Once more unto the breach

Sometimes I wonder about my followers on Twitter. This morning I tweeted this,

On the Sex Pistols’ 1976 Anarchy tour: “The volley of gob was like Agincount.” bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00…
  — Dr. Drang (@drdrang) Wed Jun 13 2012

which is, I think, the funniest thing I’ve ever tweeted. Not a single person starred or retweeted it. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe you have to know what Agincourt was.

I’d just listened to this BBC Radio 2 show about punk rock in 1976 on my bike ride into work.

The Sex Pistols were getting out onto the sleepy circuit, wrecking PAs and getting occasional column inches. The Stranglers were gigging around the country, trading punches with irate punters. In Bolton the Buzzcocks read a paragraph about the Pistols in the NME and drove all the way down to London to search for the band. TV Smith was putting together The Adverts in Torquay. Elsewhere, the Capital was calling and the Clash were on hand to write the soundtrack. Everywhere punk rock was beginning to emerge.

Near the end of the show, one of the interviewees (Tom Robinson, I think) was reminiscing about the Pistols’ tour at the end of that year and out popped the line I quoted in the tweet. Volley, gob, Agincourt. It’s just perfect. I laughed for a few hundred feet.

The rest of the show is good, too. The focus is on the Pistols, whom I’ve always thought of as profoundly inferior to, say, the Ramones or the Clash, but who seem to have a special resonance with Brits. Sort of like beans on toast or Cliff Richard.

Or T-Rex. While I’m recommending Radio 2 shows, I’ll mention The Glory of Glam, a rerun of a show I listened to a couple of years ago when it was first aired. Here’s part of what I said about it at the time:

I liked the show overall, but suggest you fast forward through the first 20 minutes or so. That section is dominated by the reminiscences of producer Tony Visconti, and it’s unbelievably dull… Visconti has flat, affectless voice and it sounds like he’s reading from his 1970 diary: “Then Marc came over to my flat on Tottenham Court Road, and we had a curry.”

Glam was more about the look than the sound, and the documentary spends a lot of time describing the bands’ outfits—a topic you’d think would be more suited to TV than radio. But somehow it works. The interviewees (with the exception of Visconti) are funny and interesting, and the music is always playing under the talking. One surprising omission is that no mention is made of glam’s obvious influence on hair metal of the ’80’s.

Both shows can be streamed. The BBC makes most of its shows available for streaming for seven days after they air. These two will be available until Monday (punk) and Wednesday (glam) of next week. If streaming seems too restrictive, do what I do: record the streams with Audio Hijack Pro (or a similar audio recording app) and add them to your iTunes library so you can transfer them to any iPod and listen without the need of an internet connection.