Street punk

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This article is about the genre of music. For the album by Hunx and His Punx, see Street Punk (album).

Street punk (alternatively spelled streetpunk) is a working class[1]-based genre of punk rock which took shape in the early 1980s, partly as a rebellion against the perceived artistic pretensions of the first wave of British punk.[2] Street punk emerged from the Oi! style, performed by bands such as Sham 69, Blitz, The Business, Angelic Upstarts, Cockney Rejects and The Exploited.[3][4][5] However, street punk continued beyond the confines of the original Oi! form with bands such as GBH, Chaos UK, Discharge, The Anti-Nowhere League and Oxymoron. Street punks generally have a much more ostentatious and flamboyant appearance than the working class or skinhead image cultivated by many Oi! groups.[6] Street punks commonly sported multi-coloured hair, mohawks, tattoos, heavily studded vests and leather jackets, and clothing, especially plaids, adorned with political slogans, patches, and/or the names of punk bands.


Bassist Shady from the Anti-Nowhere League at a 2007 show.

Street punk music is characterized by single-note guitar lines and short solos. Unlike similar genres, such as hardcore punk, street punk bands often consisted of two guitarists, one of which plays guitar melodies while not singing. Street punk also makes frequent use of communal vocals and sing–along choruses, an aspect adapted from the Oi! genre. Street punk lyrics commonly address topics including fighting, drinking, partying, inner-city turmoil or personal relationships. Street punk bands sometimes express political viewpoints, typically of a left-wing variety, although some street punks eschew politics altogether in favor of a more hedonistic, nihilistic outlook.

Punk veteran Felix Havoc said:

It was aggressive, yet had melody. As opposed to today's "melodic" punk it still had a lot of energy. It was honest. Hence the term "street punk." There is and was a feel that this was the kids music, from the streets, and was uncorrupted by "professionalism" or "musicianship." As opposed to the anarcho bands its message was more bleak and irreverent. The music was not a-political, just a less intellectual expression of political views of working class youth. The music was marketed as being of and by the working class. I suspect this was not universally the case. Still most middle and upper class kids cringe at frank discussions of violence as evidenced in a typical Blitz song. Early 80's UK punk was catchy as hell; it has sing-a-long choruses and hooky riffs.[4]


UK 82[edit]

1980s-era punks

UK 82 (also known as UK hardcore, second wave punk,[7] real punk,[8] or No Future punk[9]) took the existing punk sound and added the incessant, heavy drumbeats and distorted guitar sound of Motörhead.[10] The term UK 82 is taken from the title of a song by The Exploited.[11] Cross-pollination existed between this era of British street punk and American hardcore punk.[12]

The lyrics of UK 82 bands tended to be much darker and more violent than the lyrics of earlier punk bands. They tended to focus on the possibilities of a nuclear holocaust, and other apocalyptic themes, partially due to the military tension of the Cold War atmosphere. The other mainstay of the lyrics of the era was unemployment, and the policies of the Conservative Party government. Lyrics frequently denounced the Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher[13] in the same way that American hardcore punk bands addressed the Ronald Reagan administration.

The three most prominent UK82 bands, according to Ian Glasper, are The Exploited, Discharge,[14] and Charged GBH.[15] The Exploited were controversial due to their aggressive lyrics and rowdy concerts, and were considered by Glasper to be "cartoon punks".[16] Glasper wrote: "For many, The Exploited were the quintessential second wave punk band with their senses-searing high-speed outbursts against the system, and wild-eyed frontman Walter 'Wattie' Buchan's archetypal orange mohican."[16] Discharge's early work proved to be enormously influential, providing the blueprint for an entire subgenre. Their later work, however, was decried as trite heavy metal.[17]


Main article: D-beat
UK punks in the mid-1980s.

D-beat (also known as Discore[18] or käng (boot), in Sweden[19]) was developed in the early 1980s by imitators of the band Discharge, for whom the genre is named.[20] The first such group was The Varukers.[18] The vocal content of D-beat tends towards shouted slogans. The style is distinct from its predecessors by its minimal lyrical content and greater proximity to heavy metal. It is closely associated with crust punk, which is a heavier, more complex variation.[19] D-beat bands typically have anti-war, anarchist messages and closely follow the bleak nuclear war imagery of 1980s anarcho-punk bands. The style was particularly popular in Sweden, and was developed there by groups such as Anti Cimex[21] and Mob 47.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 10
  2. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 9
  3. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 122
  4. ^ a b von Havoc, Felix. "Maximum Rock'n'Roll #189". Havoc. Archived from the original on June 21, 2004. Retrieved September 9, 2008. 
  5. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 246
  6. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 5
  7. ^ Glasper 2004, pp. 8–9
  8. ^ Liner notes, Discharge, Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, Castle, 2003
  9. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 384
  10. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 47
  11. ^ UK82 Access date: September 20, 2008.
  12. ^ Glasper 2004, pp. 165, 320
  13. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 203
  14. ^ Matt Diehl, "The Young Crazed Peeling", My So-Called Punk: Green Day, Fall Out Boy, The Distillers, Bad Religion—How Neo-Punk Stage-Dived Into the Mainstream, New York: Macmillan, 2007, ISBN 0-312-33781-7, ISBN 978-0-312-33781-0 p. 107.
  15. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 44
  16. ^ a b Glasper 2004, p. 360
  17. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 172
  18. ^ a b Glasper 2004, p. 65: "The Varukers were the original Discore band, the first and best of the hardcore punk acts to take the simple, yet devastatingly effective formula laid down by Discharge and play it as fast, hard, heavy as they could."
  19. ^ a b Jandreus 2008, p. 11
  20. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 175: "I just wanna be remembered for coming up with that f-ckin' D-beat in the first place! And inspiring all those f-ckin' great Discore bands around the world!" – Terry "Tez" Roberts
  21. ^ Jandreus 2008, p. 20–21
  22. ^ Jandreus 2008, p. 143


  • Glasper, Ian (2004). Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980–1984. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 1-901447-24-3. 
  • Glasper, Ian (2006). The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980 to 1984. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 1-901447-70-7. 
  • Jandreus, Peter (2008). The Encyclopedia of Swedish Punk 1977–1987. Stockholm: Premium Publishing.