Just A Bunch of Important Punk Records

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UPDATE 5/11 10:20 AM: wow, thanks to everyone for sharing and reading! Didn’t expect this kind of response. A little disclaimer: we are aware there are some records left off. That was done purposely either because of our own preferences, or because RS already listed them. Yeah, bands like The Exploited, Sex Pistols, etc are extremely important to punk in general, but this is more of a list of our own personal albums. We wrote this list as a counter to Rolling Stone – if you don’t like our list, I suggest you do the same and write your own.

By now, I’m sure y’all have seen the horrendous “top 40 punk albums” Rolling Stone listed. While there are a lot of good ones on there, they left out a bunch of great records. And I mean, to be fair, so did we – it’s impossible to actually list all of the great punk records. I’ll probably decide in a couple of weeks that I left out a band or two and have to revisit it. I don’t even know how many are in this list. Also, keep in mind, none of these are in order. I can’t rank albums. Anyway, my best friend Anna Theodora (AT) and I (AK) decided to put our own list together, because clearly, we know better. And I’m sure y’all do too. This is a “living list” – there’s always going to be more records to add.

The Undertones – The Undertones (1979)

This is the same band that wrote the “song so nice, John Peel played it twice” and ultimately got tattooed across his gravestone (the famous DJ also was lowered to said  grave with the song playing) – “Teenage Kicks.” This is arguably one of the greatest pop songs of all time, but the Undertones self titled album had all the same punk attitude as The Ramones and The Clash. Pop jams like “Here Comes The Summer” and “Get Over You” fit right in with the more punk infused songs like “Male Model” and “Family Entertainment.” This Belfast based band managed to write upbeat, almost “cute” songs even being in the center of the Troubles while bands like Stiff Little Fingers wrote more anti-war protest songs. The album is dripping with harmonies, mod inspired licks, and uplifting verses not found in other punk bands from the time. (AK)

Ramones – Leave Home (1977)

Note: this is for the original release featuring “Carbona Not Glue”

A lot of people would put Ramones or Rocket To Russia here, but with the ultimate huffer jam “Carbona Not Glue” (not to be confused with the OG “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”), impeccable middle finger “Glad To See You Go,” and theme for the mentally ill “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment,” I can only put the Ramones’ sophomore album here. A little more refined than their self-titled debut, but still a little dirtier than Rocket To Russia, Leave Home is full of the 3 chord Ramones staples everyone knows and loves. Featuring a cover of “California Sun” (Henry Glover) and one of the best Ramones’ love songs of all time, “Oh Oh I Love Her So,” this album stays true to the first record’s 60’s influenced lyrics and snotty teenage attitude. The song “You’re Gonna Kill That Girl” definitely shows a maturity in their songwriting, though, with an intro that almost doesn’t fit with the rest of the song, and an allusion to “Great Big Kiss” by the Shangri-Las. Of course, a Ramones album is incomplete without a song about a punk girl with a two syllable name, and “Suzy Is A Headbanger” covers that. Overall, this is an album to play LOUD and sing along to – and with the repetitive lyrics the Ramones have, that’s not hard. (AK)

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Ramones – Rocket To Russia (1977)

When I was a kid, my parents would play the classic rock station in our car, and when “I Wanna be Sedated” would come on, I’d excitedly bounce in my car seat and squeak along to what I thought were the words, improvising choruses and verses and dancing in place. When I was 11, I loved Green Day. American Idiot had just come out (which I know is dating me), and it was in constant rotation in my little CD player, and I listened with the rapt attention that only a starry-eyed preteen could have. My dad helpfully suggested I should check out the Ramones – “they’re from here, this whole punk thing started right where you live.” I was sold. One sunny Saturday, I collected all of my dimes and quarters and dollar bills I had saved from my allowance, biked to my neighborhood’s music store, grabbed a copy of Rocket to Russia and got on my tip toes to place it on the counter, while painstakingly counting out my small bills and loose change. I murmured an awkward apology to the notoriously grumpy guy manning the register who laughed and said, “don’t apologize! This is punk rock!” I was hooked from then on. 

Nothing in this review has spoken to the musical quality of this album, but the Ramones never were about that. The energy and the passion behind the three chords and the feeling that anyone could do this if they wanted to was what roped me in and held me there, and I know I’m far from speaking for myself. This album opened my eyes and led me to what has absolutely shaped my life and I couldn’t be more thankful that a bunch of dudes from Queens who didn’t like each other all that much decided to get on the stage at CBGBs and count out that “1-2-3-4.” The world is better off for it. (AT)

Minor Threat – Complete Discography (1989)

Yeah, yeah – compilation albums shouldn’t count. However, as one of the most important hardcore bands of all time, it’s impossible to pinpoint just one of Minor Threat’s releases. This compilation includes all of their greatest songs, like “Filler” and the eponymous “Minor Threat” and is peppered with covers by bands like Wire and The Standells. Minor Threat paved the way for the straightedge scene, with their “don’t smoke/don’t drink/don’t fuck” (“Out Of Step”) attitude and seriously contributed to the Washington, DC, hardcore scene. Their own record label, Dischord, released influential bands like Void, Government Issue, and Ian MacKaye’s brother Alec’s band, The Faith. (AK)

Black Flag – Damaged (1981) and My War (1984)

This was a difficult decision for me to make so I said fuck it – both of these albums are incredibly fucking solid, and extremely different for being released so close together. On Damaged, you can tell they’re young kids trying to get the hang of this whole music thing. Black Flag had been around for a couple of years, but this was their first LP. Considering that, some of the best Black Flag songs are on here. It starts off with a ripping guitar intro from Greg Ginn with “Rise Above,” the chorus filled with group chants you have to yell along to. “TV Party” is anthemic of teenagers partying in their parents’ basements, trying to delay boredom by drinking and watching TV. The album also includes songs previously sung by their old singers Keith Morris (Circle Jerks), Ron Reyes, and Dez Candena – including “Gimme Gimme Gimme” (one of the best drum songs of all time), “Depression,” and “Police Story,” an anti-cop slammer.

My War begins with one of the greatest punk build ups ever with the title track, with Rollins screeching “MY WAR!” If you’ve ever been betrayed by someone you trusted, you’ve probably screamed along to this song. You can tell that in a short time, the band has matured – less songs about getting fucked up, more songs about mental illness (“Depression” on Damaged is another). That’s one of my favorite things about Black Flag. Their songs get dark, and they aren’t afraid to talk about subjects other bands only lightly touch on. While the Ramones definitely have a lot of references to Joey Ramone’s mental instability, they do it in a more humorous way. Songs like “Can’t Decide” and “Beat My Head Against The Wall” bring up anxiety and depression in a darker, more serious tone. Their maturity also may be due in part to the greatest punk drummer, Bill Stevenson, who played on this record. (AK)

Damned – Machine Gun Etiquette (1979)

Released by Chiswick Records (The 101’ers, Nipple Erectors, Johnny Moped, Motorhead), this album might have one of the most highly regarded punk love songs – the aptly named “Love Song.” The Damned, with their stage names (Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, Algy Ward), are darker than some of the other bands of their time, even verging a bit on the goth side of punk. “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” is a perfect example of them experimenting with goth rock, with heavy keys and reverb on the vocals. This album includes a cover of “Looking at You” by MC5, but the Damned speed it up, Vanian’s vocals wailing over the guitar and pounding drums, truly making it their own song. It would also be impossible to discuss Machine Gun Etiquette without discussing the masterpiece that is “Smash It Up pts 1 & 2” – part one is an instrumental, beautiful segment and flows perfectly into part two. Part two kicks in and makes you wanna dance, taking it from something pretty to a full on rock n roll song with driving drums. Fuck Rolling Stone magazine for skipping over this treasure of an album. (AK)

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Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material (1979)

