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The Spirit of '76 in 2006

26 December 2005

Thirty years old and still full of vinegar. Who would of thunk it?

In 1976, THE RAMONESreleased their groundbreaking debut album, THE DAMNED played its first gig and THE SEX PISTOLS took their act outside of England.

Though The Ramones and Pistols are now but fond memories, The Damned, THE STRANGLERS, BUZZCOCKS and STIFF LITTLE FINGERS are currently playing as well as they ever have in at least a decade.

The Damned’s last album, 2001’s Grave Disorder, was
a return to form and their first LP with CAPTAIN SENSIBLE since 1982’s sensational Strawberries. On last year’s Norfolk Coast, The Stranglers finally made an accomplished CD without HUGH CORNWELL. Buzzcocks made their best album in a decade on their self-titled release in 2003. And finally, SLF’s Guitar and Drum, released last year, was arguably their best work in two decades.

I am not sure why these great bands are enjoying renaissances some 30 years into their careers but one thing seems clear to me: The four groups should tour America together next year with a different band headlining each night.

Because these bands are in rare form nowadays, there would be nothing gimmicky or embarrassing about such a tour. If it takes a big 30th anniversary of punk promotional push to expose these bands to a generation of kids raised on BLINK 182 and SUM 41, so be it. Realize also that because these bands don’t often play States-side, their presence here would be a big draw for longtime fans.

What’s more, The Damned, Stranglers and Buzzcocks ALL have new albums to promote next year (I’m not sure about SLF). And of course, these musicians are no longer spring chickens (Stranglers drummer JET BLACK is 66 years old!), so they surely could use the cash to help feather their nests for when they call it a day.

No matter how you look at this everyone wins. The promoters would have an easy sell promoting a “Spirit of ‘76” tour. The bands would not be too put out if each played a half hour set per show. The record labels would drum up additional sales and lucky fans would get to see four legendary bands each night!

If they don’t do it next year their other big chance would be in 2007 to celebrate another 30th anniversary. But there presumably won’t be new albums to promote then and there’s no guarantee that the bands will even be around. So by my reckoning, 2006 marks the last and best chance for them to get some long overdue recognition in the U.S.—and to make some long-time fans super happy.