There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
When one gets misty and starts to speak longingly of ’70s music, punk isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But if you’re Düsseldorf’s Die Toten Hosen (literally, “the The Dead Trousers”), and for more than a decade you’ve been carrying the torch for a scene you were never really a part of, perhaps the logical choice is to cut a sappy, charming album of class-of-’77 covers and invite “original punk survivors” to sing along. The Trousers have even unearthed a couple of suitably retrospective songs. The Boys’ “Brickfield Nights” has a punk choir vowing “I will never forget you,” while the Rockafellas’ “Do You Remember” (“breaking a string in the first number…roadies earning more than you…almost getting laid”) resembles the work of a yearbook committee. Equally shaky is the Pants’ grasp of punk fashion—booklet photos reveal a weakness for matching red vests—and punk belligerence—Learning English‘s cover shot shows the Union Jack-draped lads to be as menacing as a box of puppies. The one Slacks original attempts to answer a boy’s query, “Dad, what was poonk rock?,” but it’s not clear that the Britches understand. One reason punk is so ill-suited to nostalgia is that it never really went away. True, it has been subject to continual reinvention over its 20-year history, but in its various guises it has persisted as a vital force that makes new pop new. What is lost on the Pantaloons is that nobody gets to remake the music twice. And if you missed your first shot, being 10 or 15 years older hardly helps.