This is one of the most important protest records of all time – Bob Dylan, step aside. Stiff Little Fingers are a band born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles – a period of civil war within the country between the Catholics and Protestants. This album completely reflects the issues they were accustomed to with songs like “Wasted Life”  and “Suspect Device,” rebelling against the propaganda surrounding them. Even the typical punk love song – “Barbed Wire Love” – is about finding your lover amongst the rubble and fighting hand in hand. “Alternative Ulster” is the ultimate war cry for the youth of Northern Ireland in this time period, about taking back your city.  For a bunch of kids in their early 20s, this is an extremely mature album. This album is a wake up call to reality amongst other records released the same year like The Damned’s Machine Gun Etiquette and even Belfast band The Undertones’ self titled album, that focus more on teen angst and love songs. This is the band that gave Northern Ireland a voice and spawned bands like Rudi, Protex, and even The Undertones. (AK)

The Clash – Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978)

I guess most people would put London Calling here, but I’m not most people. I mean, “Safe European Home”? How can you hear that song and not want to hear the whole album? The record drives all the way through, playing a little with songs with similar chord progressions that are a little more refined than tracks like “Janie Jones” and “White Riot.”  It branches out a little bit from the self titled, which is more punk, I guess, but this album grabs you from the get-go. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones’ affinity for reggae shines through without being in-your-face like Sandinista! with shoutouts to Jamaica in the first track. It ends with “All The Young Punks,” stays true to the title – Mick Jones screeching “all you YOUNG CUNTS” – and discusses what it’s like to be a struggling punk musician. And of course, there’s “Stay Free,” always a favorite, tattooed on the knuckles of punks everywhere. When I was a kid, my parents used to make me brush my teeth by singing “tooth brushing time” to the tune of “Drug Stabbing Time.” While this is by no means everyone’s go-to Clash album, it rocks the whole way through. It may not be the obvious choice, but, tell me you don’t get chills every time you hear “go easy, step lightly, stay free.” (AK)

The Jam – In The City (1977)

At the same time the Ramones were donning their leather jackets and Sid Vicious was stabbing safety pins through his cheek, Paul Weller and co. were wearing suits n’ ties, looking mod as fuck – which kind of makes it an arguable topic that they’re actually a punk band. However, listening to songs like “Eton Rifles,” “Going Underground,” and “All Mod Cons” might make you re-evaluate your standpoint on this argument. Picking just one Jam record was next to impossible for me – one of my favorite teachers of all time, my world history teacher, would play “This Is The Modern World” when we studied the modern world, and my dad’s favorite is Setting Sons. And I mean, picking Snap would be cheating. But after a serious mental debate, I settled on their debut. This album was like, ‘hey what’s up, hello, we’re The Jam, and we wish we were the Who but we’re too punk, so fuck you.’  Kicking it off with four chords and “ONE TWO THREE GO!” in “Art School,” the Jam immediately make their point. They’re here, they don’t give a fuck. They line themselves right in with bands like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys with “In The City,” a song which calls out police states, and the anti-gentrification anthem “Bricks and Mortar.” While may not necessarily filling the desire for angry, sloppy punk chords, In The City cannot possibly be described as anything less than a punk record. (AK)

The Heartbreakers – LAMF (1977)

While it may be the only studio album this band released, it influenced so many bands. Comprised with an impeccable lineup including the one and only Johnny Thunders, Walter Lure, Billy Rath, and Jerry Nolan, this album hits the nail on the head. This album immediately cuts to the chase with “Born To Lose,” an unforgettable song with a lazy guitar and drum intro. This album has all the heroin theme songs like “One Track Mind” (I said goddamn) and “Chinese Rocks” (co-written by Richard Hell and Dee Dee Ramone). Thunders’ Chuck Berry-worship guitar solos compliment the dirtiness of Lure’s power chords, and the album goes back and forth with their vocals. This record focuses on the sleaziness of the members – they were all well known junkies that just wanted to be loved. You can hear their upbringing on rock n roll but it’s played through dirty punk licks and blasting drums, courtesy of Nolan (who was in the New York Dolls with Thunders). All of the songs have their own bodies and can stand alone while also flowing perfectly into each other. While all the members bring their own individuality to the table, of course the spotlight is on Thunders – the trashiest, most tragic story of them all. He was born to lose, y’know? (AK)

Radio Birdman – Radios Appear (1978)

Australia doesn’t get enough love. I mean, they had The Saints, The New Christs, Hoodoo Gurus, Lime Spiders – but the shining star? Radio Birdman. Named after a misheard Iggy Pop lyric (actual lyric: “radio burnin’”), they are in your face, loud, and pure rock n’ roll in the form of punk chords, crashing drums, and loud vocals. The influence of Iggy is obvious in that they cover “TV Eye” but also in the overall attitude – they also borrow a lot from fellow Motor City band, MC5. And of course they shout Detroit out in “Murder City Nights,” a ripping song with a killer solo. The novelty surf track, “Aloha Steve and Danno,” rips a riff from the Hawaii Five-O theme, and the Blue Oyster Cult influence is apparent here. Radio Birdman are considered the forerunners of Australian punk and with a release like Radios Appear, it’s easy to see why. (AK)

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Descendents – Milo Goes To College (1982)

God, what a fucking solid album. All the way from the opening bass riff in “Myage” to the melodic guitar in “Jean Is Dead,” this is an album that consistently proves its worth. Milo is sprinkled with songs that somehow to pack a punch in less than a minute and aching heart jerkers like “Bikeage.” “Hope,” the rallying cry of the nice guy, is probably on every single college butthurt dude’s mix tape for the his best female friend who won’t notice his feelings. The album also has its ‘fuck you’s’ – “I’m Not A Loser,” dedicated to rich, ‘arrogant assholes,’ and “Parents,” which I personally blasted in my room my freshman year of high school every time my parents didn’t concede to my every whim. This album also has one of the greatest punk drummers of all time, Bill Stevenson. His blasting drums, under the fast powerchords Frank Navetta slams out, perfectly compliment Milo Aukerman’s angry yells protesting suburbia, drugged out frat dudes, and ex girlfriends. (AK)

Husker Du – New Day Rising (1985)

I guess a lot of people would put Zen Arcade here, right? While the band’s seminal record put them on the map and redefined punk, the third album hurtles in headfirst, demanding the attention of the listener. While it maintains a lot of the noise pop elements the first record had, New Day Rising shows the maturity of the band in less than a year. It is more intensely melodic, with powerful hooks and catchy choruses. Bob Mould and Grant Hart collaborated incredibly, but you can almost hear their headbutting during recording. This is most prominent during the title track, when Mould is wailing “new day rising,” over and over, almost desperately, on top of his heavily distorted guitar and the pounding drums of Hart that are almost competing. This record includes one of the greatest Grant Hart songs, “Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill,” along with the pleading Mould classic “Celebrated Summer,” arguably their finest song. Though often lumped in with hardcore bands because the record was released on SST Records (Dicks, Black Flag), this record completely eclipses the genre. While maintaining the angry, loud, and fast musical elements, they forego the stereotypical politically charged lyrics in favor of arty, bizarre, and romantic themes. (AK)

The Replacements – Let it Be (1984)

Sorry Ma… is the punk album. Pleased to Meet Me is the major label album. Tim is the popular album. And Let it Be is the best album. At least, that is, if you’re asking me. The Replacements’ influence in punk and alternative music is an undeniable force, particularly in their attitude towards writing and playing their absolute hearts out while being a perpetual rock n roll underdog. Let it Be, while being a solidly cohesive album, also marks a transitory period in the band’s history. Straight up rock n roll (“I Will Dare”) meets immature, toilet humor punk songwriting (“Gary’s Got a Boner”) meets heart wrenching ballads (“Unsatisfied” and “Androgynous”) while all still being undeniably replacements. The chemistry between the members of this band ebbed and flowed as they fell in and out of favor with one another, while remaining as explosive and irreplicable as one could ever want. The juxtaposition of the raucous guitars and indomitable spirit with soul-baring lyrics have made this band unrelentingly unforgettable, and this album something that will never not be relevant to generations of misfit kids. (AT)

Dickies – Dawn Of The Dickies (1979)

