Ok ok, I understand that these top ten lists are fraught with controversy and someone is always left out. Still, it’s fun to compare in your head what you see as the best compared to the albums listed below. A list from this blog posting provides a great exploration of all-time great punk albums! Even if you violently disagree with these selections, read about some of the albums, and revisit classic punk music!
1. The Ramones – “Ramones”
NY Rockers were steeped in comics, horror movies, Phil Spector and multitudinous other pop culture iconography that they brought to Punk. They are of foremost importance in this genre because they planted the flag in the ground that so many thousands of other groups rallied around.
Ramones – For Punk music, this is the shot heard ‘round the world. This album not only set the tone, look, and manner of all things Punk, it’s loaded with killer songs to boot.
2. The Sex Pistols – “Never Mind The Bollocks”
British baddies infused all of music with a healthy shot of much-needed adrenaline. And then they heaped on righteous anger, label firings, Sid Vicious, and finally, an inglorious implosion.
Never Mind The Bollocks – It’s incredible to think that the Pistols could have lived up to the monster hype they generated in the media-miniaturized 70’s, but one listen to this album confirms just that. Bollocks… sounds better today than it possibly could have in ’77 – the times have finally caught up to the sound and fury of the Pistols.
3. The Clash – “London Calling”
Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, et al upped the ante on what a Punk band could be. They not only brought a much-needed political and world view to the party, they also proved that you could play your instruments well and still retain credibility as punkers.
London Calling – One of the finest albums in all of music, this genre-crossing, non-stop rocking blast of energy fused the group’s love of rock-n-roll, reggae, political awareness, and general thunder in a way few groups have ever approached, let alone surpassed.
4. Minutemen – “Double Nickels On The Dime”
This San Pedro, California trio generally stayed true to their name, constructing one minute blasts of Punk influenced by all manner of musical, cultural, and political influences. From 1980 until lead singer D. Boon’s untimely death in December 1985, Minutemen shaped a sound that was inherently Punk but uniquely their own.
Double Nickels On The Dime – Comprising – count ‘em – 44 songs over the original 4 vinyl sides, Double Nickels… (the title is trucker-speak for driving 55mph) is bursting at the seams with quirky influences, big ideas, gifted playing, and one quick shot after another of D. Boon’s greatness.
5. Buzzc**ks – “Singles Going Steady”
The closest that Punk came to producing a group like The Beatles was this band. Formed after its future members attended a February ‘76 Sex Pistols show, Buzzocks brought an uncanny sense of songwriting ability to a genre that prided itself on simplicity and simple-minded lyrical exclamation.
Singles Going Steady – Sixteen songs from 8 singles just shouldn’t be this good. It’s possible to argue in many cases that the B-sides are superior to the A’s, but there’s no denying that this is one of those rare albums without a discernible ounce of filler.
6. The Stooges – “Fun House”
Ann Arbor, Michigan’s favorite sons were a prime influence on punk. From their blast furnace sound to frontman Iggy Pop’s insane yelping, yowling and physical confrontation with audiences, The Stooges used their muscle to create the space where punk could, and would, grow.
Fun House – The archetypal pre-punk album, Fun House compresses madness, chaos, urgency, violence and sinew into a squanking bouillabaisse of tension and release.
7. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – “The Modern Lovers”
This Boston bred pre-punk super group had future members of The Cars and Talking Heads, as well as JR. Unfortunately, when their label didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with their self-titled debut and shelved it, the group split to separate paths of musical greatness.
The Modern Lovers – By the time it was released in 1975 – it was recorded a full two years earlier – this clever, catchy, and deceptively simple sounding album wasn’t really in step with the times. It’s one of those rare albums that continues to sound outside of time, living in a parallel universe of its own, where cartoons are fun, and you like to dance.
8. The Undertones – “The Undertones”
Northern Ireland’s Undertones sported one of punk’s most distinctive vocal stylists in Feargal Sharkey. The fact that they were legendary BBC DJ John Peel’s favorite group of all-time doesn’t hurt either.
The Undertones – The album that allegedly reduced Peel to tears of joy upon his first listening, this album still has the ability to pull goodtime goosebumps. This is Punk at its most joyous, uplifting and fun.
9. Monks – “Black Monk Time”
Once upon a time, 4 GI’s stationed in Germany during the Vietnam war decided to display their displeasure with the world and their lot in it by shaving their heads into monks’ tonsures, dressing up in full monk regalia, and firing off the angriest, bluntest music anyone could possibly have imagined at that time.
Black Monk Time – Listening to this album and trying to place it in 1966 is disorienting. It’s almost as if these freaks jumped into a time machine and went back 10 years to give the world a glimpse of what was yet to come. Song titles like “Shut Up” “I Hate You” and “Cuckoo” make it fun to contemplate how long slack-jawed, gawking audiences (the lucky few dozen, probably) waited before hurling a shit storm of boos, curses and flying bottles upon our heroes. Not unlike the scenes their bastard stepchildren would wreck a mere 10 years later.
10. Radio Birdman – “Radios Appear”
In 1976 New York City, Cleveland, and London weren’t the only ports fomenting Punk unrest. Sydney, Australia had its own completely autonomous – and generally unpopular – Punk scene. Headed by Radio Birdman and The Saints, these bands were reviled in their homeland for creating music that was without precedent in its intensity.
Radios Appear – Like many albums on this list, Radios Appear sounds as fresh today as it was grating and unlistenable to its intended audiences. The album is underpinned with a manic surf guitar twang that nobody this side of X touched within Punk. ‘Aloha Steve & Danno’ and ‘Murder City Nights’ are two of the greatest Punk songs ever, and unfortunately ‘New Race’ was sensitively misinterpreted as racist.