malcolm McLaren took home and turned into Johnny Rotten. Hell’s title song to 1977’s Blank Generation album was a wry summing up of the subsequent movement’s nihilistic streak, sneered over what Pete Astor calls the ‘’glassy, trebly bite’’ of Stratocasters.
The 33 1⁄3 series’ switch to Bloomsbury’s academic branch, and Astor’s university lecturer day job, encourage yap about ‘’metatexts’’ and ‘’paratexts’’. Minus the jargon, his points about the broader scene around Blank Generation are strong.
The future leader of 80s indie band The Weather Prophets recalls New York being ‘’much further away from London in the 70s’’, with bands avidly read about in the rock press before a record was eventually found to be taken home and pored over, at the apex of the LP’s reign.
Hell and fellow ex-Voidoid Ivan Julian help thoroughly tell their album’s story. More on Astor’s rock culture apprenticeship – watching Chelsea Girls misprojected in Colchester – and a little less butterfly-pinning of Hell’s cultural worth might have made this even better.