If the The Ramones are the pioneers of punk as we know it, The Dickies are the OG pop punk band. I mean, there’s poppy hooks, gang vocals, and  ridiculously fast drums. The Dickies were innovative; they took 1977 punk and put their own spin on it to create something weird and almost fucked up. They turned the snotty, angry genre into something humorous. This album starts with the blisteringly upbeat “Where Did His Eye Go,” which is almost Buzzcocks-esque, but seemingly more stereotypically punk than the Shelley sad boy standard. Leonard Graves Phillips’ voice reaches almost whining pitches as he sings over powerchords in “I’ve Got A Splitting Headachi,” a song with a powerful chorus that is impossible not to sing along to. And how could I leave out “Manny, Moe, and Jack”? The song, about an auto repair shop, is reminiscent of a car ride – I mean, it does start with a car starting, and ends with it crashing. It sounds like something you’d wanna listen on a summer day, windows down, playing loud. The Dickies also had incredibly interesting solos – not a standard of punk of their time, which typically leaned on Chuck Berry infused notes. This is all thanks to Stan Lee and Chuck Wagon’s dual guitars, almost competing with each other throughout the songs. The Dickies almost seem like a joke, but their talent shines through the stupidity. (AK)

Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady (1979)

At this point of time, I doubt this record counts as a compilation. This record is a staple to any punk, an incredibly solid  collection of singles by one of the greatest punk bands of all time. There’s not a single mediocre song on this record, and that’s because The Buzzcocks were not a mediocre band. If you’ve heard any of their John Peel sessions, you’d know this – it’s almost impossible for a band to sound that good on the radio, but they made it. The original punk heartbreak band, The Buzzcocks placed tough guitar riffs against sappy lyrics and somehow made it work. Standout tracks include “Promises,” a bittersweet song about how relationships can change; “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” an upbeat track with a trebly guitar hook and slamming chord progressions; and “Orgasmic Addict” which, while sounding upbeat and almost cute, is nearly as crude as a Dead Boys song. And of course, there’s “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have)” which, while fitting for scorned lovers, also alludes to Pete Shelley’s bisexuality. This is a great, truly romantic album, altogether – riding on the highs of relationships (“Love You More”) and also the lows (“Oh Shit,” “What Do I Get?”) of being in love. Listen to this the next time you go through a breakup – there’s something for everyone. (AK)

Cock Sparrer – Shock Troops (1982)

An incredible, catchy album all the way through, Shock Troops is one of many albums that ends up lumped into the UK 82 and Oi genres. While poppier than other bands in those categories like Blitz and Chaos, their songs about being a working class punk in London have all the same attitude as songs like “Summer of 81” (Violators) and “Murder In The Subway” (Attak). This album features the anthemic “Take ‘Em All” which is a favorite for DJs to play at dirty dives to get the bar to sing along, as well as “We’re Coming Back,” the ultimate BFF theme song. The hook in the first song, “Where Are They Now,” catches you and forces you to keep listening, and there’s not a single song that could potentially bore you (besides maybe “Out On An Island,” but that’s a personal belief). The album coasts on pounding drums, treble filled guitar solos, and gang vocals you’ll learn by the second chorus. (AK)

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X – Los Angeles (1980)

True story: I got pink eye when I went with my parents to see X when I was 13, along with a Germs burn from a very hesitant Billy Zoom (who told me not to tell my mom – and readers, also, don’t tell my mom). Probably my punkest moment. Los Angeles is an incredible record, comprised of surfy and Chuck Berry worshipping licks from Billy Zoom, an incredible rhythm section thanks to John Doe and DJ Bonebrake, and one of the greatest front women of all time, Exene. Her shrill vocals harmonized perfectly with John Doe’s wailing. Kicking in the album with a diss track fit for any break up mix, “Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not,” you can already see the difference between X and most other LA bands of their time period. While a lot of bands at that time were playing sloppy, 3 chord songs over dubbed with incoherent yelling, X immediately proves they have the ability to take punk and refine it with relatable lyrics and rockabilly influenced guitar licks. The second track, “Johnny Hit And Run Paulene,” begins with a throwback to “Johnny B. Goode” and John Doe describes a date rape scenario. After their energy filled cover of “Soul Kitchen” (only fitting as Ray Manzarek played organ and produced the record), one of the best mosh parts of all time overtakes your speakers in “Nausea.” Truly an imitable record, Los Angeles still proves its worth today. Check out their performance in Decline of Western Civilization. (AK)

Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)

True story – I once had to get talked out of getting a corndog tatted on my forearm, because I’m a “fucking corndog.” This is probably the longest album on this list, spanning over 40 songs, and arguably the most minimal, while still being complex. I mean, this album changed my life. This album changed a lot of lives. This album is not stereotypically punk, even while being on SST Records. Instead, this album leans heavily on the jazz chords of Mike Watt and D Boon and the unshakeable words their lyrics screamed out over music that may not typically match. “History Lesson Pt II” completely sums up what it’s like to completely surrender yourself to music, even proclaiming their ‘band could be your life,’ if you let them. “Corona” is a plodding track with political overtones, so while it may not sound ‘up there’ with other SST bands like Black Flag and Saccharine Trust, the message is there. Mr. Narrator, this is Bob Dylan to me – this stupid punk band, making fun of themselves; this is what I want to hear. (AK)

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FEAR – The Record (1982)

Have you ever seen the video of Fear from Saturday Night Live, when they got banned? John Belushi said they “looked very frightening, but were really very nice” – before joining Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat), Tesco Vee (The Meatmen), Harley Flanagan and John Joseph (Cro-Mags) and John Brannan (Negative Approach) in the pit. They played “Beef Baloney” amongst a few other songs from The Record and tore apart the stage, getting them banned from the show. Punk as fuck. For a crude group of punks that caused half a million in damage, the album itself is tight as fuck – and Bill Stevenson deserves yet another shout out for mixing it. It kicks off with almost incoherent mumbling in “Let’s Have A War,” and rides off palm muted chords, Spit Stix’s consistent thudding, and Lee Ving’s screams declaring his hatred for the status quo and normies everywhere. The record coasts on an almost painful intensity, never once slowing down or losing its momentum. Take a look at the LA punks and you’d think they were just another group of dirty wastoids, but when you listen to the record you hear they’re actually talented. The album has the sarcastic classics “I Love Livin’ In The City” and “New York’s Alright If You Like Saxophones,” both about living in disgusting squalor. The ultimate end goal of Fear seems to be that they wanted to piss anyone and everyone off. With a plethora of shit talking and often politcally incorrect lyrics, they easily accomplish that. (AK)

Teengenerate – Get Action! (1995)

Bands like Teengenerate and Guitar Wolf helped put Japan on the map for punk music. With Get Action!, Teengenerate brings poppy elements to garage punk. The combination of Fink’s snarling vocals over crashing drums and Pagans-on-cocaine guitar almost sounds juvenile, but they manipulate their sound into something slightly less than cohesive. The record is raw and the production is subpar, but it’s catchy and danceable. “Dressed In Black,” the single, is full of chanting vocals and galloping drums. This is quickly followed by “Fake Fake Fake,” one of the songs where the Ramones influence is incredibly prevalent. The record careens to a halt with an almost unrecognizable version of “Shake Rattle and Roll” – a hurling tornado that almost touches on hardcore. Teengenerate are an easy gateway drug to more J-punk bands, and it’s definitely worth diving in more with bands like The Stalin, The Blue Hearts, and Gauze. (AK)

Dead Boys – Young, Loud, and Snotty (1977)

The Dead Boys were so far ahead of their time on this album. What a gritty, dirty album. Like, you get an almost slimy feeling when you hear “All This And More” and “I Need Lunch” right? This is one of the best albums to fuck to ever – (‘you got dents in your head that tell me all the beds you’ve been shoved on’). Starting with the classic slammer, “Sonic Reducer” that hooks you immediately with that Jeff Magnum bass riff. I’m not even sure if there’s a more apt title for the album – how snotty is “don’t need no mom and dad”? The song “What Love Is” is a perfect song to pogo and pump your first to, with a catchy chorus to bang your head to. Cheetah Chrome is by no means the greatest punk guitarists of all time, but his sound works perfect for this record. Paired with Stiv Bators’ “don’t give a fuck” attitude, literally spitting the words out at points, they created a masterpiece. On top of the actual bangers this album includes, the story behind it is pretty cool – it was produced by Genya Ravan, who called them out for trying to be cool with their swastikas. Ravan, a Jewish woman who had lost relatives during the Holocaust, completely put them in their place – too bad Chronic Sick didn’t take note. (AK)

