Blank Generation (album)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Blank Generation is an early punk album by Richard Hell and the Voidoids, released in 1977 on Warner Brothers' Sire Records imprint.

The lyrics on this album, in keeping with the late 1970s punk style that Hell helped to create when he co-founded Television, are nihilistic and self-consciously degenerate, but they are also very strong poetically.

The off-kilter, high-energy music is driven largely by Robert Quine's rapid, complex, angular guitar licks, in particular on the lead song "Love Comes in Spurts," in which Hell rages against the impermanence of love in the real world compared to the imagination of his youth (the more vulgar connotations being perhaps a mere bonus):

Cuz love comes in spurts
in dangerous flirts
and it murders your heart--
They didn't tell you that part.

There's a minor controversy about the meaning of the title track "Blank Generation." Many people adopted the song as a nihilistic anthem of the 1970s (inspiring the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant"), but Hell maintained that he meant it as a comment on "generation" songs (e.g. "My Generation", etc.), saying it wasn't really about being blank, it was blank in the sense of fill-in-the-blank--free choice against the determinism of social labels. It is with some mix of irony and appropriateness then that "Blank Generation" became adopted as a label for the 1970s New York scene.

More recently, in a letter to The Wire magazine, Hell has pointed out that there are other obvious resonances in the lyrics, e.g. in references to blank walls, vacant lots:

it's fascinating to observe what the mirror does
but when I dine it's for the wall that I set a place
To hold the TV to my lips the air so packed with cash
Then carry it up flights of stairs and drop it in the vacant lot

Not to mention in some rather stark nihilistic thoughts:

I was sayin let me out of here before I was
even born--it's such a gamble when you get a face

(These lyrics are taken from the titles of two poems in Hell's satiric poetry collaboration with Tom Verlaine, Wanna Go Out? The book was written under the pseudonym of Theresa Stern, supposedly a half-Puerto Rican, half-Jewish former prostitute. The book was recently reissued in a French/English bilingual limited edition as On Decolle? Wanna Go Out?.)


Track listing

All songs written by Richard Hell except as indicated.

Side one

  1. "Love Comes in Spurts" – 2:03
  2. "Liars Beware"* (Hell, Ivan Julian) – 2:52
  3. "New Pleasure"* 1:58
  4. "Betrayal Takes Two" (Hell, Julian) – 3:37
  5. "Down at the Rock and Roll Club" – 4:05
  6. "Who Says?" – 2:07

Side two

  1. "Blank Generation" – 2:45
  2. "Walking on the Water" (John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty) – 2:17
  3. "The Plan" – 3:56
  4. "Another World"* – 8:14

*Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, all other tracks recorded at Plaza Sound.

CD reissue bonus tracks

  1. "I'm Your Man" – 2:55
  2. "All the Way" (Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen) – 3:22

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Blank Generation (album)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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