Most of us probably first met punk rock when the Sex Pistols and the Bromley Contingent were slouched all over a talk-show, casually outraging the bourgeoisie and causing high blood pressure in suburbia. Then we were aurally assaulted with "God Save the Queen" during the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations, and everything just grew from there.
For me, the fascination of punk stopped when this song came out. Oh yes, I was still a fan, bought countless records and rejoiced in the new freedom of expression and studied amateurism that punk ushered in. But when this song hit the charts I figured the party was over.
It's not that this is a bad song, but it's so clearly a cartoon, a Left Bank intellectual's attempt at being outrageous, that it fails to be "punk" by a margin as wide as the Channel. It's funny, for all that, to hear French street slang chanted over the top of a completely banal wall of guitars. And what self-respecting punk would ever have done that "oooo-weeeee-oooo" in the chorus?
The best part is that Plastic Bertrand isn't even French: like all the best things Francophone - Tintin, Maigret, Eddy Merckx, Front 242 - he's Belgian.