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Adolescents – Adolescents (1981)

California’s hardcore scene had already been brewing by the time Adolescents came out. With the seminal release, the band joined the likes of Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, among others in the SoCal scene. This bright blue record branched out from the typical sound while remaining familiar, infusing gnarly, rock n’ roll solos with the typical fast paced drums and snarling vocals. The band lives up to their name, with immature, humorous, and often ironic lyrics. The album itself is full of diversity, with some songs fast and loud, like “Word Attack” and “LA Girl,” while others a little more spaced out (“Amoeba,” “Who is Who”). Then of course, there’s “Kids Of The Black Hole” – hitting the five minute mark, a rarity in hardcore punk from the time. This is definitely the band’s unofficial theme, about a punk house full of angsty teens rebelling against adults and authority. While expansive, the album maintains the same “angry teenager” undertones. This album is one of the most important records from Orange County, right up there with Agent Orange’s Living In Darkness, which actually featured Steve Soto on some tracks. (AK)

Green Day – Dookie (1994)

Yeah, I suppose this is their “sellout” record and, from my personal opinion, not their best (Insomniac or Kerplunk, by the way) – but this album influenced angsty teenagers all over the world to pick up their guitars and start shitty punk bands. This album was and still is a gateway drug for a lot of kids to get into punk, which is why it’s so important and necessary to mention. It features masturbation anthem “Longview” and the self-deprecating “Basket Case,” along with teen angst-driven “Coming Clean.” This album proves you don’t need fifty different instruments to sound good – the trio (who, to be fair, eventually garnered several more members with the release of American Idiot) manages to sound full and powerful with just guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. (AK)

Agent Orange – Living In Darkness (1981)

Another Orange County band, Agent Orange are a little darker (well, obviously, hence the title of the album) than their counterparts. They tamed the wild, fast hardcore of their peers, with surfy guitar riffs (even covering surf classic “Miserlou”) and charged bass and drums. AO essentially created the surf punk genre, or at least outlined it. I mean, some of their solos are ripped straight off a Link Wray album. It’s an extremely diverse, powerful album, almost touching down into post punk with “Living In Darkness.” The lyrics also reflect the overall dark sound, with Mike Palm’s feelings of loneliness and isolation. Then, of course, there’s “Bloodstains,” with a consistent, chugging guitar riff overdubbed by Palm’s angry snarl. Arguably one of the greater American punk songs, the surf-soaked solo takes you right back to songs by artists like the Ventures and Dick Dale. (AK)

Avengers – The Avengers (1983)

Black Flag. Minor Threat. Descendents. That’s what everyone said, everywhere I turned, when I decided to get into punk as a pre-teen. All dudes (save Kira Roessler’s stint in Black Flag), and the crowds in all of the photos I could find looked the same. Dude after dude after dude. So it was, to put it lightly, a breath of fresh air when I stumbled onto Avenger’s Pink Album. Blondie and Siouxsie were great and I loved them dearly, but the aggressively feminine sneer of Penelope Houston, backed by fast and unapologetic hardcore was something entirely new to me. I could (and will) argue for “We are the One” as being one of the best punk songs ever written.

I finally got to see Avengers just recently, in a small bar in Brooklyn. The majority of the front row was starry eyed femmes and the band themselves sounded fantastic. Even if there are scores of incredible female-fronted bands out there, we see far less older women fronting hardcore and punk bands than we do older men. However, I left incredibly disappointed. There is a song on the Pink Album that employs the N-word in both title and chorus, and Avengers made the choice it play it in 2016. The song was written in 1979 and it was not, is not, and never will be okay for a white woman to use that slur. Bands mentioned above, Descendents and Minor Threat, have offered auxiliary explanations and apologies for their use of slurs or poor handling of social topics as teens and have distanced themselves from those songs. Avengers, quite brazenly, marked their ignorance and immaturity in their decision to play that song. There are many, many ways to talk about class issues without resorting to using slurs and there are also many, many ways to be accountable for actions you took and words you said as a kid while moving forward and not breathing fire to racism. (AT)

X Ray Spex – Germfree Adolescents (1978)

X Ray Spex, in and of themselves, were an innovative bands. They employed a saxophone player, Lora Logic and later Rudi Thomsen, and the shrill vocals of Poly Styrene. They were incredibly underrated during their time, but are a pivotal female fronted band. The album has tinges of goth and post-punk elements with songs like “The Day The Earth Turned Day-Glo,” showing they were ahead of their time. Other songs are more upbeat with the classic punk buzzsaw guitar. The saxophone is by no means necessary but definitely adds a lot more body to the record. Employing sax also sets them apart from other bands of their time. While the LP doesn’t have the sex driven single “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” the reissue does. This is one of the few songs with OG sax player Logic featured. Styrene’s wails are raunchy, trashy, at times screeching – a little different from her contemporaries’ snarls and growls. Her lyrics, like her adopted name, focus on the materialistic needs of consumers in her time period. X Ray Spex remain incredibly important, not only musically, but as one of the pioneers of punk feminism.  (AK)

Blitz – Voice of a Generation (1982)

For me, this is the ultimate UK82 album. It’s raw, it’s angry, it’s full of fist-pumping anthems – Blitz were tough. Somehow they manage to take even “Vicious,” by Lou Reed, and turn it into a dirty, thudding street punk song. This album is Oi 101 – necessary for any street punk to have in their collection. Literally, this album is the ‘voice of a generation’ – songs uplifting the working class wearing boots n’ braces (okay, “Razors in the Night” was on the later re-release) and rebelling against hypocrites (’45 revolutions, playing on your stereo/not one revolution/on the street’). The album is peppered with anti-government songs like “Propaganda,” “Nation on Fire” and “Criminal Damage” which question authority and police. The album utilizes relatively intelligent imagery for what most people would disregard as just a few skinheads on the streets of England, and, of course, it has the clever play on words “4Q” (fuck you, obviously). (AK)

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Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980)

This is one of the albums that put California hardcore on the map for hardcore. A politically driven record, Fresh Fruit combines surf-on-cocaine guitar riffs and almost humorous leftist lyrics to create some of the most famous punk songs of all time. Jello Biafra targets conservatives and police states in almost every song without sounding like he’s preaching his own propaganda. Instead of interpreting his beliefs through anger, he almost takes a sarcastic approach to politics with songs like “Kill The Poor” and “Chemical Warfare.” “California Uber Allies” is arguably one of the most famous punk songs to come out of San Francisco, directly calling out the governor at the time for being overbearing and even comparing him to Hitler at points. This is record remains one of the greatest debut records of all time. (AK)

Misfits – Walk Among Us (1982)

While Danzig is more of the butt of a joke these days, and rightly so, the early Misfits albums are something of a perfect storm. It’s punk but it’s spooky and Halloween-themed, it’s bats and zombies and all that horror movie junk the punk kids love, while not necessarily sounding like anything that would come out of the “goth” scene. It’s rockabilly but not as old-school, and its kitschiness is something otherworldly. It’s three-chord, two-minute stuff, but in a good way. Danzig’s at his best on this album, sounding like an Elvis impersonator that was raised on B movies and anger. I’m not really quite sure what to make of later iterations of the Misfits and I try not to think of them too much, but Walk Among Us is frozen in time just like Bela Lugosi’s Dracula or the Creature from the Black Lagoon. (AT)

The Cramps – Bad Music for Bad People (1984)

Shock was the name of the game when it came to The Cramps, who managed to make themselves absolutely synonymous with terms like “horror-punk” and “psychobilly.” The Cramps, similar to the Misfits but with arguably more musical proficiency, invoked the aesthetic of the B movies of the 50’s and 60’s in both their style and musical content. The seedy, bizarre underbelly of the film world stood as a mirror to the seedy, rebellious underbelly of the world of rock n roll at this time. The bass on this album is standout and unique, along with the growling vocals and the subject matter that certainly influenced horror fans and rockabilly punks alike. The Cramps further solidified their place in rockabilly history recently, when they played as Wanda Jackson’s backup band when she reissued a collection of her songs, breathing new life into rock n roll standards. (AT)

Gun Club – Fire Of Love (1981)

