The fifth volume of Rhino's DIY Series of Punk, Power Pop and New Wave switches the spotlight from the UK to NYC with Blank Generation - The New York Scene (1975-78). New York City is where Malcolm McLaren came in November 1974 to manage the New York Dolls, soaking up the burgeoning punk scene emerging in Lower Manhattan and drawing inspiration from the music and fashion of Richard Hell. McLaren returned to London in May 1975 and within a few months The Sex Pistols played their first official gig in November 1975 and the UK Punk scene was born. The New York City punk scene centered around two clubs, CBGB and Max's Kansas City in Manhattan's Lower East Side. John Piccarella writes in the Blank Generation liner notes:
Though most groups played both venues, at the outset there were CB's bands and Max's bands. They were divided among two early compilations...that attempted to capture the flavor of the new punk night.
In 1976 Atlantic Records released a double album of performances recorded live on CBGB's legendary small stage at the back of the club. Featuring sixteen songs from eight bands recorded over three days in June 1976 at The Home Of Underground Rock, Live At CBGB's is one of those compilations Piccarella mentioned above. The album is sixty-three minutes of music I'd never heard before and need never hear again. The exceptions being the three Mink DeVille tracks as I have been a fan since the mid-'80s. One of those Mink DeVille tracks - "Let Me Dream If I Want To" - is on Blank Generation, which also features the opening track from the Live At CBGB's album, "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll" by the Tuff Darts.
Released on their in-house Ram label, 1976 Max's Kansas City features ten songs from seven acts recorded in studios across NYC as well as Stockbridge, MA and Cleveland, OH. The club's house band - Wayne County and the Back Street Boys - get three songs, one of which also appears on Blank Generation: "Max's Kansas City 1976". The album closer on 1976 Max's Kansas City is "Rocket USA" by Suicide, the duo of Alan Vega and Martin Rev. They also have the album-closing song on Blank Generation - The New York Punk Scene (1975-78) with "Cheree". At gigs as far back as 1970, Suicide became the first band to describe their own music as punk by promoting their concerts with ads like the one below from The Village Voice.
The Ramones came into my life via the film Rock 'N' Roll High School which I watched multiple times at my Texas Grandma's house when she first got cable and The Star Channel one summer. That is most likely the place where I first heard "Blitzkrieg Bop" as it was part of a live medley they performed live on stage in the film. (The song, their first single, also appears on the 1983 soundtrack album to National Lampoon's Vacation.) In March 2016, I counted down My 100 Favorite Songs from 1976 and "Blitzkrieg Bop" came in at #9. At that time, my father-in-law had just entered home hospice care for an inoperable brain tumor and every night after spending the day at his house offering any aid and comfort I could, the Ramones would soundtrack my drive home as, rather than cry, I chose to rage. Then there was a period of about a year where I could not listen to the Ramones but that soon passed and they are back in the mix. The group's "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" appears as track #15 on Blank Generation but it is "Blitzkrieg Bop" up at the pole position that kicks the whole thing off. The song also appears on the DIY sampler disc and the No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion box set.
Both sides of Richard Hell & The Voidoids 45 pictured above appear on Blank Generation - The New York Scene (1975-78) and the A-side even provides the compilation with its title. Both songs were new to me before picking up this disc in 1993 and both songs also appear on No Thanks!. While "Blitzkrieg Bop" gets all the glory (and rightfully so) Hell's "Blank Generation" is a truer anthem for the New York Punk Scene in the late '70s. The single as it appears above is highly prized and fetches big bucks with the original picture sleeve.
Like The Clash missing from the UK discs, the Talking Heads are the most obvious omission here and while Piccarella mentions the omission in the liner notes, there is no official statement in the booklet like there was for The Clash on Anarchy In The UK - UK Punk I (1976-77).