It's Pink Floyd's fault. The story of the extent to which the escalating material battles of prog and art rock in the mid-seventies, accompanied by overestimation of one's own self and megalomania, helped to cause punk, has been told a hundred times. It is true that the adolescents of those years who were affected by a recession lost touch with their idols, especially in England. But this movement was not a one-way street. The album "Animals" is an impressive example of the effects of the social circumstances that gave birth to punk on a band that was already regarded as dinosaurs at that time. With this surprising record, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright were closer to the Sex Pistols than their contemporaries could have known.
Let's take a moment to the years 1976/77. The British economy stagnated, unemployment reached its highest level since the Second World War and inflation was twenty-five percent. The minority government under Labour prime minister James Callaghan was unable to solve the problems. The trade unions also paralyzed the country's infrastructure with strikes. The spectre of Thatcherism was already emerging on the horizon. But not only between above and below, but also horizontally between individual population groups. In 1976, the famous Notting Hill Carnival was the scene of serious racial unrest. Television broadcasts showed how black youths chased the overstrained police through the streets. The mood of optimism of the Swinging Sixties was no longer noticeable, the whole of Great Britain was under the smog of depression.
The established British music scene reacted little or not at all to these developments. Prog bands such as Yes and Genesis devoted their lyrics to themes far removed from everyday life, the working class heroes signing Rolling Stones suddenly liked themselves as the flagship of the jet set, John Lennon had his hands full with Yoko in New York, the disco wave was conjuring up harmony under the mirror ball. The youth in the streets felt lost. Following the example of some sixties bands and the rockunderground of Detroit, Cleveland and New York, punk formed in England. The prog pioneers Jethro Tull didn't really push through with their criticism of the record industry ("Too Old Too Rock'n'Roll, Too Young To Die"), which was formulated in the album context, and then moved back to the country. The British youth and subsequently the whole world didn't want complacent, saturated superstars and their blown records anymore. She craved energy, which was allowed to break its way in a maximum of three chords.
Pink Floyd and Manfred Mann's Earth Band were among the few veteran bands who intuitively understood the signs of the times. The Earth Band had already thrown an angry "We're messin' up the earth" at the world flight tendencies in prog in 1973. But with that they remained on a lost position between all the dream dancers. The time for protest or even system criticism seemed to be over. The middle seventies swayed in multicolored escapism or in navel-gazing.
From today's perspective, that may be surprising. When we think of bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis or Jethro Tull, we easily forget that most of them didn't even exist for ten years. Time flew so quickly, according to the feeling at the time, that it seemed like eternity. Woodstock was a legend, the Sixties could not be further away from 1977 than they are from 2017. The British rock establishment already had the most successful albums of its career behind it. A generation change was on the horizon, suddenly Yes and Co. no longer belonged to the British youth culture. All this makes Tull's resistance to punk understandable up to a certain point.
It looked a little different about Pink Floyd. The quartet stood after "The Dark Side Of The Moon" and "Wish You Were Here" at the zenith of their fame. But the guilt complex towards Syd Barrett was sufficiently worn out after these LPs and before "Meddle". The band demanded new content. The themes were on the street in two senses. Floyd opened the gates and let the street in.