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On the crunchy and infectious title track of their recent EP, Downtown Rockers, Tom Tom Club's Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth give it up for their lower Manhattan '70s contemporaries, name-dropping such seminal artists as Richard Hell, Patti Smith, Television and Blondie, among others. "There were so many great people playing CBGBs when we were just starting out as Talking Heads," Frantz says. "We weren’t able to fit everybody into the song. That's pretty difficult in the space of three minutes."
As was the case with Talking Heads, the terms punk, art-rock, garage rock and new wave were liberally and interchangeably applied to many of the acts Frantz and Weymouth rubbed shoulders with. "The New York press kind of did the same thing as the London press," Weymouth says. "They wanted to compress everything into one style, one name. But it wasn’t like that at all. There was a huge variety of bands, and the audiences were happy to have that variety."
As for the word "punk" itself, Frantz doesn't recall there being a clear delineation as to who fit under the umbrella term at the time. “The name wasn't used amongst the bands," he says. "It wasn’t until Punk magazine came out that the word started being thrown around, and then there was a bit of labeling going around – this band’s punk, that band isn’t.’"
With the passage of time, Frantz and Weymouth have no such problems acknowledging bands as truly punk-worthy - "It's attitude, it's fashion and it's the music," says Weymouth - and on the following pages, the husband-and-wife rhythm section name the the genre's 11 greatest ever (in alphabetical order).
"All of these bands have such unique distinguishing qualities," says Frantz. "But they have one thing in common: they were memorable.”