"As the most bone idle feckless self-absorbed pretentious drug sponge of the CBGBs mid-70s scene except possibly for Tom Verlaine, Hell's records should have been dreadful. Jazz-punk, French Decadent poetry, sixth-form nihilism - it should be Sting on skag, that bad. But almost all of the Voidoid's exceedingly limited output is fantastic, particularly this his first record. He swings with existential angst, on "Blank Generation". He screams smuttily, on "Love Comes in Spurts". He gurgles, entreats, and howls, before choking his guts up, on "Another World". And then he croons "All The Way" as the last drunks get carried out of the downtown dropout disco at dawn. The Voidoids (Ivan Julian, Bob Quine and Marc Bell) are not what you expect of punk pioneers. They crank out a racket when required, but then turn off at right angles. Even when they make a real row it's angular and jazzy. They could have backed Julie London, James Brown or Iggy without a second thought, and that gives Hell absolute freedom to make whatever noise he likes. Everyone goes on and on and on about Quine, but he is quite an amazing player. He flips about between hideous noise, classic Rock'n'Roll, 50s swing, bebop, jazz-funk and whatever else within the space of an 8 bar break. Every picture you ever see of him he looks like someone's dad but he is the business. Like Marquee Moon, Blank Generation is not what you expect punk rock to be, not if you've been used to the UK Subs, or the Damned, or Nirvana, or Green Day. It's trickier, sharper, funnier and more surprising in any way you can think of. And it swings. So it's a crying bloody shame Richard Hell only made one and a half other blasted records, the lazy get."
One of punk's best debuts
TimothyFarrell22 | Massachusetts | 07/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before the Sex Pistols came along, the Punk movement was very different. It wasn't about nihilism or politics, it was created to prove that no matter who you are, you can still create a damn good rock 'n' roll record. Hence, Iggy & the Stooges, the Ramones, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, and others were given a chance to shine that wouldn't have happened in almost any other movement. Aside from Patti Smith, NY's punk poet laureate was Richard Hell. Like many other bands from the CBGBs, Hell knew how to blend intelligent and witty lyrics with strait ahead rock 'n' roll. He even gave a name for the movement, crowning it the "Blank Generation". His lyrics were unique at the time, and perfectly painted a portrait of the scene at the time - a group of aimless misfits who decided to begin their own counterculture that embraced both the Beats and pre-Beatles rock 'n' roll. While they were revolutionary and mavericks, it was a different kind of revolution than what would take place a few years later with the British punk rock scene. Anyone who claims the Sex Pistols invented punk is incredibly misguided."
Essential 70s punk rock
TimothyFarrell22 | 12/01/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Hell and the Voidoids produced a sound which was uniquely punk and yet unlike anything else around at the time. In a sense, they sounded like they looked; the album cover photos show them as having been pioneers of a punk visual style - a kind of torn apart look. Hell's vocals consisted of a nasely sneer; his singing range is limited, yet it is somehow appropriate to his skronky yet poppish, detachedly nihilistic tunes. The sound of the Voidoid was the sound of simple Ramones-like rhythms (though slower), Hell's yelping vocals, and dual lead guitars producing a wide variety of sometimes tuneful, sometimes atonal, noises. The overall result is somehow catchier than it ought to be. Blank Generation's title song, something of a punk anthem, is one of the standout tracks. Love Comes in Spurts, Who Says (it's Good to be Alive), Down at the Club, and New Pleasure are also among the great tunes on an important and still cool sounding record."
Let Us Now Praise Obscure Flailing Ogee-Lipped Men
Patrick Sullivan | Canaan, CT United States | 06/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Almost 30 years after the fact this record still has a splendidly durable quality of being able to clear a room in under 60 seconds. It is especially valuable as forced listening for today's sallow youths, who regard the puking and mewling of baggy-pantsed and goateed fops like (to pick one) Fred Durst as -- God help us -- threatening or revolutionary in some way.Crank this sucker up loud in a room with the windows painted black and remember what it was like when giants roamed the earth and men knew how to play rock and roll music..."
Quintessential punk album, Hell is like Baudelaire.
Patrick Sullivan | 08/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Hell's music, like the punk style he helped create, reveals a cartoonish anarchy and mocking whimsy. Although some of the songs expose the fact he didn't know what the hell he was doing, therein lies the charm. The awkward, off-kilter pacing of these songs are a brilliant counterpoint to his nervous lyrics, which remind me of the decadent French poet Charles Baudelaire. In this age of mass produced mecha-pop (do these boy groups come out of a Ford assembly line or a cloning lab?), it's refreshing to hear something full of genuine emotion and brilliant talent. After you've heard the Sex Pistols and the Clash, pick up this punk gem, an artifact of an age gone by."