When I was sixteen I got my first car, a 1988 Toyota Camry only equipped with a tape deck. I’d peel through my parents’ cassettes, looking for familiarities, finding  gems like X and Minor Threat among mix tapes whose track lists had long since been rubbed off by time and love. Right when I was about to record a shitty mix over one of my mom’s old radio shows, I heard that wild, steady chord progression – “Sex Beat.” I was mesmerized. I spent the rest of the semester blaring that song as I’d roll into the parking lot at 8 AM, windows down, and rewinding it until the poor tape gave up and was only feeble squeals. That song still stands up and I still get the same chills I did when I first heard it. The rest of the album, of course, is also untouchable. “Sex Beat” goes into “Preaching The Blues,” wild and untamed, full of the twangs and licks of Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s slide and howling yelps. Then there’s one of the best love songs ever – “She’s Like Heroin To Me.” It’s got a steady, pounding beat, with Pierce’s wailing building up over the repetitive chorus until he yells “she cannot miss a vein.” Fire of Love is a boiling storm of sex and opiate addled rock n roll.  Gun Club are truly like no other, making two genres (blues and punk) that should’ve never made sense together sound powerfully cohesive. Sex beat, go! (AK)

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Wipers – Is This Real? (1980)

In a lot of ways, early punk and new wave blended seamlessly into one another. Talking Heads were playing shows at CBGB at the same time the Dead Boys were, and some bands vacillated between the two sounds – going between the more raw punk sound and the art rock aesthetic of new wave. Sometimes, though, they were in stark opposition, with each scene drawing derision and ire from the other. Then we have the Wipers, who were able to take the best of both genres and make something completely new. Is This Real? is simultaneously a fantastic punk album and a post-punk album, and helped to span the gap between the more radio friendly bands coming out of that era with the potable energy and power chords of the punk bands, without falling victim to the genre’s oft predictability or simplicity. It eludes definition and will defy any category you will try and put it into, which is why it stands out so far ahead. Is This Real? and the Wipers in general are absolutely crucial into understanding the time and place that they came out of, and the burgeoning state of alternative music that they helped to shape. (AT)

999 – Separates (1978)

Riding close on the tails of their eponymous debut, Separates already shows a difference in style than the first record – it’s poppier, but retains the punk energy. Going right in with “Homicide,” the production quality is instantly noticed. While 999 may boast “I’m Alive” and of course “Emergency,” Separates rivals it. The second song on the album, “Tulse Hill Night” continues the driving force of “Homicide” and the energy never wavers. Though released in 1978, 999 already breaches on post punk territory with this album. Elements of the genre begin to appear as the band combines the “fuck you” attitude in songs like “Wolf” with rock n roll riffs and a healthy dose of reverb. It’s like Singles Going Steady rear ended Entertainment. “Subterfuge” and “Action” clearly influenced bands like Gang of Four and Wire in the coming years. 999 is important, but Separates is the true shining star. (AK)

Adverts – Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts (1978)

One of the finest British punk debuts, Crossing The Red Sea is full of catchy hooks and dark lyrics. This album is a hurtling combination of gang vocals, proto-goth guitar riffs, and pounding drums. It kicks off with the hurricane that is “One Chord Wonders,” with TV Smith’s howls touching down atop Howard Pickup’s melodic licks and Gaye Advert’s thundering bass. Next up is the angsty teen’s anthem “Bored Teenagers” (which went on to be the name of an incredible compilation series, on a side note). The lyrics are reminiscent of “Kids Of The Blackhole” (Adolescents) in that it’s about kids stumbling around cluelessly trying to find meaning in anything. “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” may be the shining star of the record, with thudding drums and a repetitive chorus, though it was left off the initial release. It’s a satirical song about a patient receiving eye transplants from, of course, Gary Gilmore, famed murderer who demanded the death penalty. The album hints at the future of post punk, with songs like “On The Roof” and “Safety in Numbers” being the most progressively Gang Of Four-esque. (AK)

Germs – GI (1979)

I have two Germs burns – one on the outside of my wrist, placed gingerly on my wrist by Billy Zoom when I was 13, and one recent addition by my friend who had received his from one of the many drummers the band had gone through. The Germs are one of the seminal LA punk bands, surrounded by drugs and tragedy. From the moment you first hear Darby Crash’s snarl and Pat Smear’s raucous guitar in “What We Do Is Secret,” you know these kids had it – even if they didn’t know what “it” was. In “Lexicon Devil,” Crash pens himself as some fucked up god – which is kinda how he portrayed himself in real life. He was a train wreck, the Sid Vicious of LA. He based most of the lyrical content around his self destruction. It closes with the almost sludgy “Shut Down,” with Crash’s sneer in full effect. It’s a stark contrast to the overtime opener, helping the album careen to a halt. The album is tinged with bratty energy and declarations of eternal adolescence The album is abrasive and rowdy while maintaining some sort of consistency. Smear’s trained guitar paired with Lorna Doom’s thumping bass isn’t overthrown by the incoherent, snotty words spat out by Crash. But why would it be? Joan Jett herself produced the record, somehow taming the troupe of misfits into something that made sense. (AK)

Crass – The Feeding of the 5000 (1978)

It almost feels weird writing something about a band as ubiquitous as Crass. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? I think it might be the band’s omnipresence that garners them a spot on this list as opposed to anything particularly unique about their sound. A million bands have done what they did, that’s undeniable, but Crass stands out in ways a lot of those bands don’t. Anarchy is more of a buzzword than a political ideology when it comes to punk, but Crass is unique in the way that they actually espoused anarchism instead of yelling it while wearing ripped designer clothes and murdering your girlfriend. Crass put forth the idea of a band being actually politically dangerous, and of galvanizing the alread-angry punk youth into channeling that anger. Do Crass belong on this list? Of course they do, of course they do, or course they fucking do. (AT)

Youth Of Today – Break Down The Walls (1986)

Another perfect example of a band far before their time, Youth of Today had an irreparable impact on the New York hardcore and straightedge scenes. Ray Cappo’s anger shines through his screams on top of chugging, fast chords and speeding drums. This is the band that helped create the sound known as “youth crew,” appealing to pissed off, young punks who needed something more than what ’77 had to offer. Even today, I can’t think of a single person I know who plays hardcore that doesn’t cite Youth of Today as an influence. A lot of bands around this time had a song, this band had a message – they backed the straightedge movement and though Cappo sounds pissed as fuck, most of their songs have positive undertones – “Make A Change” is about people needing to treat each other better, “Break Down The Walls” is about challenging stereotypes and being true to yourself. This album is full of sick mosh parts, too – if the breakdown in “Stabbed In The Back” doesn’t make you want to hurl your body across a pit, something’s wrong. (AK)

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Bad Brains – Bad Brains (1982)

The Bad Brains are a seminal band in the DC punk scene, right up there with bands like Minor Threat and Government Issue. HR’s distinctive snarl tops a spiraling tornado of musical talent – Dr. Know’s wailing guitar that’s literally all over the place, Earl Hudson’s blisteringly fast drums, and Daryl Jenifer’s plodding bass. While most contemporary hardcore was angry and socio-politcally driven, the Bad Brains could arguably one of the first “posi-core” bands. I mean, their song “Attitude” was the beginning of “PMA” (positive mental attitude). The record shows their musical range with quick tempo’d tracks like “Sailin’ On,” slower hardcore mosh riffs in “The Regulator,” and dub tracks like “I Love I Jah.” The Clash and ska bands had definitely incorporated elements of reggae into their music by this time, but BThere’s also the hardcore classic “Pay To Come,” one of the most beloved songs to come out of DC. During the verses HR spits out the words over Hudson’s insane blast beats, juxtaposing the reverb heavy chorus. Bad Brains’ still show their influence if you listen to current DCHC and NYHC bands, some of whom rip guitar riffs straight from this record. Even today, this legendary record sounds fresh, with its driving energy and uplifting lyrics. (AK)

Against Me! – Reinventing Axl Rose (2002)

