[sic] Magazine

David Peel – King Of Punk

Go and thumb through your collection. You haven’t, of course, been so mundane as to order it alphabetically. Instead it’s helpfully set out into genres. Find the separator marked Proto-Punk. The section’s naturally jam-packed with the likes of The Stooges and MC5, but how about an entry for David Peel or his band The Lower East Side? More straightforwardly punk than the former and formidably out-swearing the latter, Peel’s career started in 1968 and would later go on to influence American icons New York Dolls and the Ramones. Any in-depth interest in the movement is therefore incomplete without reference to a record as abrasive as 1978’s strutting solo outing King Of Punk.

Shouting his own pedigree from Manhattan’s grubby curbside, it’s an LP that in no uncertain terms calls out and dresses down scene royalty in the form of Patti Smith, Johnny Thunders, Talking Heads, the Sex Pistols and others. King Of Punk is crudely recorded and full of snotty contempt for order, unhinged and strangled solos spiralling out of the gutter fuzz. And, yet, Peel doesn’t take himself anywhere near as seriously as you might think, serving up daft near-skits, Luddite choruses and cultish spoken-words alongside his warped frequencies. This helps make Kind Of Punk surprisingly good fun. “He’s Called A Cop” may be a plainly anti-police FU, for example, but it’s playful minimalism and backing chorus lend it a nihilist nursery rhyme quality. The minute-long “A Mother Mother F” is similarly silly, its high pejorative count (there are no other lyrics) purely there for shock value. For all their pervasiveness, however, it’s not these moments that elevate King Of Punk out of the footnotes of history.

Peel was, some might say still is, one of his generation’s loudest and proudest mouthpieces. Understandably then it’s his stinging diatribes that linger longest here. Take all 11+ minutes of conspiracy theorists’ dream “Who Killed Brian Jones?” It’s never been what you do, rather how you do it and Peel’s anthem is a sloppy hell-raising feast, its righteous wail pure gleeful exuberance. Taking down the establishment and doing it with a smile on his face, Peel was punk before it supposedly existed this is a record that wants you to know it.

~King of Punk is re-released December 11th 2015 via HoZac’s excellent archival series.~