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‘Do What Yourself?: Querying the Status of “It” in Contemporary Punk’

Dale, Pete (2018) ‘Do What Yourself?: Querying the Status of “It” in Contemporary Punk’. Punk and Post-Punk, 7 (1). pp. 25-36. ISSN 2044-1983

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Abstract

In order to ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY), one needs to have some idea as to what ‘it’ is, presumably. From the late 1970s punk scene onwards, many took ‘it’ to be releasing a record: some were content to simply perform a gig or several gigs, but actually releasing a vinyl record, or even a flexi or a tape, brought a certain credibility and seriousness to the profile of a band. However, some within the punk scene would appear to have realized early on that releasing records is not necessarily the best way to ensure that ‘anyone can do it’. Latterly, record sales have slumped and yet much of the DIY punk scene, even in its more radical and leftist margins, has critically failed to really explore the necessity and validity of releasing physical copies of musical performance. Should ‘we’ still be making records in the twenty-first century? Perhaps so, the article goes on to argue in the light of Walter Benjamin’s discussion of the on-going value of physical collections. ‘The’ revolution is not yet here and, under a capitalist system, we still may want to make records for some time to come, but a critical stance on pressing records in particular and DIY in general will do the punk scene no harm. Perhaps, indeed, making records is not the best ‘it’ that one can do and other forms of doing it yourself (putting on gigs, designing visual imagery, unrecorded musical performance and so forth) deserve to be valued more highly within the DIY punk scene(s).

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