Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album has just returned to the US charts, more than 25 years after its landmark release. Naturally, that’s something to celebrate for all those committed to the grunge era. As a corollary, devotees of the hair metal dominance which preceded the arrival of Kurt Cobain et al will doubtless be moaning once more, about how this was the album that led the dark forces which destroyed all they admire about music. So, is it fair to say that grunge was responsible for undermining everything the 1980s stood for? Well.. what a load of nonsense.

 

Nikki Sixx put it very well recently, when he underlined that a lot of the big hair bands from the ’80s simply were not good enough at the time when grunge first emerged from the Seattle area. It’s as daft to say that grunge undermined the big names of the previous decade as it was to claim 15 years before the release of ‘Nevermind’ that when punk came along it hounded progressive and traditional heavy rock into oblivion. It’s a case of looking for something and someone to blame. But it is lazy, misinformed paranoia.

 

Think about it. Do you honestly believe that a fan of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Yes or ELP went to bed one night in ’76, waking up the next morning to loudly proclaim: “I hate all these bands now. I want The Adverts, The Stranglers and Slaughter & The Dogs”. Or, that a person who idolised Warrant, Faster Pussycat and Trixter had an epiphany in 1991, barging these bands into the bin, to be replaced in their affections by Tad, Mudhoney and Alice In Chains?! You just cannot be serious.

 

I am someone who loves King Crimson and Grand Funk, but also enjoys bands such as The Clash and The Buzzcocks. I am also passionate about Bon Jovi and Poison, however can equally enjoy Soundgarden and The Screaming Trees. Why do you have to settle for listening to only one type of music? These genres are not mutually exclusive.

 

But when punk and grunge came along, what they did was excite a young, hungry generation who did not want heroes handed down to them by parents and older siblings. They wanted their own music, and if it annoyed their elders, so much the better. Of course, the media at the time hailed the arrival of a new trend – that’s what the media tended, and still tends, to do. And, let’s not forget that a lot of punk musicians might have openly despised the likes of Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator, but the twist with this is that, out of the public gaze, these punks were actually fans of such artists,a s they now feel free to admit.

 

Even Sniffin’ Glue, THE punk fanzine, wrote about bands such as Barclay James Harvest in their early issues as well as the emerging punk scene.

But what really felled the biggest of heavy rockers and proggers in the mid-1970s was that they’d become bloated and complacent. And at the end of the next decade, the whole big hair/glam metal movement was saturated with mediocrity and terrible albums. So, all the arrival of punk and then grunge did was accentuate how lifeless their predecessors had become. And the days were over when established names could sell vast quantities of any album, however bad it was, simply because of their reputation. That’s how it should be anyway. Bands should be judged on what they do in the here and now, not given the benefit of the doubt because of a classic album put out a decade ago.

 

So, all of those naysayers when it comes to punk and grunge, the people who stick with the myth that these heinous, ‘untalented arseholes’ who dared to reintroduce spirit and energy into rock ‘n’ roll, have their knickers in a twist for the wrong reasons. What they should be doing is having a go at their own heroes for taking themselves and their fans into an artistic cul-de-sac. The villains here are not Eddie Vedder or Joe Strummer, but those musicians who, for whatever reason, had lost their mojo and were content to coast along.

 

It is time to put this bollocks to bed that the devilry of the safety pin and the cheesecloth shirt brigades ruined music. The quality bands who had existed prior to these upheavals in 1967 and 1991 carried on regardless. They still sold albums and gig tickets, and had huge diehard support. Maybe they went a little under the radar as far as the media was concerned, but they didn’t disappear at all. Some bided their time, before returning in full force a few years later. Those who broke up deserve no sympathy because, as Nikki Sixx says, you cannot piss like a puppy if you’re planning to run with the dogs. Any experienced musicians who couldn’t stand up to the arrival of the new kids on the street corner obviously did not have the vision or determination to battle through – and if they were prepared to limply give up, why on earth should anyone defend them by suggesting they were poorly treated?

 

So, to all those who look at punk and grunge as the antithesis of what music should be all about, let me say this: wake up and understand the artists and songs you appreciate and enjoy did not disappear. It was always present. You are looking to blame outside forces for the reality that a lot of your fave bands were making risible records, ones which should have been dumped into the nearest incinerator. If you want to carry on perceiving the likes of the Sex Pistols and Pearl Jam as being responsible for destroying quality in music, then that’s your choice. The rest of us will carry on appreciating all forms of good rock, while you wallow in your own self pity, and give credence to the pomposity of those who don’t want to face to their own shortcomings, because it is easier to point the finger at others.

 

Doubtless ‘Nevermind’ will carry on being regarded by Loverboy fans (well, some anyway) as the soundtrack to the musical apocalypse. You have to feel sorry for such delusion.