Sunday, October 13, 2013

"CBGB": Hilly Kristal And The Punk Rock Explosion

"CBGB" stood for "Country Bluegrass Blues," the genres of music that club owner Hilly Kristal envisioned showcasing. Instead, the East Village venue became the incubator for the 1970s explosion of a raw, stripped-down sound that became punk rock. The film "CBGB" features actors playing The Ramones, a band I saw there, along with Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Blondie, Iggy Pop  and Television and others. As played by Alan Rickman, Kristal, following a divorce and bankruptcy, took over a Bowery dive in a scruffy neighborhood, decades before its current gentrification. Kristal resisted the insistence of his daughter Lisa (Ashley Greene), club bookkeeper, that he pay his rent, cut expenses and not manage The Dead Boys, a venture that ended disastrously. More visionary than businessman, Kristal was forced to close CBGB following a long rent dispute. "CBGB" is a spirited tribute to Kristal and the music and milieu he fostered.


Michael J. Mand said...

Rock 'n' roll music experienced a diaspora in the early to mid seventies. Music that has since become classic rock began to show the inevitable signs of maturity, and its two main offspring went in opposite directions. The budding disco scene needed a soundtrack which was provided by one child. The other was the musical embodiment of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". The movie, 'CBGB' is the almost faithful depiction of the club on the Bowery that was the center of the punk rock scene. Punk rock - perhaps a better name should have been chosen - was the next generations return to roots; with a little more guts. And thank heavens there was that second child. I don't think I could have survived, musically, that is, without it. Despite less than stellar reviews, I highly recommend this movie.

Jeff Tone said...

Actually, I think punk was a good name for a blatantly defiant stance, one that also encompassed fashion and politics.

Punk was a response and a necessary corrective to disco, glam and prog rock.

I don't get the bad reviews. The movie did a good job of depicting Kristal, CBGB and the punk scene.