Punk rock emerged in New York in the years 1975-1976. The Ramones, Television, Suicide, Patti Smith, Blondie are the artists that drive the punk. Then groups thrive in England, with the Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Clash.
The get-up and the transgression of musicians arouse the hostility of politicians and journalists who denounce the degeneration of youth. But the punk spreads and groups are multiplying. A part of the youth identifies itself with this cultural challenge and the Vulgate punk.
In the punk culture, everyone is encouraged to take action: on stage during a concert, to create a group, to write a fanzine. Cultural practices then have to democratize and spread. The cultural production process is attacked since everyone can become a creator. Punk breaks with the culture based on the show, passivity, and consumption.
The punk movement emerged after the failure of the contestation of the 1970s with struggles for sexual liberation, women, and homosexuals relying on provocation. His struggles attack norms and social constraints radically. In France, the strikers of Lip experiments with self-management.
In Larzac, a movement opposes to the military government projects. In Plogoff, opposition to nuclear developments. In Italy, the challenge is radicalized with the development of an autonomous movement. The workers are organizing outside parties and trade unions to fight against the factory.
The autonomes are based on the desire and spontaneity to build a movement that is shaking the capitalist order. In England and the United States, the Black liberation movement leads to riots. The political radicalization led to more violent practices. It is in this context of struggle, creativity, spontaneity, and violence that punk rock emerges.
The beginnings of punk are characterized by a political vacuum. The search for pleasure is not followed by any critical reflection. In the absence of an alternative project, the punk can then be recovered and commodified. Yet punk gradually attaches to political awareness. “The role of the artist is to describe the era to put reality in the faces of people so they do not forget it” says musician Joe Strummer.
To learn more about the punk subculture and how it evolved, take a break and read this Wikipedia article
Many punk bands who succeeded are associated with a cultural industry. But other musicians prefer economic independence. The Crass label claims to save the punk spirit against cynicism and market recovery. Yet independent or commercial discs and music are always subject to a financial transaction.
Let’s now investigate the top ten albums of this rebellious, youthful and unique genre:
10. Horses, Patti Smith (1975)
Punk in the soul, Miss Patti, although the album, ultimately, is much more pure rock (and brainy, influenced Baudelaire / Rimbaud / Peter Reich) that punk.
Patti Smith released another famous album called Easter, click here and order it via Amazon!
What to say? Produced by John Cale (read more about him here), Horses is a phenomenal record, intellectual and wild at the same time. And I sincerely believe that, as the next album, it really deserves its place here. It is not punk, not really, but it’s proto-punk, a record that really helped the punk movement to create, to spread. In a word, worship! Best Song: Free Money.
9. Fire Of Love, The Gun Club (1981)
First album of the Gun Club, blues-punk – rock band led by the charismatic and crazy (died in 1997) Jeffrey Lee Piece. Fire Of Love, released at the time in another pouch (pink), but available on CD in the pocket against below, is an absolute slap.
Times or original, the songs have a totally indescribable voodoo atmosphere, the classics abound. The album offers 40 minutes of fury, fire, sulfur… It’s totally amazing. More blues than punk, but still damn virulent. Best Song: She’s Like Heroin To Me.
8. In The City, The Jam (1977)
Led by a young (18!) Paul Weller, this trio offers here its first album, and a pure slap of punk-soul. A very accessible disc because, if it is punk (burning guitars, hard vocals), it also delivers more pop melodies than usual in punk music.
Paul Weller and his band had a big influence on punk music. Now he is a solo artist and you can read more about him in this Wikipedia article.
In The City is a short album (32 minutes) but perfect, which shows how Paul Weller (vocals, guitar) loves soul and rhythm and blues. All the rest of his career, with the Jam, the Style Council or in solo, as this will also optical mod/soul. A pure masterpiece.
7. Miami, The Gun Club (1982)
Second album of the Gun Club, and a record, to be honest, as successful as the previous Fire Of Love. Miami, still voodoo and cataclysmic, again offering legendary pieces, and the interpretation is still as bluffing from the crazy Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Fire Of Love is probably still more monstrous, but just a little, and overall, it’s as good as the previous one.
Another well-known album by the band is Mother Juno, you should check it out here!
6. The Clash, The Clash (1977)
Released in two versions (original English version, 14 titles, US version released in 1979 at home, 15 tracks, including songs from the original version that disappeared instead of new), this first album of the Clash is one of the absolute peaks of punk-rock, a record as successful in its two versions, although, obviously, the most recommended is English, although shorter (35 minutes instead of 43). A disc simply powerful.
5. Nevermind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, The Sex Pistols (1977)
Is it necessary to present yet this unique album of the Sex Pistols?(read more about them here) We could hardly choose a more appropriate album to illustrate the punk movement.
A disc certainly made by musicians who could not play properly (or sing, Johnny Rotten, aka John Lydon), a limited disk, but a masterpiece of the genre, ultra hysterical and enjoyable. And controversial, disputed, too, that’s for sure. An absolute essential punk album.
4. Public Image/First Issue, Public Image Limited/PiL (1978)
After angrily leaving the Pistols, Johnny Rotten becomes John Lydon again and founds Public Image Limited aka PiL for friends. With former Clash guitarist who never played on their albums (Keith Levene), a nasty hooligan bassist (Jah Wobble) and a drummer who often changes, and here named Walker.
This first opus, despite a production that took a little bit at times, is an absolute must for post-punk, and also pure punk. Anti-rock, quite experimental, full of dubs, pure madness (the 9 minutes long piece opening the album, terrifying), a psychiatric record, crazy, ambitious, both punk and new wave. Mythical. Their next album, Metal Box 1979, sold in a round metal case (as CD too) is also great, but it is not punk, so it should appear on another list.
Click here if you want to check out Metal Box, their 1979 album on Amazon!
3. London Calling, The Clash (1979)
What to say? The first double album (CD single) in the history of the movement, it is the top of the Clash, although their self-titled debut album is a monster too (above the list).
If you want to read more about The Clash, head over to The Guardian where they wrote a pretty good article about them. Follow this link and read their epic story!
London Calling, it’s mostly a bewildering melting pot of various musical genres, punk, rock, pop, ska and reggae, but even soul. A pure success, regardless of the style approached (the Clash will go even further with the triple album, since double CD, Sandinista! 1980 Essential!
2. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, The Dead Kennedys (1980)
33 minutes of pure violence, simply read the name of the group to judge the scale of the thing. With this record, the Dead Kennedys striked a blow, a hardcore punk album, extremely brutal and bloody, with Jello Biafra on vocals. Really tough and the nasty punk!
1. Is This It, The Strokes (2001)
Last release of the list, because, really, the last leader of punk rock produced, even if the sound of The Strokes is pretty special and more punk-pop oriented that really punk.
A disc not completely perfect, which can be tiring in the long run, but they are frankly excellent songs with an unstoppable atmosphere, an almost radical disc that has not to be ashamed among the other participants of this list. Absolutely recommended for every punk rock fan.
Room On Fire is another recommended album by The Strokes you should definitely check out. Click here and get it now!
Thank you for reading our article about the top 10 punk albums of all time. We hope that you read our next article too, which will be about a surprise topic.