When Punk Got Weird

Punk may have started as a reaction against convention, but what started out as iconoclasm eventually turned into orthodoxy as the genre’s conventions were gradually codified. If it wasn’t short, fast, and loud, with three chords and a barking vocalist, it wasn’t punk. America’s hardcore underground wasn’t without its share of party-line camp followers, but it also boasted some true rebels, who realized that when your revolution becomes generic, it’s time to start over. Black Flag grew their hair long and turned to long jams and Beat poetry, while Bad Religion adopted soaring synthesizers and turned to Hawkwind-esque space/psych/prog rock. Flipper tapped into the Stooges free-jazz impulses, and the Minutemen married punk with funk, fusion, and even the occasional Steely Dan or CCR cover. In the end, these were the true punks — unafraid of being bold, and refusing to kowtow to expectations. — Jim Allen