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They perfected angry screeching misanthropy before the Sex Pistols – and helped inspire bands such as the Damned and the Skids. So why have they been consigned to history?
“We were John the Baptist, we weren’t Jesus Christ.” Doctors of Madness frontman Richard Strange is talking about his band’s prophetic-but-premature relationship to punk. “We didn’t know what was coming, we were just bored with what had been,” Strange adds, describing how mid-70s entropy – the lull between glam’s twilight and punk’s dawn – goaded the group into existence.
In recent years, cult interest has fastened on a phase in the 70s that has been called “punk before punk”: a catch-all for a musically motley bunch of bands who anticipated one aspect or other of 1977’s insurrection. In this not-quite-a-genre you’ll find stompy boot-boy rockers the Jook, the theatrical menace of Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Oi!-anticipating Cockney hooligans Heavy Metal Kids, the spiky New Wave premonitions of Jet and Ultravox, Musical Vomit’s shock-rock, and the back-to-basics blast of the Hammersmith Gorillas.