The punk movement between 1976 and 1984 represented a distinct period in the development of youth culture in Britain. Whilst certain principles paralleled earlier generations and youth movements, they were married to an outspoken ideology that declared ‘anyone can do it’ and an overtly nihilistic attitude toward the music industry itself. This led to a situation where ‘anyone’ did, in fact, ‘do it’, and the resulting deluge of independent, do-it-yourself records, concerts and networks of activity threatened to seriously disrupt the commercial stability of the popular music business, albeit temporarily. This period also saw a shift in power from traditional centres of production to smaller, independent hubs of operation with often clear local agendas. The relationship between popular music, geographical location and notions of authenticity is long-standing though discourse on the subject has been largely overlooked in favour of a style and authenticity debate centred on youth cultures and subcultural groups (Hebdige 1979; 1988; Marcus 1989; Home 1995; Muggleton 2000). Although Jon Savage (1991) does make a case for the punk Diaspora from 1978 onwards, the process is still described as one-way in that authentic punk styles originating in London filtered out to the provinces. Much the same case was made by Dick Hebdige, who attempted to validate his own position regarding what he describes as ‘originals’ and ‘hangers-on’, while Dave Muggleton adopted a more pluralistic attitude towards individual modes of ‘authentic’ participation. However, these models are all based on the perceptions of those involved in subcultural groups, and the physical geography of their locations relative to a perceived ‘centre’ is not discussed in any detail. This article explores the relationship between punk aesthetics and graphic identities across the wider regions of the United Kingdom. UK punk has often been portrayed as London-centric, with an occasional ‘nod’ to a small number of other major metropolitan centres, such as Manchester or Leeds; but little attention has been paid to more local interpretations of punk and Post Punk styles, or of the groups and clusters of individuals from further afield who responded to punk’s initial call to arms to ‘do it themselves’. Examples of punk output reflecting a connection to geographical localities and regional cultural histories are highlighted; and the sense that often small-scale local agendas operated alongside and in parallel to both national and international punk development is explored. This sense of local identity played out in record sleeves, lyrics, song titles, band names and graphic identities of groups and labels across the UK.
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Punk & Post-Punk is a journal for academics, artists, journalists and the wider cultural industries. Placing punk and its progeny at the heart of inter-disciplinary investigation, it is the first forum of its kind to explore this rich and influential topic in both historical and critical theoretical terms.