Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Underrated Classic - Richard Hell & the Voidoids - Blank Generation

In 1977 as the first wave of punk came crashing into New York City and London, the new sound of thrashing guitars, shocking lyrics and bizarre clothes left its mark on audiences on two continents. As London's Camden Town was embracing the thrashing sound and shocking styles, New York's Bowery district new movement of punk was creating the blueprint of what is to come. As Richard Hell left art rock band Television, he formed The Heartbreakers (no, not Tom Petty's famous backing band) and then formed Richard Hell and The Voidoids and released a brilliant debut record, Blank Generation, that after all these years still flies under-the-radar. As The Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McClaren gave the Pistols the punk look of spike hair, collars, ripped jeans and shirts, safety pins on clothes, the mastermind McClaren gave credit to Hell for being one of the first to make that look famous. With The Voidoids, Hell not only made the look more far out, he also was the center of the sound that shocked and inspired a generation. Blank Generation is more of a musical statement than it is a record of songs that one can dance and bop their head to. Much like The Clash, the sound was filled with angst and social messages and years later, as the world finds itself in a social free fall, the sound of Richard Hell and the Voidoids plays like it was written and recorded today.