When one discusses the history of punk rock in the United Kingdom, Scotland usually doesn’t spring to mind. I guess London gets all the notoriety being the center of the panic-button politics from which the punk scene emerged: affordable housing shortages, garbage strikes, racial tension and police brutality. Add to that a growing discontent for the way music was progressing and human beings’ innate desire to move along to the next new thing and, boom, London’s West End erupted with equal parts anger, creativity and inspiration.
Back to Scotland. A few kids got together at Edinburgh Art College around 1975 to form what would become that country’s best unheard of band: The Rezillos. Armed with a few amped-up versions of 60’s rock standards and some cheap Woolworth’s guitars, they took the UK by storm playing around 200 shows in their first year out. Covers of The Dave Clark 5’s “Glad All Over” and Earl Vince and the Valients (a precursor to Fleetwood Mac) “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In” fit right in with their art school sensibilities. Songs about alien abduction, sculpture, space travel and pop-music demagoguery rolled along to a quick-time beat and bass guitar lines the likes of which no one had ever heard.
It still gets me to this day hearing vocalist Fay Fife’s deep Scottish brogue trip over itself in that Dave Clark cover. “Ahn um fee-luhn… glad all over!”
As writer Ira Robbins puts it, they were outside of punk… “a loose interpretation of the 60’s more than a refutation of the 70’s.” Proto-punk and post-modern at the same time. I considered all this while drinking the Punk IPA from Brew Dog Brewery out of Scotland. Here’s an amalgamation of style and resource, much like the Rezillos. Hops from the UK, America and New Zealand work perfectly with traditional British malts to provide a balanced ale with plenty of texture. Punk’s color is fresh-cut straw with tons of foam that leaves behind trails of sticky lacing. Scents of pine and hay mix around a touch of orange marmalade and a hint of alcohol heat. Despite their own website’s IBU listing of 68, this beer has a ton of hop bitterness. A firm malted grain flavor gives way to loads of tangerine and grapefruit peels, a touch of dark bread and a hint of honey.