10 Punk Albums to Listen to Before You Die
Coming up with 10 punk albums to listen to before you die is a lot harder than you'd think. For starters, it's a morbid thought, which makes you start asking yourself why in the hell you're thinking about punk albums when you're only gonna die, so who cares?
Second, the best material of many (if not most) punk bands is featured on singles, not full-length records. That's why you won't see Minor Threat on this list because even though they are punk rock royalty, their sole album (1982's Out of Step) isn't as good as their EPs. Or, on the flipside, you got a band like Red Cross, whose first EP is
unfuckwithable, but EPs aren't albums and therefore not included in this list.
That said, there are still plenty of full-length punk records that everyone should most definitely hear and more than likely own.
Here, in no particular order, are 10.
10. Bad Brains, S/T
You can not, I repeat, can not, fuck with the Bad Brains self-titled record. The uneducated music fan thinks punk is synonymous with shitty playing, but singer H.R., drummer Earl Hudson, bassist Darryl Jenifer and guitarist Gary "Dr. Know" Miller shred that misconception to oblivion. From the opening lines of "Sailin' On," you know you've never heard a voice like HR's. He's melodic like an opera singer but he's more pissed than Johnny Rotten. That's not fair to other punk singers, but this is the Bad Brains we're talking about. Next on the record is "Don't Need It," a track that is faster than it should be yet sound totally comfortable at its breakneck pace. How is that possible? The Bad Brains rule, that's how. From there the album includes "Attitude," "The Regulator," "Fearless Vampire Killers," "Supertouch/Shitfit," "I," "Big Takeover" and "Right Brigade." Simply put, these songs are amazing and feature musicianship far beyond what anyone associates with punk rock. The breakdown on "Right Brigade?" Forget about it. Oh yeah...did I mention that the album also includes three reggae tracks that prove the Bad Brains could have been a full-time dub group if they wanted to be? Well, it does and they could have been if they weren't too busy completely destroying hardcore for anyone who followed. In fact, fuck this list. I'm going to stop writing and go listen to this instead because I sure as hell don't want to get hit by a bus tomorrow and not have heard this one final time.
9. Sex Pistols, Nevermind the Bullocks Here's the Sex Pistols
Just how essential is this record to punk? Well, the Sex Pistols' Wikipedia page has 237 footnotes.That's 168 more than The Doors. But don't let Wikipedia tell you how good this album us. Just listen to the damn thing and you'll understand that the Sex Pistols were more than a traveling freak show. Lyrically, Johnny Rotten attacks authority on "God Save the Queen" and "Anarchy in the U.K.," bashes a former record label on "E.M.I." and deals with angst and boredom on "Pretty Vacant." That's enough to make this a classic record, but what makes Bullocks so great is the Pistols' acumen for the basics of rock 'n' roll. Whereas later British punk bands thought they were picking up where the Pistols left off, the only thing those latter groups did was spike their hair and play way too fast. The Pistols, however, took the groove created by the likes of Chuck Berry and twisted it into their own demented sound.