Literally what the fuck is Against Me! doing on this list? I know, I get it. Bear with me for a second. Maybe it isn’t as punk or as iconic as the other albums on this list, that’s fair. It’s kinda folk punk, but it’s not washboards and banjos. And it’s sort of pop punk, except the breakup songs hit so much harder than your typical “why doesn’t she love me” fare that gets regurgitated ad nauseum by the bands of that genre. Laura Jane Grace has always proven herself to be an excellent songwriter, transforming a song like “I Still Love You Julie” from an monologue delivered with a yelping voice and an acoustic guitar into something deeper and fully developed in its desperate angst and near hopelessness. The album delivers big choruses on songs like “We Laugh at Danger” and “Pints of Guinness” (which is simultaneously a rallying cry and a heartbreaking anecdotal folk song), it delivers songs conveying feelings of disenfranchisement and political disillusionment that don’t seem outdated years later, which has caused other albums of the era to not stand the test of time quite as well. Reinventing’s biggest accomplishment, however, is its lasting impact on the scenes it  had travelled through. It stands head and shoulders above the other efforts coming out of cities like Gainesville at the time, and continues to sound fresh and new and unique even after the band themselves are going through constant musical evolution. It’s an entry point that doesn’t sound entry-level. (AT)

Limp Wrist – Thee Official Discography (2005)

Punk is unapologetic — a statement passed around and regurgitated a million times over. Too often, that becomes synonymous with a certain brand of offensive edginess that far too often simply serves to reify mainstream oppressive ideology. You know, those guys that sound like your racist uncle except with Black Flag bars inked somewhere on their body. Limp Wrist is unapologetic in a radical way. Taking the stage in the shortest of shorts and a leather cap, Martin Sorrendeguy is a masterful and commanding frontman (this goes for his work in Los Crudos as well), and the music itself is pure unrefined chaos. Songs like “I Love Hardcore Boys (I Love Boys Hardcore)” and “Does Your Daddy Know?” are absolutely crucial hardcore anthems, but ones that the gay kids that have always been a part of punk can relate to and unify over. Additionally, the band’s whole discography is up on YouTube — all 35 minutes of it. Brash, aggressive, fast and loud harcore with two middle fingers up to heteronormativity; Limp Wrist is crucial to any hardcore fan, but packs an extra punch for those who feel alienated due to their sexuality. (AT)

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Discharge – Why? (1981)

Some people may argue that Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing is the more penultimate release by Discharge, but I digress. From the pummeling drums in the first 30 seconds of the first track, “Visions of War,” it’s easy to hear how Discharge “invented” d-beat as a genre. The charactaristic drumbeat is prominent throughout the entire EP, clashing with grinding guitar, raw, distorted bass, and the gruff, incoherent growls of Cal Morris. Their lyrics are simple but full of messages of anarchy, anti-war, and rebellion. They’re chaotic but refined, they’re harsh and noisy but there’s still some semblance of a melody hiding in the crashing drums and two-note solos. Discharge are iconic – their influence is cited by tons of bands and walking through any given punk show you’ll see kids decorated in studs, sneers, and Discharge tees. (AK)

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Chronic Sick – Cutest Band In Hardcore (1983)

While definitely not as widely known as other New Jersey punk bands like The Misfits and Adrenalin OD, this record is coveted by collectors. Ignoring the cover, which features the band decked with swastikas and dresses, this album is solid all the way through. This album is full of noisy, raw powerchords and angry lyrics that sometimes venture into politically incorrect, disturbing territories. Favorite songs include the catchy “Dress Code” and the fucked up “Public Suicide.” While Chronic Sick may not seem much different from their other early hardcore counterparts, their energy is what makes them stand apart. Maybe it isn’t PC to have songs about prison rape, but they pull it off. Their album cover clearly depicts them wanting to get a rise out of anyone, and the lyrics solidify that. Isn’t that what punk’s about? (AK)

Bratmobile – Ladies, Women, and Girls (2000)

Quite frankly, I’m sick of women’s historic place in punk being reduced to “riot grrrl” like every and any girl with a guitar and something to say can be so easily pigeonholed and reduced to a two-word phrase. Bratmobile’s first album was a gem of that era, but they have since proven themselves as a force in punk music. Simultaneously snotty and bored, singing “a boy is good for nothing,”  Allison Wolfe asserts herself to the front of the punk rock boys club while expressing her derision for it. The Riot Grrrl era of punk usually gets summed up as an aside, and is usually attributed to Bikini Kill, but Bratmobile surpasses the cliches and consumability of what some bands put forth as “feminist punk rock.” It’s a solid garage-rock album, as smart and snarky as it is fast and catchy. Ladies, Women, and Girls is more refined than earlier efforts, undeniably, but shows that Bratmobile is much more than something cute or easily written off. (AT)

Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic (2003)

Maybe the band’s tragic history is what attracts me to this – all but one member dying in a bus crash, while in talks with a deal with Lookout! Records and Lollapalooza in the future. Or maybe it’s the incredibly elaborate guitar licks that hint at a glam rock influence, overdubbed with almost whining vocals. Regardless of what it is that was the initial draw, Guitar Romantic is one of the most important records in my collection.The lead guitar somehow manages not to overpower the words, filling every empty spot between verses and choruses. When Blink 182 and Green Day were playing generic pop punk, the Exploding Hearts revived the genre, picking up where 70s power pop left off. From the incredible opener, “Modern Kicks,” to the Chuck Berry infused final track “Still Crazy,” this album doesn’t quit. The competing vocals in “Thorns In Roses” draw the listener in and make it impossible to turn the record off. Then, of course, there’s “I’m A Pretender” – written with help from King Louie – spitting a raucously catchy chorus. This breaks out of the teen anthem, instead declaring “21 and it ain’t no fun.”  The band draws influence from every point of history, from the New York Dolls to Buddy Holly to the Ramones, all into one perfectly composed record that’s dripping with both power pop and punk. I’ll never forget the time I saw King Louie and Terry Six (with their current band, Terry & Louie) play almost the entire discography – I spent half the set alternating belting out the words and crying.  (AK)

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Anti Nowhere League – We Are… The League (1982)

I feel like a lot of people write off Anti Nowhere League as being dumb and and immature, and they’re not wrong. They are by no means “special” or anything different from their contempories. They even declare in the title track, “we are The League, and our music’s bad.” They don’t give a shit if you don’t like them. On that note, I consider this album one of the more stupidly crass records of 1982, and for that, I love it. The first song, as previously mentioned, is the band’s self summary of how fucked up they are. It’s simple three chord snotty punk, kicking off with trash hero Animal’s declaration that they are “The League.” The song is essentially a disclaimer, a “parental advisory” sticker for people who are easily offended. “I Hate… People” is another track solidifying the band’s disdain for humanity. “Let’s Break The Law” is one of the highlighting tracks and is their answer to the stereotypical anti-government punk song archetype. One of the most bizarre things about this album may be their sneering cover of Ralph McTell’s “Streets of London,” originally a folk song. The League put their own edge on it, making it less of a sappy folk anthem and more an anti-poverty warcry. The album, overall, is a caricature of the genre’s debauchery. It’s a combination of raunchiness, For a band that sticks with relatively simple riffs, they’re melodic enough to stick with you. And when you question their legitimacy, their response will be “so what, you boring little cunt?” (AK)

Honorable Proto Punk Mentions: MC5 – Kick Out The Jams, Stooges – Stooges, New York Dolls – New York Dolls, Television – Marquee Moon, Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground and Nico, Dictators – Go Girl Crazy

Personal Honorable Mentions – Anna Theodora: RVIVR – The Beauty Between, Sleater-Kinney – The Woods, Japanther – Beets, Lime, and Rice

Personal Honorable Mentions – Avalon Kenny: Void – Faith/Void Split (Faith side is sick, but y’all know), Protex – Strange Obsessions, Plimsouls – Everywhere At Oncevoidvoid.jpg

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41 thoughts on “Just A Bunch of Important Punk Records

  1. I stopped reading at ” Minor Threat – Complete Discography” because, yeah, greatest hits don’t count, so I can’t get down with this list

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    • Literally, most of Minor Threat’s releases are EPs – so less than 6 songs. they are all incredible. I’m not sure if you know who Minor Threat are, or what an EP is, but the Complete Discography compilation essentially combines the EPs to be a cohesive album. You missed some important albums in the rest of this article. But honestly, I’m not sure if I’d want you to read it, since you made it, what, three albums til you just had to mansplain? Thanks for reading.

