The End of Music: Punk, New Wave, Reggae, a critique - David and Stuart Wise


A critical look at the UK's "rebel music" of the 1970s and its connections to situationist theory, King Mob, etc. Written in 1978.

Submitted by Fozzie on December 19, 2022

"...this text was never meant to be published, as it was merely a prepatory draft handed around to a few people. The name David Wise was given as the author of this document written in 1978 which was published three or so years later by a group in Glasgow which had been tied up with the once, excellent Castoriadis influenced group, Solidarity. We had no knowledge that the text was being printed. Part of it contained some kind of critical potted history of King Mob.

On seeing the pamphlet for the first time, one of us asked for it to be pulped simply because it was merely some provisional notes strung together which initially had seen the light of day based mainly on conversations - which were quite exhilarating at the times during day to day work plastering, tiling, carpentry etc - on small building sites in East London mainly between ourselves and Nik Holliman who was later to produce The Sprint; c/o BM Chronos.

One or two others, in different, mainly pub based scenes, had also made pertinent points which were jotted down but, basically, a name couldn’t be put to it. A transcriber maybe, as it was nothing more than a product of collective, passionate yet democratic conversation (in the real and as yet unrealised sense of the term).

Moreover, the people in Glasgow had altered sentences and captions - some were even created - and one or two things deleted in that editorial control freakism which is such a baneful cancer on our times and which has subsequently been applied to most of our texts not published by ourselves. Of course, this editing scourge from people gladly referring to themselves as “autonomists” in reality, has yet to arrive at the simplest of individual bourgeois liberties letting a person say fully what they have to say without arbitrary censorship!

Originally, these notes were typed up and about 30 photocopies made and passed around to individuals who might be interested inviting comments. Some ended up in Leeds, falling into the hands of the remnants of the studenty, pro-situationist, Infantile Disorders – themselves a fall out from what happened in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the late 60s - and the background and impetus to their subsequent rip off by the Gang of Four punk band. A fair number of criticisms were made (including some from the ex Infantile Disorders) and the intention was to put them together in a larger, more coherent, balanced document as the original tone of the provisional notes was far too wide-ranging, dispersed and moreover, far too bitter and over-reactive, failing to give any notion of the elan and inventive mood of the times described. In a way it was a submission belonging to the rising tide of reaction. Perhaps the bitterness was understandable considering one was seeing the shadow of those brilliant King Mob times (well, at least comparatively) itself part and parcel of the failed revolt of the late 60s, reduced and resurrected everywhere as hip fashion (i.e. mainly punk rock) but that quite frankly wasn’t good enough in putting forward the flowing outlines of a brief historical moment which partly the pamphlet had traversed.

DW, 2003: Jumbled Notes: A Critical Hidden History of King Mob

PDF created from scans at DIY or Die: