National Trust pins its faith in power of punk


Jonathan Brown
Monday 31 October 2011 17:44

Punk's not dead – it's just having a nice cup of tea and a look round a stately home.

In an announcement which has left old Mohawks pogoing with bewilderment, it seems the spirit of '76 is alive and well and being preserved by the National Trust.

A new album produced by the heritage body entitled ‘Never Mind the Dovecotes’ features 18 tracks culled from the hey day of British punk.

Among the artists selected to represent the great post war flowering of youth rebellion are the Sex Pistols, Sham 69, GBH and Slaughter and the Dogs.

It is estimated that half a million of the Trust's members were aged between 16-25 in the late 1970s when the establishment was in uproar over the appearance of disaffected bondage-trouser clad youths in the nation's new concrete shopping centres.

Now it hopes to cash in on the demographic shift by selling the album at its gift shops and online to fund conservation work on its historic homes and ancient landscapes.

"Over thirty years on, many of them now enjoy family outings with their children and families at parks, beaches and historic houses. Perhaps, though, this collection will offer them the chance to rekindle a little of that youthful spirit," explained Phillippa Green, National Trust brand licensing manager.

But there was dismay among those that were in the vanguard of the movement. Jimmy Pursey, 56, front man with Sham 69 whose song “If the Kids are United” is included in the compilation, described it as "the most Tupperware bit of nonsense I have ever heard in my life."

He added: "We are so frightened of what we are looking at ahead of us that we are digging trenches in nostalgia. We are just standing our ground and not letting the future affect us."

Steve Ignorant, 54, founding co-member of anarcho punk collective Crass, which was not included, was more ambivalent at the news.

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“For me punk was not about dressing up in strange clothes and going to nightclubs in London. It was about getting on the streets and protesting about stuff,” he said.

"It just goes to show how shallow that part of the punk movement always was and always will be,” he said. “What's it going to be next? You are sitting in ye olde tea shop listening to the Sex Pistols? I can't get that at all," he added.

Also included on the album are X-Ray Spex, The Jam and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The Sex Pistols' debut single Anarchy in the UK rose to num

ber 38 in the charts in 1977 but the band was dropped by record company EMI after unleashing a foul-mouthed tirade on the Bill Grundy's Today show when they were unwise last-minute stand-ins for Queen.

In 2008 lead singer John Lydon – formerly known as Rotten – went on to front a £5m advertising campaign for Country Life butter. Last year Jarvis Cocker curated an album of natural sounds for the Trust taken from its historic buildings and landscapes.

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