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  2. No Chicano punk? The Plugz ” Electrify Me” is a straight up collection of spine jarring , melodic , drive by of throbbing bass lines , staccato drum beats all setting the tone for Tito Larrivas twangy Telecaster and LA Mex influenced songwriting . Satisfied Die indeed!!

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  3. Great list!

    Btw your picture is of “The Fear Record” which is some kind of inferior rerecording without the original band, not “Fear The Record”, the classic album you mention.

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  4. I could whine and cry “you left out so and so”, but i think you covered an eclectic mix of game changing releases. The fact that you recognized Crass & Discharge gives you major punk points with me. Good job

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  5. No TSOL self titled black album? No Social Distortion Mommy’s Little Monster…..pioneering O.C. punk bands who played the Cuckoos nest and Doll hut. Shame you did not mention them as well..

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  6. Glad to see bad brains get a nod, but Rock For Light is far superior to the s/t cassette, Provided you find the vinyl, dont get me started on th cd remaster shitstorm…

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  7. making a list is the worst task you could give yourself … No one is going to agree … In my opinion, this is a great list … Sure, I think you left a couple things out, but you also made me curious about Chronic Sick, Exploding Hearts and a few others … Well done! Also, just to be totally lame, based on this list, you might like my photoblog … I’ve got photos of a few of the bands on the list (Damned, SLF, ‘Mats, Undertones, etc) http://www.ribshots43.com (it’s a wordpress blog).

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  8. There are many worthy albums on this list, but no top punk collection is complete without Storm The Gates Of Heaven, by WAYNE COUNTY & THE ELECTRIC CHAIRS!

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    • thanks for that, I was originally writing about Zen Arcade and went back and fixed it but left that by mistake – but I still am going to assume in my head that you pronounce the name “hʌsker dʌ “

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  9. Hell of a job Avalon. Bad Music for Bad People is a compilation though. Songs the Lord Taught Us would be my choice. They were better without a bass player, IMO.

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  10. Bad Music for Bad People is not only a compilation, but it was released in 1984: one full year before the Cramps had a bass player.
    Knowing what you’re talking about is important.

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  11. Two firsts for me in this type of list. First time Ive seen the is kinda list with Radio Birdman featuring so highly and Agent Orange at all. I love em both and fortunately seen both bands but those list can be kinda subjective. They missed Nick Caves early work in Boys Next Door and The Birthday party, strong enough bands and music to make this list. This is the most inclusive “PUNK” list with no nobs say this and that anti punk it spost punk blaaaah, blah, so cheers.

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  12. The word “nigger” is not going to summon a demon if it is spoken out loud.
    It is an ugly word and when used as an insult, or even ignorantly used as a term of endearment, is even uglier and carries with it the worst sentiments man is capable of.

    But songs like “White Nigger” by The Avengers or “”Rock n Roll Nigger” by Patti Smith are not exploitative or indifferent to racism.
    They are deliberately shocking to refer to a person as being seen as the lowest form of society by ignorant hateful people.

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  13. I like about 95%, which is good in my book. I really think CH3, Bad Religion and TSOL should be on the list. All for different reasons but I think they were the hardest working bands back in the day.

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  14. THank you for the thought-provoking list.

    THE UNDERTONES – THE UNDERTONES (1979)
    This band was a surprise to me. Very Buzzcocks-esque, excellent melodic punk vangard. Nice melodies, driving beat, clever group.. I hadn’t heard them before but I really like them now.

    RAMONES – LEAVE HOME (1977)
    Carbona Not Glue is an awesome song and a minor anthem, but as an album, their sophomore release isn’t half the record which is their first or third.

    RAMONES – ROCKET TO RUSSIA (1977)
    Yeah, that’s the one. OK, it’s nostalgic, it was my introduction to the Ramones. You can’t underrate this album.

    MINOR THREAT – COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY (1989)
    For me it was the “Out of Step” EP. Of course, that’s included on this comp, so you think that should cover it. I haven’t A/B’d it, but that EP on 12″ vinyl sounded awesome, and I think the same tracks on this comp CD sound a little muted in comparison.. I guess I’ve just created a mandate for myself.

    BLACK FLAG – DAMAGED (1981) AND MY WAR (1984)
    fuckin’ A Right these are the best two Black Flag albums. Damaged might be a remake of their old singles with a new singer, and there’s certainly a case to be made favoring the pre-Henry lineups, but this version of “Rise Above” is the BEST PUNK ANTHEM EVER. P.s. that’s Dez on the cover. My copy of the LP is signed with a silver sharpie: FUCK KILL FUCK KILL FUCK KILL HENRY IIII

    DAMNED – MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE (1979)
    Revered in the UK, overlooked in the states. This is more of a pop group with punk as an influence.

    STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – INFLAMMABLE MATERIAL (1979)
    Anthemic and gritty. Oh, I’m glad you recommended this. I’d never heard their cover of Johnny Was. That’s how I always imagined that song. What an epiphany.

    THE CLASH – GIVE ‘EM ENOUGH ROPE (1978)
    Even the worst Clash album is better than 90% of everything else in the world. “Safe European Home” is the clear standout in this well-meaning sophomore release by one of the only bands that matters. (The other being the Minutemen).

    THE JAM – IN THE CITY (1977)
    Somehow The Jam have eluded me all these years. Back in high school there was a strong contingent of Vespa scooter riding ska buffoons who dressed like extras on the set of Quadraphenia. They sported patches of The English Beat, The Specials, and the Jam. That whole scene kinda turned me off so I missed out on stuff like, apparently, this album. Typing this as I actually hear this album for the first time, I realize I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate this at the time, even barely today. This reminds me of Elvis Costello BIG TIME, for better or worse. It’s well crafted rock, not ska, not even punk. Honestly I don’t know why it’s even on this list. But so far I’m really glad I’m finally hearing it.

    THE HEARTBREAKERS – LAMF (1977)
    Meh. Way too boogie-woogie for this listener. There are some standout tracks, for me they are “Baby Talk” (nice drumming), and Chinese Rock. Chinese Rock is notable for being written as a dare to write a better song about heroin than Lou Reed, and because Dee Dee Ramone moonlighted with Richard Hell and Johnny Thunders to write it. It’s not actually a very good song. On a side note, seeing the lyrics for the first time, I realized I had misheard the words “shower stall” as “cellar door.”

    RADIO BIRDMAN – RADIOS APPEAR (1978)
    Meh. I like Aussie punk as much as the next, but this one is more R&R and less HC. Don’t try and out-Iggy Iggy.

    DESCENDENTS – MILO GOES TO COLLEGE (1982)
    THIS ALBUM, in my humble opinion, DEFINED POP PUnk in a way that hadn’t been addressed since Ramones and Buzzcocks, and paved the way for the fabulously successful 90’s wave that glutted the FM dial and ultimately hammered the final nail in the coffin of DIY punk. Despite the dubious legacy that it spawned, Descendents were a breathmint in the mouth of decrepit 80’s nihilism, and filled the sails of countless melodically inclined three chord songcrafters to present day, a generation removed and oblivious to the influence. This might be the most underrated band of the 80’s.

    HUSKER DU – NEW DAY RISING (1985)
    In 83, Husker Du’s music was more mature than I was, and I couldn’t really appreciate them. I put them in a category with Minutemen and Steely Dan, that it helps to have some world experience to negotiate their aesthetic. That being said, I did always like their cover of Eight Miles High better than The Byrds. Also, the title track “New Day Rising” is epic and colossal. New Day Rising is in my top three list of songs to play at full volume first thing in the morning. I’m talking about flinging open your imaginary european window shutters, coffee kicks in all at once, and broadcasting a heraldic call to rock your immediate neighborhood, if not the world. Currently, my top three “Loud Morning songs” are The Immigrant Song, Coming Down the Mountain, and New Day Rising.

    THE REPLACEMENTS – LET IT BE (1984)
    Somehow I’ve never quite gotten around to hearing this one. I hope to rectify that soon.

    DICKIES – DAWN OF THE DICKIES (1979)
    Accomplished and fully realized proto-pop punk. THis must have influenced The Descendants, but sadly didn’t have as much direct lasting influence on 80’s punk landscape.

