At some point in our lives we are inevitably told one or all of the following things: Bruce Springsteen’s band is good, The Black Eyed Peas are a rap group, all drugs are bad, and Green Day is still a punk band. Since it’s pointless to argue about every dumb thing we hear or read, let’s just tackle Green Day’s current status as a punk band. Considering they are very far from their Gilman Street roots and are now playing stadiums worldwide, let’s say that they aren’t. Here are a few albums to listen to from bands who are.
1. Wild Teen Punk From Peru. 1965. Los Saicos.
In 1965 Los Saicos were the biggest hit in Peru but as their popularity began to wane the following year, they just quit and went on to live normal lives. Today they are one of my cousin’s favorite bands to get drunk to (which is how I first discovered them). Wild Teen Punk From Peru is a batshit Spanish Punk album that I cannot understand a word of and a staple of my music collection.
Favorite song on the album: “Demolicion.” A song that should probably blast during every soccer riot in Latin America. “Demolicion” is fast, loud, and makes you want to blow something up.
2. New York Dolls. 1973. New York Dolls.
Are you a repressed kid living in some suburb in the middle of nowhere? Are you dying to come to New York and become a cross-dressing Rock Star? Good news, there’s a blueprint for it: the New York Dolls. While pioneers of the NYC Punk scene, the New York Dolls are remembered most for their drug use and cross-dressing, but take a listen and you’ll soon find they made music to remember too.
Favorite song on the album: “Personality Crisis.” No song makes you want to steal your mom’s dress and head to the Lower East Side for a night of debauchery more than this.
3. Blank Generation. 1977. Richard Hell & the Voidoids.
Led by the cofounder of Televison, Richard Hell, and featuring Marc Bell (later known as Marky Ramone after joining The Ramones) on drums, Blank Generation was one of the first and best albums to come out of the early stages of punk. Probably the coolest band to ever exist and they started the “studding your clothes” look.
Favorite song on the album: “Blank Generation.” With an unmistakeable guitar and bass line, warmed over with Richard Hell’s desperate vocals, “Blank Generation” is probably the best punk song ever made.
4. Another Music in a Different Kitchen. 1978. Buzzcocks.
The first album from the English band Buzzcocks is another classic, full of fast songs and catchy lyrics. Like the Sex Pistols they’re a sort of template of what a British punk band should sound like. The bass line and sirens that start “Fast Cars” shoot you into the album’s frantic pace while the rhythm of “I Don’t Mind” reminds you that these guys could really write a song.
Favorite song on the album: “I Don’t Mind.” The Buzzcocks hit the reality of life right on the head in this one. “Reality’s a dream / a game in which I seem to never find out just what I am / I don’t know if I’m an actor or a ham.”
5. (GI). 1979. Germs.
(GI) or Germs Incognito is the only studio album by the Germs and was produced by Joan Jett. The year after the album’s release, frontman Darby Dash killed himself. Yeah, it sucks, but at least we have (GI), an album that makes you feel like you’ve been kicked in the dick.
Favorite song on the album: “Lexicon Devil.” This is the song that got me into the Germs, so it’s an obvious pick.
6. Group Sex.1980. Circle Jerks.
Like Group Sex I’ll keep this short. The longest song on this album clocks in at 1:35. So if you are new to the Circle Jerks, take fifteen minutes and listen to one of the best albums ever made.
Favorite song on the album: “World Up My Ass.” Because who hasn’t felt like they had the world up their ass.
7. The Runaways. 1976. The Runaways.
They made a movie about this band a few years ago but I’m still afraid to see it. Anyway, try not to get caught up in the “girl band” mentality. The Runaways were a great band who happened to be all female. Their debut self-titled album is a hit machine and probably on a bunch of other lists, so give it a listen.
Favorite song on the album: “Cherry Bomb.” Probably The Runaways’s most popular song. So you’ve probably heard it but whatever, listen again.
8. Fun House. 1970. The Stooges.
God damn, how is Iggy Pop not dead? 40 years of shooting dope can’t be easy. For “Fun House” Iggy is said to have tried to sing like Howlin’ Wolf and you can hear it all over the album. “Fun House” is an avant-garde, bluesy, punk masterpiece.
Favorite song on the album: “Loose.” Feeling down from a funeral? Listen to “Loose.” Lost your job? “Loose.” Partner dumped ya? “Loose.” Feeling good? “Loose.”
Article by Timothy White. You can follow him on Twitter @TipToTheHip