    BUZZCOCKS – SINGLES GOING STEADY (1979)
    Required listening, absolutely essential desert island bucket list staple, if you don’t know it, get it, listen and love it. Any top five punk albums would have to include this.

    COCK SPARRER – SHOCK TROOPS (1982)
    I hate this band. They sound vaguely oi, but whiny and sloppy. The whole working class jack booted pub stomp genre completely escaped me. Big pass.

    X – LOS ANGELES (1980)
    There’s no one defintive X album. I was about to trash this selection in favor of “Under the Big Black Sun”. But I’ve decided there are 3 true things about this band:
    1. The first four are canon, essentialy, everything you really need unless you’re obsessive.
    2. None of the first four are 100% amazing from start to finish, there are a few lesser tracks scattered throughout. I’m only saying this because I hold X to a much higher standard. THere is a bit of pacing and flow that could have been programmed into the tracklists, but they feel like slightly padded comps. That being said, there are about 27 of my all time favorite songs on those four albums.
    3. THe minor third vocal interval used by Exene and John Doe will resonate into eternity as a haunting, slithering, snake den of americana-drenched, voodoo punk catharsis. This is morning after music, and it’s brilliant. X were amazing.

    MINUTEMEN – DOUBLE NICKELS ON THE DIME (1984)
    My first Minutemen album, and my last to truly appreciate. I don’t know why this always gets rated next to London Calling as one of the alltime greatest albums. I’d say it’s more appropriate for the Minutemen fan who is at the stage of the fandom that this combo can do no wrong, and every thing they ever did was pure gold. I am solidly in this camp, and for that reason Double Nickels is sublime. But for the novice, I would really ask they start with “What Makes A Man Start Fires” and “Buzz Or Howl Under the Influence of Heat”. If one of those grabs you, then spring for the three “post mersh” compilations of studio recordings.. that plus “Double Nickels” will get you 90% of the way to their main body of officially released work. Add a few internet files of tracks that were on the Double Nickels LP but didn’t make it to the CD, throw it on shuffle, and before you know it, you too are a fan of the infallable Minutemen.
    Inspirational stuff, genre defying, distinctive and internally consistent. Minutemen weren’t punk per say, but DIY in its finest hour.

    FEAR – THE RECORD (1982)
    I heard that when John Belushi was filming Animal House, he would drive around Eugene in his jeep blasting this album on cassette. It’s an angry, mean spirited classic. Love this album.

    TEENGENERATE – GET ACTION! (1995)
    I’ve never heard of this but I found some samples online and they sound pretty good. Brash and harsh, kinda fun hardcore.

    DEAD BOYS – YOUNG, LOUD, AND SNOTTY (1977)
    OK, I was late to the Dead Boys party. Back in the day I was more familiar with Lords of the New Church. I’ll be honest, it was until seeing the CBGB biopic did I renew interest in Dead Boys, and in doing so, gained an appreciate for the Cleveland punk scene. Seriously, the this that was happening in Ohio was just as amazing at the same time New York and London were popping for the first time. I’ve since discovered this album is great ripping fun, and I can’t wait to hear more of what happened at that time and place.

    ADOLESCENTS – ADOLESCENTS (1981)
    I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with OC HC and this band in the particular. THe singing, music writing, and musicianship of DI, Adolescents and the like were top notch. The lyrical content of Casey Royer and associates usually makes them sound like a bunch of privelaged, skater douchebags. That being said, this is the least annoying, but also sometimes ponderous, of the Royer/ OC projects from the 80’s. Actually I think i’m giving it a harsh review. It’s a very good album, I think I’ll listen to it right now.

    GREEN DAY – DOOKIE (1994)
    This album put the final nail in the coffin of punk rock. It was officially dead after this. I guess it was probably time it had run its natural course, but still; Fuck these guys. No, really. This is everything DIY was a reaction against. This particular wave of 90’s punk, and green day in particular, can go die. Next!

    AGENT ORANGE – LIVING IN DARKNESS (1981)
    This is a record I had back in the day but unfortunately lost before I could get a good read on it. Now that I’m reviewing it after all these years, I think the music is better than I had remembered.. nice Miserlou cover! But I think the singing is a bit lacking. This will take some further study, I’m glad I was reminded of it. [edit 20 minutes later] Now I remember why I lost this album, I sold it for weed. It’s actually pretty mediocre.

    AVENGERS – THE AVENGERS (1983)
    Amazingly underrated album and band. Maybe the best example of bay area punk from 77.

    X RAY SPEX – GERMFREE ADOLESCENTS (1978)
    I’ll listen again to this album for the sake of review, but everytime I do, I think “Holy Shit, the vocal on Oh Bondage Up Yours is fucking AMAZING”, and everthing else pales in comparison. I hate to call them a one hit wonder, but that track is so stand-out, it’s a hard standard to follow.

    BLITZ – VOICE OF A GENERATION (1982)
    Haven’t heard it, but based on this recommendation I’ll seek it out.

    DEAD KENNEDYS – FRESH FRUIT FOR ROTTING VEGETABLES (1980)
    Priceless, but I think Plastic Surgery Disasters is one of the five finest punk albums ever recorded. They’re both essential listening, kind of hard to quibble which is better.

    MISFITS – WALK AMONG US (1982)
    I’m not a huge misfits fan, but I’ve had this since 84 and I find myself singing along to this day. They must have done something right.

    THE CRAMPS – BAD MUSIC FOR BAD PEOPLE (1984)
    my personal favorate was also my first introduction: “Off The Bone” with the 3D cover. Many of the same songs as “Bad Music”. Anything before ’85 is a must-own. Lux: RIP.

    GUN CLUB – FIRE OF LOVE (1981)
    I don’t know this album at all so I guess I’ve gotta go find it and listen to it.

    WHERE THE FUCK IS:
    CRASS: Best Before
    DOA: Bloodied But Unbowed / War on 45
    Dead Kennedys: Plastic Surgery Disasters
    POison Idea: Kings of Punk
    Toy Dolls: Dig That Groove Baby
    MDC: Millions of Dead Cops
    The Dicks
    Butthole Surfers
    Bad Brains: Pay to Cum 7″
    The Birthday Party: Prayers On Fire
    The Saints
    Subhumans: EP LP / The Day the Country Died
    Neurotic Arseholes: Angst
    Amebix: Arise!
    Dr. Know: Best of Dr. Know / Burn EP
    Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers: S/T
    Peggio Punx: La Citta E Quieta ombre Parlano 7″
    NoMeansNo: Wrong
    Discharge: Fight Back 7″
    Scratch Acid: EP
    Big Black: Racer X
    Conflict: The Ungovernable Force
    Feederz: Jesus 7″ / Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss
    Killed By Death / Bloodstains comps: ALL OF EM
    Blut & Eisen: Schrei Doch!
    Indigesti: Osservati Dall Inganno
    Crucifucks: Crucifucks
    Raw Power: Screams From The Gutter
    Crass: Stations of the Crass
    Negazione: Lo Spirito Continua
    Culturcide: Year One

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    • really glad you took the time to literally review our reviews but like??? how much time do you have on your hands??? also if we were to include everything we wanted to include (most of the albums you said we left out) the internet would run out of space and crash. as I said it’s a living list, they’re our opinions. still completely unsure of how to feel about this comment, but thanks (?)

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  15. No, thanks for making your list. Since I was already familiar with about 70% of it, it was easy to comment on your picks. As for the other 30%, I figured since your list seemed almost tailor made to my tastes, it was a good bet I’d be into some of the titles I’d missed over the years. And in this age of being able to find any album almost instantly, what excuse did I have? I did abandon the exercise towards the end, but it was great to revisit some old favorites and discover some new classics. What can I say, the selection resonated. So, thanks again.

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  16. Great list. Always like to see what people are into. Looks like the newer school of punk rock isn’t heavily included. I would add Screeching Weasel (My Brain Hurts or Anthem For A New Tomorrow), Queers (Love Songs For The Retarded), Propaghandi (Less Talk, More Rock), Rancid (Let’s Go), and Operation Ivy (even though the one disc is a compilation of all their work). I might even through in a little NOFX too like the F**K the Kids 7 inch. Keep up the great job!

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